November 06, 2019 1 Comment

John Sibley Williams's poem "Encroachmentis the winning poem from our 2019 Janet B. McCabe Poetry Prize and was selected by final judge Craig Santos Perez. It appears in Issue No. 53: Shelter.



Yes, any evening field, where deer thank the wolves
for diverting a hunter’s love; whatever it means to be
lesser prey—we’ll take it. Yes,


to keep the wild in its place
or have something to hand a son
harder than a woman’s


the dug-under barbed-wire fencing
meant to shelter gentler animals wholly
inadequate, now, the way things are now; yes


—but it’s more than hunger;
that light that never leaves even after the eating


arouses or—a kind of progress—desensitizes, less
out of moral weakness than the more more please
more of living this long, which demands a degree

of distance: physical & emotional. Orison
is an archaic word for prayer. Prayer is an archaic word
for loving at least one thing more than myself. I refuse

                     to love equally

the bullet & its target. That we are all targets; some,
thankfully, lord, not today.


John Sibley Williams is the author of As One Fire Consumes Another (Orison Poetry Prize, 2019), Skin Memory (Backwaters Prize, University of Nebraska Press, 2019), Disinheritance, and Controlled Hallucinations. John is the winner of numerous awards, including the Wabash Prize for Poetry, Philip Booth Award, American Literary Review Poetry Contest, Phyllis Smart-Young Prize, Confrontation Poetry Prize, and Laux/Millar Prize. He serves as editor of The Inflectionist Review and works as a freelance poetry editor and literary agent.


Read the other poems, stories, and art from Ruminate's Issue 53: Shelter.  

Photo by John Royle on Unsplash.

1 Response

Janice Bethany
Janice Bethany

January 23, 2020

I love how this poem travels and the structure takes you THERE. Most commendable.

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