John A. Nieves’ poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Crazyhorse, Southern Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review, New York Quarterly, Ninth Letter, Poetry Northwest, Cincinnati Review, and others. He won the 2011 Indiana Review Poetry Prize and the 2010 Southeast Review AWP Short Poetry contest. He received his MA in Creative Writing from USF in 2006 and his PhD in Literature and Creative Writing from the University of Missouri.

On Libations: “I once heard that wine poured on the roots of a tree was supposed to reach the dead. It was a romantic idea, but I liked it very much. The belief suggested that something besides words could reach into our past and say something shining or something dark. True or not, if I have wine near a tree, I always pour some. I can always think of someone absent I would love
to share it with.”

John A. Nieves


I spent you on sizzling vegetables,

on settling myself just so against

the arm of the couch, on ball

point pens and smoky tea.

In the utter lack of fever,

I spent you on salty-kisses,

five-point turns and a stubborn

insistence against calendars.

So maybe I spent you without

looking you in the face, but you

slipped by just the same, laying

old graces on new frames—

my thoughts moving across you,

denying you, but still shackled

to your turning, still wondering what

dies with the changing of your name.