It’s not so dangerous, all this
falling backwards off moving
El Caminos on a dare, coming face
-to-face with trains, sinking deep
into a needle’s slumber. What
doesn’t kill you, et al.
Like promising love to anyone
who touches you sincerely:
say mercy bruises on the schoolyard
or sex behind it, beneath a woods’
summer weight. Funny how all this
violent searching for heaven brings
both, in spades. & it’s funny
perhaps in a different way
how we spent years trying
to down the sun with our fingers
yet given a rifle can’t even point,
let alone squeeze the trigger, when
the wolf that dragged our dog away
returns for more. There’s always more
until there isn’t. More bourbon, trains
arriving & departing. More shards
of sunlight, less sharp every day.
So much nakedness it almost hurts
as much to look at ourselves
as look away.

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John Sibley Williams is the author of As One Fire Consumes Another (Orison Poetry Prize, 2019), Skin Memory (Backwaters Prize, 2019), Disinheritance, and Controlled Hallucinations. An eleven-time Pushcart nominee, John is the winner of numerous awards, including the Philip Booth Award, American Literary Review Poetry Contest, Phyllis Smart-Young Prize, The 46er Prize, Nancy D. Hargrove Editors’ Prize, Confrontation Poetry Prize, and Laux/Millar Prize. He serves as editor of The Inflectionist Review and works as a literary agent. Previous publishing credits include The Yale Review, Midwest Quarterly, Sycamore Review, Prairie Schooner, The Massachusetts Review, Poet Lore, Saranac Review, Atlanta Review, TriQuarterly, Columbia Poetry Review, Mid-American Review, Poetry Northwest, Third Coast, and various anthologies. He lives in Portland, Oregon.