Four Poems by Cage Williams

à Talbot


Talbot took to ground

and surveyed the peppered field

hills, scree-topped mountains blueing, knowing himself

the premium, world-class, stripped Achilles steel

thorn in the side of all enemies


a comparable summer’s Thursday remembers that coast

     sun-bled but for one blewit cloud rising from the works

how strong was warlike Talbot

how long noble Talbot held out

          a European conglomerate tempts him to furies

     while already sorrow runs below his horizon’s frame


          molten streams in yet climbing fires course along

     with cauterised fragments as white hot as sheepskin

where is Talbot now?                              turns back to camp

bravely to fresh borne messengers, not French this time

more probably German, ThyssenKrupp, and says boldly

          here is the Talbot: who would speak with him?


tata for now



piece of Pocahontas


‘All must die, but tis enough that her child liveth’


court in the middle unconvinced

she stood unable to     well          breathe

surrounded by ambassadors, lesser royals

the nobility, ladies of the garter     John Rolfe

was there too          for what it was worth

Queen Anne and the other one


I used to ride bareback


cast regular glances in her direction

unable to mask the energy     drawn

from that new timbre, her rough nativity

exoskeletal features          eyes compulsatory

all alone          standing          out of a crowd


I used to ride bareback


that became an audience     The Vision of Delight

refined little cold-age London’s micro-climate

she wasn’t used          to Zephyrus’ bites

no cooling water now for Pocahontas

at the masque of her lessers

at which she caught


I used to ride bareback



Pyrrhus’ rag


shock full of vengeful zeal

a jet man wades through

kettles of blood, hunting Priam

nerveless grandsire to the citadel


is it possible that he should find him

among the squalor? but he does unearth

the proud old king scarce strong enough

to hold a longsword   


Pyrrhus pauses before wielding

the clarion blow (poor Ilium’s milky father)

not out of remorse

his ear not imprisoned by the augmented crash


or tone cluster of some flaming tower

nor out of reverence for

his foe’s noble locks

but rather to wipe away


with the action we have come to expect

of an Olympic swimmer

upon reaching the pool’s edge

or of a pit pianist between acts


several beads of moisture

now dripping from the brow

blurring his vision, marking the end

which is only a new beginning


to the speechless onslaught



dead leg by Herne’s Oak


walk through Windsor Home Park

sense time’s upturned anchor

round which you ran

horns akimbo                       feral

nervous system

of the invisible


a tree that no longer exists

but whose presence


hangs in the air

tugging at this ankle’s balance

loosening my acorn guard


groaning for its own ringed fingers

this tonne of absence

draws us all out


become the butt of a fool’s staff

I fall among the floating sweet-grass



Cage Williams is a poet, writer and musician based in London. He writes on subjects ranging from jazz and the New York School poets to Shakespeare. The poems presented here are part of a set of ‘improvisations’ he is currently working on which take para-textual connections with Shakespeare as a starting point. 


Image credit: Ben Salter

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