A 2019 PEN America Emerging Voices Fellow, Dare Williams is a Queer HIV-positive poet, artist, activist native to Southern California. Dare’s poetry has been featured in Cultural Weekly and elsewhere and is forthcoming in THRUSH and Bending Genres. An alum of John Ashbery Home School Claremont, he is currently working on his first poetry collection.
Facebook: Dare Williams
When Momma Was a Moth
she would light the home search for small slivers
could split silk warm with a glare electric a body
against the oven would collect dirt find the cracks would
shrink and dim herself for lovers only clean the house
in a way she would arrange for those heading over
to look wealthy and neat would heat the place
with a quickened breath would stay waiting
a loud footstep enters each room turning
the bulbs off one pull chain at a time a door swiftly opens
blows dust off her wings— help is coming she would say
her last words before changing into a pile of perfect powder
ready to be swept away
In your car
I’m licking my wounds
I like my windows
You take me
a night drive.
I swallow you
as the inertia
your foot on the brake
I see the neon lights
of this wasteland
& I’m alive again.
You drop me off
I have not put
your name in my phone
was the word
What They Called Us
this one sits
in the shade this
in the sun this
one gets picked but
who does the plucking who
pickles on the vines what
sets in the east how
why special this
one is in leathers that
one in denim this
one waits forever that
one withers away suddenly
(the dish is empty
the house is quiet) what
matters is who
the most light who
left hungry what
Here Comes the Sun
You and a brightness a snap of icy cold
snow peas crunch in a mouth
almost slipping on surfaces
so many dangers you display resilience.
I was late slowly stirring inside this syrup
an empty milk carton floating in the harbor
already forming swaddled
in screams and tension what yelling sounds like
under water my barely-there fists
clutching muted bees. You almost died, didn’t you
you almost put me back an unfinished painting
found in a basement but who started it, I ask
and who decided to put it away hoping no one would find it.
You moved your earth and chose to
uncover me in the end,
I did exactly what you wanted—
I came out fully formed
Someone Saved my Life Tonight
All this chatter coming from you
slowly stopped, language blurred,
buttered on the bread. I fell sideways
deep down the wall scraping, my
strings cut from an unknown god and
that is how the dying started.
An audience looking at me,
a collection of limbs on the kitchen floor,
cold lights and a blank black, deeper than a box.
Audio came first I believe
a crack then eyes open
or pictures appearing, faces.
I was carried outside in slow motion,
the speed of sound sped up, a timbre.
I was placed and told to sit still,
here have water, water is life
there was for hours, a pulling.
I shivered and held on nailed to the couch.
There was a thought of maybe leaving.
Had I done all I could here on this earth,
here, with this queer body taking space.
You can sometimes imagine through milky lenses
that you are in the way, so why not move on.
Tonight, at work I heard myself say my age
out loud to someone I don’t really know.
I said it with a sort of disbelief,
tricked by time. I clocked out and
started walking home counting every step.
One for each time I have chosen to live.