James B. Nicola


He said that of the four, Fire

Was first, the font of Everything,

Though he too looked around and saw

Only Earth, Water and Air: that is,

Solid, Liquid and Gas;

Fire being ephemeral, and rare.

He had no microscope back then.

Who taught him how to look and know

The furnace inside every atom

Ablaze with energy


That even crystal, ice and diamond,

Were far more hot than cold

Just in their being there?

That fire was

The word


To almost everything?


Must have given him

The Word!

And if In the beginning was the Word,

The Word was Yes,

And Yes was Fire.

James B. Nicola © 2014


St. Peter’s, The Vatican

marmor marmor marmor

clackle ackle ack

scuffle squish scuffle uffle squeak

And myriads of modern feet

shod in modern ways

circulate in semi-stanchioned chaos

in general ungenuflective

randomly reflective

on centuries-buffed, unsentimental stone

red ropes keep them amply apart

clackle ack

jackets, sweaters, sweatshirts

guarded over arms

draped over shoulders

tied around waists

might be forgotten but not like souls be lost


assorted straps and cameras

slung unslung and slung

commemorate the singular occasion


The multitude pounds lightly

their gasps and murmurs

soft and sweet, so they do not

drown out the omnipresent echo

the sanguine susurrations of the stone.

marmor marmor marmor

What buried bishops whisper through the marble?


What hard soles

tickle unread chiselings

now all but worn away

on coffin lids?


What smaller-personed sneakers

in innocent abandon

impressed irrespective of the times

slide and scrape?


What agony or token

of what untamed apostle

is being

trampled on

only to resound


in what artists’ conglomerates of

what sundry styles that scream

out secrets through the silence of the stone

marmor scuff

for a quarter hour’s stroll

of a millennium?

marmor marmor marmor

clackle ackle ack

scuffle squish scuffle uffle squeak

James B. Nicola © 2014