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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