Three Poems by John Sibley Williams

Read More: A brief interview with John Sibley Williams

Sour Milk Sky

We’ve spilled it all over the cold kitchen floor & cried.

Lapped up the stale yellow puddles like good little children.

Organized its stars into arbitrary beasts based on stories that died

out before our grandfathers’ grandfathers’ gods were hauled to this new

world in the shackled bellies of cargo ships. Themselves slight variations

on the captain’s gods. Or vice versa. The sound a man makes from his knees

in prayer or defeat differs only in pitch. The sky, still hungry. The sky drips

off the lip of the table like gunfire. Fallen stars. Bodies. Like tears held inside

so long they’ve curdled.

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Seismic

Everything not nailed down threatens to topple onto
our new rug made from skinned dead things.

A confusion of tongues on television argue
tectonics vs. rapture; how the terrified rally

around finalities that refuse, in the end, to end.
The unlistened-to music birthing islands,

mountains, oceans, their trenches, just to sweep
them all away: for the moment an aria

of broken dinner plates & collapsed promises.
I promise them there’s enough room beneath

this doorframe for three. There are four of us.
In the absence of a stable earth I promise […]


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In the New World

Fallen kingdom, overtaken first by rot
then weeds then construction of a new
face that reflects the same sun at exactly
the same angle as the first. Everything
the color of lightning zigzagging down
to touch, so gently, burning, a crown […]


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Access this and all our bi-weekly publications (and submit for free).

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John Sibley Williams is the author of As One Fire Consumes Another (Orison Poetry Prize) and Skin Memory (Backwaters Prize). 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, Massachusetts Review, and Third Coast.

Read More: A brief interview with John Sibley Williams