Reflections on the New Parts of Old York
Like most things from the late 20th century,
ugly and unforgiving as spirits mangled
by the outrageous and the not outraged enough,
in a growingly undisciplined frenzy
these ad hoc collections, buildings and art,
were also born of self and selfishness,
subscribing and promoting so-called ‘freedom,’
the expressive lack of principle of the age.
But what else, after the bomb, could humanity bear?
We live like Catholics post-King Henry’s purge,
and like the Dissolution, dissolute,
regaling in such aftermaths. What now
but modern paucities abutting ruins?
I perch beneath the fallen Abbey stone:
one wall, two rows of ogives, low and high,
the grand flaps of two others, west and east,
tracing the audacious nave, now all but air.
Around the lawn, imperious pillar stones
start their ascent, now stumps and sittable.
Then a flock of bright blue-capped children, pads poised,
come gallivanting, gleefully. ‘Are those initials
your school?’ I ask an intrepid Aramis,
indicating his brow’s insignia.
‘Yes!’ he replies, to which D’Artagnan scolds,
‘College!’ ‘Ah, college.’ ‘Yes that’s right.’
A female Colleague’s voice from yonder hails
(they must be twelve, the girls are two hands taller),
‘Sir, are those arches?’ Munching scone, I nod
to part the air, so she can see, and know.
‘Brilliant!’ And off the schoolgirls scurry, sigh,
and in their ardor scratch, pubescent, glorious,
reminding us the future’s on its way.
James B. Nicola
This poem will appear in James B. Nicola's upcoming poetry book, Out of Nothing: Poems of Art and Artists, from ShantiArts.
James B. Nicola's poems have appeared recently in The Ekphrastic Review, the Antioch, Southwest and Atlanta Reviews, Rattle, and Poetry East. His nonfiction book
Playing the Audience won a Choice award. His two poetry collections, published by Word Poetry, are Manhattan Plaza (2014) and Stage to Page: Poems from the Theater (2016).
The Ekphrastic Review
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