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We call the process of harvestingvenom milking, as if poisonwere nourishment, but in the end, it’s all

about use: the way you positionyour tongue against your teethonly matters so much as the shape

your lips take and the pitchof your voice. Without usethere is only the modest magic

contemplation offers. A splinterfrom an ancient bowsprit in my arm—an old wound’s familiar ache, the wince

of comfort from my body’s overstockof foreign parts. But we are symbiotes. I ferrythe stowaways with me: wood and lead

and metal. Now and again, they revoltgripped with a sudden painful nostalgiafor the open sea or a silent cavern

or a mountain’s crumbling crest. Much like sunset,they must either be ignored or sanctified. Soldoff as chills, or voiced as bone

shiver or the wall ice forms between usand the earth. They come on stale windsas little whispers, child sounds, some indelible

scar on the air. Here they attach to other smalltruths like how you will say my name until it is [End Page 73] meaningless, reduce me to a pile of sounds, but I amwith the crickets, the night birds.I will always come when you forgetyou are listening. [End Page 74]

John A. Nieves

John A. Nieves has poems forthcoming or recently published in journals such as: Beloit Poetry Journal, Southern Review, Crazyhorse, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Ninth Letter, and Cincinnati Review. He won the 2011 Indiana Review Poetry and is a 2012 Pushcart nominee. His work has also been featured on Verse Daily twice recently. His first book, Curio, won the Elixir Press Annual Poetry Award Judge’s Prize and is due out in early 2014. He is an Assistant Professor of English at Salisbury University. He received his M.A. from USF and his Ph.D. from the University of Missouri.

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