Pat Nolan

Winter Light

First power outage of the year
the deluge that preceded it
everything much quieter
except for the faint hiss of cosmic
background radiation (or tinnitus)
even the neighbor’s flags flap in
silence as the steady glazing rain’s
constant splash murmurs at the eaves

the wild goose chase of my days
there’s still a great unknown out there
and I did my best to find it

at the depth of speech
resides the soul of wit
represented in surprising
tangents and keen insights

not so much a note but a bookmark
on the creative flow of that particular
state of mind as a travel in time
the holiday hangover extends to mid-month
as a giant disruption in the flow of days

a library parking lot full of occupied
vehicles surfing the public wi-fi aura
most of whom would be intimidated
by the stacks of books inside

among bright green wet spangled grass
small birds flit flutter and flap away
as if on one wing at the leashed
four footed approach in the barely
perceptible rain mist rising from
the ranks of evergreens on the far shore
as the evident quality of winter light


Awake the world is a vast conflagration
in dreams we nurture the flame
—attributed to Heraclitus

Why shouldn’t today
be like any other day
the sun rises it will set
who am I to stand in the way

old memory flies from recall
lights at the tip of the tongue

gaze into the picture of myself
(in the fractal blur of distance)
take one long last look find
familiar arrangement of atoms
majesty of a greater existence

(pen failed had
to switch to pencil)

restless before the precipice
crowded by the accumulation of
things clutter of personal history
day’s neutral cast affects
my concentration I could fuss
over some arcane matter or simply
bathe in the rattle of jackhammers
down the street not to confuse
the artificial with the present
the more I appreciate life
the more I am consumed by death
one the absence of the other
my work is about accrual
a representing of the past
in a way that pictures
the present as an identical ideal

the crisis of faith comes
when I realize it doesn’t matter
how good I am or think I am
a relativistic judgment
placed on the altar of hope
in honor of the memory of
my inevitable oblivion

a gigantic ennui conspires
to silence what I see
is as nature ordained
light but matter moving
through space time the relative
velocity of that motion

some write for a living
I live for a writing
publishing poems is like
now I’ve had my fun I have to
submit the paperwork when
I first thought to write it was
to become a man of letters
so that in my later years
the philosophy of Gorgias finds
purchase nothing exists and
even if nothing did exist there
would be no way of knowing
knowing that there is no way to
acquire a certitude nothing exists
yet as Heraclitus reminds
in the end all I can do is point
at the way things are

Wild Life

Sea haze gossamer net
atmosphere saturated
by light reflected off
tiny airborne atoms
capturing the rainbow

deer stray into
the meadow facing
the fading orb
birds grow quiet at
the onset of night

setting sun’s rich
light buttering
an upturned face

the evening sky requires
long looking into
(five she saw her first fox
her joy was affecting)
strangers unto ourselves
in a stranger land

Brain Static

aphorisms are a form of eternity

The fine white grains of information
oscillate at a particular frequency
that determines our wavelength
and contains the essential sparks
of the universal continuum

it all comes down to not
being able to do the math

eventually we’ll all become irrelevant
systems will stop functioning for us and
we must give it the old simian good-bye

we are the result of our technology
eventually we will walk through walls
or walls will lose their reality
under the assault of our reiterations

elliptical epigrammatic
fragmented informational quanta

information is physical

in the sinkhole of civilization
the implosion on the culture grid
results in power outages of the soul

the soil and then the psyche
experience shaking along the faults

every situation finds
its own resolution as well
as its incipient enigma

self-conscious of history
as being aware of the field’s wider
horizons necessity is the intent
to do right even though you’re wrong

what started off as attention getting
has turned into a profession
genius follows in tragedy’s footsteps

the siren sounds especially mournful
echoing down through the canyon highway

days spent in absence create presence
that has exactly that quality

the attraction to transparency
starting at the last part of the thought
and trying to remember the first part

a meme when properly framed and
worded doesn’t begin to be properly
decoded but must first be unpacked
of its layered cultural meaning

all my years of wisdom left to the open sky
back porch whittling away a whole afternoon

what do I know of illness and death
until I am beholding to both

There’s Always Something (About Cats)

“I could have written that” establishes
us as phenomenologists of reading

— Gaston Bachelard


Old gods garbed in memory
spent too much time
in front of the screen
got a cramp
in the visual cortex

passing through
a spell of wet
not so much rain
as a damp washcloth
or the inside of a big
ground scraping cloud
lays a sleek glaze
on flat surfaces

writing’s uniformity overruled
by unpredictable speech

silver blue twilight haze
stark dark leafless trunks
spirits in spirit

hang out with the cats
they with me warming winter sun

Townsend’s warbler in
the white camellia bush

tortilla moon

jumble liar

shadows bend the light
soften the edges
I have a problem with
anyone who is not me


Some days it’s hard
to tell work from play

afoot in a world of cats
I must be moving slow
past catching up with me

those feelings
how foolish
they seem once
they make it
to the surface

leaping not looking

looking back
no going back

just ask Orpheus
when you try
putting him back
together again


Soggy catkins on the wet deck
late season storm

the world is full of anal
retentives and highly structured
constructs appeal to them


The cats offer
their kills in return
picking pin feathers
out of the shag

why can’t I be like
a cat and sleep twenty
hours a day be thrilled by
the dark and its lurking
shadows receive homage
on my stroked fur or
scratched head to start
the throaty engine of purr
lie among blades of grass
in fascination of everything
that moves or flits like
my life depended on it
that moment alone that time’s
passage is of no consequence
there where there is


Pets draw me from my
shell and I go to them naked
open as I can no human


A breeze stray leaf
fell from the eaves
(or was it pushed)

gone around
the bend
no one promised me
a straight line

dust happens

gray coastal bone
chill felt this far upriver
cats huddle together


Social learning as visual
theft candidates for replication
the more intermediate tones
travel an imperceptible wavelength

punctuation in poetry abolished
a hundred years ago
many still
did not get the memo
the poetry memo of poetry


a poem is an interrogation of
sentience on the page
lab notes of the intellect

the cat stares into the abyss
a patch of sunlight on the rug

in the bright ideas dept write
novel using Roget’s Thesaurus
as the organizing principle
(would likely be quite lengthy
aptly titled The Sore Ass)

walk around thinking
how it should be
while doing what it is


Autumn rain
summer furniture yet
to be taken in

who owns cats after all
they own me and use
some kind of weird
mind control to get me
to feed and pet them
coo words of endearment
while allowing them
a place to shed and dig
up plants in the garden

selfish as a cat
the pleasure of my own company
to the exclusion of all others

early sunlight
amber frozen trees thaw
a leaf shower

Who Was That Masked Man

The cold pale premise of first light

became a legend in my own mind
hung around to bask in my own glory

may be at the root of the problem

a seam of clouds bands the blue

little sleep raccoons
overhead shuffled in the gravel
of the rainwet flat roof

then there are days when
each of the items that come
down the assembly line of moments
are slightly defective and require
trips back to the drawing board

the passing tenor of some
sour or stale weighted
with a fugitive anxiety

life is unreasonable in
its absurdity and confronting
the irrationality with a wish
for a moment of clarity in
which everything makes sense’s
the epitome of the absurd
mortality the daily repetitious
heartless hostility of nature
and the discomforting strangeness
of the other all conspire to spin
the world in ill-tempered hues

I sing in part my identity
wearing the mask of myself

Pat Nolan’s poetry, prose, and translations have appeared in numerous magazines and anthologies in North America as well as in Europe and Asia, including Up Late—American Poetry Since 1970, Poems For The Millennium (Vol. I), Saints Of Hysteria, The Paris Review, Rolling Stone, Exquisite Corpse, Triada (Spain), and Otoliths (Australia). Author of over a dozen poetry selections, his most recent are So Much, Selected Poems Vol. II (1990-2010) from Nualláin House, Publishers (2019) and the thousand marvels of every moment, a tanka collection (Nualláin House, 2018). He is the author of three novels including the online fiction Ode To Sunset, A Year In The Life Of American Genius, available for perusing at He is also founder and editor of The New Black Bart Poetry Society and its blog, Parole, now in its eleventh year. Made In The Shade, a poetry document and limited term project that began posting January of 2022 and ended on December 31, 2022, can be still be accessed at His most recent fiction project is Dime Pulp, A Serial Pulp Fiction Magazine (, now in its third year. Pat lives in the redwood wilds along the Russian River in Northern California.
This entry was posted in Poetry and tagged , by Posit Editor. Bookmark the permalink.

About Posit Editor

Susan Lewis ( is the Editor-in-chief and founder of Posit ( and the author of ten books and chapbooks, including Zoom (winner of the Washington Prize), Heisenberg's Salon, This Visit, and State of the Union. Her poetry has appeared in anthologies such as Walkers in the City (Rain Taxi), They Said (Black Lawrence Press), and Resist Much, Obey Little (Dispatches/Spuyten Duyvil), as well as in journals such as Agni, Boston Review, The Brooklyn Rail, Conjunctions online, Diode, Interim, New American Writing, and VOLT.