John Sibley Williams


          —     for Paul Celan

Over things
reign the eyes.
Over eyes,
So, Paul,
the river you chose to drown in
                             does have a name.

Tourists continue to sail it,                      origin to imagined destination.
Lovers slip their hearts through the steel arms
of each other                 like some unshakable bridge.
There has been a time flowers papier-mâchéd its surface
and the city’s unaging shadow blackened the water
and, forgiven, the blazing orange lanterns of death
that meant the end
or beginning
of a generation.

You were not the first to bind your feet to yesterday’s anchor.
You were not the first to believe             a river merely water.
You were not the first to relearn to breathe                     in language,

intolerably permanent,

some dead thing resurrected by the color you’ve planted in the eye.

John Sibley Williams is the author of eight collections, most recently Controlled Hallucinations (FutureCycle Press, 2013). 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 Board Member of the Friends of William Stafford. A few previous publishing credits include: Third Coast, Nimrod International Journal, Inkwell, Cider Press Review, Bryant Literary Review, Cream City Review, RHINO, and various anthologies. He lives in Portland, Oregon.