“Frostbite No. 16” More Poetry by J. B. Nicola

James B. Nicola, a returning contributor, is the author of five collections of poetry. His decades of working in the theater as a stage director, composer, lyricist, playwright, and acting teacher culminated in the nonfiction book Playing the Audience: The Practical Guide to Live Performance, which won a Choice award.

Artwork by Co-founder Michael R. Pitter

Frostbite No. 16: In It

The water in it may dissolve to ocean
but even after flooding so its shape’s
unrecognizable, and after droughts
when it’s been sore lamented for its nakedness
in a bed of nonchalant detritus

and even after say a change of course
that puts it now no longer where it was
as if it changed its mind in a Yellow Wood,
the river yet endures. Like time.
Like love.

Alexander the Great

We know his steed was called Bucephalus
but, of his troops, know not a single name.
And so we named our dog Bucephalus.

How Alex Jr. loved the name! Since then
he went to war and died. Bucephalus
has been a stalwart surrogate since then,

through Marge’s onset of dementia,
my growing disability since then:
Trying to manage her dementia

myself, not send her to a nursing home,
I almost came down with dementia
myself. At last she’s in a nursing home.

So now it’s just Bucephalus and me
and seven pups. We’re finding each a home,
naming some after her, some after me.

Their new owners, of course, might change a name
but those who don’t might think of her or me
from time to time, or her name, or my name.

From the Sideline

This guy that I know, if you knew him, you’d know
that he could fix everything, all the problems
of the world. They start with people, see,
and point of view, and lack of love.
But the reason he knows is because
he’s “wickihd smaht” (as we used to say
in Massachusetts) and therefore knows
that no one wants to hear.

Oh, he tried for a while, passionately,
with an eye on success. He got my ear,
for instance. But I am No One, you know,
which Everyone is when we go to his bar.
And No One listens.

The loud ones on TV and radio
and in the papers and in the square,
compared to him, have their heads
up their you-know-where.

Anyone who’s ever had
a drink in his bar knows it. But
what can we do? The more crap
you hear, the more it starts sounding like
the way the world is, or is supposed
to be. He’ll remind you how they repeated
themselves hammering in all that hate
in Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy,
the American South, America today.

But, friend, the “crap” of which I’m full—
I like. Some call it hope, others,
naivete. But I can’t help
myself. So come to the bar with me
and we can listen to this guy
and hear how all the problems of the world
could be solved, if only Everyone
would listen with naivete
or hope or common sense to
my wickihd smaht friend.

At least let me buy you a drink.


Imagine the mind that imagined the wheel.
Did he happen to spot a roundish stone?
Imagine the mind that couldn’t leave “well-
enough-for-us” alone.

Imagine the spirit that later dreamt
of two, and an axle, and added a cart.
Imagine the trials’ embarrassment,
practicing this art.

Imagine the parents, the tribe, that said,
Now don’t start a ruckus. It’s been this way
for ages. Imagine him turning his head,
unswayed by their sway.

Imagine the aunt, the uncle, who prodded,
You go right ahead, my dear, and dream,
with a silent wink and a smile that nodded,
bolstering esteem.

Imagine the craft of the alchemists,
who sprinkled on this, kadabra’d with that,
the magic of chemists and physicists
without a black top hat.

Imagine the two wheels growing to four
and more which even faster went
till cranks and shafts made rockets soar
and Speed himself was spent.

Imagine who, without an aunt,
removed from the madding crowd,
beyond the don’ts and deaf to the cant
imagines yet, and proud,

on mystic wheels, unseen, alone,
time travel, and curved space,
on cryogenics and the clone,
imagining a race.

When the Dove was Sent

When The Dove was sent
after The Storm,
he flapped his wings
and, barely noticed, flew off,
his wake leaving no discernible trace;
there is no record of his having
uttered a coo.

When The Eagle swooped down
more eyes remarked on the majesty
of the thing, and an empire or two
deployed it as a symbol,
but neglected to suspect it as a message,
looking only at the sky
and the dominance of its glide
and never at the carcasses it strew.

Now The Angel has arrived
and, being an eldritch sort of chap,
cannot be heard or seen or felt
by normal means. But since a soul
like us, he will not be ignored,
and keeps on flapping louder, faster, fiercer,
all in an invisible, peaceable, cursed and cursive quiet.
No one’s telling him about the stir he’s causing,
the rising of a distant wind, the rumble in the sea,
the mountains, the coiling up of tidal waves and typhoons.

How do I hear him? Does he come to me in dreams?
Does it matter? Well, I’ll tell you if you
really want to know but—just a minute—let me get
my poncho and some galoshes—hear that thunder?—
unpin my rowboat, and check it for little leaks.
And then, I’m yours, with all the time in the world.

From the Editor:

We hope that readers receive In Parentheses as a medium through which the evolution of human thought can be appreciated, nurtured and precipitated. It will present a dynamo of artistic expression, journalism, informal analysis of our daily world, entertainment of ideas considered lofty and criticism of today’s popular culture. The featured content does not follow any specific ideology except for that of intellectual expansion of the masses.

Founded in late 2011, In Parentheses prides itself upon analysis of the current condition of intelligence in the minds of these young people, and building a hypothesis for one looming question: what comes after Post-Modernism?

The idea for this magazine stems from a simple conversation regarding the aforementioned question, which drew out the need to identify our generation’s place in literary history.

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