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by ian c. williams

When Absalom hung by his hair

in the twisted limbs of the deepwoods—

too many spears piercing his chest—

the murmuring creatures emerged from the bloodweed

and fern to see him turning silently

above them like drying lavender, like a swaying

pocket watch, like a grotesque windchime.

Every beast of wing and goat’s eye, of mosquito

and silverfish bent in awe of this spectacle

of vanity and righteous anger. Could these

darkling figures have untangled him

from the branches and buried his fury deep

in the winding trenches beyond the treeline?

From the forest, they have watched

as we each rise and fall like an autumn’s wind,

as we each trace our paths through

the underbrush in search of whatever floats

just out of our reach. They wait and watch and say nothing.


Ian C. Williams is a poet and teacher from Appalachia. He is also the editor-in-chief for Jarfly: A Poetry Magazine.In 2019, Williams received a Masters in Fine Arts in Creative Writing from Oklahoma State University, and his debut full-length collection of poems, Every Wreckage, is forthcoming from Fernwood Press in 2023. His chapbook, House of Bones, is available in person or from theNational Federation of State Poetry Societies. He currently lives with his wife and two sons, along with their two dogs and two cats, in Fairmont, West Virginia.


Image by Bree Anne
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