Strangers on a Train

James B. Nicola

He has been looking but has not seen me,
only my clothes and bags. What has gone sour,
and how? I focus on the scenery
to avoid acknowledging the past hour
between us. He looked like a normal man
when first he got on board, but when I said
Hello! he snuckered, Hein, Americain,
and other exotic sounds. My face turned red.
What could I do but turn to studying
the countryside? In hopes the sound will cease
I nod at every—nearly everything
he says and pray he’ll let me ride in peace,
the stranger that I am, and not the nation—
at least till I can change my seat, next station.


About the Author

James B. Nicola's poems have appeared three times in Lowestoft Chronicle, as well as in the AntiochSouthwest and Atlanta ReviewsRattleTar River, and Poetry East. A Yale grad, he won a Dana Literary Award, a People's Choice award (from Storyteller) and a Willow Review award; he was nominated twice for a Pushcart Prize and once for a Rhysling Award; and he wasa featured poet at New Formalist. His nonfiction book Playing the Audience won a Choice award. James's two poetry collections, published by Word Poetry, are Manhattan Plaza (2014) and Stage to Page: Poems from the Theater (2016). Out of Nothing: Poems of Art and Artists is forthcoming from Shanti Arts. More at: sites.google.com/site/jamesbnicola.