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.


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.