“Not of Byzantium,” by Eric Robert Nolan

“Not of Byzantium”

Awakening at one AM after dreaming
not of Byzantium,
not of Babylon, but better —
Not Shangri-La, but shaded limb —
The pine I climbed when I was nine.

No Acropolis, only
fallow farm and rising sun.
Across, a distant treeline
ascends to render Athens’
Parthenon prosaic.

Exceeding empires, exceeding
even Elysium, is
This slumber’s ordinary boyhood field.

(c) Eric Robert Nolan 2015

Originally published in Dead Snakes.



Photo credit: kallerna [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons


My poetry, 2017

Hey, gang.  I hope that you all had a terrific Christmas, and I hope that everyone enjoys a safe and happy New Year’s Eve tonight.

If you’d care to ring in 2018 with a little poetry, here’s where you can find everything I’ve published over the past year:

My poetry, 2017 


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“Shy From the Valley, My Child, My Love,” by Eric Robert Nolan

Shy from the valley, my Child, my Love.
Sparrows are scattering up from the dale.
Fevered and ravening, under the gale
is the blank-eyed wolf in the naked vale.

Veer from the East, my Child, my Love.
The shuttered kingdom drowses at dusk.
Over the slain stag’s waning musk
Are ardored boar of angled tusk.

Veer from the West, my Child, my Love.
In the towns, a stillness looms.
And a resurgent hunger glooms
the orphans in their upstairs rooms.

Divert from the North, my Child, my Love.
I see the wealthy huntsman there.
Beneath the starless heaven’s stare
hounds pursue the slowing hare.

Divert from the South, my Child, my Love.
Boorish kings bereft of reason
ponder politics and treason
in this graying, godless season.

Fear for the Country, my Child, my Love.
Trust not what we thought we had risen above.
Dried are the laurels and flown is the dove.
Bandits now brandish the falconer’s glove.

The range bleeds out expatriates.
The tepid winter sun still blanches
trees between abandoned ranches.
Blackbirds bicker at their branches.

Songless is the nightingale
huddled in its formless nest.
A burrowed bear of fervid breast,
rouses from its fitful rest.

The slowing river swells to move
artless serpents from their nooks.
The wordless falcon leans and looks
at the arcs of the verseless rooks.

(c) Eric Robert Nolan 2017



Photo credit: By popejon2 from Paddington, Australia (At Killarney Lake) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

“As Silver as the Stars You Tried to Rival,” by Eric Robert Nolan

“As Silver as the Stars You Tried to Rival”

world grows
darker in increments,
earlier every evening,
as Autumn’s arcing swallow bends to curve
at long last, rounding down, to the hardening ground, where only brown
leaves outlast November’s burning rug of reds and flaming footprints,
cast-off scarlets,

now giving way
to the gunmetal gray
of winter’s coarse eagle, its ash-gray and annual, slow,
feathered rule of sky ascends hemispheres, its lead belly
groaning for hare or softer birds, its slate eyes searching, yet ridden with hints of silver —

— thin silver threads in the breast of the lead predator,

screaming “December,”
slow, as slow as frost, as cold as loss,
frigid, frigid like a still photo and its forever frozen face there,
black and white, its timeless smile a lie, exposed by common calendars and your indifference.

If those blacks and whites were shaken up in a glass bottle, the jumbled shades under glass might make

— thin silver threads out of memory:

— as silver as the slimming minnows that you kicked
out of shallow water onto sand at 9
with the other boys
birthing, then returning swimming platinum
to the warm-womb mine of that black lake, you knew
that summer would never end —

— as silver as your father’s hair, when you were 13, the last time that you thought
your father would never end —

— as silver as the cross you gave to your first love,
kissing you at 16, there in the stairwell at school.
She laughed at your
accidental piety.
You thought it was a curving swallow;
it was a tiny crucifix.
And you told her
love would never end —

–as silver as the stars you tried to rival, drunk at 21, drunk at Cape Hatteras during the storm, drunk at the face of the Universe.
At “Kill Devil Hills” you balked at God.
The stars shouted with light, the violet-sable sky reeled and vaulted purple-black, interminable, drunk in its excess of self, the rhythmic, clutching sea its unforgiving son.

Your friends
warned you away from the sea.
The curving waves would swallow you.
They warned you, “You get dark when you are drunk.”
“And, besides, you’ll die.”
You laughed and stormed the waves against their wishes.
And you were dark. Your violet-sable heart
reeled and vaulted purple-black. You laughed
and shouted back at the stars,
young-mad and piss-drunk,
the freezing forward ramparts stung you but
you stormed in headfirst, headstrong, and interminable:

this night would never end,
and if it never ended, how could you?

(c)  Eric Robert Nolan 2015, originally published by Dead Snakes 2015



Photo credit:  bigwavephoto / Wikimedia Commons

Site update — My video and audio recordings

Hi, gang.  This is just a quick note to let you know I’ve added a new page here at the site to sort of round up my poetry recordings.  You should be able to find any one of them right here:

My video and audio recordings

The page includes a link to my Youtube channel.  I hope you all had a terrific Thanksgiving yesterday!




“All Our Faults Are Fallen Leaves,” by Eric Robert Nolan

“All Our Faults Are Fallen Leaves”

Again an annual angled auburn hand
announces advancing Autumn —
fingers aflame, the first Fallen leaf,
As slow in its descent, and as red,
as flailing Lucifer.

Hell in our sylvan vision
begins with a single spark.
The sting of the prior winter
subsided in July,
eroded at August.
Now, as at every September,
let new and cooler winds
fan a temperate flame.

May this nascent season only
bring brick-tinted perdition
and carmine Abaddon.
Where flames should burn, may there be
only rose tones on wide wine canvasses,
tormentless florid scarlets,
griefs eased in garnet trees.

What I hold in my heart to be true
is Edict at every Autumn:
Magentas may not make
forgetful a distracted God,
unless we ourselves forget
or burn to overlook.

Auden told us “One Evening”
to “Stand, stand at the window,”
and that we would love our neighbor,
but he didn’t counsel at all
about how we should smolder there.

Outside my window, and yours,
if the Conflagration itself
acquits us all by claiming only
the trees upon the hill,
the Commonwealth a hearth,
Virginia an Inferno,

Then you and I
should burn in our hearts to absolve
ourselves and one another,
standing before the glass,
our curtains catching,
our beds combusting,
our bureaus each a pyre.
Take my hand, my friend, and smile,
there on the scorching floor,
beneath the searing ceiling and
beside the blackening mirror
that troubles us no longer,
for, about it, Auden was wrong.

God’s wrathful eye
will find you and I
incandescent. The damned
are yet consigned to kindness.
All our faults are Fallen leaves.
Forgive where God will not.

Out of our purgatory
of injury’s daily indifference,
let our Lake of Fire
be but blush squadrons of oaks,
cerise seas of cedar, fed
running ruby by sycamore rivers,
their shores reassured
by calm copper sequoias,
all their banks ablaze
in yellowing eucalyptus.

Let the demons we hold
harden into bark
holding up Inferno.
All their hands are branches now;
all their palms are burning.

There, then, softly burning, you and I,
may our Autumn find
judgmentless russets,
vermilion for our sins,
dahlia forgiveness,
a red for every error,
every man a love,
every love infernal,
and friends where devils would reign.

(c) Eric Robert Nolan 2015

— Author’s note: the poem to which I’ve responded above, with its images of standing at the window and the mirror, is W. H. Auden’s “As I Walked Out One Evening.”




Photo credit: Steve Jurvetson.