Conclusions

By John Sibley Williams

Now winter devours everything
left unharvested. & like it or not,

the dead still don’t speak from
the candles we’ve lit for them.

In hindsight, that stuffed man
crucified over our garden never

kept the crows from the seedlings.
Everything outlives everything else.

This catalog of no-longer-believed-in
gods has gotten us this far. The map

on the back of my mother’s hands
turned out to be veins raised bluely

by chemo. Still it was something
to follow, something with an end.

I hear rail service is finally returning
to our emptied little town. Is it true music

pressed flat into echo is what keeps this
wide white world, if not inhabited, habitable?
 
 
 
 
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.