Phillip B. Williams




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.