“through the act of living, the discovery of oneself is made concurrently with the discovery of the world around us. . ."

Thursday, February 11, 2010

C K Williams

C K Williams is one of my favourite poets. Though his collections are quite expensive, I do have a couple with me. The uniqueness of the structure of his lines as well as the subject matter is quite striking. I would like to share with you a couple of his poems.

On the Metro
by C. K. Williams

On the metro, I have to ask a young woman to move the packages beside her to make room for me;
she’s reading, her foot propped on the seat in front of her, and barely looks up as she pulls them to her.
I sit, take out my own book—Cioran, The Temptation to Exist—and notice her glancing up from hers
to take in the title of mine, and then, as Gombrowicz puts it, she “affirms herself physically,” that is,
becomes present in a way she hadn’t been before: though she hasn’t moved, she’s allowed herself
to come more sharply into focus, be more accessible to my sensual perception, so I can’t help but remark
her strong figure and very tan skin—(how literally golden young women can look at the end of summer.)
She leans back now, and as the train rocks and her arm brushes mine she doesn’t pull it away;
she seems to be allowing our surfaces to unite: the fine hairs on both our forearms, sensitive, alive,
achingly alive, bring news of someone touched, someone sensed, and thus acknowledged, known.

I understand that in no way is she offering more than this, and in truth I have no desire for more,
but it’s still enough for me to be taken by a surge, first of warmth then of something like its opposite:
a memory—a girl I’d mooned for from afar, across the table from me in the library in school now,
our feet I thought touching, touching even again, and then, with all I craved that touch to mean,
my having to realize it wasn’t her flesh my flesh for that gleaming time had pressed, but a table leg.
The young woman today removes her arm now, stands, swaying against the lurch of the slowing train,
and crossing before me brushes my knee and does that thing again, asserts her bodily being again,
(Gombrowicz again), then quickly moves to the door of the car and descends, not once looking back,
(to my relief not looking back), and I allow myself the thought that though I must be to her again
as senseless as that table of my youth, as wooden, as unfeeling, perhaps there was a moment I was not.


The other poem that I wanted to give here was 'The Shame'. However, it is not available in the internet.

I am sure some of you would have read C K Williams; this post is for those who haven't. I hope you will share my enthusiasm for CK.

******** Balachandran Trivandrum 11.02.2010

P S. btw, today is my actual ( read non-official) 52nd birthday! HAPPY BIRTHDAY, ME!! :D


  1. a beautiful one, like you said, regarding the subject as well as the treatment! Vivid and descriptive at that too.

  2. very vivid taking the reader along every step, thanks for sharing this one and a very happy birthday to you!!

  3. firstly, a very very happy bday to dear B. Live long, happily!

    as for the poem, yea i havnt read CK before and i really liked this one.the situation described might happen in our lives as well, alle? and i have a strong feeling that i might be behaving,if not exactly, somewhat like her. ;) just being honest ;) ;)

  4. Happy Birthday B (actualy belated) I read somewhere it was today!. Nice poem and thanks for sahring!

  5. I came i saw i was conquered by the poet :) .. thanks for introducing us to him


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