Thursday, August 23, 2012

John Sibley Williams - Five Poems


Coiled, breathless, above—
just out of reach—
tomorrow's long metal spiral.

Name it fate, if you will,
scripted on unending blank pages.
Name it death,
the dried crust of mother's milk—

whatever empowers your hand
to stretch beyond itself, up
this vertiginous staircase
one more step,
and wrench off the gravity
of your father’s foot, compressing
the uncontrollable spin into becoming
another series of childhoods.


The me that is this moment—
part ancestor part son
I've yet to have—see
how he moves between mirrors
without recognition,
how he adopts the uncertainty of glass,
how he rises from the chalk outline
traced around previous incantations
and walks the same road home.

The you you've become,
as he writes this, struggles
with expectation and Form.
The young body you borrowed
barely furnishes the empty house
but remains
buried deep in his eyes,
where nothing fully changes—outside.

Time breathes steadily
over hundreds of years
where still we both exist,
perhaps for a single moment
as this me and you, again
reminiscing about us
as almost-strangers.

The Threat of Music

After the world,
a word
that once meant one thing
left unchecked
tattoos itself across
the rest.

to cleave an orange
in half—
both the juice
and my thirst,
the complete
and missing parts—

to rip up mounds of earth
or plant lifeblood
in barren fields
and grow,

to simply sit by the lack
of sea
or to be the new sea,
whatever color composed,

to be the very re-
or to end

is all the same—

whether I sing
or cry
in the voice of the wind,
or my own

The Singer

It arrives, the hinge of the song,
almost nothing

but the need to pry
word from wound,

expunge the infinite
from a lungful of the moment,

and when it’s over, tell me
when from this side

of the closed door,
with regret ankle-deep

and nothing
but silence

and what suffices
for now,

tell me, when everyone listening
has gone

even yourself
and the rest

of night,
will you still suffer

how best to express
the language of the void

through this brief history
of your body?

Scarecrow Variations

This is what you do
as chaff swirls around
the rusting equipment,
and the straw figure
towering over the field
exhausts its nightmarish archetype.

As the old settlements burn
and the crops stand straighter,
when untouched.
As the ash evolves into fire and you
select a different mantra,
to comfort.

As the moss binding
your wrists and ankles
un-tethers on its own,
this is what you do
to keep the crows
from your eyes.

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, Ellipsis, Flint Hills Review, and various fiction and poetry anthologies. His new book, a collaboration with poet, A. Molotkov called "The End of Mythology" is forthcoming from Virgogray Press.

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