• Controlled Burn

    John Sibley Williams

    Fall 2018

    Acre after acre left unburnt.
    Full families of wolves gone
    unshot. & the chickens we keep
    to teach our children where meat
    comes from are getting nervous.
    The wire-thin pen cannot stop
    the world from entering. Like how
    quitting cigarettes only delays
    a mother’s cancer. Like all those
    desperate prayers that refuse
    to restrain night. Like a country
    sealed off by concrete & barbs.
    There are just too many stars
    to snuff out in one lifetime,
    too many gaps in the parapet.
    I walk my son & daughter out
    into the wild unburnt green
    every morning, holding their hands
    like weapons, & ask the world
    if I’m doing this right. This living.
    This trying too hard to make beautiful.

    John Sibley Williams is the author of three collections, including the 2019 Orison Poetry Prize-winning As One Fire Consumes Another. He works as an educator and serves as editor of the Inflectionist Review.

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