If you called the name of a ghost on the fourth
full moon of a season, it would carry it back
through the hole in the horizon where the keeper
of names buffs the scroll, the roll call, free
of the old and it would spare that name the kiss
of its scales for two or three more years. But
what of a name? Why in the same breath were
you called Song Moon and Betrayer Moon?
Thumbing the mud by your light brought luck.
Crying under you had the power to undo, but
the redo might not be bright but blue and centuries
longer than the fog, than the secret gray screen
you hid behind while other moons marched in time.
for Anathema Device emerging from the shower
While I know you can’t be reading this tonight by the light
this pale moon silvers the rain with through the clouds, while
I know you are fiction and can not read at all, I have felt
similarly about many real people in my life, so am not
dissuaded. Anathema, you are left steaming in your towel,
the book on the table ready to fill you with all the “important”
questions and answers, the boy at the table made up
of questions and answers, the door, the dripping
faucet. In your book, you get not to choose, but if you were
here, time would force you against this moment until
a decision gave way. We are not salmon. Even if we were
willing to die for it, we could not swim upstream.
Said rain across the hand. Said rain
across the tongue. Arched back and
smoother lines—the bells that swing,
the bells that swung. Said burst when
you said color. Said bloom when that
moon sunk so low you called it sun.
The bud builds pressure ‘til it’s sprung
and you spin and you say spun, but
night flowers give up enough color
for their shapes to signal some deep-
throated moan: half incandescent, half
spring-eyed. Say did and you’d say done.
John A. Nieves is an Assistant Professor of English at Salisbury University. He received his M.A. from the University of South Florida and his Ph.D. from the University of Missouri. His first book, Curio, won the Elixir Press Annual Poetry Award Judge’s Prize and is due out in early 2014.