by amnicholas 0 Comments

Harvest is complete.
Fallow fields lie brown and naked against
the relentless press of the north wind.
Winter closes in.
You are my warmth.
Memories of your hot kisses on my neck,
the soft heat of your body as
I lay safe in your arms,
and, now, even from so far away,
the expansive brightness of your soul
surrounds me with a glow more radiant than the rays of the sun.
You are my light.


by amnicholas 0 Comments

A king-size bed in a hotel room
is not the kind of place
I would expect to have a spiritual experience,
but lying close to you that night,
your soul touched mine.
And I recognized you.
I knew the noble traveler
who follows his own path,
but protects those he loves
and stands by his convictions with courage.
I heard the echoes of a child
who has suffered,
but found the strength to defy his tormentors.
I felt his pure joy of experiencing.
I felt his curiosity, and desire to always
learn more and create more.
I felt a man who knows who he is
and is wise enough to be true to that.
In those few seconds
I knew you as I’ve never known anyone else,
and somehow you left a little of your soul
with mine,
and I will love you forever.


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Eighteen-year-old Sarah Sinnott, depressed by the assassination of Robert Kennedy the previous day, quarrels with her best friend and leaves school early on the last day of her senior year.

Sarah doesn’t want to attend graduation, but does so to please her parents. That night, her father announces that the family will be taking a vacation trip to Florida.
Sarah decides she wants to overcome her shyness and make some changes in her life.
Sarah falls in love with the sea, finding peace on the shore unlike any she has known. Her brother, Chris, confides his fears about the military draft to Sarah.
The fall semester begins and Sarah begins college with apprehension and excitement.

In the meantime, twenty-one- year -old Seth Jackson complains about the expectations
of his father, a farmer.

Sarah’s high school crush (Dave), who has always made fun
of her, continues his harassment on campus.
Sarah develops a crush on Seth after hearing him read his anti-war poetry in the
Student Union. Sarah and Chris share their respective troubles and possible solutions.
Sarah meets Nathan Rogers, a nineteen-year-old student activist who helps her get involved in a grape boycott and a clothing drive for an Indian reservation.
Sarah and Nathan get to know each other. Dave gives Sarah more trouble. Nathan defends her. Sarah decides to write a letter to the editor of the student newspaper in rebuttal to one written by Debbie, a cheerleader. Sarah and Chris have an argument with their dad about Vietnam.

Nathan tells Sarah he’s gay. He wants to speak at an upcoming gay rights rally, but he’s afraid. Sarah offers support.
Sarah’s letter is published, which angers Debbie. Debbie has noticed Sarah watching
Seth, so she takes revenge by flirting with him.
Chris gives Sarah advice about her social problems and suggests that she write an
article on the gay rights rally for the student newspaper.

Nathan helps Sarah with her newspaper article. A group of students finish up the
clothing drive by packing boxes and loading them on a truck. Seth talks to Sarah as
they work.
Sarah sees Debbie and Seth together in the Union several times. Then she doesn’t
see either of them anymore. She concludes they are eating elsewhere to gain privacy. Sarah’s fear of being hurt causes her to avoid Nathan. Nathan confronts her, and lets  her know that Seth has been eating in the rec room to avoid Debbie.

Sarah learns that a boy she knew in high school has been killed in Vietnam. This renews
her fears for her brother.
Sarah turns in her article to Seth, who edits the student newspaper. Seth invites her to the student writers’ group.

Nathan and Dave nearly come to blows after Dave mocks Sarah.
Sarah helps Nathan prepare his speech for the rally. When Sarah comes across Seth in the Union, he invites her to play a game of chess. They set up a time for a second game.
Hecklers bring the potential for violence to the gay rights rally. Seth restores order. Nathan regrets speaking at the rally.
Sarah and Seth go for pizza after their chess game. He reads some of her poetry
and convinces her to go to a student writers’ meeting with him. Sarah sees a new, vulnerable side of Seth.
After the writers’ group meeting, Sarah and Seth build a snowman. Seth kisses Sarah. He tells her about a big war protest coming up just before winter break. Sarah agrees to participate.
Nathan confides his feelings about being gay to Sarah. When Seth tells him about the upcoming war protest, Nathan seems more his normal self.
The war protest turns ugly when students throw marshmallows at police officers and
the officers think they are throwing rocks. Sarah is arrested. She is terrified as she waits
in a jail cell and blames Seth and Nathan for it. She struggles with the decisions she has made.  Was it a mistake to become so involved? Was she better off hiding in her room with her books and music?


by amnicholas 1 Comment

Childsong (Lyrical Iowa, 1993; Poet’s Review, 1996)

When I was a child,
I was the kind the other kids
shunned and taunted,
so I learned to talk to the wise old elms,
and I listened to the butterflies.
I sat in a corner with stacks of books
and traveled to far away lands,
making friends with wizards and heroes
and magnificent black stallions.
I followed the ants through their trails in the grass.
I played among the fireflies.
I gazed into the midnight sky
and heard the songs of stars
and I wondered,
And now sometimes, I wonder what I must do
to become the kind of grown-up
that child was meant to be.
I long to hear again the singing of the stars.


by amnicholas 0 Comments

Panther (Lyrical Iowa 1994)

She rests lightly against the window
on the south end of the Substance Abuse Ward.
Her dark, brooding eyes
gaze out into the November drizzle.
Now she rises to prowl the hallway,
supple, sleek, sensuous,
trapped and frightened,
crying for release from the cage
of her decayed mind.

within lurks something wild and beautiful.
She could have been a panther;
she could have been free.


by amnicholas 0 Comments

Rain (Reflections, Winter 1994-95)

Driving alone down US 20
in the rain,
the incessant, wind-driven rain,
trying to outrun the emptiness
of a life built on
a marriage with no love,
a job requiring no thought,
and days into weeks into years
of never quite enough money
and never quite enough food for his soul.
Today, he punched the time clock for the last time.
Maybe he’ll head north on I-35
and find a piece of forested land
where he can keep a horse or two,
and write a few poems,
and dream about the woman
he once loved.
He presses the accelerator
and forges into the night,
leaving his demons behind in the rain,
the incessant, wind-driven rain.


by amnicholas 0 Comments

ALESHA (Lyrical Iowa, 2001)

Alesha dresses in white lace.
She copies the words of Byron and Browning
In large, flowery letters
And signs her own name at the bottom.
She tucks the poetry into an envelope
With a love letter to her boyfriend.
She dreams of marriage, children, and becoming a nurse.

Alesha stands in a dark alley
Laughing and smoking pot.
One girl mentions her boyfriend’s name
And Alesha holds a knife to the girl’s throat,
Then orders her not to talk about her man.
Seventy-five miles away, in the state prison,
Alesha’s boyfriend reads Byron and Browning.

Gypsies & Black Stallions

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GYPSIES AND BLACK STALLIONS  (Lyrical Iowa, 1983 and Poet’s Review, 1995)

When she was eight years old
She rocked for hours on her wooden horse.
For she was a wild free Gypsy
Racing across the tall-grass prairie
On a half-tamed stallion
Black as a night with no stars.

Now she is grown up
And sits for hours in an office,
Wondering why there is so
Little room in the world
For Gypsies and black stallions.


by amnicholas 0 Comments

TOMORROW   (Lyrical Iowa 2012)

I lie face-up in the grass.
In the waning light of day,
the sky fills with
a flurry of barn swallows soaring and diving.
Far to the west, the first edge of a storm front
appears, hinting at fury to come.
In the east, oblivious to the warning,
rises a sliver of a moon,
a mere strip of silver
nestled in wispy pink cirrus.
I release my soul
to fly with the swallows.

Now, I remember tomorrow.
City squalor.
Kids with guns.
Stinking air.
Boss’s orders.
My soul crashes
into the hot, cracked concrete.

Big T

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BIG T (Poet’s Review, Dec. 1995)

Big T strides out in the damp morning air
to the schoolbus stop on the corner.
His Wellington boots gleam,
his jeans are tight,
and there’s a pack of Marlboros
rolled up in the sleeve
of his black t-shirt.
They don’t come any tougher than Big T.
The other boys step aside
and whisper behind his back
that he won’t be around much longer
once his case comes up in court.

But I hear the yelling in his house at night,
and I see the whiskey bottles
his daddy throws out in the yard.
Once I heard Big T crying
under the honeysuckles back of my house.
His little sister told me that their daddy
had cracked his belt across Big T’s face
one more time than he could take.

So I know why
he hot-wired that red Corvette
parked in the street by a big brick house.
For a few minutes on the highway,
at ninety miles an hour,
until he careened off
into a newly-plowed cornfield
in that shiny red car,
Big T was free.