Patrick Williams

For the Caisson Dead

You get to choose what they put
on your tombstone, right? I feel
like you definitely do. Maybe every
sandhog who entered an airlock got
to do the same. I want a portrait of me
on mine. Me at my most me: head tilted,
resting an ear atop the five-gallon
water cooler tank. I’m looking out
a window, watching work as Roebling did.
The water never overflows
because I use that trick where
your finger pokes the air just inside
the mouth of the bottle until it’s no longer air.
Then you release the tap and sigh. If you
spend enough time working with water
and air, you have something new.
Usually I linger there, as bubbles
flutter up, my knees bent slightly,
trying to feel it in my blood.


Patrick Williams is a poet and academic librarian living in Central New York. His recent work appears in publications including Noble/Gas Qtrly, Posit, Third Point Press, and Heavy Feather Review. His chapbook Hygiene in Reading (Publishing Genius, 2016) was awarded the 2015 Chris Toll Memorial Prize. He edits Really System, a journal of poetry and extensible poetics. Find him at and on Twitter @activitystory.