William Evans

William Evans is a writer and educator from Columbus, OH.  He has competed at six National Poetry Slams and has been a National Slam Finalist twice.  His first poetry manuscript, In the Event You are Caught Behind Enemy Lines, was published on Penmanship Books in August 2009.  He also founded the Writing Wrongs Poetry Slam in Columbus, who reached the Finals at the 2011 National Poetry Slam in just its third year of existence.

 

Four Poems (February 2013. Issue 40.)

Leave, Do Not Look

In the breath of eight minutes
my fifteen year old cousin
calls her newborn a nigga twelve times, each
with a horned laughter that drags the words
behind it like a chain gang

it is the efficiency that
draws my wife's attention, her eyes
raising with every lazily
discarded arrow that finds the blood
of the bull's-eye. She grips my hand

like a crane would a broken child
my unattended fingers still
dripping across the new curve of her stomach.
This house doesn't remember me
my voice is the whispered cough

in an abandoned hospital. A sword who never
wanted to return to the stone
I shove my teeth into this smile when I
declare our departure. My wife so gracious by
rising so slowly under the eyes of my

family, who is an oil spill of well intended smiles
a smoke alarm beeps somewhere too
loud for the pinching of these walls but
the faces I leave do not look like death, though
it is hard to picture anything growing

Courtship

I came to this with my hands open
caked with Great Lakes mud. Buried steak knives
in the embankment where I lost my shame in telling lies

I was there when another woman closed her eyes
and drowned, of course I was
my chest a riverbed not knowing any better

I mean: You are a lighthouse too eager for this skid
with too much wind and not enough harbor. I brought so
much water, love, so much

Proving Grounds (Joy Park, 1995)

Its important to note that Troy is dead
though if you could ask him
he would tell you how he hated this field
how he spent as much blood
in its bed as touchdown
celebrations. He would tell you
of an Akron University sweatshirt we buried
by the north goal but not
the girl who spit on it
as if the sweatshirt were his

my hands found new blood in the field's
stomach that day, the history packed under
stomping feet of boys
not long for this life

after she took college sweatshirts
for target practice
a girl once fell under me here for a month
at a time, before she caught me
sharing our field with a quiet
that couldn't pronounce her name

when she slapped me
I spit my lip
into our overgrown bed
the weeds surrendered their necks
towards the same place we found Troy
six Sundays before with less life
then we both remembered

In three months, I will be the nameless
statue at her funeral
today, we both marvel
at the name Joy Park
like it is an inside joke
where the punch line is a rabid dog
that never loses its teeth

Cheap Armor For Sale

They may never know how he earned the scar
the feral dog barking up the right of his glass smile

how his cheeks sing a siren's song when he attempts at charm
why the wires -- once in his jaw -- have left his smirk

with more character than it was found with
notice his hands, how the fingers spiderweb

across the piano's grin. The palms so pristine they glow
like a muzzle flare. Applaud him. Loudly

I will always remember his hands
for the grip they held on Janet's neck

how he tried to squeeze religion from her throat
the midnight apology that cocooned her left eye

when she spoke with her fingers
the hour's least painful language

I have grown my father's hands
they are deathly large

I will always remember the first punch
the second, the last.

the way every swing left more of him
on my hands. How war retreated back up my arms

the hour it took to wash them both
from my wedding ring. The shaking

hands that never came
the calls from Janet I never answered

the apology I'm sure she
gave him on my behalf

The Legendary