Nolo Segundo

Nolo Segundo, pen name of L.J. Carber, 75, in his 8th decade became published in over 130 literary journals in the U.S., England, Canada, Romania, Scotland, India, Australia, Portugal, Hong Kong, Sweden, and Turkey, and in 3 trade book collections: The Enormity of Existence [2020], Of Ether and Earth [2021] & Soul songs [2022] . Recently nominated for the Pushcart Prize 2022, he’s a retired teacher [America, Japan, Taiwan, Cambodia] who’s been married 43 years to a smart and beautiful Taiwanese woman.


You saw the lines weren’t too long
so you went for the gas first---
spend a little time, save a lot of
money you thought. But it took 
longer than you expected [too 
many ‘tanks’ as you call SUVs
filling up their 50 gallon tanks]
so by the time you went into the
giant store, you were feeling like 
a crab trapped in a net as you
wrestled through the weekend
horde of bargain hunters….

Finally at home, you plopped 
down in the comfy chair as 
the nightly news came on and
sipped the fresh brewed French
roast and ate a piece of rich
chocolate cake you bought at
Costco and felt a bit sad for 
those poor people in Ukraine
as you watched war in hi-def.

Still, the thought uppermost in
your mind, as your eyes scanned
so many dead bodies lying quiet
in the streets like stones thrown
randomly, was just how damn 
good the coffee was and how 
much you had saved going to
the big box store….


My neighbors are charming,
An old couple in love through
Sixty some years and six kids.
Phil had been an engineer,
Doubtless with formidable mind
But he was usually reticent,
While Nancy loved conversation.

Her wit I strove to match when
We met by chance at the café
Where the Pie Lady made her 
Treats of muffins and pie and
Quiche with cups of rich coffee.
Nancy could turn a pun with a
Flick of her tongue, and always
I was so amazed—they’re nearly 
Ninety and so engaged with life,
One would think getting old,
Really old was not so bad—and
Their love has lasted so long,
Undiminished, unblemished….

But now Phil sleeps most of the day
While Nancy wears his coat by mistake
And thinks she is going to the doctor
When her friend is driving her just
For a haircut—THIS is not what we
Think, a second childhood-- a child
Has its own world but it is freedom
Itself Phil and Nancy are now losing.

They are losing their minds,
he slowly, she a bit sooner.
But when they sleep at night,
she still pulls the blanket o’er
his thin old body, an act of 
love and a proof Nancy is
yet there…

She passed before him--
(my secret prayer filled)
their love still whole,
but oh I miss her wit
every time I bite into
a slice of cherry pie.


Breathe close to me,
Let not your head droop
Nor your face grimace 
In fierce grief, for when
I must leave, all will not
Leave with me, I promise.

The memories we made 
Together will sit safely
Inside your mind’s nest.
I’ll leave the photos too—
I can’t take them with me,
So you’ll have the proof
We were young once,
Both pretty and foolish, 
Drawn together like
Two bees put in a jar,
Buzzing around each other
Until their disparate sound
Becomes a kind of music.

The photos and memories 
Can take you back to all
The places we loved in
Italy and France and that
Windblown prehistoric
Southern beach where 
Our hearts first linked 
In tandem as flesh merged
And the monk-like sun set
Slowly, silently o’er that
Endless and holy ocean.

Yet they lie, those photos
And remembrances of our
Youth and middle years, 
For no canvas or brain 
Can seize our love, the 
Living thing it is, unseen 
But tangible as a hand,
Vulnerable yet enduring 
Past anger, illness and
Even death, because time 
Cannot diminish this 
Being born between us.     

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