James B. Nicola
Ingres' odalisque is still lying down.
Claude's cows are standing still.
The churchyard of the medieval town
will never extend up the side of the hill.
Even the haystacks, full of hay
and variegated with fleeting light,
will always be the way Monet
painted the haystacks. Which is all right,
there. Here, John Brown is to be hanged;
Washington's on a raft, his troops on fire;
a band of boys is caught as the bell is clanged;
and mountains gather like a Sunday choir.
The other rooms' are perfect. These,
unfinished, like America and me,
are mired in the uncertainties
of what's possible, or about to be.
Metropolitan Museum, American Wing
James B. Nicola's poems have recently appeared in Shot Glass, the Antioch, Southwest and Atlanta Reviews, Rattle, and Poetry East. His nonfiction book Playing the Audience won a Choice award. His first full-length poetry collection: Manhattan Plaza (2014); his second, Stage to Page: Poems from the Theater (June 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. More at sites.google.com/site/jamesbnicola.