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Route 7 Review

Issue #  2015




Perpetual Inventory (Things I Am Learning)



How a matchstick on the tongue implies fire.


How the wind weighs more in daylight.


How spirits burn the lips and throat.


How spirits are memories etched in air.


How etching is violent and done with acid.



Take a Deep Breath and Become



Forget the panic—

the red candle, the signet ring, symbol

made solid, sealed. Instead, take in

the message, the ghost voice abutting

your oneness. Was there a tiny lilt,

some leaf-shaped promise that refused

to fall all winter, a webbed imprint

on your cheek?


Forget the morning—

some whispers will persist

until the cracking dawn. Rename

them music. Set new words

to the tune, your words. This

instead of the steady thrumming,

the angry clock, the rasp

of obligation clearing

its throat. What comes?

If the lamp lights your slender

fingers and they respond,

will they know the rhythm? Can you

only measure brightness

in what has faded? If you hear me,

please tap once on the glass. I know

it’s late, but I promise I will

answer. I promise louder than

distance, louder than the storm.



Well after Sunset

The moon rent the sky,

leaving a gash of cold light—

             a beacon—a battle axe.


Your eyes shivered.


You put a red marker to your hand,

             scratched an arrow.

It will never point west.


You averted your eyes—

like you could feel the trees staring you down,

             whispering you into submission.


I sipped a beer,

put my feet up on a mossy rock.

It will never point west.


You were blushing.

The angry coils of your hair

fended off another kidnapping attempt by the North Wind.

It will never point west.


You held your arms out at your side.

You looked more like you were drowning than flying,

             but the stars weren’t moved,

             and the grass rose against you.



Fair Day

A soggy dollar peered out from under a piece of trash—

a crushed can of Fanta that showed only the “ant”

and a tiny troop marching into the mouth as if they could read.


I pulled the buck out quickly.

It dripped orange soda, wet dirt and a few stray ants.


I held it at arm’s distance and marched

directly toward the carousel, laid it across

the flaky little palm of the man at the gate.


A tiger.

I picked a tiger to the left of a camel

between a grey horse and a four-legged duck.


As the machine creaked to life,

I moved toward and away from my almost fortune—

the grubby green ticket to spin that the gatekeeper

was still rubbing between his thumb and middle finger.




Optical Illusion



The longing glance of a lover

that whispers a tale of rapture

could easily be focused on


               a body in another room—


eyes that see further than the smile

in front of them, eyes that hide in

that same distance.

John A. Nieves's poems are forthcoming or recently published in journals such as: Southern ReviewSouthern Humanities Review, Poetry NorthwestMinnesota Review and Salamander. His first book, Curio, won the Elixir Press Annual Poetry Award Judge’s Prize and came 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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