No Evil - Siobhan Manrique
Bird waste and bad habits
keep staining your sky
despite all the chemicals you used
to scrape, scrape, scrape
’til you scraped big blue heaven.
Wind lent from the west
laces, unlaces your work boots;
sand curdles with fight-or-flight sweat,
staining your homeward footprints like
blood under your nails,
blood between laughs,
the blood between you and your father,
’til you get high off the odors
of that big bad animal
you can’t ever chase off.
Days the dead talk to you,
you wish you hadn’t forgotten
the prison letters
that passed, like rumors,
through so many hands just to get to yours.
You trade hours for amber glass
while everyone asks for money sooner or later,
so you give up on feeding your animal self
for a day or a year or a paycheck, a paycheck, a paycheck
while voices ask for more of all you have and do not have,
and you almost wish you were that husk of a moth
tossed by the stale summer wind,
while the only secret
you’ve kept for yourself
is that there is no ‘almost’—
you do wish it,
but good people speak no evil.
Every bite you take
is a bite out of yourself,
raw as bird waste,
raw as bug guts,
raw as bad directions to the hospital,
and all the while,
so much wet stuff falling out of you,
like rain falling out of big blue heaven.
Siobhan Manrique is a Venezuelan-Irish middle school English teacher in rural Arizona. She earned her Certificate in Creative Writing at Northern Arizona University. Aside from remote living, previous positions in hotels and funeral homes also inform her writing, which has appeared in Full House Literary Magazine, Talking Writing, and others.