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Shore Song


for C, E & S

The planks toward the back of the deck sing dark
both broad and spindly. And who builds a moon
ship out of wood? And who sets sail with no mast

and no sail? But we have hand carved the night
around the horn of Africa, past the monsoon lands
and even up a ways by the Hebrides. The soft shuck

of round words exposing their fruit gets plucked
under a mottled Missouri midnight or the crisp
crash of the Puget. And I am here catching commas

in my bare hands between the bay and the Atlantic’s
bracing break. How we have led lines into the upper
and lower atmosphere. How we have let what is said

be said. And when we turn that corner, the great line-
break in the moon’s shivering umbra, we will come back
changed to a changed world, winded, dripping in verse.

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John A. Nieves has poems forthcoming or recently published in journals such as: Hopkins  Review, Iowa Review, American Poetry Review, 32 Poems, and Southern Review. He won the Indiana Review Poetry Contest and his first book, Curio, won the Elixir Press Annual Poetry Award Judge’s Prize. He is associate professor of English at Salisbury University and an editor of The Shore Poetry.

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