Elegy for an Unused Storm Cellar
by John Sibley Williams

I can’t see the whole ocean from here. Just a bird-
broken bay, backlit oyster shacks piled high in
hollow shells, incomplete haloes reflecting off

polished masts. Windless, their sails tied down
like domesticated dogs to backyard trees. A born
wildness deferred. Something I want desperately

to call my own: what is the word for wings
once skin has grown over them? We arm ourselves
with slack & acceptance, adulthood & all sorts of

gods, stories that end with boys falling, feather-
singed, from the sun. This is meant to be
a teachable moment. A father aims his son’s

cocked finger at passing barges & says bang.
He reads the morning paper loud enough
the whole house mourns each casualty.

& there are so many casualties. Just beyond
the storm-readied town, past the jetties that break
the breakers in half, in other words out of our empire

of sight: a war that reaches us ink & clean lines. Of home
I mainly remember these confident rooflines, so sharp they
could be words. How another’s tempest brings out our eyes.


Published in Cider Press Review, Volume 20, Issue 1.

John Sibley Williams is the author of Controlled Hallucinations (FutureCycle Press) and six poetry chapbooks. He is the winner of the HEART Poetry Award, and finalist for the Pushcart, Rumi, and The Pinch Poetry Prizes. John serves as editor of The Inflectionist Review, co-director of the Walt Whitman 150 project, and Marketing Director of Inkwater Press. A few previous publishing credits include: Third Coast, Inkwell, Bryant Literary Review, Cream City Review, The Chaffin Journal, The Evansville Review, RHINO, and various anthologies. He lives in Portland, Oregon.

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