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Mike Nichols Poetry

An existential voice crying out from life’s insanity

I’ve Been Thinking

I keep to the edge
of the grade school
soccer field. Deniability.
You won’t believe me
that someone else shot
the three dogs in their
heads then,
enraged at the unsatisfying
suddenness of the process
stomped and kicked
them till their bellies
split, spilled and bled.
The bodies decompose
beyond the wooden
goal post where
ten-year-olds wince,
awaiting the next kick.

Even if my memory
can’t always be
I know I’m not crazy.
I dreamt the dogs first.
And ultimately,
who is qualified
to decide causality
or sequence
in this or any other
violence? Not you.
Certainly not me.

In the distance,
beyond the chain-link fence,
three crows congregate
in a dead white tree.
The contrast . . .

Crows are harbingers of death
and good things come in trees
that is to say, in threes.
Dogs that are dead.
Crows baring dread.

My eyes dart
back and forth,
as if watching
a tilted tennis match:
Below, bright white
and silent bone
flecked with brains
bedded in red
atop the blades of
chemically greened grass.
Above, black bobbings,
and strident squawkings against
rigid white limbs.

Stop it.

my sanity
is leaky,
but if
you’ll just
give me
a minute
to get it
To reshape
a smile.
No, I’m not crying.
Tomorrow will be

I just
I just think
I just think someone
should suffer.

Like, Clint Eastwood.
A squinting, Pale Rider
bashing their faces,
blunt force trauma
with an axe-handle.
Smooth and clean.
A nice, shock absorbent
A skull fissured,
naked and trepanated.
A hole for archeologists
to ponder, to discuss.

a moment
of stillness,
a repose.
A straight-backed chair in
an otherwise empty room.

But the crows have flown
and now the dead white tree
just looks lonely
clutching at its absence of green.

I can’t put the tip of my
tongue on the meaning
in a dead white tree,
or in a red spattered horizon
of contaminated, chemical-green.

the contrast is


Full Circle
August 21st 2017

It took 48 years for the sun to swallow
all of the moon. The slow fade feeling like an

ancient way of dimming, as if something were
forever ending. I remember hoping the Veil would thin

during this 90 second night, allowing me to see
my mother in the temporary shadow under the ash

tree. Revealed by the darkness. But in the moment
I was too awed to look away from the spectacle in the sky,

and if she were waving, ethereally, next to me, I didn’t see it,
distracted by the wonderment blooming in my chest, like the face

of God might just burst forth from behind that black ring.
A vision of parrot feathered human heads bouncing

down a pyramid. But the light returned and a true night passed.
I’ve eclipsed her years, and I’ve seen all of her I’ll ever see.


Magic Number

The threshold of sunsets looms at
Against my will, I circle toward it.
When I cross over, how can she be
my mother any longer? Her death
will be renewed. Her existence growing
cobweb thin. In perpetuity younger than me.
To be a child older than your mother must
violate some rule.

I was driving yellow trucks across
the carpet when I heard her hymn
coming from the ironing room
and for a moment I was frightened,
believing an angel was singing.
Drawn by the sound I stood and scuffed
my feet across the carpet toward it.
Fear of silencing her song held me
peering in at the threshold.

I wasn’t listening whenever it was
that I crossed the verge into adulthood.
I missed the moment. I vaguely believed
some secret knowledge would have been
instantly imparted. An understanding
greater than a child’s. A defining equation,
16 – 48.7 > 17,782

When they cart away my coffin
will all things be equal?


Mike L. Nichols is a graduate of Idaho State University. Mike was awarded the Ford Swetnam Poetry Prize. Look for his poetry in Rogue Agent, Tattoo Highway, Spider Mirror Journal, Post Card Poems and Prose, forthcoming in Taxicab Magazine, and elsewhere. Find more at mikenicholsauthor.com


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