Lost in sleep, he trembles. Strange
dreams or his fever. This soft death
he can return from spoils him.
He’s skipped his regimen for weeks,
unable to partition his life into pills
measured in days, hours, meals.
Side effects of Atripla: it goes down, comes
back up. Osteopenia, bones fracture—
little sonnets in his foot, chemical-weak
or weakened kidneys? He didn’t know
if it was the virus or the drug. When
his bones stopped splintering his fever
wouldn’t budge. Through the window,
sunlight. Its forsythia laurelled his brow.
Stuffed animal on one side,
cold stare of a pillow on the other, you
have left me sophomoric. Thank you
for your time, the big thing
you had to show me, then
you didn’t, though I still look
for your complaints inside my mouth’s
hard pink. My wet. My teeth.
It is winter now. Your body
promised me a fire that the weather
baffles. You owe me. Then cold
covers what you owe, the generosity of strangers.
You were once a stranger. One morning, you found
your clothes in my closet. My bones
had their way with you. Inside and out.
PHILLIP B. WILLIAMS is a Chicago, Illinois native. He is the author of the forthcoming book of poems Thief in the Interior (Alice James Books, 2016). He’s also co-authored a book of poems and conversations called Prime (Sibling Rivalry Press). He is a Cave Canem graduate and received scholarships from Bread Loaf Writers Conference and a 2013 Ruth Lilly Fellowship. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Anti-, Callaloo, Kenyon Review Online, Poetry, The Southern Review, West Branch and others. Phillip received his MFA in Writing from the Washington University in St. Louis. He is the poetry editor of the online journal Vinyl Poetry.