Whispering Pines, Texas

There are men round these parts who would kill us,
I joke, Were they to find us in one sleeping bag,
they’d tie us to the tail ends of their pickup trucks
and drag us through gravel,
I embellish. It happens.

Your mother would, too,
you say, sealing the last
mesh panel of our tent, and having had the better
joke, you fall heavily into sleep, the way I imagine
most Texans do after supper, substantially and deep.

But how I lie awake, instead, convinced now a mob
must be assembling, that there are men in these hills
with unkempt eyebrows and rope and fire and spit
on the ground, and my mother is among them—

convinced now that each nightingale call is not,
in fact, a nightingale call, but a signal of formation,
convinced that there is whispering among the pines,
as they sift themselves against the thistle, the dry breeze,

and she is there, too, wild-eyed and unmoving,
sensing our bodily warmth, our pitiful heartbeats.
They are waiting for me to sleep before entering,
to find us as two men embarrassed and discovered.

And they will take you from me and into the darkness,
beyond the boathouse, where I know they will do
things to you that will make you want to die,
and my mother will be there to hold my wrists down

for men with rough hands to coil rope around them,
tying rushed knots. She will be there to hush me,
assure me, the way one does a child with a loosening
front tooth, This hurts me, dear, more than it does you.

Angelo Nikolopoulos is a Greek-American poet who was raised partially in Athens, Greece and Los Angeles, CA. Formerly a high school English teacher in Oakland, CA, he currently lives in New York City and is completing his master's degree in Literature and Creative Writing at NYU. (

Boxcar Poetry Review - ISSN 1931-1761