Cautionary Tale

Uncertain in the present,
But brave as providence.
Meaning effervescent,
Producing little sense.

Time and money vanish.
Strength and slumber wane.
Good intentions banish,
The stupid and the vain.

Somewhere in the middle,
Deep inside the core,
The heart begins to whittle,
The shape of something more.

More than limitations,
Expanding in the sun,
Knowledge of vacations,
Caution tales of Phaethon.

Watching the explosion,
Fireworks on foreign shores,
Checking the emotion,
Invisible on yours.

Pleased to have escaped it here,
And guilty all the same.
Those who skirt the fire,
Shouldn’t glory in the flame.

Nichole M. Dulin



I know it is leaking.
I am trying to ignore it.
Exactly how fast does a person drown?

It’s probably not that bad, I tell myself,
as I steer further offshore.
It was watertight yesterday.

Last week a crack appeared.
Once, before, I replaced the glass and that was fine.
So I didn’t worry.

But last week a crack appeared.
And because it was directly across my vision,
I picked at it,
Like a child with a bug bite,
Like my grandmother with a stain on her shirt,
Like candle wax on a tablecloth.

Pick, pick, pick.
Then the drops started.
I watched how it worked at the seam.
Salt droplets on my hand,
Tested on my tongue.

It’s certainly salt.
It could have been condensation, I suppose.
Something produced from heat on the inside.
But no. It’s definitely coming through.
Seeping in like the sweat that rolls down from my temples,
Or drops from my brow onto the controls.

So now what?
Head for safety?
Or trust the glass?

Nichole M. Dulin

Apocryphal Defenestration

Throw it all out I say.
Everything must go today.
This and that, that and this
Say goodbye with a kiss.

You don’t need it,
You never did,
To cling to things,
Is to be a kid.

There’s little you need,
But a roof and a bed,
Not bigger, not more,
Go live instead.

Nichole M. Dulin


“I don’t know much about being a millionaire, but I’ll bet I’d be darling at it.” —Dorothy Parker

I spent part of the week spending lottery money
Like so many people do on snowy winter days,
when the pot climbs and the thermostat falls.

Curled up with the cat
thinking about the age of the cars, the mileage,
the traveling I haven’t done.

They’re different dreams now than the were
ten or fifteen years ago.
I don’t spend time fitting the houses and boats,
buying extravagant gifts for family and friends.

Now I think how the winners end up—
stripped bare by the change,
inundated in a wave of sadness,
unmatched by ability,
untempered by time.

I think of lawyers, financials advisers,
annuities and investment accounts.
How I would protect
and it hardly seems worth dreaming any more.

But I still bought a ticket.

Nichole M. Dulin


The trouble with reading poetry, is that poems are very filling.
After consuming each, I feel very much,
like I do on Thanksgiving.
A little tired
overstuffed and contemplative
a little sick,
as though I cannot take on any more.

A novel is not the same.
A novel is a bucket of popcorn.
I’m not full until my greasy fingers
brush against the cardboard bottom.
I seem to have unlimited capacity to take it in.

A memoir is a salad. Healthy.
Diverse and tasty. Both dense and juicy.
It requires decisions and takes time to
take it all in.
I finish satiated, proud of my good decisions.

But a poem is a full meal, in a short sitting.
I don’t have room for two.
When it’s finished, I wish it hadn’t been so fast,
that I had savored more.
It takes time to digest,
to nurture,
to become mine,
to energize this body, heart, and mind,
to become something new,

Nichole M. Dulin


Each day, inside these solid walls
I kiss these pretty curls
I’ve never been a flowery one
But God bless little girls.

Each day’s a gift here in this home,
Our challenges are all small
When I behold the fate of those
Who have no home at all.

The power’s on, there’s food on shelves,
And everyone is well
And all the rest is trifling
For those whose lives are hell.

Lately the world has shown
How quickly lives are changed,
How lives explode when countries die,
And leadership’s deranged.

To see a friend in failing health
And through it all endured
Those painless nights and upward turns
are by no means assured.

To watch the mother parent
Alone through naught but fate
Each landmark is a torrent
The days just add more weight.

I have no problems, truly
Trivialities at best
All that I have is details
I know where I am blessed.

Nichole M Dulin


Alma Mater

I brush my hand across the cinder blocks,
Across the table tops, filing cabinets, and locks.
Searching for a piece of my old reality.
As if the walls still hold a piece of me.
As if they remember me and love me a little.
As though time did not make pages brittle.
I breath the air searching for smoke, wax, developer, newsprint,
The stale memory of each countless midnight hour stint,
A hint that I left anything lasting here in this space.
I didn’t.

There’s nothing familiar here to reminisce about.
I’ve been painted over, knocked down, and moved out.
Walking out I stop in at the bookstore.
I’m still searching but I don’t know what for.
I buy some mementos. Ornament. Decal. Clothes.
The lasting impression was on me. As it should be, I suppose.

Nichole M. Dulin



A man going about his day sweeps the length of the barge.
Pushing the coal dust back into piles.
Keeping the walkway safe and quietly moving up the river.
I’m happy to see him here.
He’s a constant in a world that has changed so much since it belonged to me.
In my mind he will be here always pushing the broom,
Sweeping my memories back into place forever.

Nichole M. Dulin