Night was toner—its scent and its stain. The way we could
fold the world into messages was all glue stick and dull-
bladed paper cutter. And the copier’s fans seeped a wind so
thin it got between our sweat and our skin. We would run
a hundred at a time then camp on the corner at rush hour
to offer up what we could: Support resolution X, boycott
company Y, please cut the six-pack rings before discarding
them. The causes came in clusters. The people, too. Some
to yell, some to thank us. Most often a hand would open,
we would fill it. There would be no nod or word. Our work
would find its way home with them, or to the trash, or some-
times to the curb. But mostly, I remember your face in
the slatted copier glow. I remember caring so much that
no word be wasted that somehow in there, I forgot good-
bye. Somewhere in there, I folded the wrong thing closed.
John A. Nieves has poems forthcoming or recently published in journals such as Copper Nickel, Verse Daily, Harvard Review, Massachusetts Review, and North American Review. His first book, Curio, won the Elixir Press Annual Poetry Award Judge’s Prize. Nieves is an Associate Professor of English at Salisbury University and an Editor of The Shore Poetry.