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Poetry 4 Fall 2015


My Friends, The Mathematicians

   by James B. Nicola


My friends the mathematicians
were far more exact
than mere statisticians.
In fact,
they loved math
expressly because of its precision.
Even in physics, an atom’s path
after a collision
could be pretty well predicted, but what was proved
in pure mathematics never moved:
Two ones made two, forever.
A straight line did not bend.
And any point was always either at a place or not.
With faith in math they’d never
lose a point, or lose a friend,
they thought. . . .

They didn’t count on love, of course,
where, oddly, two makes three
or even four, surprisingly:
My friends had twins. Nor could they force
points Three and Four to Stay put! where
they’d proved they ought to be
and stay
but rather, found
they moved around
and jiggled every which way.
Yet they didn’t grow deranged
from this but laughed at every antic
of their
children; changed
from being pedantic
as logicians
to essentially magicians,
having proved
things don't add up,
and that miracles do occur
like perpetual motion machines (children) and the bottomless cup
(parents). In fact, they are alive.
And now look at them―at her:
where the universe has moved
once more,
and knowledge knows no final sum,
and four
is about to become

 Master of the Universe

      by James B. Nicola

I watch the Master rule the universe.
He's five years old. His private picnic starts
right after dinner. Graciously he charts
the guest list and the courses he'll disburse.
I am invited. Then the little lord
rifles through cabinet-jungles for our food.
What strange exotic fruits! what plenitude!
Then, bags of munchies placed and mimed drinks poured,
we sit around the blanket’s edge and "dine"
like Prosperos on an enchanted isle.
Dad hollers not to unseal wrapped goods―Fine!―
then doles out wedges of his clementine.
The Master bids him Sit There! with a smile.
We picnic in the playroom, a good while.


  Bio:  James B. Nicola's nonfiction book Playing the Audience won a Choice award. His first full-length poetry collection, Manhattan Plaza, has just been released; his second, Stage to Page: Poems from the Theater, will be out in 2016. More at sites.google.com/site/jamesbnicola. Of late he has been offering his Sounding the Silence workshop at libraries, schools and literary festivals all over the country for poetry lovers ages 8 to 80. A Yale grad and also a stage director, composer, lyricist, and playwright, his children’s musical Chimes: A Christ­mas Vaude­ville premiered in Fairbanks, Alaska, where Santa Claus was rumored to be in attendance on opening night. More at sites.google.com/site/jamesbnicola.




The First Circle is the Eye(Emerson)

Discovery of the Wheel

    by  Reed Venrck


If humans invented the wheel,

such as they teach in school, then, of course,

we invented the melon a farmer grew.


Slice across the circumference of an egg,

much less the cylindrical trunk of a sabal

palm, even the diameter across a hurricane,


or the rounding edge of a drinking cup

gripping fingers of clay, or smooth as a ring

round the finger, nose, or lip,


while trekking the rim of Fuji-san’s volcano

and slicing a satsuma orange while

peeling rinds with a samurai sword.


Yes, to say we humans invented the wheel, why,

just as well say we invented the circle of the sun,

when it’s just as likely, hot-blooded aliens had that fun.


Ah, but some sleepy human, lounging between hills,

noted a full moon caught in the nexus

of those thick branches of the oak or banyan.


But it took an adventurous child, scrambling up

the tree’s trunk, to throw the moon down

to earth, cartwheeling it round, until


it bumped into an adult’s leg, who cried out:

            —Look what I’ve discovered!

            —But how to use this circle?




Bio: R. Venrick lives on Tampa Bay, but instead of trimming a lawn, like neighbors do, he spends weekends cutting grass, pulling vines, and yanking moss from his orange grove located an hour away, on the Florida ridge.