The River of You
Perry S. Nicholas
Ah, that grand elusive “you”: lover, alter-ego, ancestor, fellow writer; a mirror wherein to see ourselves amid our world. Perry Nicholas casts the “other” in a light at once dark and mellow as he searches his history and ours for faint clues to our nature. His River of You winds through Greece and Western New York, gathers many voyagers, and flows into a deep inland sea. We float along and hope that we may say with him, “I find myself, writing again.”
--David Landrey, retired English professor, Buffalo State College
Perry Nicholas is an acclaimed regional poet well worth reading… Nicholas is highly accessible but certainly not prosaic or simplistic; he can exhilarate a questing mind, delights with his gifted use of language, and he entertains with the aptness of his startling metaphors. Importantly, Nicholas’ work permits us to see more deeply into the extraordinary and into the conventional, leaving us with the satisfaction of understanding many of our experiences more fully, more richly.
--Samuel J. DiChristina, Professor Emeritus of English,
Erie Community College
The River of You is a combination of poems inspired by other writers or artists, family, real and imagined relationships that hopefully transcend ego and translate to the universal. A poet must be constantly moved by others, influenced by reading and history. He extracts a spark from anywhere, wraps himself around an idea, and comes up with his truest sentence (to paraphrase Hemingway). My writing process begins with a reverence to what has come before. I sift through it for a tiny truth, wrap my own voice around it, and follow up with painstaking revisions to tell the story as clearly and vividly as possible. This is my passion, my humble responsibility to the reader and the artists who have molded me. This book is my tribute to what has influenced my life-literature, languages, family, and friends. In turn, I hope it touches the reader in his or her personal journey.
From the book:
On reading an interview with Li-Young Lee
I read some gentle language,
the closing line of a poet's
interview. It must have been
deep into night when he
was especially weary of words.
Who else would respond so,
like a husband softly draping
his mother's hand-stitched quilt
over a drowsy wife as she curls nearby,
wrapped in the conversation?
Not the pain at the loss of anything,
not the hurt of holding something
and letting it slip, he spoke
with the fine ache of those unable
to sound words purely, assuredly,
though the words are willing enough.
She fell off into sleep, and he held
his breath as he covered her.
The interviewer pressed on:
It's difficult to love.
And the tired poet exhaled:
To love is very difficult.
Pour me another thimbleful
of ouzo, Evthokia, it's ok, tell the story
again, for the hundredth time.
I know, you turned your head at just
the wrong moment thirty years ago,
missed his sideways look towards the door.
He hugged you that morning at the cafenion, Effie;
you should have known, he wasn't much of a hugger.
You two used to go there for coffee
in the morning on two hours sleep, though
why he didn't tell you during the night,
before he filled your softness, eh, I told
you what I know about men. Just boys.
That question like…a burning cigarette
at one of your lonely corner tables.
Life is like an onion, Effie, the more
you peel it open, the more it makes you cry.
Men, they're never good with explanations.
No, you haven't gotten fat, and no,
it was never your fault. It was him, Evthokia,
I've tried to explain that a hundred
and one times now, and yes,
you'll still be ok.
Perry S. Nicholas is an English professor at Erie Community College North in Buffalo, N.Y., where he was awarded the 2008 SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Scholarship and Creative Activities. He was nominated three times for the Pushcart Prize, in 2006, 2007, and 2008. His poems have appeared in Common Ground Review, Fourth River, Caesura, Word Worth, Not Just Air, Hudson View, Language and Culture, Nickel City Nights, Seven Circle Press, Feile-Festa, Skyline Magazine, Louisiana Literature and will appear in the 2010 Chautauqua Literary Journal.
The River of You is a 72 page hand-stitched paper book with spine $16.00
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