Balladeer Cinquains
John A. Nieves

Balladeer Cinquains

The Merritt Parkway barely clings to the night like the ghost
of a postcard an antiquer found in an estate sale’s incidentals.
Everything is so achingly thin: the air, time, the tune on
the radio, Kim Deal gauzing out You could be a shadow beneath
the streetlight behind my home.
And I am driving toward some sun-

rise a few hours from here near the water because, here, everything
is near the water. A little truth. Another: it is easier to hit falsettos when
you are lip syncing. One more: every wish you refuse to make will end
up little scratches in the back of your throat that bleed in your sleep, or
maybe your dreams, or the pause between the two. But this is the thing

when things are this thin: it is hard to find their borders, the place one
humid tissue melts into another. On the side of the road, I see a glint
off an exit sign that looks just like the corner of your smile. I am driving
toward something even if it is disappearing as I do. I am pedal to the floor,
gas, not brake. A mirage is never a mirage until you get there.

John A. Nieves

has poems forthcoming or recently published in such journals as North American Review, Copper Nickel, 32 Poems, Harvard Review, and Massachusetts 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. He received his M.A. from the University of South Florida and his Ph.D. from the University of Missouri.