diode v9n1



The Dissolving of Narrative

Crushed between two spoons
into a fine powder dissolving
last night’s celebration into
a kind of elegy, a strange pill
untangles the knot in my chest.

Sparks constellate behind
my pressed eyelids like
something important struggling
to be remembered. Trinket.
Totem. A kaleidoscope of almosts.

The story I’ve made of the world exists like this:


through morning’s window
the bees look like they’re on fire.
My head, on fire. The air,
a honeycomb of fluttering embers.

Fuses of maple ignite a lawn
where childhood continues
to burn itself out.

Inside my heart
there is a room that opens
to a room I cannot leave.

This morning I choose
the chair furthest from the window
and rest in this antechamber of forgetting.

If the story I’ve made of the world exists,


the earth can hold together by cicatrix alone.


All those timbered spears the sky once fell upon, slicing left to right, as is tradition, spilling rain and light and our cast-up prayers back down upon us. Honor, sure. Though the trees are recovering

now. And the sky. Now, with the locked and shuttered sawmills burning pale in open valleys. Now, with a palimpsest of grandfathers drunk on the past, shouting sawdust from their lungs.

Now, in need of something else to obey, a new star to steer by, like a motherless fawn lost in high grass, I ask them: is there a difference between mastering and being mastered by the forest?

They raise glasses to the world as it should be, maybe as it was, as they leave us like those heroes of old, buckled at the knees, insides seeping out, like any temporary kingdom.  


John Sibley Williams is the editor of two Northwest poetry anthologies and the author of nine collections, including Controlled Hallucinations (2013) and Disinheritance (forthcoming 2016). A five-time Pushcart nominee and winner of the Philip Booth Award, American Literary Review Poetry Contest, 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 QuarterlydecemberThird CoastBaltimore ReviewNimrod International JournalHotel Amerika, Rio Grande ReviewInkwellCider Press ReviewBryant Literary ReviewRHINO, and various anthologies. He lives in Portland, Oregon.