John A. Nieves

The Last Few Feet
January 24, 2019 Nieves John A.

The Last Few Feet


You kept filling up the days

like you were filling in a grave.—Spencer Krug


And so the thyme fell and spilled a neat pile

on the cadet blue tile and you looked north and I


looked passed you to the same two goodbyes

you’d been practicing last night. And the scent


came like scratch ‘n sniff in a pop-up book

about a pizzeria. You called your father from the living


room. The lady upstairs was singing Danzig

with operatic might. I could see, but not hear,


the television. Something important was on

fire. People rushed to help. The tea steeped


into the background as if it were whispering

Darjeeling, Darjeeling into the wall’s sterile cream.


And I hardly noticed the keys in the lock. And I just caught,

from the window, the cab door on its way closed.







“Tasting blood again, at least it’s your own.”—Stuart Murdoch


Head, peeked over the roof, untamed mustache

half-dyed maroon. Were you hunting another

face? Hoping for the shingles to yield, drop

away from glittering eyes flexed up in a smile

and lips that would fit snugly around your name?

But the roof walkers are long since flown. When

we were teens we could count on any signal

sent widow-walk to dormer sill. But the rest

of us found the flight lines of our favorite birds

and traced them to the farthest feasible away. I heard

when the phone stopped ringing, you started making

stencils of graves and jack-o-lanterns. I was

told you sold some at the flea market between the lady

with orange and purple seventies rugs and the knife

dealer. Rumor had it you took to bar fights and got

real good til you accidentally knocked a girl’s

tooth out. This is the thing. You had an appetite

for consequences until there were consequences.

John A. Nieves has poems forthcoming or recently published in journals such as: North American Review, Crazyhorse, Southern Review, Poet Lore and Copper Nickel. He won the Indiana Review Poetry Contest and his first book, Curio, won the Elixir Press Annual Poetry Award Judge’s Prize. He is associate professor of English at Salisbury University and an editor of The Shore Poetry. He received his M.A. from University of South Florida and his Ph.D. from the University of Missouri.