John Sibley Williams, 10/12

Beautiful and Unnamed

I’m beginning to remember you a hummingbird—
the conversation between wings and air,

a loaf of bread that rose too quickly— unnoticed,
an empty plate, an unfurnished room.

In what remains of your face, I see
a slice of daylight
that used to be night,

a box of beloved trinkets
dusted and raw,
a thesaurus of silences
ten years long.

I’m beginning to believe you were always a street corner—
an intersection between,
a choice of movements,

or the hollows of a bell mid-ring,
or a forest with too many trees.

In the span of compass turn you have become
a interminable wall of doors
each keyed to a precise memory
with worn edges.


The Divide

To celebrate my death,
Boston will continue to snow relentlessly
while someone I’ve never met steps back
from the ledge of the Eiffel Tower.

Two young lovers will roll each others’ bodies
like wheelbarrows into maturity
while my mother’s eyes hurricane,
exactly as they did at my birth.

The world will both end, yet again,
and create—endlessly.
The sunrise will colorize long-grayed dreams
and at the same time strangle their scope.

And my blood will begin to dry on my son’s cheek
the moment he learns the art of shaving
things away.

That my hands will remain impotent,
like everything else,
whatever they raze or shape,
yet somehow permanent,
is what carries me over
the day’s long divide.

This Common Death

Content to just be a body again,
stripped by silence,
entombed in white linen,
limbs twined together
into some poorly crocheted child-thing.

The weight of purpose, future,
everything I’ve touched
and left denatured,
all slow-bled by a single
incision of moonlight.

The pillow is damp
in unthink and forgiveness.

This habit of existing
in words, in the eyes
of skyscrapers and family― gone.

Gone the compulsion to be somebody,
to believe each breath
should contain the world.

Just to be a cold, anonymous gathering of particles,
empty of logic and the impossible,
washed again by sleep
like any other temporary thing.

As with the gods.

Unsteepled Horizon

Buildings collapsed together
pointing down toward the earth
from my rooftop
look like morning.

I select the cloud
that seems more a dishrag,
wring it out,
and prepare for cleaner rain.

The sand in the folds of years
embeds deeper,
somewhere near the lungs,
when I cease conversing
with silent things.

Your hand still searches for mine
across the empty linen field
then steeples up, away,
in the morning
when nothing is speaking,
when from our rooftop
I can be the horizon
and the buildings that break it,
when my hands are full
of sand, are made of years
and my own attempts
at creation.


John Sibley Williams is the author of six chapbooks, winner of the HEART Poetry Award, and finalist for the Pushcart, Rumi, and The Pinch Poetry Prizes. He has served as Acquisitions Manager of Ooligan Press and publicist for various presses and authors, and holds an MFA in Creative Writing and MA in Book Publishing. A few previous publishing credits include: Inkwell, Bryant Literary Review, Cream City Review, The Chaffin Journal, The Evansville Review, RHINO, Rosebud, and various anthologies. He lives in Portland, Oregon.

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