Thursday, March 1, 2018

Three Poems by Bryan Damien Nichols

Mixed Emotions

I understand the twisting
of words--like a rusted screw burrowing,
from the force of hand and wrist, into fresh
white oak--and have felt
mesmerized, angered, enlightened.

I understand the architecture
of words--like a flank of blue tulips
near a marble sculpture--and have felt
impressed, disappointed, ecstatic.

I understand the dismembering
of words--like firelight flouncing against
a frozen pond--and have felt
fascinated, repulsed, transformed.

Should I then write clearly or obscurely?
In words deliberate or desultory?
Should I embrace contradictions, or pretend
they don't exist?  Should I toss
syntax to hungry wolves?  or softly falsify?
Or write truthfully though I know,
at times, I tell lies?

After many seasons, filled with reasons upon reasons,
I know only this:

          Words welcome us
          as friendly strangers
          scantily clad in precious raiment
          to proclaim emotion's opulence
          through insouciance.

Removing Rust

My rags, the pile of them to my right,
Soaked thoroughly in white vinegar.
I rub their wet and pungent skins
Round ornate wrought iron.  My hands
Trace the lengthy stems' curves
And divots--which progress like
A fantastical maze for children--
To the flamboyant blossoms.  One
Blossom like a sickle; one like
A bent sword, double-edged; one like
A bird's beak; one like a parabola.

White vinegar slips into the rust
No matter how subtle or sudden
The curve.  I keep rubbing the pungent
Skins round the wrought iron.

To think the cure is as ugly as the problem:
An awful stench for an eye sore.  I can
See and feel the rust being removed.
I believe I'm making progress.  I think
I'm turning, by degrees, rust into
Wrought iron.  I suspect I'll do the same
In a few years' time.

So I keep rubbing the pungent skins
Round the wrought iron.


Listen carefully:

have you ever been told to say--
and to explain in depth--
you took no action, whether now
or in the past, when you know
you took no action, and those who
know know you never took action,
but wish you to explain the matter
in depth?

Is this not a description
that cannot be known
until the description is told?

Bryan Damien Nichols was born in Houma, Louisiana, on August 30, 1978.  He earned a B.A., summa cum laude, in Philosophy from Baylor University, and a J.D. from the University of Texas School of Law.  He has practiced law both in Houston and in Texas' Rio Grande Valley.  Bryan currently lives in Los Fresnos, Texas, with his loving wife, Michelle.

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