One must never place a loaded rifle on
the stage if it isn't going to go off. It's
wrong to make promises you don't
mean to keep.
—Chekhov, letter to Aleksandr
Sometimes birds flatten into glass.
Just like that, a deer charges
break-neck into your car door,
breaking its neck. Two weeks home
& a soldier is turning his rifle
heartward. A note we don’t have the
language to read pinned to his chest.
Sometimes all it takes is night. Stars
silent as broken bells hanging
lifeless from a derelict church. Our
bodies not more or less than what
we can touch. Yes, some-times we
drop to our knees asking // wailing
// pulling out the stitches. Still I
believe // hope a gun written into
our story can sit unused over our
mantle, that some wildfires burn
themselves out before we’ve been
asked to gather what’s worth saving
from our homes.
John Sibley Williams
John Sibley Williams is the editor of two Northwest poetry anthologies and the author of nine collections, including Disinheritance and Controlled Hallucinations. A ten-time Pushcart nominee, John is the winner of numerous awards, including the Philip Booth Award, American Literary Review Poetry Contest, Nancy D. Hargrove Editors' Prize, Confrontation Poetry Prize, and Vallum Award for Poetry. He serves as editor of The Inflectionist Review and works as a literary agent. Previous publishing credits include: The Yale Review, Midwest Quarterly, Sycamore Review, Prairie Schooner, The Massachusetts Review, Poet Lore, Saranac Review, Atlanta Review, TriQuarterly, Columbia Poetry Review, Mid-American Review, Poetry Northwest, Third Coast, and various anthologies. He lives in Portland, Oregon.