» Poetry


Then there was no more singing.

All the lights in their throats cut:


the protest of evening wolves & black

bears nuzzling a parched creek for any-


thing that might sustain them another

white-skinned winter, those foreign


birds we never learned the names for.

Invasive, my grandfather called them.


Like the silver carp haunting our

local river. Bullfrogs & possums.


He called us natives after living

three generations on the same


hard land it took so much blood

to own. At the end of the path


the bullet takes to meet the right

body, the right body drops like


nothing worth losing sleep over.

It’ll cost two men three hours


to drag it home in one piece.

That wilder silence lasts but


a brief eternity. Before the unseen

choir shakes the forest. Again,


the same damn wolves & starlings. Men

still dragging. The season closing.


Its wiry legs kick & quiver in our hands.

Like strings. Song. Our song now to sing.



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 twenty-three-time Pushcart nominee, John is the winner of numerous awards, including the Wabash Prize for Poetry, Philip Booth Award, Phyllis Smart-Young Prize, and Laux/Millar Prize. He serves as editor of The Inflectionist Review and works as a freelance poetry editor and literary agent. Previous publishing credits include: Yale Review, Verse Daily, North American Review, Midwest Quarterly, Southern Review, Sycamore Review, Prairie Schooner, Saranac Review, Atlanta Review, TriQuarterly, and various anthologies. Visit him at https://www.johnsibleywilliams.com.