“school shooter,” by Eric Robert Nolan

Grendel’s mother wanted murder; but we all knew that,
you knew that just by looking at her:
the green and odorous skin like dark olive parchment over her cheeks’ low bones,
the blackening teeth where the stale blood caked
and dried in her receding gumlines
like burgundy ink on her molars and incisors,
and a blackening-scarlet
stain on her canines.

Remember when we first saw her —
her flaccid breasts like flour-sacks,
her womanhood a stagnant moss,
the cadaverous, driving
lime of her hips,
her labia in livid lines
of bitter water lilies?

Remember the rising, putrid moon of her —
her green, sour form arching over ours in her ascent,
burning up from the green lake, a gangrene flame from the brackish water,
her profane grin adorning her,
and algae tracing her lips?

Remember the wet weeds
trailing the viridian strait of her throat
like silt-laden necklaces,
and all the mud and water rolling off her knuckles?
The spoiled laurel of her sinewed shoulders,
her outspread arms and their
parody of embrace?
Remember her mocking our own mothers?
Her derisive voice was like
the crack of splitting emeralds, asking,
“Am I so strange to young eyes?”

Remember the boiling fat on her tongue and
her victims’ burning skin there?
The scalps she held in her upturned palms
were like watery garments.
Her talons were as black
as snapping-turtle shells.
We all knew at once that we were quarry.

Remember her
sorrel-colored cataracts?
Her eyes were as green seas
boiling under Ragnarok.
Remember their ruptured capillaries
like collapsing red galaxies?
Remember her very irises bleeding?

But what if evil appeared
not as the face of Grendel’s mother,
but, rather, the ordinary boy in her maw —
as unexotic and as common
as we are?
If we were boys and girls again
and bored in English class —
maybe at “Beowulf’s” strangeness,
or maybe the strangeness of Jung —
and he were next to us,
with neither green skin
nor blood along his molars,
if he wanted murder, could we tell?
His face was as a clock’s face — prosaic and round.
Neither silt nor sinew lined his frame.
His gaze did not depict a grisly cosmos;
no galaxies had hemorrhaged in his eyes.
Would the difference be perceptible there
between wanting to kill time
and wanting to kill ten?
Would we know that we were quarry?

Tonight we’d like to believe
that the young are strange to old eyes
for any resemblance would kill us,
as Medusa’s own face was fatal
to her upon the shield.
As adults, we understand
that “Beowulf” is only fable —
but that Jung’s “reservoir,”
is a fatal green lake.
Better an Idis than likeness —
if a monster looks like us, it stands to reason
that maybe he could BE us,
we’d nag in our primordial minds.
It might make us envision
a kind of reverse baptism:
our own plain faces
cresting the flat, green waters
to glide across the lake,
but bearing the eyes of strangers,
emerald and seething,
irises bleeding,
crushed green reeds in our jaws, like captive verses …

And we could not suffer the thought.
Better to be quarry, or be drowned.
We’d know that, and so
we would run mad, we would run weeping, we would run forward and ravening to the green, forgiving lake,

where we could sink like Beowulf,
and our silenced lungs would fill with water.

                                                            (May 19th, 2018)

(c) 2018 Eric Robert Nolan




Care to peruse my Youtube channel?

Just a reminder — if you happen to enjoy any of my poetry readings here at the blog, then you can find more over at my Youtube channel.  There is a playlist for me reading the work of other poets, and another short playlist for me reading my own work.

I hope that all you guys have had a wonderful weekend!


20180220_122250 (5)

“Delaware Sheets,” by Eric Robert Nolan (read by the author)

Sharon lies,
a sylph amid the sheets
in our room in the hills,
drawn up around her –
are waves of fabric.
Her warmth is the same
as that of green hills:
gentle, blessed by the sun,
fertile with promise.

Her dark eyes
are as thickets.




Peeking Cat Poetry Magazine features “This Windy Morning”

The February 2018 Issue of Peeking Cat Poetry Magazine is out, and is available both for purchase and for free in PDF format.   If you’d like to read my poem, “This Windy Morning,” you can find it on page 14.

Thank you once again to Editor Sam Rose for allowing me to share my work!





“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 


20171125_134628 (6)

“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