We electric taped the legs of crabs to see
if they could learn to walk like us. That same
summer, penknifed initials into wind-bent cypress
& the local liquor store’s shutters, placing bets
on which would wear our names best. The rainstorm
was nothing. It only verified what we already knew
of sky, delinquency, how once the wrecking’s done
we’d take turns rebuilding & razing again. Every child
needs something to fix. Every mother is at home
readying a room for what is coming. What is true is
tens of thousands of hands have buried their brothers’
torsos in the same heavy sand & left them alone to free
themselves. What is true is, given the numbers, not all survived.
Of the crows sifting through tidewrack for something edible,
how few we spared. Smooth stones or you-are-now-a-man
pellet guns or our bare hands. In each isolated moment, what is true
is not as important as what feels right. How driving those long
daylit hours home meant we had a home, which sanctified the rest.
Add The World Without Here
& it’s from this wound: the world.
Snowspun, barely there. Precise as
figures moving within morning fog.
That we began single celled doesn’t
explain our stripping away the dark
multiplicities to make our bodies
seem more livable. Chalky light or
morning’s wide witness; you don’t
know which to prefer.
Forging myth from the familiar.
The silence of a violent house reins
violent over its echo. Wax flowers
stand in for freshly dead things.
Known only by what it’s not: body/
home, touch/love, eternity.
So that we may pretend the vast &
fertile field isn’t horseless, we carve
from cedar a saddled silhouette to
watch over what could be a harvest.
Already letting go. This sweet sweet
guillotined dream of plenty. Milk &
honey, etc. Our great grandparents
framed, monochrome, above a fire-
place that won’t stay lit. Switch
grasses swaying inward like shore-
bound whitecaps. From the paradise
tree out back a breeze pushes a rope
which pushes a tire in which we’ve
placed all hope for the future. This
fragile body of a child, crying out higher.
Over last year’s bone piles, skins of
frost. Tiny teeth marks from hardier
animals. The mad illusion of having
eventually breaks down into almost/
as if’s. A world of winter blue ether.
& we are its history
& we can be as senselessly beautiful
as any singular instance; as violent/
wounded as anything that resembles
That glass can be ground into sand
is still not enough to see ourselves
on this or that other shore.
John Sibley Williams is the author of nine poetry collections, most recently Disinheritance. An eleven-time Pushcart nominee and winner of various awards, John serves as editor of The Inflectionist Review. Publications include: Yale Review, Atlanta Review, Prairie Schooner, Midwest Quarterly, Sycamore Review, Massachusetts Review, Columbia, Third Coast, and Poetry Northwest.