Spring 2009, Volume 6

Poetry by John Sibley Williams

As Summer Sinks Over Erlauf Lake

"The sea lifts swallow wings and flings
a summer lake open."
                     —Ted Hughes

My lover rolls from the light each morning
and descends deeper into me.
Into the weathered cottage we've raised on love
and sustains the sun and its storms
by a single sturdy beam,
a toothy Alpine wind introduces pine
and an ocean rekindled from a youth
of which only ocean remains.

From our window swallows flee
out across the lake—
intricate geometries—
two wide-eyed summer suns
winking at each other
through a silent flare of feathers.
They too will dissolve
into raw material,
all its beastly appetite unappeased
whether we contemplate and weep
or turn to look elsewhere.

She rolls from the light that opens evening
deeper into me. Her stars more savage
than the last sea drying to salt within.
But of what's lost in living
beyond the first few years
we can savor the pearls scattered
throughout the last
and die a kiss of mineral, lake,
in a brilliant flare of wings
together. Hallelujah!

Hostel Room on Sofokleous Street

Again I awake to the choppy syllables of motorbikes
dissecting the night. Greeks and Turks and boys
with much to prove battle the dogs
for dominion of silence. Without a clock
I only know refuse and shadow conjoin
and insomnia s leprous limbs stretch and groan
to introduce day.

Heated like the space between closed doors,
weighted like a cemetery,
this city no longer ancient emits a phosphorescent sigh, a neon outline.
History cannot loosen its grip
and the shutters of my barren room
keep out only what I desire.

The first chunk of night
that brought me back to this world
questioned "what city has awoken me?"
But the panting, hounding predawn people
strangling the streets
and the forever wandering
black bearded cassocks
and the meat marketers
displaying their morning fleshes
and the halves of statues time has left us
only answered in homeless pigeon coos.

Feigning to recognize my beloved sea amongst the shouts
of pastries and black coffee, ouzo and rotten fruit,
abandoned alleyways and bored, cyclic buses,
the almost-sun's perennial voices,
I also feigned wisdom,
shaded the broken moment
with a canopy of home.
All things foreign adopted a darkness.

The loose configuration of fears and desires
inaccurately named dreams
sung to my open eyes.
I approached the exposed bulb
to confirm my inner walls of brick
but within such light switch movement
awaits a cockroach and a lie.
So I sat in this certain darkness
just outside dream
and waited alongside it
the skittering feet of daybreak
and the monument of people
that would bring its own sea,
its own vast, unforgettable silence.

BIO:  Having received an MA in Writing, John has recently returned to the Boston area, where he gives weekly public readings, and he is compiling manuscripts composed from the last two years of traveling and living abroad. Some of his over thirty previous or upcoming publications include: The Evansville Review, Flint Hills Review, Cadillac Cicatrix, Juked, The Journal, Barnwood International Poetry, Phantasmagoria, The Alembic, Southern Ocean Review, Poetic Diversity, Tertulia Magazine, Language and Culture, Raving Dove, Ghoti, and Red Hawk Review.