Issue 26 | Fall 2020

Anatomy of Morning

That early hour before a brute world

holds your palm open over its lit candle.


Before flinch or scar. Adulthood. Another

laundry line haloed between paper birches—


night-soaked sheets, yellowing socks, mom’s

dead dreams, everything windlessly idle as prayer


flags. And a cloud in the shape of a sister. This womb

emptied of promise. That brief waking moment love


has no synonym. The field demystified. Here

and there, horses not entirely unwild. Before


light muddies the waters of witness. Fingers

pressed tight to your eyelids. Artificial stars. This 


nearly but not quite nothing. That there is no nothing

even now. Just a thousand excuses to hurt before being hurt.


Filed under: Poetry

John Sibley Williams author headshot

John Sibley Williams is the author of As One Fire Consumes Another (Orison Poetry Prize, 2019), Skin Memory (Backwaters Prize, University of Nebraska Press, 2019), Disinheritance, and Controlled Hallucinations. A nineteen-time Pushcart nominee, John is the winner of numerous awards, including the Wabash Prize for Poetry, Philip Booth Award, American Literary Review Poetry Contest, Phyllis Smart-Young Prize, Nancy D. Hargrove Editors’ Prize, Confrontation Poetry Prize, and Laux/Millar Prize. He serves as editor of The Inflectionist Review and works as a literary agent. Previous publishing credits include: The Yale Review, Midwest Quarterly, Southern Review, 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.