After Suicide – John Sibley Williams

Stars are nothing but night’s failure to shine

around them. We measure exit wounds only when

death hasn’t lodged itself in the lungs or spine or

inexorably burrowed into the heart. Before the

heart beats its last, a hole just large enough for

what’s left of a family to slip through. My cousin

is saying something about catharsis & childhood.

I remember when tracing letters on a brother’s

back meant the world, at least language, could

only be shared by two. Once the world opened its

arms, we dissolved. Body may not be the best word

for it, but it fits. Hope may not really be what we

hang from stars, but what else to call it? Boy is not

a window & man doesn’t mean he’d learned to

unlock the door. The bolt sticks when I try to

secure the outside from the in. In blessedness, the

pastor says, the sky emptied of birds begins to

sing. I’m singing. I’m singing as if the world were

listening; not in elegy, ecstasy, prayer. More for

the deep night that shines around the stars, the

window thrown open to let in the cold.


John Sibley WilliamsJohn Sibley Williams is the author of nine poetry collections, most recently Disinheritance. A nine-time Pushcart nominee and winner of various awards, John serves as editor of The Inflectionist Review. Publications include: Yale Review, Atlanta Review, Prairie Schooner, Midwest Quarterly, Sycamore Review, Massachusetts Review, Columbia, Third Coast, and Poetry Northwest.

1 Comment

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March 11, 2018 at 11:42 PM

great poem!

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