James B. Nicola



 Now, with that kite, your kite. . . . What kite? Your growing

up, out, to the edge of the shell of your half-boiled egg.

The freedom the kite’s feeling, you are feeling,

pressed to explode the sheltered, “shell-tiered” world.

You’re learning to stand, solid, and place your self,

shimmering, borne among the higher spirits, thrilled within


because a string invisible connects your Within

to your Without umbilically, like a baby growing

from a seed drowning in the cavern of itself

until it must burst through the intractable egg

into the limitless, airy, scary world.

It’s an inexorable, ineffable feeling


worthy of windy congratulations. I named my feeling

Birth—no, Rebirth, the real me trapped within

a safe, though suffocating murky world

no longer sufficient. When I started growing,

piercing through the dark, to the bornes of my solipsistic egg,

the comfortable embryo that had denied my Self


could deny no longer. Who can stop the self

when it needs to mingle and share, and the queasy feeling

gets queasier to the point, like birth, of shattering the egg?

We’re flush as the Big Bang, when what was kept within

God for so long, was let loose. Ring the alarm! Rejoice! You’re growing

up, growing from your fears, too, to the world


without, as God did. A precarious world,

granted: But only offering your self,

your kite strings, do you become anything. That’s what growing

is, balancing the thinking with the feeling,

the sights without with so many sounds within—

like love, or yearning, the nucleus of an egg.


Welcome, then, to the explosions of our egg

into the rest of being. Welcome to the world.

Think back if you must to what happened within,

but don’t stop soaring. Sure, show off your self

then hand the strings to a passing neighbor! That’s the crackling feeling

of generosity; the way you grow is by sharing the growing.


When your hard edges fall, when an egg cracks itself,

a world’s being born, and a seed takes flight. Feeling

the kite within at last, you’re—ouch—ahhhh—growing.




The writer stares, agape, pen poised in hand.


The unborn, eight months twenty-seven days,

toes past a verge it cannot understand.


Wild teenage boys who wend their gawking ways

from stuffing muck into their heads in class

to packing bags at local grocery stores

twelve hours a week, to descending en masse

on Friday evenings, filling the dance floors,

cafés, and movie houses with their dates,

prepare by rote for lives of work and love.


Meanwhile the genius hammers on and waits

for strokes of inspiration from above,

years given, getting ready to receive.


So we begin in order to conceive.





For instance, that a graveyard is a garden

too, which, though seeming still, careers through space

on a great round spheroid ship squashed in at poles

with flaws, dents, bumps, like an uncultured pearl,

a natural jewel. And when a soul’s turned in

it fertilizes futures with more carbon

and sand to make more pearl, emerald, diamond.


Or that Earth’s but a blue-green stud, a bauble,

presumed to be cherished by Someone Who

keeps us in His curio box. And if He

has gotten at least one ear pieced, that we

might be heard—or, if plugged into His navel,

be warmed by an abdomen’s circulation,

digestion, breathing, pulses of a heart. . . .



 Do not then take me by the hand.

The hand’s too far away from me (though part

of me at the same time, of course). And

do not then take me, rather, by the heart,


that blood-soaked fist: it may pump all my blood

and take it back, like any constant lover,

but how it wallows in the dark! Not good,

my dear. The brain? But how brains lord it over


the rest of us. The hand and heart—too trite,

too; skin?—too achy; legs?—they come and go,

etc. Even eyes, which drink the light,

won’t do, tucked deep beneath the forehead wall.

Lips?—moist, but sterile. Arms?—too brief. No,

to take me, take me all. Only all.



It is the charge you come upon

sleeping under a tattered blanket

sometime between midnight and dawn

like night of night becoming the night.

You hesitate but then poke a bit

for company if not just to make sure it

is all right.


It’s the squirming thing

you’ve hunted or fished

and bagged and brought home

but resists being processed.


Its guts when bared

only smatter into black

on a field of white,

the inverse of stars

the complement of the firmament.


You thought you were to skin it

or scale it and freeze it

or smoke it to eat it

or stuff it and mount it,

but only find upon evisceration

that your task is the opposite:


To try to put all

the dark glitters back

into an organism

something like the original.

And ah, ow, ooh, there, there’s

the sleepless challenge.



And failing, or trying and refusing to fail,

you can’t help but wonder,

would it have been better

to have left the wretched urchin resting

under the blanket asleep.



James B. Nicola’s poetry and prose have appeared in the Antioch, Southwest, Green Mountains, and Atlanta Reviews; Barrow Street; and Ovunque Siamo,garnering a Dana Literary Award, two Willow Review awards, and six Pushcart Prize nominations. His collections are Manhattan Plaza (2014), Stage to Page(2016), Wind in the Cave (2017), Out of Nothing: Poems of Art and Artists (2018), and Quickening: Poems from Before and Beyond (2019). His nonfiction bookPlaying the Audience won a Choice magazine award. sites.google.com/site/jamesbnicola