C. K. Williams

williamsC. K. Williams died last year. I hadn’t read much of his work, but liked what I saw in a review of his Selected Later Poems.  His lines are often long, and his poems, too. This is my favorite so far. It totally grabs me in its “syrupy upsoaring netting.”

At What Time on the Sabbath Do Vultures Awake?

Yesterday, at four in the afternoon there were as accurately as I could count sixteen
xxx on fence posts
and branches banking or dive-bombing might be the better term down towards a dead
xxxdeer in a gulley
but this morning at dawn there were none none at all as I trekked by so I thought
   they’d consumed
the corpse or emptied its guts but no there it still was though I didn’t come too close for
xxxthe stench

then later on my way back were first five then at least a half dozen more circling over
xxxtheir quarry
a few scrolling down towards it and how not wonder whether they’d overslept or
xxx
if on Sundays
like this they just like to sit around reading the paper not bothering to get up till
xxxday’s going
full blast and the great pouring clouds of chattering starlings are already in flight
xxxheading south

or maybe it’s not till they’re stiff from too many hours in theirs nests or when they feel
xxxtheir rectums
contract in anticipation of the feast surely still stewing out there in the browning weeds
that they unfold their elaborate wings and their crampy prostethical legs stretch their
xxxhideous necks
and hurl themselves into the waiting air which to them must be a syrupy upsoaring netting

and then as the light in the dearest distance brightens and moves down over the hillside
xxxbedazzled
with late autumn hues and the winter chill becomes something you can almost ingest
they clamber onto the carcass to drive the blunt blades of their beaks into the well-
xxxsoftened flesh
fully awake now and how be otherwise on a day portending such glorious craving and
xxxfulfillment?

C.K. Williams

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