Support 110 years of independent journalism.

  1. Culture
  2. Poetry
15 July 2020

Sisyphus // Roger Ailes

A new poem by John Sibley Williams.

By John Sibley Williams

In this story the boulder hurts him less
pouring back down that steep hill.

It’s the village below that flattens;
mothers that look nothing like his

or the women he consumed flood
a Texas family detention facility;

their children learn how to settle
into cruelty, the crouch and crush

of anonymity; a whiplash of torches
casket an otherwise pleasant white

Select and enter your email address Your weekly guide to the best writing on ideas, politics, books and culture every Saturday. The best way to sign up for The Saturday Read is via The New Statesman's quick and essential guide to the news and politics of the day. The best way to sign up for Morning Call is via
  • Administration / Office
  • Arts and Culture
  • Board Member
  • Business / Corporate Services
  • Client / Customer Services
  • Communications
  • Construction, Works, Engineering
  • Education, Curriculum and Teaching
  • Environment, Conservation and NRM
  • Facility / Grounds Management and Maintenance
  • Finance Management
  • Health - Medical and Nursing Management
  • HR, Training and Organisational Development
  • Information and Communications Technology
  • Information Services, Statistics, Records, Archives
  • Infrastructure Management - Transport, Utilities
  • Legal Officers and Practitioners
  • Librarians and Library Management
  • Management
  • Marketing
  • OH&S, Risk Management
  • Operations Management
  • Planning, Policy, Strategy
  • Printing, Design, Publishing, Web
  • Projects, Programs and Advisors
  • Property, Assets and Fleet Management
  • Public Relations and Media
  • Purchasing and Procurement
  • Quality Management
  • Science and Technical Research and Development
  • Security and Law Enforcement
  • Service Delivery
  • Sport and Recreation
  • Travel, Accommodation, Tourism
  • Wellbeing, Community / Social Services
Visit our privacy Policy for more information about our services, how Progressive Media Investments may use, process and share your personal data, including information on your rights in respect of your personal data and how you can unsubscribe from future marketing communications.

anytown main street; an unquiet
border wall divides in- from exhale.

The smile Camus paints on his rock-
soft face refuses to surrender to gravity,

joyously. Halleluiah, inconsequential
aftermaths. Praise collateral damage.

That there is nothing apart from the push
some still call prayer. Heart. Heroism. 

That this aped anthem just keeps singing
itself hungry. That no matter how brutal

a king, the narrative the gods fashioned
for him from another’s human clay 

daggers its way into my father’s living
room every night. As we eat what someone

else killed. As he tries to tuck my children into
a myth that calcifies the louder he conjures it.

John Sibley Williams is the author of the collections “As One Fire Consumes Another” (winner of the Orison Poetry Prize) and “Skin Memory” (winner of the Backwaters Prize). He is the editor of the Inflectionist Review.

Content from our partners
What you need to know about private markets
Work isn't working: how to boost the nation's health and happiness
The dementia crisis: a call for action

This article appears in the 15 Jul 2020 issue of the New Statesman, Race for the vaccine