John Williams


Controlled Hallucinations


We silently walk the alleys
that cut deep into cold
blocks of architecture,
rubbing each other
with these phantom limbs
that still tingle,
still reach bitterly
for substance,

still reach,

finding animal warmth
and semi-permanence
in their unbroken dreams
of building up
and pulling toward
a shared conversation
which will never cease.


To stand
in the static center of a fan
long enough,
lighter particles
            whipping their never-
            ending circles
will begin to see you
as movement,
themselves as inert.

When I close one eye,
the other tries to compensate
and you become the background
in my photograph.


Through simple compartments, a note
curves along the smooth interiors
of an old wooden whistle,
adapting, river-like,
to the narrow boundaries expected of song;

with one ear to its own chest,
the other pressing forward,
gauging the silent anticipation
it’s anticipating.

Deforming, it could be said,
or restoring, balancing, perfecting
a tender music
the lips no longer recognize.


What have you made
apart from miniature molds
of your footprints


scattered over the many fields
that have forgotten?


And whom do you see
in your dreams
apart from versions your face
in archetypes and friends?


I climb into the perfect figure
towering over the street,
all made of paper
and desire.


We’re both selling something
and know it


will make us


To bear the seeds
To bear the seeds of a small-scale hell
To bear the seeds of a small-scale hell
slowly extinguishing into that long sought
patiently awaited                    non-descript


            something about cloudshapes and childhood,
            a windless curtain dancing, a toppled candle, all vaguely
            the color white.

Copyright © 2012 John Williams

John Sibley Williams is the author of six chapbooks, winner of the HEART Poetry Award, and finalist for the Pushcart, Rumi, and The Pinch Poetry Prizes. He has served as Acquisitions Manager of Ooligan Press and publicist for various presses and authors, and holds an MFA in Creative Writing and MA in Book Publishing. A few previous publishing credits include: Inkwell, Bryant Literary Review, Cream City Review, The Chaffin Journal, The Evansville Review, RHINO, Rosebud, Ellipsis, Flint Hills Review, and various fiction and poetry anthologies.

"when you can't compose yourself, compose a poem"