When you are invited
to stay awhile somewhere—
with friends on a great vacation
or a temporary out-of-town work situation—
and go,

and grow to love a certain person
you chance to meet and spend some time with there
—of whom you’ll probably think every time you think about the
well, you won’t be able to help yourself from a sense of loss and
upon leaving.

When that love’s unrequited
and you can’t help but care
and yet would put an end to the upheaving,
the day you leave may even be relieving
and make you less inclined to put a curse on—
call it, for want of a better word—despair,
and on the first day you ever saw that certain person’s face.
But the heart will start to spin, twirl as in muck, and feel like it’s
on returning. . .

No process known on earth can ever make
sweet butter from sour milk. Ha! But a healthy
heart, in spite of ache,
can, through agitation
day to day and hour on hour,
convince the head it’s well
and turn abject degradation
into the sweetest, sour

James B. Nicola has had almost 300 poems appear in publications
including Atlanta Review, Tar River, Texas Review, Lyric, and Nimrod. A
Yale grad and stage director by profession, his book Playing the Audience
won a CHOICE Award. He also won the Dana Literary Award for
poetry, was nominated for a Rhysling Award, and was featured poet at
New Formalist. His children’s musical Chimes: A Christmas Vaude¬ville
premiered in Fairbanks, Alaska—with Santa Claus in attendance
opening night.