Instructions for Banishment



First   line   your  threshold  with  salt.

Shower  your  dead  loved  ones with

insults  to keep  them  from weighing

down  the cold  half  of the  mattress.

If  you  ever  get  around  to  sleeping

again,  don’t   dream   heavenly.  Stay

close  to  bone,  breath. Breathe dust

and bacon fat and whatever reminds

a   house  that   you  are  in  it.   Never

forget  that you  are in  it.  Scuffed-up

shoes  and  jeans worn  at the  knees;

stop praying.  Stop  playing at prayer.

Let everything  not bolted down drift

out onto  the lawn  with  the first  rain.

Let it rust  there.  Leave timelessness

to  do  with   the   past what   it  must.

And with  your  body, and  what’s  not

entirely  body.  I know how  hard  it  is

to arrest a song as  it crescendos to a

deafening  roar, then flatlines.  Forget

the  lives  you  took, or  failed to take.

After  all,  we were  at war, or a peace

lasted  too  long. We are never  really

at   peace   long  enough  to  suffer  it.

Wrap  your  fever in  cheesecloth and

wait  for the  throbbing to  subside.  It

will   never  subside.  I know  regret  is

just  another  form  of   lust.  Surviving

your   children  is  collateral  damage.

There  is  no  end to  why. There is  no

end.  Throw some  salt  over your left

shoulder.   Cut   the   throat  of   every

chicken  in  your neighbor’s yard  and

bathe in their blood. Eat  their  hearts.

Try on  all sorts  of  silences until  you

find  one  that  fits.  Like  a glove.  Like

a mask,  a mansuit.  Anything to  hush

the voices. Then never take it off.

Minotaur // Dylann Roof


If you  want  peace,  you  don’t  talk to

your friends. You talk to your enemies.

— Desmond Tutu



Left  alone  with  your body this long.

No  touch but carnage. No father but

a beast  groomed  for  sacrifice.  Like

the lesser  gods  before you, terrible,

hollow,  utterly  sincere in your  need

for flesh between your teeth.  It does

not matter that the  labyrinth you try

to own owns you.  No  heroes  in this

story.  There have never been heroes

or villains  in  our story.  Just  want  &

want & want &,  in the end,  a greater

want.  An open-handed blow.  Blood.

An  unbroken  church.  Endless paths

tracing the  same  circles.  Your  skin,

untouched but by itself,  becomes its

own motive.

John Sibley Williams is the editor of two Northwest poetry anthologies and the author of nine collections, including Disinheritance and Controlled Hallucinations. A ten-time Pushcart nominee, John is the winner of numerous awards, including the Philip Booth Award, American Literary Review Poetry Contest, Nancy D. Hargrove Editors’ Prize, Confrontation Poetry Prize, and Vallum Award for Poetry. He serves as editor of The Inflectionist Review and works as a literary agent. Previous publishing credits include: The Yale Review, Midwest Quarterly, 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.