Arsenic Lobster poetry journal Issue Thirty-five
Summer 2014
The Vulture, the Moth
Casey Nichols

As a child he found sky in gutters,
plucked the sweet rot of broken nighthawks

from their curbstone basins, skulls cracked
seeds in his hands.

Jaw fluttering verse, folded notebook in back pocket,

he says the vulture is an angel, he says
the moth is a moon bird.

We watch our legs dangle above the Cuyahoga River.
Here, aerosol spray is a product of night, scrawled
on locomotives, the sleep-talk of youth.

Applause of heavy engines is a blood lullaby.

He says remember the bees in the window? Small regrets
hurled at glass, lodged like soft beads in the cedar sill.

What could we have done?

He knows it is possible to harvest the body,
takes its sweet grit in his teeth.

If he becomes afraid in the moment, let him
finger the stone in his pocket, its gentle edge
smooth & breathing.

They will find him on the tracks—

he, the bruised apple, bird-song syllable,
the soft parts of knowing

earth knee-deep in its own bones.

About Casey Nichols

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