Controlled Hallucinations by John Sibley Williams

 ControlledPaperback: 78 pages

Publisher: FutureCycle Press (April 24, 2013)

Language: English

ISBN-10: 1938853229

ISBN-13: 978-1938853227

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Review by: g emil reutter
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      John Sibly Williams embraces all that is around him and within him in a series of controlled hallucinations. In mirrors, on rooftops, the people he sees in storms and clear skies, in love, and balls of yarn, Williams explores the use of language viewing life from different angles.  His unusual metaphors blend thought and images.  The first poem sets the tone for the collection.
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                         I
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I see a man on an adjacent building
silhouette cut from the skyline.
So I also cut out the roof
he stands on.
I cut out the tools
and the cascading shingles.
I cut out the hydrangeas
the shingles decapitate
on their way down.
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I cut out the mountain
in the distance,
still coddling its last snows
replacing it with a silo,
the shingles with paper
snowflakes.
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I replace the man
with another man
with a woman
with a horse
a piano
with a book
and myself.
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Nothing quite fits.
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But the man
no longer fits either
on the roof
on skyline
And I wonder is this
what it means
to touch?
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    Williams use of language and imagery continues to delight throughout the collection in poems such as
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                     V
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She calls me to the window.
With the current of winter frost
Breath struggles to converse.
Against the current of conversation
a restless, accurate darkness.
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I now the bottom well,
she claims
And the tender views it affords.
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Outside the night dances its silence.
She calls me to our window
and points to a ship
upon the near distant river,
mast lit by thousands of bulbs
I cannot see.
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        Through these controlled hallucinations, Williams maintains a conversational tone with his reader, which draws them into each poem.  The reader pauses in mid-poem, only to reexamine the poem once again, before reaching an unpredictable last stanza.    It is the knowing or un-knowing he examines, as he writes in the last stanza of LXIII, I know only one thing: there is no un-knowing.  This poet takes us from rooftops to mountain tops, from churches to graveyards, from the bedroom to the great heights of the sky with a view you may not have considered, a view worth the read. 
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g emil reutter
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-g emil reutter lives and writes in the Fox Chase neighborhood of Philadelphia, Pa.

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