John Sibley Williams

No Questions Asked

Now that I can deliver / old needles to the cops without / a word
& my newborn son / basketed, wailing / at any fire station, why
not refill the fields with the animals / I’ve killed, give my lungs
back every wasted / breath. & is it finally okay / by which I mean
legal & moral & acceptable in our civil society to / confess
I’ve never much believed in / candles. Or that prayer works
its way down a body, mouth / to heart to / stomach, like whiskey.
Or that my mother can hear / me calling out / when I need
her most. When my father insisted / I learn to hold / a knife
blunt side against my / forearm, blade facing / out, always,
I regret never having / asked if that’s also how / he held me
those long colicky nights before giving / up one’s son wasn’t
sinful or a sign / of weakness.


John Sibley Williams is the author of Disinheritance, Controlled Hallucinations, and the forthcoming Orison Poetry Prize winning As One Fire Consumes Another. 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 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, 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.