Bruce Williams
    Bruce Williams grew up in Denver and received his PhD from Claremont Graduate University. For many years he has taught writing at Mount San Antonio College. He still lives on a hill high above San Dimas, California with memories, a mountain-climbing roomer, and two Jeeps. Bruce has published four chapbooks: Clothes Poems: Pudding House, Stratification: Inevitable Press, Everyone In My Support Group Feels Grateful After I Share: Inevitable Press, and The Mojave Road At Last: Conflux.
    Bruce writes heart-wrenching poems about family dysfunction, disease, loss, love and longing. Hes smart, hes a teacher, hes a craftsman, but hes never self-consciously literary; his voice lights up a room with both authenticity and panache. And theres humor there, too. For it would be too hard, and too unhealthy, to try to get through all this tragedy without a bit of fun. And Bruce reads better than most poets; he knows how to deliver, as far as the performance side of his work is concerned. But its on the page where the work really matters, and lives. And on that level he delivers most of all. What Bruce has been through is hell; what he offers us in his best poems is that little taste of heaven that we always hope for in good poetry.

A Gift

Last day. Hospice.
She tells the children
she loves them.
Tells me thank you
after I say she’s
beautiful. Then
gurgles and jerks.
Morphine by schedule,
but she could have
more if I want.
How can you know
if someone half
comatose has too
much pain? Then
I realize why it’s up
to me and what more
morphine could mean.
I call the doctor.
How can I choose?
He tells me he’ll take
that choice away
from me: doubles
the regular dose.
Two hours. We’re
all there, touching her,
wiping up blood
oozing from her nose
and mouth. She takes
a ragged breath. Stops.
Fools us. Takes one
more. She’s gone.

Sunday, September 24, 2006, 9 pm

“Fighting Cancer”

Maybe those words are wrong and can lead to a burnt Bruce policy, the siege of my colon, bladder, kidneys—the retreat from the body’s Moscow or a last stand in the Alamo or Little Big Horn of the brain. So I ask: Could we just get along, have some kind of truce, agree to co-exist? I want to ride my Jeep down dirt roads, watch the mountains’ purple turn to red. See my teenager become someone I don’t almost hate. Help my wife negotiate with a relative of yours. Add a few more anniversaries to our stack. And you, sweet cancer, love your creativity, your experiments with cellar revision, your variations on normal cells’ dull themes.
I say, you can keep the prostate, or at least most of it, and plant your slow gardens. But stay there. I admire your energy, ambition, your desire to feed the earth. But be satisfied. No new outposts on the body’s West Bank, dismantle any there, and I’ll send no suicide-chemo in.
Let’s be friends. Live together until a new enemy appears.


Back from the Mojave Road. He
dreamed next to a new woman.
He was walking with his first lover,
who changed to his dead wife.
Something was not between them,
and he asked if she still loved
him. She said, “No” calmly
as if it were “Yes,” or the directions
to a house. Nothing hurt. She
moved upward and ahead. Suddenly
she was naked and more than
beautiful. Then the threads of light
that were Ellen unknit. And
each thread went its own way.

2012 Bruce Williams
Bruce Williams was a Featured Poet who read his poetry at the December 2012 Second Sunday Poetry Series