Two Poems by John Sibley Williams

Image of water reeds and their reflection on the surface of a water body


Silver wires partition bodies
from the bodies they birthed
six years ago in wire-thin
stucco houses open-walled
to dust & sky. An infinite
backdrop of silent scars
& in the foreground little
changes of the uniforms
but the faces pushing up
from them like sunflowers
uncertain which way
the wind wants them
to sway. A migraine of
cameras stalks the well-lit
edges. Wash basins over-
flow with tears. Another
appealed-to horizon burns
with forsaken promises.
                          It’s true:
we’ve always run toward
the wrong light. Always
a somewhere that hurts
less than home. Families
subdivide until there is
nothing left but memory
& wail & holding that wail
up to their ears like song
& singing it. Singing it.




for Jamaal May

Outside sheets are pulling
back together into bodies.

The wind confuses sway
with dance, asks the dresses

there’s no one left to wear
for one more go before

the music ends. We wait
for the well out back to

illuminate its drowned coins,
all the gods overrun by prayers

to choose just this one to answer.
We beat the rain from hanging

undershirts & sing like nothing
the sky can do can rust the birds

from our mouths. We promise
our children the world

is forever, that this time
the wolves won’t show.

The fields are smoke
& through the smoke

figures materialize.
Deer that might be

mothers or sisters, gutshot,
looking for a slice of shadow

to die in. So many hanging trees
we confuse with men.

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