Three Poems by John Sibley Williams

A Conversation With Janus’ Two Heads


Miles and miles of blue vision ahead.

I once drowned something I loved in Seaside.


The mountain behind that mountain is a river.

The landscape was mistakenly captured in portrait.


I am moving toward the voice that is your voice — my mouth.

Your meaning bordered what I heard.


Absolute truths are slowing, are coming to rest.

Everyone followed the iron rusting.


It is raining.

This could be the road

Let us greenly dance around its blooming.

to my narrow gods.

Do not worry


Do not worry.

The knives I display in this poem

cannot even cut an overripe fruit.


When I thrash them wildly

or hold them to your throat, or mine,

when I’m threatening an old enemy

with an insubstantial song,

or dismembering my own truths,

slice by slice,

just know

I only wish the air around us bleed.




I once kept the bones

abandoned along long stretches

of Midwestern road

and the backyard graves

neighbors left shallow

and the basement

of my home.


Long human femurs

licked clean by coyotes

and time.

Hummingbird ribs

dumped unceremoniously

by house cats.

The skulls of house cats.


My pockets never got their fill,

though never knew hunger,

nor did their weight

anchor me long

upon a single sadness.


They were not my


after all.

Nothing to recognize

in the lightless sockets

of the familiar.


And there were so very

very many.

I felt protected

in numbers.


They all smelled



There is one thing I know

with certainty:

a man can climb into another

and try to wake its countless

little hearts

without knowing


of life,


his own body rising.


John Sibley Williams

John is a poet and book publicist residing in Portland, OR. He has a previous MA in Writing and presently studies Book Publishing at Portland State University, where he serves as Acquisitions Manager of Ooligan Press and publicist for Three Muses Press. His poetry was nominated for the 2009 Pushcart Prize and won the 2011 Heart Poetry Award. His debut chapbook, A Pure River, was published in 2010 by The Last Automat Press. Some of his over 100 previous or upcoming publications include: The Evansville Review, RHINO, Rosebud, Ellipsis, Flint Hills Review, Euphony, Open Letters, Cadillac Cicatrix, Juked, The Journal, Hawaii Review, Cutthroat, The Furnace Review, Red Wheelbarrow, Aries, and River Oak Review.


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