Three Deconstructions – William James

photo courtesy of Face The Show (

Author’s note: all of these poems were written using a process I’ve come to refer to as ‘deconstruction’ – basically, I take the lyrics to albums by bands who have been influential on me as an artist, copy & paste them in alphabetical order on sheets of paper, and then proceed to write ‘magnetic poetry’ style using only the words that are on the pages spread out in front of me. In each of these poems, every word that was used appears somewhere in the lyrics to the respective album it is inspired by/taken from. 

Deconstruction I: 
all words in this poem taken from "Songs To Scream At The Sun" by Have Heart

Ask me where I'm from & I'll say I live 
in a cold city that reminds anyone of anything 
but home. It's overcrowded & full of guilt. 

I forget how to breathe. I never dance, 
because my heart dwells too long 
on insecurities. Sometimes the mail brings me 

loveless magazines that leave the blues 
in my stomach, because I am afraid 
to be alone. Some nights, I dream that I am 

a song-bird lost in a shoreless ocean 
or a sea of blood. I think of my father 
in his garden – he calls it Paradise, 

will say it's greener than all of Eden. On TV,
there's a man begging to be dragged through 
the fire. His hypocrisy is beautiful in the way 

it's just like my own. I am still 
my mother's only son. The rambling 
prodigal with golden wings. She will 

always keep photos of me on the windowsill. 
I will always break every mirror. I will always 
long to be swallowed by the water.

Deconstruction II
all words used in this poem are taken from the album “Aggression” by Verse 

I have not always been innocent
of violence against my own skin. 

Depression keeps me tired sometimes,
but I am still fighting, still beating back

the wolves whose claws have time 
& time again left my body to wounds,

to abandon, like the needle of God's wrath
has written desperation in my blood.

Like my veins are burning shackles,
like I can only ever know how to be

numb. But I have never been alone
in the night. I've always been 

just another boy from a bridge city,
born of copper smoke & iron clouds. 

Born of struggle. More afraid 
of stagnancy than of silence,

screaming quiet whispers in the dark
in search of hope, of salvation, of safety.

I refuse to be defeated, even by my own
hands. I will remain unbroken. I am

not a machine, but I will keep up
the fight until I've found redemption. 

Until I am no longer at war. 

Deconstruction III
all words used in this poem are taken from the album “Don't Wait Up” by Bane

If I don't survive the night, promise me
there will be trumpets screaming minor chords,

a piano played hard with bloody fists.
This whole fucking world was uncomfortable

sometimes, but it was always beautiful
to find bliss & harmony in the stars.

I don't want any one I love to grieve
forever – even though I know they will – 

so I'll give them my most defiant prayer:
beautiful words, about life, or love found

in the infinite shadow, punk rock songs
that say I always knew the sun & sea

were hiding in my heart. I'm not afraid 
of the whirlwind, of the spinning. Goodbye.


About William James

William James is a poet, aging punk, and train enthusiast from Manchester, NH. He's the founder & editor-in-chief of Beech St. Review, a contributing editor for Drunk In A Midnight Choir, and the author of "rebel hearts & restless ghosts" (Timber Mouse Publishing). Follow him on Twitter (@thebilljim) or at View all posts by William James

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