Poetry by John Sibley Williams

Things Start at Their Names

Ice locks the river in place and my heart
is static for the season and traversable.

Sometimes a boy about the age
my son would be adventures

half way across me before remembering
the duty to destroy the one thing

beneath him. He writes his name
on my rib; it says Curiosity. I reply

with the name I’ve learned to wear:
Distance. A panic of bluegill follows his body

downstream to where it meets the Columbia,
in time the ocean, which I cannot make freeze.

Next spring I will snare the things that still move in me,
beat them against stone, and eat until empty. I have

his name written all over my body; it says Forever
be Winter. My wife calls him Gabriel; after all these years

she still calls him Gabriel, and sometimes from the shore
she calls to me: Thaw.


John Sibley Williams is the editor of two Northwest poetry anthologies and the author of nine collections, including Controlled Hallucinations (2013) and Disinheritance (forthcoming 2016). A five-time Pushcart nominee and winner of the American Literary Review Poetry Contest and Vallum Award for Poetry, John serves as editor of The Inflectionist Review and works as a literary agent. Previous publishing credits include: The Midwest Quarterly, december, Third Coast, Baltimore Review, Nimrod International Journal, Hotel Amerika, Rio Grande Review, Inkwell, Cider Press Review, Bryant Literary Review, RHINO, and various anthologies. He lives in Portland, Oregon.