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

New Age

There have been holes

and there have been explosions

leaving holes

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.

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