When We Take You Home

I dont remember the forest

or the language

the path of my name out

from your mouth I have killed

    to smother the embers

flaked pink in your ashes


            we carry you into the forest

            after cutting into you


                        a snake unearthed

                        we pin with the axe

                                                                                                    & bury the head

                                                                                                    we dress you with the rattle


                                                                                                    instead of strapping you down

                                                                                                                 putting you in the sky


I leave your song

for the birds

            even decapitated the jaws sing       

            all reflex & snap shut                   


                                                        to remember

I go into the forest listening





Arms are Arms

winter comes & rats

fill our home we hope each

other doesnt notice

they say rats gnaw

    their legs off

when trapped


mom says work &

make the money   

you can make


she says care

    for your wife

then yourself


winter comes & mom

quits the prison    

but keeps the gun

she says she stayed  

    all those years

because of dad


he starts the fire early

his breath steaming   

& legs molting off


mom says these arms

    are nothing but

arms to hold you

they say rats dont

    squeal leaving       

their bodies behind







Failure Body

pry me open like morning night

then drape dead                                                           

soil yourself silent

sleep like theres no sun

                                                    forget the nerves embedded in flesh

howl like agony is sacred

like a strangers throat snatch back night

strike me again with a diseased smile gaping

                        your body our body your body embodies

failure reeks surprise your body hums

tune in for the finale your body a cliff hanger

seashore me a desert island grow us a death again


forget that your body is a harmony of prayer

scream down the sacredness of agony

drape dead soil yourself silent sleep

pry me open like a stranger

sunrise howls & reeks warmth

fills the sky again diseased

strike yourself smiling

forget my slacked skin gathers flesh

surprise your nerves

hum deserted

an island

is my body only yours tell me what happens now



Nicholas Brown is a first-generation Mexican American poet. His poetry appears, or is forthcoming, in Superstition Review, Up the Staircase Quarterly, DIALOGIST, New Delta Review, and elsewhere. He is a reader for Frontier Poetry and more of his work can be found at nickbrownweekly.com.