As It Is on Earth

John Sibley Williams

It’s like that sometimes. A man bends
so completely he begins believing in
his own holiness. An empty house
kids are too scared to vandalize sees itself
in time as haunted. Even the moon
our dogs wail to each night as if in prayer
fears a response is expected. The war
my brother brought home & the home he
pined for in war converge in an unruly
absence. Is it finally fair to say like gods
we make images to pour ourselves into?
Like rivers, how they tend to move
farther from the source? What skin
remembers & the mind reimagines:
between them a truth serrated as light.


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John Sibley Williams is the author of As One Fire Consumes Another (Orison Poetry Prize, 2019), Skin Memory (Backwaters Prize, 2019), Disinheritance, and Controlled Hallucinations. 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 Laux/Millar Prize. 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. About these three poems, Sibley Williams writes, “These are part of a book-length work exploring American culture from the various vantage points of war, difficult childhoods, our questionable history, and the societal grief that underscores our current state of the union.”