Back to Issue Twenty-One.

summer boys

BY JOHN SIBLEY WILLIAMS

 

And we came to a series of rifts
machines gouged from the land
to expose its rawer materials. Down

the granite slopes following the bicycles
we stole from neighboring lawns
— ah the simple joy of wheels

learning what it’s like to stop
spinning — our bodies
stripped to the waist and ready

for the river the rains had made
from such deep hollows.
As this is a childhood edited

by memory I can tell you nothing
much about the crash and ripple
when we broke the surface

or the panic when those wings
we assumed would spread from
our shoulders failed to catch the current.

When the girls came later
to fan their blankets out
over the castoff rocks

and change the shape of
their bodies beneath our bodies,
I can only tell you there were martins

arguing with the distant huff of horses
while beside us the radio cracked on
and off about missile-lit cities

in countries we’d someday learn
to pronounce. Children there lost in man-
made quarries. Spokes rusting in place.

 

 

Williams 21

John Sibley Williams is the editor of two Northwest poetry anthologies and the author of nine collections, including Disinheritance and Controlled Hallucinations. A five-time Pushcart nominee and winner of the Philip Booth Award, American Literary Review Poetry Contest, Nancy D. Hargrove Editors' Prize, Confrontation Poetry Prize, 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, The Massachusetts Review, Poet Lore, Columbia Poetry Review, Mid-American Review, Third Coast, Baltimore Review, Nimrod, RHINO, and various anthologies. He lives in Portland, Oregon.