[Poem] icy HUGH

icy Hugh

words and pictures by S. Zainab Williams

i see dead things all around,
from the blackened red stain on the frozen ground
to the campfire badge all charred and browned.

i see tires on the jagged stone row,
them frayed, ragged feathers like a broken crow,
the gutted parcels and the little pink bow.

i–i see rags ‘mongst the salt and rust,
about the glistening innards of a decayed sea bust
what cracked its belly open, paid the fathomless trust.

i see no one in the cooling beds,
here the presents stay wrapped; there white snow, motley red,
ho! deep troughs, not of sleds.

my dead eye sniffs them out
what my shorn tongue never will shout.

But
Once I saw
A moon maiden’s grove
Where the silvered oaks shimmered and no man would rove,
Where the stars swayed, bright flowers in the quake
Of fine-boned feet skimming, scattering the lake.
Toward me, toward me, ah the lovestruck fool
Wrapped warm and unaware in summered tulle.
She reached out her hands to beckon me in

then i saw the hook took my dazzled eye
oh i saw my tongue from its home she did pry.

i see dead things all around,
from the blue-black temple tween the mother crowned
to my own black hole where i make no sound.

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Death Said, “Hurry”

illustration by s. zainab williamsWhen I was a child even smaller than I am today, I’d often look up from my book and imagine what it might be like to be a writer. I pictured fingers raking through care-swept hair, piles of books, littered quills and crumpled paper, and the oldest writing desk buried beneath inked sheets and crawling with belligerent ravens. You know, high rafters, dust, and the empty, black space beyond.

I long ago left childhood behind and turned 32 this month. I’ve published a graphic novel and I’m on the cusp of querying my first full-length novel. It turns out that other than the ravens and the rafters, my naive vision of writing was mostly correct. I sit chained to my desk, which is piled high with all of the things I don’t have time to read or file, pulling out my hair, looking for red pens among the stupid decorative quills, most often isolated in my apartment. Replace the ravens with a cat I guess.

While I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished, it’s not enough. I started this blog a few days before my 29th birthday when I realized I didn’t have all the time in the world. Like Captain Hook, I hear the clock ticking every second away and, grim as it may sound, birthdays have turned into reminders that I’m not working fast or hard enough. And when you spend almost all of your free time working, apologizing to friends, and basically living for this thing that sucks up your life, goals and results become that much more urgent.

Maybe I’d never get anything done if I wasn’t so frantic. I don’t know what will be the byproduct of aggressive ambition and the inability to meet my own expectations. All I know is that I spent my birthday in my apartment, editing my manuscript, and that it was the only thing I wanted to do.