Poetry by William L. Alton

It’s Easy to Forget

It’s easy to forget that you loved me, that you couldn’t wait to see me in the morning.
Your silence now makes it easy to forget that there are people in the world.
My bed is too big for me.
I sleep in the corner of the mattress and pull the woolen blanket up over my shoulder.
I’m cold now without you.
I remember a night I woke in pain and you rushed me to the emergency room.
You slept in the car and the doctors sent me home with Percocet.
I slept for three days and you brought me soup and juice.
All of that’s gone now.
All of that is empty memory.
Divorce is an ugly beast, even when it’s a mutual thing.
I wish there were some other way, but it’s too late for that.
I don’t want to be wooed, you say.
I wouldn’t do that.
I don’t know how to make you remember me in a better light.
I prefer my empty apartment now.
I prefer my loneliness.
Life is easier without companionship.
My therapist argues with me.
You’re too isolated, she says.
You need to get out.
But there is nowhere to go, nothing to do.
I am too shy to make friends easily.
People do not understand the me, the voices I hear when there is no one around.
It’s okay.
It’s easy to forget that the world is not out to get me.
Sometimes I’m scared and you scare me more.
I dread my phone.
I dread the voices of strangers telling me that I cannot go on.
It’s easy to forget that you’re not there for me anymore.
I wait for you at the end of the day, but you never arrive.
It’s easy to forget that you’ve stopped loving me, that we shared too much to be friends even.

Sunday Afternoon

The hill rises at the edge of town, wet grass, mud, starlings and sparrows.
I rush into the rain, the wind, the small slice of sunlight falling like a blade through the trees.
I am a preacher telling the story of the Sermon Jesus gave on a rise somewhere in Israel.
I do not believe in God, but I have faith I’ll die someday and someday I’ll rise like steam from a pot of water waiting for the tea bag to transform it.

My son brings me lupine from his mother’s garden.
We sit in the living room of my apartment and talk.
There’s not much to say.
His life is going so fast while mine is slowing down.

I miss the mornings when I would wake and there would be a purpose for the day.
Now I wake and wait for the sun to rise into the watery sky.
I wait for the rain to head east, away from this valley.
I cannot wait for summer’s heat.

Trees cast long shadows on the hill at the edge of town and they catch the wind so it isn’t so miserable here.
I stand in the mud and shout my name at the sky until someone calls the police and they come to question my motives.
I have nothing to say to them and they take me to the station in cuffs.
They take me to the hospital where I’m wild with fear.

The days pass here with a slick motion.
The clocks all are wrong, giving different times on every wall.
I sit in the Common Room and wait for the chance to slip away, to go home and sleep in my own bed, to shower in my own shower.
I will not give myself away.

I will not spread my madness to the masses.
I hear voices now between these walls and they tell me that I will die here.
I keep my back to the wall, watching, waiting, paranoid.
I cannot do everything at once, but I can do this.


About William L. Alton

William L. Alton was born November 5, 1969 and started writing in the eighties while incarcerated in a psychiatric prison. Since then his work has appeared in Main Channel Voices, World Audience, and Breadcrumb Scabs, among others. In 2010, he was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. He has published one book titled Heroes of Silence. He earned both his BA and MFA in Creative Writing from Pacific University in Forest Grove, Oregon where he continues to live. You can find him at williamlalton.com.