I Declare This Room a Volcano

by John A. Nieves

Some games we played weren’t
about competition. The goal
was for everyone to win, like when
we’d throw pillows around the room

and name the floor lava. No one
tried to push anyone else in. The idea
was adventure. We would risk
imaginary immolation to reach

the hallway—the outskirts of the world.
I miss those games. I miss the magic
of anyone having the right to declare
anything dangerous at anytime. I have

longed for it. How many times I’ve
wished to shout Don’t go home with
him, he’s lava, or Don’t get on that
motorcycle, it’s quicksand, or Don’t move

there, it’s full of sharks and for a second
have the others reach to me to steady
their balance before bounding the opposite
direction of hospitals, and cemeteries

and any variety of prison. Instead, we
have reached an age of evidence. Convincing
must be done even as the soles of our feet catch
fire, even as we squint to ignore the flames.


John A. Nieves has poems forthcoming or recently published in journals such as: Southern Review, Pleiades, Crazyhorse, The Literary Review, and Verse Daily. He won the Indiana Review Poetry Contest and his first book, Curio (2014), won the Elixir Press Annual Poetry Award Judge’s Prize. He is an Assistant Professor of English at Salisbury University.

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