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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.

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