John Sibley Williams


and the cranes resting over unfinished houses
and the houses, the lights left on in them, the river, all
drift off like the signature completing a suicide note.


those who will love me more in my absence,

Dear you who will forget what I looked like,

Last night I was a drawbridge,

Last night I was the fog swallowing

a drawbridge

For the first time, this morning I could see you
through the fog as a drawbridge sees the ship
that breaks it in two.

Into the silence, jackhammers and invisible grinding.
Voices within voices. Even without light I know dawn
is running through the city and the larger city beneath it.

If destruction hinges on what is beautiful
in making, let my soul my body collapse
into roots something foundational.

Now that I’m awake, it’s time to carve up the day
into hour and progress. Into dig and follow. It doesn’t matter
that I can’t see what I know to be there.

            Only after the body is gone do words come freely.
            I am sorry and you are sorry and I think I love
            that we don’t know what for.

It’s as if through cloudy glass three stories above the rooftops
the sky and city alloy. Ghost ships pass through the cathedrals.
Skyscrapers bellow for the bridge to part.
There are still things that need

to be said.


John Sibley Williams is the editor of two Northwest poetry anthologies and the author of nine collections, including Disinheritance and Controlled Hallucinations. A seven-time Pushcart nominee, John is the winner of numerous awards, including the Philip Booth Award, American Literary Review Poetry Contest, Nancy D. Hargrove Editors’ Prize, Confrontation Poetry Prize, and Vallum Award for Poetry. 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, The Massachusetts Review, Poet Lore, Saranac Review, Arts & Letters, Columbia Poetry Review, Mid-American Review, Poetry Northwest, Third Coast, Baltimore Review, RHINO, and various anthologies. He lives in Portland, Oregon.