James B. Nicola



Tucked in and around cities, steeled and grimed,
along the coasts, up rivers a short way,
just over the seventh of seven hills,
or nestled in a corner of a park
grown over with tall grass bursting to brambles,
vestiges of lost Eden.
                                   I've come upon them
all of a sudden, and have been lured back, since:
In harbor districts, where the port’s long closed;
by catacombs, where the garden wall’s half down;
away from the main trail, past ruins of
a mill or monastery no longer serviced
by the bended creek, where there’s no mark of man,
where no one’s been for ages.
                                                  I settle in
a spell, watch webs or wildflowers being spun,
listen to unseen creatures of the air,
and breathe the salt air, or a trace of greening.

I’ll take a leaf or twig—and then proceed
back how I came, past smokestacks; fences; dumps;
potholes, some puddled in oil, others in water;
graffiti; beeps of horns and bleeps of trucks—

to save awhile, so that on my return
home I still taste the wild and green aroma.

James B. Nicola’s poetry and prose have appeared in the Antioch, Southwest, Green Mountains, and Atlanta Reviews; Rattle; Barrow Street; Tar River; and Poetry East, garnering two Willow Review awards, a Dana Literary award, and six Pushcart nominations. His full-length 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 book Playing the Audience won a Choice award. A Yale graduate, he is facilitator for the Hell’s Kitchen International Writers’ Roundtable at Manhattan’s Columbus Library: walk-ins welcome!


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