Pat Nolan

		“each poem is an 
		instantaneous absolute”  
			—Octavio Paz

I don’t feel that 
it is up to me to 
correct your ignorance
a human condition 
some find blissful

can the idea of
a world wide web 
be more horrifying 
who are the spiders 
who are the flies 

the world in order
the world in disorder
the settling dust in between

kitten spittle

I know things 
things know me back

and reached 
the limit of the acceptable 
is unacceptable

nothing ventured 

ghost of time
early for Halloween
regrettable future
regrettably past

days overlap
like shadows
that barely 
quantum blur
at speeds

the age of tragedy 
apparent after fifty

so no one needs honesty
why ruin their day

just as I get 
with the narrative 
a new character

the future
will always
remain one
step ahead

be aware of a change 
in conditions

being in the now
and the language 
that accompanies it

globes of light
made of glass

all the forms of a lifetime
reduced to a pinpoint

confetti of memory
falls through my dreams

transparent near 
invisible light 
waves barely
pause to reflect


              “Though I have lived in obscurity, 
              I have stayed busy day and night”
                              —T’ao Yuan-ming

So much depends upon	
the song of myself
irrationality the dark
energy of consciousness
experienced in real time
cold encased fingers 
write this	
“Bodhidharma’s panda eyes”
why cut off a limb
for sole belief

naked glee

that net of gossamer
that captured dew drops
that caught the light

what gives me great anxiety
that there are different languages
even when they’re the same languages
I speak I don’t understand

like a rip in a picture
a column of chimney smoke
angles across the dark horizon

even I was impressed by my credentials
the accrual of years of experience all
of a sudden all there in black and white
made me wonder who did I think I was

at the end of a long
line of repetitions
only the inane remain

the hat
	doesn’t fit
		the cat 

has a fit
	the hat

I took her at her word
and didn’t bother to 
get out of my pajamas

hot and humid
in California that’s
earthquake weather

“let’s waste away
like we did last summer”

relationship of all in all
little squares of world I inhabit

parallel processing occurs 
during fluent reading
there’s the automaticity 
and the superimposed cognition 
that reading triggers which is 
the sum of all experience
sometimes akin to flying

more words of wisdom:
“you can’t have a running gun battle 
with the arbiters of taste and expect to 
stay out of the boot hill of obscurity”

looking to gain past glory 
in the celebrity of the present 
how can I remember what never occurred
vanity’s guilty pleasure

once in a while
you get a glimpse
of what it’s like
to be human and
shrink back horrified

an artist
     creates time
		for art

peach blossoms on a gray day
bright diodes emitting pink light
gusts scatter the orderly 
sweep of showers

a week passed
not much to show for it
occupied with the two p’s
one of them is poetry
the assignment of privilege
the way the die falls
the cookie crumbles

not does it mean what it 
says or says what it means 
but does it make meaning

poems as afterthoughts

“old with a cold”
there must be
	some poetry
			in there

more civic musings:
I suppose that Not A Through Road 
is preferable to Dead End 
fewer signs are stolen that way

when I go to the shore
I collect the stones glimmering
in the surf as if they were jewels
when I get home they become
as dull and faded as my lives
I have to look real hard
to see what’s in front of me
and all too soon it’s veiled
in the mist of stillness
and repetition that does not 
excite as individual objects 
or as a collection as a whole



High expectations
precipitous fall

spare me reason
read just chaos	

judged by the irrational
at meaning’s edge

sound leaves the page
alert to the sense of song

oboe shrill tremolo over
flesh hued flashes of light

a shadow descends
at the flick of a switch

the hierarchy inherent in 
leadership underlies evil

anarchy can work
when it wants to

shadows of a rainy morning
contain the light of the lamp

“linear dancing”
going for a walk

wise men if they’re really 
wise you never hear of them

imperious opinions
commitment questioned

coming in from the rain
the smell of wet dog

drink coffee

each moment
myriad reasons why	

to wake and
leave that life behind

too old to be an acolyte
too young to be a god

spend the whole day
looking for the right music

I live in a universe 
that parallels your own


Arrogance begets ignorance

advice works only if you follow it

here then is my death sentence

“death is always in the future
because for every living thing
it is the future—for the dead
it is the past the dusty fading 
memory of the past”

now repeat after me

the past is dead 
the future is death

happy now

one problem resolved 
another pops up kinda
like Whack-A-Mole

standing in the doorway
listening to one side
of a long distant call

bubbles gather at 
the bottom of the pot
about to boil
I shouldn’t watch


There comes with exhaustion
a release events framed in
the future as a coming attraction 
(a common distraction)
sometimes the previews are
the best part of a drab reality

does my body recognize 
the temperate zones as 
lateral hoops of climate 
and migrate along the same 
latitude in flow with the herds

a faux bio anthro conjecture
like stick figures drawn on 
the walls of a cave (Plato’s?) 
by someone who knows 
nothing about sticks

I am shamelessly me

the skin on my arm
gathered up like the knit
of an old wool sweater

ignorant as a cloud
and far less lofty
subtle eludes me

I accept my mess
as I accept myself
“no one else I’d rather be”

there’s always tomorrow
if not good-bye

once I felt I was pretending
to be who I was
that pretense is gone

ah summer is here
the sound of the rescue
helicopter overhead

like Santoka
I wander
only room to room

pain comes up 
as an unexpected chill 
as if I had to turn my
back to a sudden wind

I stayed in one place
that’s what made me 
so hard to find

the heavens rotate planets cross
the promise of my long days
affirmed by the star gazers
good fortune has me in its sights
I’ll try not to fuck it up



Bread is poison

everywhere I go 
I attach my humanity 
to everything I see

dulled by anticipation 
and best wishes for 
the holidays to be over

good morning beautiful leaf
I was just happening by

carved out of the wilderness
now gathering dust on the mantle

not “does it make sense?”
but “does it have sentience?”

up close objects 
are more pronounced 
I have adequate words 
for what they’re made of
whether I choose to 
speak them or not

playfulness can’t be overlooked
it’s too high on the to-do list

“to philosophize is to learn
how to die” so says Cicero

I stepped in some history and
the odor followed me for days

more reflective than reactive
mind over body

introverts daydream 
situations that will keep them
from going anywhere

bird heaven a steady fine rain
the incomplete often resists completion

external coherence
peak shift principle

I heard a dial tone like
I’d been disconnected


	after Philippe Soupault

Do I have to do everything 
do I have to take care of everything
do I have to know everything
do I have to give a shit
do I have to
do I have to go to bed
do I have to wash the dishes
do I have to get up
do I have to put on my shoes 
do I
do I have to drive to town
do I have to do all the shopping
do I have to sweep the floor
do I have to hang out the wash
do I have a choice
do I have to make a difference
do I have to do anything but this
do I have to be so self-reflexive
do I have to listen to this song
do I have to go home now
do I have to change the tire
do I have to do it by myself
do I have to clean the toilet bowl
do I have to tell you why I hate you
do I have to tell you why I love you
do I have to make the first move
do I have to have another drink
do I have to go home now
do I have to be perfect
do I have to put up with this behavior
do I have to watch this show
do I have to go back to work
do I have to ask


               “the narcissism of small differences” 
                         	—Sigmund Freud 

I think too much of myself 
burning the midnight oil
courtesy of JD Rockefeller
(“What’s that smell? New money!”)
there’s always a light on
so that my dreams are equivocal
across the century’s span
without really being in the dark
the flicker of shadow and light
ticking off the seconds

I think of myself too much 
but I’m the only one
who’d sit still for it
a portrait seeks attention
of everything in proximity
togs of humility unworn
out of fashion how do I look
a question of the utmost 
importance before stepping out
as long as it doesn’t resemble
the shambles that are often me
I’m good

too much of myself I think
when the air is composed of fine
white droplets as the pulse of an
atmospheric wave drifts across
the evergreens as a sheer curtain
endlessly renewing its opacity
so the marks I make on the page
can’t capture the awesome intensity
and I have to make it up on my own
siphoning down into the common soul
but then nobody needs to know 
the details of my self-absorption 
a needy unquenchable persistence

of myself I think too much
overanalyze overengineer overburden
the limbic dithers in perfect
uncertainty at least that’s the principle
that won’t save the cat in the slight 
oscillation of nervous frequency
vibrations produce a unique pure tone
an essence with the signature of being



Rigid ravaged by frost
the coppery stalks of Queen Anne’s 
Lace in the margin of the footpath
the chill air is full of words
like that and I am their antenna
clear and cold in the hues of autumn
only a little interference from
the residual melody of a Monk
tune echoing ghost-like in
the canyons of the auditory cortex
reception always good powered
by the energy of a brisk pace
and chill lobes teary eye moist
nose filter the tropes of fall
foliage and spicy smoked air but
also words floating through as
adjectives of what it is out there
and in here but of undetermined
meaning until later when peroration
determined to be bring it to a close
this is the way I’ve always done it
let the slack out reel it back in
improvisation at the beat of my gait
engine of articulation purrs at oration
rehearsed between the ears an atmosphere
charged with tiny electrical storms and
sparking language’s mode of apprehension



Trapezoids covered in white
and vague shadows the soft 
miasma in aspic on morning’s menu

pale streetlights hover as
ranks of UFOs in the fog

puddles have ice river
a sleek gel-like glaze
from which a misty lace 
lifts crystal clear to 
its very depth and creased 
by an armada of coots
to walk a dog along 
the frost speckled sands 
seems almost too cruel

vivid dreams contest waking
the latter days of a waning year
I will drink from the dragon cup
the greenness of tea as autumn’s
colors reinforced by slanting rays
evening’s mist rejoins drifting
chimney smoke and one day
inches slowly toward the next

a maze-like scrim of leafless 
trees front the evergreens low
sun’s blinding flame shaped 
reflection across still water

whenever I emerge from
my cocoon I always have
to reacquaint everyone 
with my new potential

Pat Nolan's poems, prose, and translations have appeared in literary magazines and anthologies in North America as well as in Europe and Asia. He is the author of over a dozen books of poetry and two novels. His most recent books of poetry are So Much, Selected Poems Volume II 1990-2010 (Nualláin House, Publishers, 2019) and the thousand marvels of every moment, a tanka collection (Nualláin House, Publishers, 2018). He also maintains Parole, the blog of the New Black Bart Poetry Society as well as Dime Pulp, A Serial Fiction Magazine. His poet-centric fiction, Ode To Sunset, A Year In The Life Of American Genius, is available for perusal at odetosunset.com. He lives among the redwood wilds along the Russian River in Northern California.
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Blogger andrei said...

Pat Nolan is a marvelous poet. He illuminates tersely. The flashes of humor that occasionally light his verse are humane and kind, sudden summer lightening of the path. Nolan's work should be better known and honored.

Andrei Codrescu

3:50 AM  

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