Scavenger Couplets

We learned early how to stretch

leftovers for a week. How to sell

things we were sure we never would. How

the emptying space reminds us

we at least paid the rent. The coyotes

outside were miniature. They ate trash

and roadkill. They ran in small

groups, in odd curving patterns like

the rat rivers of Boston on garbage

day after sunset. They let out high yips

that felt like aching, not communicating,

that felt like refusing to answer

the phone when the collectors called

and they always called. The bright cries

were a promise to survive on what was

left, a promise to keep searching

for the mouthful that lets you

search for the next.


John A. Nieves’ poems appear in journals such as: Crazyhorse, Southern Review, Willow Springs, North American Review and Massachusetts Review.  His first book, Curio, won the Elixir Press Annual Judges Prize. He’s an Associate Professor at Salisbury University and an editor of The Shore Poetry.