Pacific Northwest / Poetry / Poets / Writers / Writing

3 poems by John Sibley Williams

Crow Scraps

Not even death can pick away
every tendon or demuscled bone.
Something that resembles us
still breathes from the stained earth.
Between what claws steal and leave behind:
the invisible pages of life.

I want to resist eternity, resist
the clock’s unwinding, live
only one hundred years
in a book whose last line
is the same as its first.

“Every beginning has within it an end.
Every end is a snake swallowing its own tail.”

I ask the crow only one question.
I ask before the sun rises.
But still I pollinate well into morning, still
the grass beneath me grows
a thousand feet tall
from the night-feathered earth.

Casual Rust

Bone stabbed through flesh into the cool light of a shed where rusty hammers and saws
still hang.

While I cried and repaired you forced song from between bowed metal teeth, and boy did it sing: one side of the equation. I chose my side the moment I fell and rose.

Blood danced the almost-dark back to before the word “fall” meant an end, before I learned
the end had a beginning.

That near-night, blood danced me with the sudden, tangible dark and with you as surgeon
and my father somewhere else in time and place and heart: a human letter lost in transit,
it danced us all with the sun directly overhead, outside us, and the moon making its hidden calculations,

we all were danced— broken-legged, repairing— and made to sing through rusting teeth,
and boy did we sing like hammers and saws and falling, singing the orphaned earth out from below us!

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.

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 CoastInkwell, 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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