Nicholas Reading

Two poems from Nicholas Reading’s Silent Reel

followed by a note on the author

What a Nice Donkey

There is a rider leading a donkey
toward a dim town barely lit
by factory fires. Pothole soup

for the orphaned girl walking until
warmth comes. It’s not complicated,
the rehash and echo of journey.

The dim town is the room you, reading,
sit in. The girl makes it over the black dirt,
past flashing moons to ask you

for work. To shine your salty shoes.
She’ll starch your hat. If you’ve no hat
she will offer her own. You hardly listen

as donkey eats this paper, tugs
your spine right out of your seat.
Tomorrow nothing will be as strange

as these two augurs reading
at your kitchen table. Coffee
will be on and your cigarettes

will be gone. Both want breakfast.
The girl shames you when she says,
What a waste, you trying to be happy.

Donkey nods. They offer to wash
your socks and stitch the holes.
They ask for the thread from your chest.



Dialogue with an Intruder

Now that the door is kicked in we have plenty
to talk about
with you stoned, me weak thinking that Grandmother’s

tea set
has fallen apart and given us plenty to talk about while
you reach

for silver spoons following the tea set falling apart.
What of decorum?
Why the rough handle of my wife’s wedding ring?

It is cut
from her as our breath wanes. Burn decorum. Take
the back roads

and curse your sleep. You should be cut as our breath
wanes over
your frown and prowl. Scare those roads and curse

your sleep.
Trade me your ski mask, your hands, your frown
and prowl. Fuck

me with your faults. Give me your ski mask and
your hands
for my failings. My wife is very quiet. Your faults –

forgive me –
give me no comfort for my own failings. My wife
is quiet

and your breath is like mine and there will be
no comfort
for tomorrow. You are stoned. I am weak. I am

that my breath is like yours now that the door
is kicked in.



What a Nice Donkey first appeared in New Orleans Review and the chapbook The Party in Question; Dialogue with an Intruder first appeared in Copper Nickel and the chapbook The Party in Question.

Nicholas Reading is the author of the chapbooks Love & Sundries (SplitLip Press, 2017) and The Party in Question, winner of the Burnside Review Chapbook Contest. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in New Ohio Review, Mid-American Review, Cortland Review, Twyckenham Notes, and others. Visit him at