Two Poems by Nolo Segundo

A Passing Glance

The other day
as I turned the corner
onto my quiet street

I saw a woman so perfect,
she snatched my breath away
as she waited to cross the road.

It was like seeing a movie star
or a beauty queen close up–
my heart ached a bit, I confess,
when I thought, once, a long time
ago, I might have had a chance….

But now I’m just an old man
driving an old car to an old house.
I drove slowly and could see
her gracefully crossing the street
in my rear-view mirror, much
like a dream fading quickly away …
suddenly, from somewhere far
beyond my mind, I realized
the truth of what I saw: that
it was all just stupid illusion–
she was young and beautiful,
I, old and lame, but those were
just markers on the wheel of time.

The wheel would turn,
my body would die, hers would age,
no longer enrapturing men—in truth
she was already an old woman which
I could not see, nor could I see the
sweet child still playing within her.

When there are no more days left,
our souls will be free of the wheel,
and all the world’s illusions will
seem as distant, fading dreams.

An Old Poet’s Walk Through an Old Graveyard

He always liked to walk among the dead—
for him it was a secret pleasure to imagine
the lives of once breathing, thinking beings.
He would stop at each tombstone, curious
perhaps more than reverent, for he had long
known the body was just a set of clothes
the soul wears in a world where appearances
matter more it seems than what lay inside…

The old man liked to compare his years to
those chalked on each stone, continually
amazed that so many had died with fewer
years on their belts, so to speak—not
that he thought his 74 winters was a lot:
yet seen backwards in time, all the summers
and all the snows and all the fallings of dried
out leaves dying dressed in color like kings,
all those memories wouldn’t fill a large
basket in that living library called memory.

There was a newish-looking gravestone with
one of those weather-resistant photos of a
handsome young man who died in his 24th
year—the old man always wondered how
the young die– by a rare illness, or suicide,
or was he doing something he should not
have been doing, and karma took notice?

In the years practicing his little lauded hobby
the old poet found old graveyards to be best,
for old graveyards have markers of lives that
turned to dust a long, long time ago: 100, 200
years for some– but for the old poet it was as
though they had died yesterday, because they
were new to him, and his mind’s eye could see
them all living life large again in their own slice
of time, in their own worlds, with beauty and
pain, with loss and joy, with grace and fear….

There were so many folks to visit: each one
whose little stone house he stopped by he
introduced himself to, said hello, wished
them well, and wondered about what sort
of life the woman who died at 36 had lead,
or the really old man of 98 with the funny,
old fashioned name—did he regret missing
the century mark, the old poet wondered.

Some graves he did not like to see, for
they were the graves of babes, who
left the world less than a year after
they had entered it with such promise–
some died within weeks or months,
a few died the day they were born–
all spoke in stone of hearts broken,
of hope stolen, of love taken away….

Nolo Segundo, pen name of L. J. Carber, only became a widely published poet in his mid-70’s in over 130 literary journals in the U.S., Canada, England, Romania, Scotland, Portugal, Sweden, India, Hong Kong, Turkey, and three trade book collections: The Enormity of  Existence [2020], Of Ether and Earth [2021] and Soul Songs [2022]. These titles and much of his work reflect the awareness he’s had for over 50 years since having an NDE whilst almost drowning in a Vermont river: that he has, or rather, IS a consciousness that predates birth and survives death, what poets once called a soul. Nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net, he’s a retired teacher [America, Japan, Taiwan, Cambodia] who has been married to a smart and beautiful Taiwanese woman for 43 years.

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