Fuck the Dead


I woke up and forgot how to write a poem

and decided that writing poems was stupid.


I couldn’t think of anything to love

and decided that love was stupid, too.


I went outside and the streets clanged with loneliness,

the people dulled and drunk with suffering;

some blatantly so, others

going through the motions of hiding it.


I decided that suffering was stupid because it was useless,

more useless even than poetry,


and I suddenly felt outside it all, bigger than

the living and their hand-me-down sufferings,

better than the smugness of the dead.


Fuck the dead and the living alike, I thought, what

good are they to me?


I wandered through it all like some stillborn ghost,

a thing unto myself, inscrutable and alien,


but within an hour I was tired of that,

so I fell in love with the next useless thing I saw

and wrote a stupid poem about it.


The Way You Cry for Things Beautiful and Gone


In truth there’s not much

I believe in anymore

but I sometimes go through the motions


like how we still try and be beautiful

in the few perfect hours

we stuff down our shirts

when the managers aren’t looking

the way we still try and be pretty

as we wait for the next disaster

to find us in the places where we hide

it’s a game we play to pass the time

but it’s not like back when joy

would lie beside us in the grass

like a great gentle beast sleepy beneath the sun

these days we hunt it down like vampires

we drain it and nail it to our walls like

a trophy to show our friends

and I’m  writing this down

in an Italian cafe on Columbus Avenue

a man at a nearby table drinks wine

and watches girls, just as I drink wine

and watch girls

and the jukebox plays Italian opera

sad and beautiful like so many things

I can’t understand

it makes me want to cry

the way you cry for things beautiful and gone

and now that some wine is in me it’s easier

to cry for things, and I remember that the sad dumb beauty of everything

was made for us after all, we just have to let it

into our hearts like music

and now Sinatra’s on the juke and he’s got the world on a string

as a pretty black girl in a leather skirt walks by

and the man at the nearby table grabs the waiter and orders

more wine and I trust in his wisdom and do the same.


William Taylor Jr.

William Taylor Jr. lives and writes in the Tenderloin neighborhood of San Francisco. His work has been published widely in journals across the globe, including The New York Quarterly, The Chiron Review, and Catamaran Literary Reader.  He is the author of numerous books of poetry, and An Age of Monsters, a collection of short fiction. He is a Pushcart Prize nominee and was a recipient of the 2013 Kathy Acker Award. To Break the Heart of the Sun, a new collection of poetry, is forthcoming in 2016 from Words Dance Press.

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