JOHN A. NIEVES If You Tilt It like So, You Can Almost See It (Caput Draconis)

This is what we lose when we think
about losing. A man sitting, gourd-kneed,
about loby a cactus in the dark. The ghosts of gnats
about loclouding the air around his head, but there
are no gnats in this desert. He parts his parchment
lips and they peel into a litany of names
about lohalf choked, half sung. The tune eluding
about loeven the wind’s attempts to catch it. Or a young
woman on a park bench somewhere far
north of the desert, a kitten mewing at her

about lofeet. She scoops and ladles thread like soup
about lointo her lap where something is forming, maybe
a scarf or a throw or the one important word
she forgot to say to someone she forgot. Or
about loourselves with our fingers pressed together,

about loour toes pressed to the windshield, the fields
streaking by like they had somewhere more
important to be. The wheat’s bright spears saying
about lohello little sacrifices, we are waiting for you
about lohere on the ground we will commit you to
. And the chill

down your back is not your chill, but mine. We
also share a penchant for shoulder aches
about loand hallucinations of small birds. I always want to
about logreet them, to describe them, but like the colors
glinting off your eye, they are gone before I can name them.


John A. Nieves has poems forthcoming or recently published in journals such as: Beloit Poetry Journal, Southern Review, Cincinnati Review, 32 Poems, Copper Nickel and Mid-American Review. His first book, Curio, won the Elixir Press Annual Poetry Award Judge’s Prize. He is also winner of the Indiana ReviewPoetry Prize. He is an Assistant Professor of English at Salisbury University and one of the editors of The Shore Poetry. He received my M.A. from USF and my Ph.D. from the University of Missouri.