John A. Nieves: “Ars Silencia”




When all the days have gone sceptic and the commercials
have replaced the shows and the novels are ads and the ads
are prescriptions for rightly living and rightly thinking

and rightly speaking, we will only have cold oatmeal.
We will only have spent beer bottles filled with rain
we sip against vending machines that only dispense

notes about what we are and are not allowed to learn. The birds
will fly low enough to trouble our hair, to tease it into a new
fear. The bats will be day-borne. We have lived here all our

lives just to be told we are kudzu—that we have eaten too
much, lived exactly as we were able and, in doing so, have gone
reedy and split. We will forget how to keep the sinks

and toilets clean. We will wear our net worths like bumper
stickers. Others will fire bee-bees or worse at the values
they don’t like. When the sun sets, we will sew our mouths

shut to speech or songs because we will be scolded for even
our voices not being our own. We will limp into the long
grass and live there or die there, but we won’t tell anyone.



John A. Nieves has poems forthcoming or recently published in journals such as American Poetry Review, Copper Nickel, 32 Poems, Southern 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.

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