the sun shouts at us in tongues and other poems by William James

The sun shouts at us in tongues
through the tower window. Calls us

by name & we hide ourselves
from its gaze. From the plague

of crows circling en masse. They carried
our bones into the forest by the thousands,

under the heavy weight of fiction
& light. Our souls thinned, mortal, worn.

Uncoiled & exposed, we open skin
to show our veins to fading daylight skies,

& in this nakedness we find strength.
Our eyes, awake in whispers of light.

Our mouths, grinning through
thin sheets of cinders and rain.


i’ve been the pauper cocooned


I’ve been the pauper cocooned
in pink & white, the lonely ritual

scrawled in asphalt. The waves
of unforgiving static from which

there is no escape. I’ve been
the gravel in porcelain tongue.

The chandelier fallen to earth,
a lonely cough laced with water

& glowing fuchsia. Sifting the remains
of roses & laughter through my hands.

My knees, ribboned in sweat. My spit,
lingering on the pale clay lips of god.


all day long they carried


All day long, they carried
their children. All day long
they carried the sun.

Up the mountain, through smoke,
straining to see the light from
the golden window of their chests.

They kicked pennies at a burning
fire, loved each other under the pale
moon. The sky was a wide smile.

Sweet water, pretty rain. No more
riots, no cruel policemen shouting
at kids just for singing the blues.

All day long, they carried joy
in their hearts like lightning, stumbled
free in the divinity of their dreams.
[if tomorrow the whole world]

If tomorrow the whole world is gone,
lost in a storm of blood & bone,

if morning is a bolt of fire cracked
pale & beautiful in the gun barrel of the sky,

I will splash black water on my skin.
I will dance hard in the cold, make love

one last time before the sun can burn out
for good. I will sing to the abyss – not a song

of broken ribs & martyrdom, not even
a cry of war. I will open my eyes,

sing out my last instructions on how
to stay alive when everything is burning.


love make me brighter than the falling


Love, make me brighter than the falling
moon. A pendulum of pale white flowers
swinging gently in the spring breeze. Give me

an eternity of summers & a sky free of heavy
rain. Shower me in falling leaves, roses, clean
blood & the bones of a swan. Rejoice with me,

my love. Happy & alive in our bestial heaven.
Let us reflect our paradise in the stars. Make this
mud into earth, the sun shining through clouds.

Shake the dirt from my eyes until I’ve danced
endlessly in circles, & exhausted, I will cling
to your hands like they were the sea.


These poems are deconstructions of previously existing texts. For each poem, I have taken the lyrics to a different record from my music library, rearranged the words in alphabetical order, and restricted myself to writing the poem using only those words. For your convenience as an editor, I have listed the albums used to write each poem below.

[the sun shouts at us in tongues] – Isis, “Panopticon”
[i’ve been the pauper cocooned] – Deafheaven, “New Bermuda”
[all day long they carried] – A Silver Mt. Zion, “Fuck Off Get Free We Pour Light On Everything”
[if tomorrow the whole world] – Nora, “Dreamers & Deadmen”
[love make me brighter than the falling] – Nothing, “Guilty of Everything”

About the author:

William James is a poet, punk rocker, and train enthusiast from Manchester, NH. He’s the founder & editor-in-chief of Beech Street Review,  a contributing editor for Drunk In A Midnight Choir & the author of “rebel hearts & restless ghosts” (Timber Mouse, 2015). His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Forklift OH, Rogue Agent, Stirring, SOFTBLOW, Word Riot, and elsewhere. Follow him on Twitter (@thebilljim) or at

1 Comment on the sun shouts at us in tongues and other poems by William James

  1. good stuff


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