Seth Paul Williams
Copyright © Seth Paul Williams, 2011 All rights reserved. First published in 2011 by SONNETARY CONFINEMENT® in San Diego, CA, USA Sonnetary Confinement is a fictional publisher invented by Seth Paul Williams for the purpose of printing this chapbook. Sonnetary Confinement® is not a registered trademark in the United States. Designed by Seth Paul Williams First edition: December 2011 Printed in the United States of America.
TABLE OF CONTENTS Introduction .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. 1 Transcending Cool .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. 3-6 Glorified .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. 7-10 Uncontained Love Poem .. .. .. .. .. 11-14 August .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. 15-17 On the Contrary .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. 19-22 Millennialism .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. ..
Human Together .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. 27-30 Freedomâ€™s Rhythm .. .. .. .. .. .. .. 31-34
Introduction In his debut collection of poems, Seth Paul Williams explores vast overarching themes through the particularity of experience. Bravely experimenting with form, Seth’s poems are each structured differently but have in common a similar voice and speaker. The poems are strong because of their engagement with motion- the speaker’s mind is moving, his bike is moving, he’s on the go and taking us with him. From beginning thoughts on conventional problems of acceptance and rejection to a more advanced evolution towards complicated themes: Seth’s poems grapple with identity, mortality, nonconformity and journey. His poems are moving; with a dazzling balance of social commentary, self-implication, and grace. -Emily Sernaker, Author of currently untitled, unpublished memoirs
â€œWe do not need magic to transform our world. We carry all the power we need inside ourselves already. We have the power to imagine better.â€? - J.K. Rowling
Scrawny, timid, awkward and pale, my final futile reach for coolness was self invented, a proclamation that all should call me “P-nut.” “Without the ‘ea,’ dude. It’s ‘cause I’m small like a peanut, and I’m fuckin’ gangsta’.” When my true colors promptly phased out my gangsta’ I retreated, retired my heart to the Drama Club where everyone was weirder than me, but solidarity was cool and respect flowed rampantly. My first character was remarkably just like me, complete with colossal backpack and pubescent voice fluctuation, so a stretch for coolness outside myself was no struggle. 5.
My second character was least like me, a suave Texan who I accent-butchered to sound like no Texan Iâ€™ve ever heard speak, proof that accents and impersonating coolness were major barriers to my career goals in acting. It took those two roles for my heart to retire from theatre, and retreat to the writing desk where coolness and uncoolness are one in the same, subject not to what is, but to what is created.
There’s a certain glorification of a pen stroke upon a page like that of an African sun setting behind tri-colored lenses, energizing and peaceful. I’ve seen this phenomenon turn Gulu’s broad leafy acacia bush-line dark, yet ever illuminated in a way that at any other time is impossible. How attractive the prospect that as a sunset in Uganda can illustrate organic beauty, so can I write glory. And yet there’s confusion why creation crafts both magnificence and powerlessness. Where’s the beauty in Gulu’s muggy midday slump? Where’s the light in the heat of a story’s materialization?
There’s a certain bewilderment of a story in its conception like a Seguaro cactus, resplendent against dim midnight moonshine. I’ve seen its bended arms royally throned, its slender posture divine under intoxication, inebriation of insomnia. How enticing the thought that as a thorny succulent can display enchanting elegance, so can I imagine glory. And yet what by night was masterpiece is fleeting labor by day. Where’s the majesty in afternoon’s exposure of savagery? Where’s the brilliance in the rigid reality of a story’s telling?
Uncontained Love Poem
I’m heated because I never wanted to write love poetry, but I fall in love like the greenless pine needles fall in Autumn and despite my wishes I did it again. It’s one of those friendship-purgatory things where it’s clear as oxygen that I won’t level-up past “just friends,” and she’s too damn charming to scorch that up with, yet enchanting enough to kindle my impulsiveness. It’s annoying that she’s so nice, like friends-with-anything-with-a facebecause-it’s-the-right-thing-to-do nice, and she’s sarcastic and funny, like times-her-inappropriate-commentsperfectly-yet-still-comes-off-asinnocent-and-wholesome
funny. And it blows that she’s so pretty, like indelible-smile-and-glowing-eyesimmortalized-to-the-back-of-my-eyelids pretty, and she cares about the world, like badass-enough-to-win-a-Nobel-Prizebut-too-humble-to-dream-of-it compassionate. And what really dries me up is that despite my tendency to fall in love like the sun falls upon the earth, she’s the only one that occupies my mind like the hippies occupy Wall Street. It’s all got me combusted because this kind of love is just so inconvenient and destructive, and far too tricky for my clumsy hands to distinguish, and now it’s made me write love poetry, which really turns wild this blazing fire of a love.
90 degrees without sun, 40 long miles down. A bright red-orange horizon to my back threatens perilous heat for the dayâ€™s last 60. The sun begins as a tiny clipped fingernail stuck upon the curve of the earth and inflates to push itself above the decrepit brown land that West Texas has the nerve to hold dear. By this time Iâ€™m half machine, legs revolving steadily, feet welded to clips, iron bars of arms an extension of handlebars, head erect and neck muscles on fire keeping my spine from bowing to the weight of my brain like a frail coconut tree. The half of me still human is regaining vigilance, eyes blinking, toes wiggling to remind myself that thereâ€™s still some life down there, occasional head turns to study lone oil rigs or cemeteries abandoned to the hostile, dry cracked earth. Lifelessness of numb hands, butt, nose and heart direct my mind to repetitive mundane thought. Despite having come 2,000 miles, another thousand till California have me convinced that I will never touch a bike again once I get there.
On the Contrary
Heaven A. An airy white abyss riddled with mansions and streets of gold. A reward earned upon the performance of sumptuous virtue. The utopian eternity, hierarchical and structured, is but a hazy destination, a dwelling for the consciousness of prisoners of like-minds. Talk to the men of institution, the good shepherds, the clergies who dream only with pillows and who love all alone. Heaven is in a majestic cloud reserved for the loveliest and the best.
Heaven B. An inexplicable warmth emanating from the economy of loyalty. A gift acquired upon the modest sharing of self. The kingdom of conscience, unconditional and free, is here and now, a united network for borderless friends. Talk to the filthy-faced vagrants, the renegade flocks, the sinners who dream without sleep and who alone are a particle in a Love unconstrained by the walls of white steepled buildings. Heaven is upon all of those who scour this pale earth for a chance to spread Its abundant wealth.
They tell me that the world is on me now. So I rise and I raise a mug and I say: Inheritance accepted! I vow to do my best to make it better than you’ve left it, but you should know some more about me, I may be different than you think, see I’m subject to myself and to the things that I believe. I won’t stop laying down provocative raps and poetry, and I’ll infuse our daily lives with micro-chip technology. I'll ride to work on boards and fixies, wear ties with jeans and short sleeves, and even gel a big green mohawk if it flies with me. I'm gonna be what I am, even if you elect me to lead, see, I believe that that’s the trouble with the world today, that people lose themselves to power, profit and play. 25.
I want to redefine our interests as the sacred lives of people and redesign our contracts based on ethical behavior, I want to redistribute wealth and set priorities new, which perhaps is why the wealthy won’t be lobbying for me. I'm idealistic and I’m brash, and don't give a fuck for how I'm seen. I shout through blogs and spray paint, I like to make myself heard, and I’m annoyed by the ideas of controllers of the word. So give me your sullied world, let me spin it and shake it and don’t complain when money won’t evoke me to fake it. I’ll soon be all you’ve got and in the world I’ll be while quietly you’re fading within the mansions you bought.
â€œMy humanity is bound up in yours, for we can only be human together.â€? - Desmond Tutu
I have my issues, I with my costly computer-phone, with my television, with a home and with a bedroom and a car, I who bitch and blame on banners of status updates and tweets:
Fuck The Man for all that happens to me, for debt and unemployment, for war and disease and poverty.
But who is The Man? Someone evil, greedy and cruel, a relentless pillager and hoarder, or might he just have kids that heâ€™s trying to put through school? And does he have a Man of his own, someone spouting off orders because he too has kids at home? 29.
Couldnâ€™t I myself be The Man to the people without my hopes, those without my schools and my hospitals, my rights and liberties and votes? People whose plights and obstacles are silently perpetuated by my daily choices like how I use my wallet and how I filter their voices?
Might The Men I blame be just men entangled, like me, in a mankind mess, where so quickly I forget that all my human is bound up in theirs?
I feel deeply American, not by national name tag or by patriotism to that which claims and controls the land,
but by a heritage in the ferned redwood and in rocky alpine and brush-stroked grassland where, running wild, there is freedom.
Freedom, not the human concept of physical liberty, but a holistic entity, a rhythm that we canâ€™t know when weâ€™re concerned with nation. 33.
Freedom of the land, earthâ€™s rich culture of shades of green fading to yellows compacting to browns, rolling into slopes, layering from opaque green to sky-purple haze.
Freedom that transcends ideological lines and border walls, freedom thatâ€™s pushed up from the soil which consumes the blood shed by our quarrels and prejudices, freedom that claims those who seek it into its rhythm.
About the Poet
Seth Paul Williams, raised 4,000 feet above sea level in Pine Valley, California has drawn much of his inspiration from the introspective collisions of childhood memories and experiences from his last five years spent traveling through the United States (by bicycle, van, train and car) and to Uganda, Africa. Having begun studying Peace Studies at San Diego City College after working with a non-profit social justice organization, Invisible Children, for six years, Seth spends much of his time thinking and writing about issues of the world close to his heart.