Leaving Coins on the Eyes of the Living

John Sibley Williams


            Nothing is as far as here.
                        — Jenny Xie

Winter wasn’t made for its own weather
like my body, how it just sways there
over a lover’s body as if over a coffin
as if before a mirror. Hardwired to self-
immolation, how it takes the faithful
so much trial & error to keep the gasoline
from their clothes. God, how nothing
that loves us has spent such eternities
devising fire for our failures. I have a son
I’ll lose by clutching too tightly, a country
whose name I keep pretending to forget.
For the dead to live again, we have only
to leave them be. No such thing as stillness,
even in this carpet of snow. No such thing
as carrying a cross when it’s the doubt
that holds us together.


Return to Spring Issue Volume 11.2


John Sibley Williams


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.