A road, once. Kicked-up dust & destination
enthused by promise. That all things believed in

are attainable. That these boxes we fill over &
over again with the photos & watches & unstruck

matches that together are meant to assemble a life
in fact assemble a life. At some point you

just stop counting the years between homes,
stop expecting movement to soften the bite

of the past, stop asking the sky for worldly things.
At the end of what you’ve named, a whole

town resplendent & new & ready to dull
in your mouth. The way it takes a body

or vein of water to call a strand of sand
shore, so it takes knowing a place like both

a soft palm & the slap of a hand to say
I am here. The way it takes two wars

to call the months between peacetime,
it takes seeing your father naked of

fatigues & flags, crumbled on the cold
kitchen tiles, wailing, feigning prayer,

like any man who thinks the world isn’t
looking, to say I know; I’m hungry too.


John Sibley Williams is the author of As One Fire Consumes Another (Orison Poetry Prize, 2019), Skin Memory (Backwaters Prize, University of Nebraska Press, 2019), Disinheritance, andControlled Hallucinations. A nineteen-time Pushcart nominee, John is the winner of numerous awards, including the Wabash Prize for Poetry, Philip Booth Award, American Literary Review Poetry Contest, Phyllis Smart-Young 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, Southern Review, 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.