KYSO Flash
Knock-Your-Socks-Off Art and Literature
Issue 4: Fall 2015
Poem: 338 words

First in Line

by James B. Nicola
Now, as to being first. When we were not
	around, you were first. You were first first.
	But things don’t last. Then I came around.
	I came last, but “The first shall be last;
	the last, first.” (That trope is stolen, but
	I couldn’t say it better than that,
	so whoever said it first, well, I say,
	let ’im say it again.) Although who
	is first now? Your son! I say—let ’im
	be! After all, he came last—that is,
	he was born long after all the rest
	of us. We were each first—not for long,
	but that’s how siblings are, each of us
	in turn. Now, Mother’s babbling on—that’s
	her age, or medicine, ranting now
	in circles. You’re still the first in age, 
	and he’s the first in youth. But you’re still
	the first in being first! She says he’s
	her “favorite.” Does that mean she’s being
	a bad grandmother, having favorites
	and naming them? Was she a bad mother,
	naming me to you? Oh, the naming’s
	just words! Doesn’t she look round to you?
	Women were made rounder than men, just
	a bit—and of women, mothers are
	still rounder—so that they see a bit
	differently, looking at us so,
	than we could as males. When she looks that
	way at your son, she sees you too. We’re
	not collinear. That's not the way
	a family works. Collinear 

	is for points and objects. Family
	should mean not counting up the points one’s
	racked but rather the uncountable.
	Some people—males—can’t think this way. But
	mothers do—possibly all females,
	of all races and walks of life, do:
	see one after another, all come
	full circle, clear as love. Each one’s first
	to her because we’re on a circle,
	where the shortest distance, us to her,
	is not a straight line. No. The shortest
	distance is love. That’s why it does not
	bother me the way she says he is 
first—we all are! Don’t let it bother you.

James B. Nicola
Issue 4, Fall 2015

With his first collection of poetry, Manhattan Plaza, James B. Nicola joins the ranks of poets Frank O’Hara and Stanley Kunitz and humorist Robert Benchley as a New York author originally from Worcester, Massachusetts. Nicola’s work has been widely published in periodicals including the Southwest, Atlanta and Texas Reviews, Tar River, Lyric, Nimrod, and Blue Unicorn in the United States, and overseas in journals as exotic as The Istanbul Review and Poetry Salzburg.

He has won the Dana Literary Award, a People’s Choice award (from Storyteller) and a Willow Review award; was nominated twice for a Pushcart Prize and once for a Rhysling Award; and was featured poet at New Formalist.

A Yale grad and stage director by profession, his nonfiction book Playing the Audience: The Practical Actor’s Guide to Live Performance (Applause Theatre & Cinema Books, 2002) won a Choice award. Nicola is also a composer, lyricist, and playwright, whose children’s musical Chimes: A Christmas Vaudeville premiered in Fairbanks, Alaska, where Santa Claus was rumored to be in attendance on opening night.

The author’s poetry site on Google

More on the Web: By, About, and Beyond

Childhood, a poem in Redheaded Stepchild (Spring 2014)

The Fields of May, a poem in Literary Bohemian (Issue 21, October 2014)

Site contains text, proprietary computer code,
and graphic images that are protected by:

⚡   Many thanks for taking time to report broken links to: KYSOWebmaster [at] gmail [dot] com   ⚡