Two Poems By James B. Nicola


Now if upon the nodding of an eye
another tear should coalesce and well,
a contemplation crystal as a sigh
be sprinkled like a seed upon the soil

so that a sinewed spirit cultivate
a rhyme to cancel blankness, or a still
to calm a frenzy’s fear; or mark a slate;
or stuff that sigh with sounds; or wash with will;

and in this manufactory of thought
and care, some brilliant flashes streak across
the dark expanse as sudden as a shot,
refusing to concede the void a loss,

that soul of recreation has for want
of Something recapitulated how
Another started All once, innocent
of all but the creative urge of now:

Then let him not repeat the same mistake
as forbears who assessed the work as "good,"
as cruel as it was. No, let him ache
to better what it is—with what it should!

Well. That is why there’s music and the arts,
why there persists the essay—to invite
improvement on stone truths with earthen hearts
that humans get divine redaction right.

How? Take time, every seven days, to think
again, to summon courage and the craft
to tear up with compassion and not blink,
to rest, to reassess, and to redraft.

And if it dawns on us to recognize
the fact the good fight’s flawed—but just begun—
we’re in the advent of an eighth! Revise:
And let us never think our work is done.

Though mountains hide the lake, at break of dawn
the yawning sun makes shadows shrink and grow,
and day develops till the light is gone.

The sky soaks up lake waters like a lawn,
but rains return them—straight, or as brooks flow
through mountains to the lake. At break of dawn,

then, waters glisten as they fall upon,
then past, the river rocks. But they keep go-
ing even when the light of day is gone:

Their disappearance daily is illusion,
like death—or night—no, sleep: Asleep, we know,
though mountains hide the lake, there’ll break a dawn

at night’s end. Meanwhile, precipitation
falls, day or night or both, as joy, as woe:
And day develops till the light is gone

but not the lake. Oh, on the swelling lawn
that squeezes it, let’s lie and listen! So
what if mountains hide the lake? Each dawn
a day develops till the dark is gone.

James B. Nicola’s poetry has garnered two Willow Review awards, a Dana Literary award, seven Pushcart nominations, and one Best of the Net nom. His full-length collections include Manhattan Plaza, Stage to Page: Poems from the Theater, Wind in the Cave, Out of Nothing: Poems of Art and Artists, Quickening: Poems from Before and Beyond, and Fires of Heaven: Poems of Faith and Sense (2021). A Yale grad and returning contributor, he also has enjoyed a career as a stage director, culminating in the nonfiction book Playing the Audience: The Practical Guide to Live Performance, which won a Choice award.

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