[34] Two Poems: John Sibley Williams


Set to music, those pinpricks of light
don’t make the sky much easier
to read or wish upon, but forgive,
maybe, & briefly forget. That’s why
I belt out off-key Motown whenever
shadows of birds lengthen my daughter’s
bedroom wall. I can’t have her knowing
just yet flight’s impossibility. That’s why
I don’t complain when my gun-strong
neighbor blasts old army anthems across
our shared bit of green every time I’m out
there mowing off dandelion heads. Within
their spin & sway, a temporary reprieve.
A zoetrope the wind makes sufficiently
graceful. A barracks of children armed
with sticks & stones warbling behind
the house as if their lives depend on it.
Strange to think we began as a singular wail,
that we’re still wailing. I’m terrified
what would happen if we stopped
hearing ourselves in each other.
The bees in our garden are making
a terrible static of summer. White
noise, as from the womb. Even that
can be called song when the silence
all around us starts to sting. Even the sting.
Even the melodic lights of long dead planets.


That is Really Just Rope

Elsewhere, wrapped in scars,
a dirt road broadens to highway:

winter keeps its bones well-hidden
under a great white weight:

the goldfinches a child frees from
her mouth return uneaten by larger

birds. We fall hard for these things.
A promise of deep green blades

pushing up through concrete. A sky
this lit without need for gasoline

& matches & restlessness. Grief
that is really just a healed-over

  • history. Elsewhere, hanging from
    the same branches, bodiless, rope—
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