POETRY, A VILLANELLE
JAMES B. NICOLA
A stranger looked at me
A stranger looked at me and smiled today.
Was he reacting to a thing I'd done?
I barely noticed, but was blown away
by how his face enflamed. We didn't say
a word, resumed the paths each had begun,
that stranger who saw me and smiled today
and I; but what had been so set in gray
turned iridescent, prism'd by a sun
I'd barely noticed. I get blown away
by small things: acts of altruism slay
me. This, far less, managed somehow to stun
me equally, that stranger's smile today,
his sudden surge of lightning to allay
both my brown study and his brooding's ton
of burdens. I'd been almost blown away
by how sad he seemed. So I burped, Hokay,
innocuous, I thought, as anyone,
but made him smile, which made my day. He may
have barely noticed, but was blown away.
James B. Nicola’s poems have appeared in the Antioch and Southwest Reviews and Rattle. The latest of his seven full-length poetry collections (2014-22) are Fires of Heaven: Poems of Faith and Sense (Shanti Arts) and Turns & Twists. His nonfiction book Playing the Audience won a Choice award. His poetry has received a Dana Literary Award, two Willow Review awards, Storyteller's People's Choice award, one Best of Net, one Rhysling, and ten Pushcart nominations—for which he feels stunned and grateful. A graduate of Yale, he hosts the Writers' Roundtable at his library branch in Manhattan: walk-ins welcome.