Montana

James B. Nicola

The sanguine sidewise saunter when they walk
is not a swagger. Just says I am here
and doin’ fine, thanks. You? That’s how they talk,
not talking, see. They do talk, so be care-

ful if you start one off on a tirade,
above all a Montanan you’re just meeting.
You’ll have to learn to listen, grunt and nod
in a cooler, passing, more efficient greeting.

It won’t mean you’re unfriendly, just that you
got something going on. They’ll understand
because the sky’s that way: so bright and blue
and there, you want it all, but you can stand

under only one section. Then a lit-
tle wisp appears, which turns into a cloud;
then more clouds, as if from nowhere, join it
in a great heap to make a thunderhead.

Then lightning. Just the way their broadest smile
invites you with a twinkle in the eye
that’s actually a spark. It isn’t guile,
only that there’s a secret in the sky.


About the Author

With his first collection of poetry, Manhattan Plaza, James B. Nicola joins the ranks of poets Frank O’Hara and Stanley Kunitz and humorist Robert Benchley as a New York author originally from Worcester, Massachusetts. James has been widely published in periodicals including The Southwest and Atlanta Reviews and has won several poetry awards and nominations. A Yale grad and stage director by profession, his book Playing the Audience won a Choice award. Also a composer, lyricist, and playwright, his children’s musical Chimes: A Christ­mas Vaude­ville premiered in Fairbanks, Alaska—with Santa Claus in attendance on opening night. sites.google.com/site/jamesbnicola.