Table of Contents - Vol. V, No. 4
James B. Nicola
Though it was only one myth of the birth of Venus that said She was born conceived not out of love
but springing full-grown from the sea,
I combed the strand to try to find what aspect of salt water the mythmaker must have had in mind that it should bear Love, or Beauty,
collecting Ocean’s detritus: jellies’ stingers, anemones, chipped shells, a smashed-in nautilus, the filmy foam like ambergris.
The waves beat like a metronome on Largo, rushing, reversing, rewashing with a polychrome the stones and sands. And everything
destroyed or dying in the sands looked beautiful. As suddenly it washed away. I washed my hands, my legs, my head, then all of me---
that She might reach my soul, my heart--- by leaping in a swelling roar. Instead She tore me half apart washing twisted limbs ashore.
But in the breaker I recall the violent rinsing off of half a sorry life, egesting all my past in one great gurgling laugh.
When stragglers, who are out to comb the beach as I have been, find me they’ll say my body, swaddled in foam, glistens, almost beautifully.
Peggy Lee, 1920 -- 2002
She had the cognac voice, the brandy breast,
the corrugated heart, as iron as
the mullion giving panes the strength to hold.
A bout of Fever gave her discernible flaws,
a nick in the ribbing, a bubble in the glass.
But how she fought. How many comebacks can
you count to? The one Goodman in her life
died young, but she sang on, ran off, sang on,
and disappeared, then crooned and wrote again.
Now the iron, the glass, the ribs, the bubbles, are gone.
I have but one of her, in vinyl, scratched,
and set it spinning on the turntable,
sitting by my window with a shot
of something, wondering Is that all there is?---
then pour another, wishing it were not.
© James B. Nicola