excerpts from "Controlled Hallucinations" by John Sibley Williams


Spork's Poetry
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excerpts from "Controlled Hallucinations" by John Sibley Williams


excerpts from Controlled Hallucinations


We've lost the school beneath the mango tree.

Words for taste drip down my chin—
         I speak saccharine
         to know they are sweet.

Her sex uproots, climbs from the bed
to stand on my eyelids—
         I'm developing a thesis on conversation.

This is a song
         I must repeat
                   down into my bones.



Immersed in the game,
our shadow puppets
are devouring the rest of the bedroom wall,
are nesting upon the ceiling and door frames,
         where we cannot follow.

Everything is food for creation.

Everything began with us
shaping white mountains from gray pillows,
shaping silhouettes from our love-making.

Everything has grown hungry
         for more of itself.

Our hands are the same size.



Green green green
the sprawling lawns
reconfigure in our minds
that coveted image of space—

open earth = open hands

and that freedom metaphor
so jealously guarded
it ends up choosing adaptation
over rebirth.



Let's use the abandoned factory,
the one our children first spoke of
in ghosts and shadows,
now as safe haven for all
we cannot accept at home.

Let's tear at each other
like strangers,
screaming out forgotten names
without offending,
screaming out every name
except each others'.

Let's leave our clothes
where they once gutted salmon and trout—
socks dangling like entrails
from the hooks and bricks.

Let's forget, for a moment,

and return, naked, exhausted,
to the now fishless river

and try to swim upstream.



To stand
in the precise 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.


John Sibley Williams is a poet and small press publicist residing in Portland, OR. He has a previous MA in Writing and presently studies Book Publishing at Portland State University, where he serves as Acquisitions Manager of Ooligan Press and publicist for Three Muses Press. His poetry was nominated for the 2009 Pushcart Prize and won the 2011 Heart Poetry Award. His chapbooks include A Pure River (The Last Automat Press, 2010), Door, Door (Red Ochre Press, 2011), From Colder Climates (Folded Word, forthcoming), The Longest Compass (Finishing Line Press, forthcoming), and The Art of Raining (The Knives Forks and Spoons Press, forthcoming). Some of his over 100 previous or upcoming publications include: The Evansville Review, RHINO, Rosebud, Ellipsis, Flint Hills Review, and Poetry Quarterly.