A Poem by John A. Nieves

John A. Nieves

John A. Nieves

John A. Nieves has poems forthcoming or recently published in journals such as: Southern Review, Poetry Northwest, and Minnesota Review. He won the 2011 Indiana Review Poetry Contest and his first book, Curio (2014), won the Elixir Press Annual Poetry Award Judge’s Prize. He is an Assistant Professor of English at Salisbury University. He received his M.A. from University of South Florida and his Ph.D. from the University of Missouri.

Honing the Edge (Acquisitio)

Lies, light as bird bones, as old
tunes hummed just under
the breath. You have cupped
your hand over your mouth

and breathed your own words,
felt names and verbs rattle
in your lungs—nutritious enough
to keep your blood pumping, to push
another lilting stream into the flat
air. Drum, drum, drum against
the skin, ask to be let in
to the skull cage, change forever

the pathing each word takes
as it burrows into the other’s
brow. And even now with the change
in cabin pressure, with the blown out

pupils, with all the quivering
in your direction, I have been
you, the stuff stuffed into a tall
tale, left reed thin but redwood high
thinking: Why did I build myself
like this? Why did I choose a shape
that could so easily cut, but can
barely stand?