Harrisburg by James B. Nicola


James B. Nicola

What am I looking for, in the cities
across America where there are walk-
ways, greenways, and “rail trails”? A place to please—
a “pleasance,” as in the canvas of Saint
Francis, where all the animals can talk,
no less the stone, the leaves, the stream, the breeze
itself? The sylvan footpath Beethoven
found to inspire his textures of the brook?

I strolled the Susquehanna south of Front
in Harrisburg this morning, will again
tomorrow, traffic on my left as far
as I went; the clamor switched to my right
on the way back. The “stone” was concrete, tar,
asphalt, cement: no cave, and no respite.

But to the side, the river drank the light
of morning, mostly sky, but also trees,
the fallen bridge, a hollow, crumbling tower,
as if the river, thirsty, were not merely
reflecting, but devouring, or looking for
what I, beyond the stone, was hungry for…

About the Author

James B. Nicola’s poetry and prose have appeared in Lowestoft Chronicle; the Antioch, Southwest Review, Green Mountains Review, and Atlanta Review; Rattle; Barrow Street; Tar River; and Poetry East, garnering two Willow Review awards, a Dana Literary award, and six Pushcart nominations. His full-length collections are Manhattan Plaza (2014), Stage to Page (2016), Wind in the Cave (2017), Out of Nothing: Poems of Art and Artists (2018) and Quickening: Poems from Before and Beyond (2019). His nonfiction book, Playing the Audience, won a Choice award. A Yale graduate, he is facilitator for the Hell’s Kitchen International Writers’ Roundtable at Manhattan’s Columbus Library: walk-ins welcome. sites.google.com/site/jamesbnicola.