person Dare Williams, five poems

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.

Twitter: Dare_Williams13
Insta: Rebelwithapen
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
hard pressed
rolled up.
You take me
down Vine
a night drive.
I swallow you
as the inertia
my body
the dash
your foot on the brake
I see the neon lights
of this wasteland
& I’m alive again.
You drop me off
& still
I have not put
your name in my phone
was the word
you used.


What They Called Us

this one sits
in the shade this

one hangs
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
dies happiest

filled with
the most light who

left hungry what
is full


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

and                                                                 buzzing.


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.



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