John Manuel Arias

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John Manuel Arias is a gay, first generation Costa Rican/Uruguayan poet and author returned to DC after many years. His work has appeared in Assaracus, the Journal, Sixth Finch and many others. His debut collection ‘¡I’d Rather Sink–!’ is currently looking for a new home.




I watch this changing world and think how lucky we are

to have a choice in how we meet our end


This human race, a sweet virus necrotizing nature’s

arteries, breaking down the cellular walls of everything


that foolishly chose to live here, to die here

and not on another plane where it’s too cold


to grip onto loved ones, or too vacuous

to hear their confessions


I sense an atom bomb in the words you’re about to speak

and if you’re quiet for just a moment, we can both avoid


annihilation, another crater in the earth like the one you found

me in, digging my own grave with my teeth, crooked


from encountering diamantine sediment, still-warm bones

of those who look just like me, rocks, razors, radiation


In my veins there’s a virus that resembles us

assuaged by pills perfected by years of human experimentation


carving hollowed-out dimples that used to smile from

being loved, loved no longer but by Death itself


each of their ribs, Its scythe

cutting out, not in


as it normally goes

If only they knew Death’s sentence


would be something different, something quicker

yet more callous, or maybe more benevolent


because at least with my hot, permanent shadow

someone will know I was here


that my skinny shape printed onto a wall will say

I held out as long as I could

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