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john sibley williams

now that the horses have unbolted, the barn re-

built to approximate a barn that’s never been

cindered, the daughter still here now meant to

dress the part of a gone son & tend whatever

of the field needs tending, this rougher draft of

heaven a different intimacy, a crueler distance,

everything waiting to be a burden—or well-

spring of pride, depending on the worth placed

on smaller sufferings, even the stars that hold

the same stories spoken so slow these days no

one can tell where they begin or end—or if it

matters they’re still falling beautifully onto the

aluminum  roof, just pooling there uselessly

reflecting, the same prayers that make a young

girl cringe, something about her body a gospel

or receptacle of love; now that the horses un-

familiar with fire—or who’ve pushed those

memories far back into myth, into faith things

erase for a reason—brush their tongues across

a cleansed river & drink & drink & gently hurt

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), Summon (JuxtaProse Chapbook Prize, 2019), Disinheritance, and Controlled 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, Laux/Millar Prize, Phyllis Smart-Young Prize, Janet B. McCabe Poetry Prize, and others. He serves as editor of The Inflectionist Review and works as a poetry editor and 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.

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