James B. Nicola
In Defense of Dorothy Parker
When bombs are humorous, they are not dropped
merely to destroy, not primarily, not in the end,
but conquer. The Slayer’s the Healer after all.
Ends might or might not justify the means,
but O what means we’re given in the meanwhile!
And every ball of fire slung over a rampart
is thrown to heat up what is holed up in
the fortress, sure, but also to provide
light. It is always night, under the skin.
When a fort is razed by a bombardment,
maybe that outpost’s better off without it.
A broken valentine is only placed
into hands that can tape it back together.
Likewise, the sting of wit is never simple.
The treatment for a sting is mudpacks, right?
So when the thing that’s hurled has been compacted
into a glob, the more effectively it lands
not pulverized into such feeble spatter
as smears which can be easily wiped off.
Oh, sure, the Object of our aim could duck,
but were she or I to land one, the victim
would have mud right there, handy, to salve the bite.
And there would be a miniscule chance that one day,
a ball might be slung back and we might play.
Rhyme #2: The Thing About Rhyme
The thing about rhyme is, if we start a sequence
back and forth, you and I, in fun
or seriousness, or both, and I start one
real late some evening when we’ve been acting like a couple of delinquents
drinking too much, or are just so tired you can’t think up
a retort to my lead-in, so we let
each other sleep, leaving the couplet
incomplete, why, then I’m certain to wake up
to inspiration, an answer to a beckoning breath.
Rhyme keeps us going, connected to something living, making
the give and take of life one, giving while taking
us through sleep, long nights and, I should imagine, death.
James B. Nicola © 2015
There have been holes
and there have been explosions
and other sorts of nothing
in their wakes. We are their wakes. But we’re
awake, so there is, in the holes,
Get up. Get up.
Oedipus got up, Lear got up, Pericles rose again,
Philomela even flew, and Daphne sprouted flowers and spread
made whole again somewhat
from their despair.
Were they but fictional? Maybe, but certainly myths
are not merely untrue, but also more true.
I too have turned to a laurel bush, to a blind man
roaming the earth seeming to babble, for that is poetry;
I too have gone silent instead of inveighing or cursing.
And Poland disappeared once—and came back!
Get up! Get up! The Fall was a false start
befalling only once, and years ago—
Look—Nature heals herself and every year!
We have not yet!—I have not yet, except to be
stoned by scorn or ignored, as the ancient pagan seer
would be today by those who refuse to know
this practicer of old New Ages' art,
by those who insist on remaining in the holes.
Thus has it been, thus shall it ever be;
this age, this era, this eternity.
So what? Get up. Get up. Get up.
Get up: Watergate, Irangate, Enron, Napalm,
Afghanistan, Iraq, Cambodia, Viet Nam,
a-bomb, h-bomb, suicide bomb, The bomb —
even in the ancient world, even the chosen
people obliterated nations.
That’s nothing new. What’s new is the magnitude
WQ2and that we know about it. And in that there’s hope
if you are outraged and stay outraged but keep
getting up. Get up.
Get up! Any last day is the dawn
of a first day, a new age, another turn
of the spiral, which you don’t even notice until
you get off it and look back where you have been to try
to see where you are going—as when reading a poem.
Then you can be told, and see, you’ve come
full circle, but you’re NOT where you started, no,
you’re higher, lower, farther out,
further in, all of the above. Which seems impossible
but is so only in geometry, not in the growth of souls.
Not in the progress of the Soul of Man.
So get up, get up get up get up, World.
There have been explosions
and they have left holes.
Nothing stands up, nothing is symmetrical, or balanced,
or even true anymore. So what? Get up!
The Ghost may be only ectoplasm
so His nudge may be hard to feel.
But the spiral’s broadened even as it’s shrunk,
and the swallow is singing, and the darkling thrush flinging,
and the poet says get up Get up GET UP!
James B. Nicola © 2015