Where shall we bury your mother? You asked her once and she said, smiling, why not keep me in the basement? Our basement is a joke, crammed illogically with old toys, kid’s drawings, moldy books, our parents’ teacups and old furniture, our own rough drafts and old taxes. What we just can’t get rid of.
It is 2020 and it seems that we all feel immersed in destruction. Destruction surrounds us and we struggle to understand our own complicity in it. This was true when John Sibley Willams’ book, As One Fire Consumes Another was released in April 2019, and seems to have become an even more pressing reality in the year since.
I like the way the world recedes deep in the night. I try to let it go, in the still house the entanglements of the daylight world loosening. Some flowers bloom at night. Some things grow only in isolation. Insomnia is the night gardener.
The book’s title is both an accurate relaying of mortal fear and a feint. Life can whack you to bits, and Halliday knows it, but his voice is so aware—and his ruminations so penetrating—that the poems offer a means of gritty transcendence.
He wore a slightly rumpled shirt, / its placket buttoned off by one
Vietnam can be written, said, and felt as Viet Nam, a being cleaved in two, aching to be stitched back together.
Flattened by a car, its arms spread out, a little like Jesus. The sun had baked it as crisp as a potato chip.
Quirky and otherworldly, these poems are smart and dark, at times humorous, but also consistently aware. It’s this awareness that heightens the reader’s attention and compels us to read, the knowledge that we are not immune to visits from those we have lost and journeys with our failures.
Cheerios & diapers: she scrapes the crust / of dried peas from roughed-up Tupperware,
In the evening I sit out on the back porch watching the lit up flight pattern of the planes coming in for landing. They come right at me like a surging highway.