James B. Nicola
But to whom is the madman talking, then?
to the strange-faced subway train?
to the lone coat thrown on the stark park bench?
to the bags in his cart? to the rain?
–On all of these he's projected his heart
and brain to bridge the gulf
that keeps at bay the warring world:
in other words, himself . . .
–NO NO, HIS IS A ONCE NOBLE SOUL
BROKEN DOWN IN A DISTANT PAST
SO THAT NOW HE WAILS TO CAPTURE BACK
A PEACE HE'S KNOWN AND LOST . . .
They argued thus, my two wise friends,
as we tracked his misery
one afternoon, till I tested that bench
and the madman spoke–to me.
James B. Nicola's poems have appeared in Shot Glass, the Antioch, Southwest and Atlanta Reviews, Rattle, Tar River, and Poetry East. His nonfiction book Playing the Audience won a Choice award. His first full-length poetry collection is Manhattan Plaza (2014); his second, Stage to Page: Poems from the Theater (2016). A Yale graduate, James has been giving both theater and poetry workshops at libraries, literary festivals, schools, and community centers all over the country.