John Sibley Williams, July 2013

Suburban Myths

 

Somewhere there are houses

with half-collapsed roofs

like someone learning how to cry

and broken steps that lead

nowhere near a door

 

and there are lights on

in these fabled houses

and mothers stretched raw

over kettles

and haunting the windows

children’s faces

that look so much like the faces

of the children hurling stones

that nobody can be certain

which direction things shatter

 

Waxed In

 

Relegated to the tiny wooden bow

of a glassed-in ship

that once knew blue.

 

Words are what remain

when wild expanse

turns inward, calms.

 

Collectors say the past

can be painted any color

but the real.

 

Our vessel is one

dusty inch of shelf

above a burning hearth.

 

Has it always been like this?

 

Life accessed through a bottleneck

to reveal a universe of unkindled matchsticks

carefully constructed of glue and where the heart’s been.

 

Nostalgia

 

I am what is missing

from yesterday’s photograph.

You can clearly make out

blue swimming trunks

concealing what once were legs.

You can tell there should be arms

to keep her from falling.

 

Behind: an ocean

folding and breaking.

The sun: leaving its mark

on the absence of a body.

Everywhere: a pit, so like love,

rimmed in faltering light.

 

This is what remains

of that summer by the sea:

her figure forever leaning into open air

and the sand wearing my ghost

like a broken window.

 

One Third

 

Always stretching toward completion,

this fractional body

continues beyond its simple sequence,

beyond repeating digits and molecules,

bone and evening.

 

Well into morning

where things begin again

to hope for night,

I move

by simply drawing breath.

 

Across my infinity

of trailing integers.

Against the façade

of whole and part.

 

To enter the world like this,

inked by permanence—

an undefined number on a page

in this book that’s only skin.

 

 

An Empty Flagpole

 

You are a wind

choked by people,

entering a dangerous conversation

with the fumes people release

in believing.

 

Your absence

is a body

caged by voices

arguing over your song—

colliding, collapsing

your corners into triangles

for others to lament

in passing,

 

and I’m thinking of a letter

sent stampless and empty

endlessly handed down

from city to city,

how it finds its place

eventually

like us all

in the circular current

of a wind

choked to death

by people

and song,

the scarred outline

 

of meaning.

 

 

 

John Sibley Williams is the author of Controlled Hallucinations (FutureCycle Press, 2013) and six poetry chapbooks. He is the winner of the HEART Poetry Award, and finalist for the Pushcart, Rumi, and The Pinch Poetry Prizes. John serves as editor of The Inflectionist Review, co-director of the Walt Whitman 150 project, and Marketing Director of Inkwater Press. A few previous publishing credits include: Third Coast, Inkwell, Cider Press Review, Bryant Literary Review, Cream City Review, The Chaffin Journal, The Evansville Review, RHINO, and various anthologies. He lives in Portland, Oregon.

 

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