poem index

sign up to receive a new poem-a-day in your inbox

Recorded for Poem-a-Day, January 2, 2018.
About this Poem 

“This poem is part of a few ‘failed sonnets’ I’d written and revised out of their intended form. In this revision, I wanted the phrase ‘in the first place’ to move through two possibilities: the first instance and the first location. That there may be other readings is great. As for the title, I guess I was thinking less about success and more about regretting when one gets exactly what one has asked for.”
Phillip B. Williams

And Now Upon My Head the Crown

1.
             In the first place—I wanted him and said so
when I had only meant to say. His eyes
opened beyond open as if such force would unlock me
to the other side where daylight gave reason 
for him to redress. 

                                          When he put on his shirt, 
after I asked him to keep it off, to keep putting off 
the night’s usual end, his face changed beneath 
the shirt: surprise to grin, to how even the body 
of another’s desire can be a cloak behind which 
to change one’s power, to find it. 


2.
                                                                 In the first place
he slept, he opened the tight heat of me that had been 
the only haven he thought to give a name:

Is-it-mine? Why-you-running? Don’t-run-from-it—as though
through questions doubt would find its way away from me,
as though telling me what to do told me who I was.

Copyright © 2018 by Phillip B. Williams. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on January 2, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.

Copyright © 2018 by Phillip B. Williams. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on January 2, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.

Phillip B. Williams. Photo credit: Beowulf Sheehan.

Phillip B. Williams

Phillip B. Williams is the author of Thief in the Interior (Alice James Books, 2016).

by this poet

poem

            When you were mine though not
mine at all permanently, just a body borrowed
without permission, a body interrupted,
interruptive—

                           the sky opened like a secret in a mouth

mouth with a word in it
   
word with an arrowhead in its

2