NOW WITH THAT KITE
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.
WHICH COMES FIRST
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. . . .
THE PROPER DOSE
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.
POEM: THE CHARGE YOU COME UPON
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