Three Poems

by John Sibley Williams

This Could Be a Love Song

We are
deadened image,
a surface no longer reflecting.

We are
something like a watery divide,
a river of unused bridges.

We are
a history
smaller than the mouth that narrates it,

a pure song
deep in an unsung heart,
a heavy weakness for guilt,
a heavy absence of bone.

We have lost
all but the words for it.
What was home
was home,
has become a mantra
we must repeat into belief.

The walls around us are less
than the bricks we stacked heavenward,
less than any heaven.

And still nothing
can extinguish us.

Sanctuary

A star rests heavy on the roof.
A dozen dead birds roost in the gutters.
When it rains it’s as if everything
were born iron, every structure built
to leak from the corners.

A disembodied swing set arcs
and punctures the sky. Through the hole
a familiar letter tumbles to the lawn. To be happy
all we can do is read about ourselves in the past.
Do you remember? and again
and again and the birds
descend dead to the window
we’ve never opened. And the star.

–          Previously published in Bryant Literary Review

Kind of Intimacy

—    after Mark S.R. Struzan

We arrive nearly invisible,
despite our wailing,
into a world of forms.
We fail the promise
of making more from them than silhouette.
We fail the road. The breath in our lungs.

But we have a kind of certainty:
as we drop, the air parts around us
and reunites in our wake.
The earth accepts the weight we carry
and hollows out a place for us.

At first, everything is huge and closer than touch.
Unfamiliar, the sky in our eyes. We will fail that sky.
Like a paper mobile left turning too long,
distance unfolds gradually
Time doubles, triples, and before morning comes
with its unflinching parade
we have learned to stop wailing altogether.

But the air continues to part, temporarily.
The earth still burrows and smiles.
It is only the mind that struggles against
the body’s indefinite shape, some distance away.

–          Previously published in Poetry Salzburg Review
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, Nimrod International Journal, 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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