Skip to content
August 19, 2015 / douglasnyback

A Dream of the Ocean

By: Douglas W. Nyback

“Imagine the ocean.”
I say to myself.
And I do,
it’s obscured by you
not as you are
as you were,
your sandy blond hair
blowing in the wind
overlapping perfectly
an infinity of sand
so it’s not the beach the sea is crashing against,
it’s you.

And the sun hangs in the sky, 
cloudless and perfect
framed at an angle
just impossible enough
for me to remember
and not reality.
I think that’s the reason
you won’t turn around
no matter how much I call to you
how earnestly I beg, 
you just walk steadily
the white dress, just above your ankles,
skimmed by the spray.
I try to follow
but I can’t.
For the sadness of dreaming,
I’ve learned,
is not the waking
but lucidity.

Because here
behind my eyes,
the gentle picking of a guitar
floats between the closing curtains of my consciousness;
as a young man sings of love,
the sea breeze brings the smell of lavender
and ballet leather
you to me
as I am
that none of this is real.

And you keep on walking
one graceful step at a time
the color of your hair 
from what it was
to what it is
the water cascading all around you,
you turn,
the fading day behind you
lighting the world on fire
and surrounding you in a deep red halo
so perfect
you’re no longer who you were,
you’re who you are now,
so beautiful
and so far away from me. 

You smile and the ocean swallows you.
Then it crashes against the shore 
until it’s not the shore anymore.
It never was, really.
It’s only ever been the back of my eyelids.



July 20, 2015 / douglasnyback


By: Douglas W. Nyback


It’s a quiet thing. This anniversary.

A year that didn’t begin
on January First,
that Mistress being usurped
by events
It knew not of.

You are so much more than a chapter to me.
A whole edition,
hand bound off the presses
smelling clean, of paper

And now it has come,
cyclically back,
a brutal month
by all accounts
hopeful despite it all,
the two of us
it seems
beginning to see
that a period
simply a semicolon
if you add a comma to it.

It’s a quiet thing; we begin again.

June 15, 2015 / douglasnyback

The Tide

By: Douglas W. Nyback


The terrible truth is:
I have loved and I have been loved.
One half of me the beach as the tide comes in
the other
all that’s left after it retreats.

And the ocean brings life, doesn’t it?
O, God. How sweet it is when the tide comes in.
How the people rush to the water.
How the waves crash upon the shore.
For the beach is nothing
but broken pieces
and the water fills the cracks
taking away what is brittle and separate
and filling it
that it may squish, delightfully, beneath the toes
of younger souls than I.

We can’t take back what we’ve done
what’s been done to us
but tides turn
love abandons, every day, one of us.
Taking with it life and youth,
leaving truly, the beach, billions of shattered pieces
made raw by love’s relentlessness,
made hot by it’s absence
and made terrible by the barrenness of what’s left.

I stare out over the dark horizon.
As the water laps against a shore that I cannot see
I bury my toes, beneath the heat of today,
the city sleeping behind me.
I smile, seeing just a spark
way off in the distance
like they Eye of God, like forgiveness
bringing with it a new dawn
light cascading over the dark water
daring it to exist.

“You have no proof.” It seems to say,
“But the Moon wanes and the Sun rises.
And it’s love, isn’t it? Coming in on the tide?”
And I know it is, I know. Love washing in like forgiveness.
“It’s there.” I say. “Thank God.”
My eyes close,
breath leaving me in a sigh
as the water begins to trickle in
over the tops of my feet.

For the beautiful truth is:
I have loved and I have been loved.

May 13, 2015 / douglasnyback

All That Everything

My eye twitches,
hair pulled back
tucked behind my ears,
oily and full of the world,
so I can see my face
bent by the bottles before me,
taking a left
at the laugh lines
at this thing.
This pure thing,
my age.

An old man to my left
sips pint after pint
painted by tonight’s last candle
as he talks about
how in high school
he was the fourth tallest kid on his basketball team
his narrative
twisting and turning through
the drunks behind me
too dumb to utilize their alcohol
doomed forever to be
by it.
And He on the left
would have died for his team
he says,
and he did,
for we are only ever the sum total of the moments we’re present for
and as I look at his face
taking a left at the laugh lines
I see how he’s squinted
through decades of his life
staring up
from under water
unable to understand
not just how long he’s been drowning
but who the hell put the lake there in the first place.

And he sees my eyes,
doesn’t he?
Staring over the bar,
squinting as if under water
trying to blur the figure across from me
into the woman I would have seen
before all this age.
For the distance between us
is a singularity,
isn’t it?
Two eyes meet
and a universe is born
the entirety of everything only ever defined
by the sum total of the moments we’re present for
and how in that instant
you can see the universe
not just through your eyes, but hers.
And you’re born again,
aren’t you?
The two of you.
All that’s left after all that everything.

If only he could have seen me when I was younger.
Imagine what he’d have thought of me then.

May 4, 2015 / douglasnyback



My eyes close,
birds chirping all around me
and traffic, oh, that too
but spring is in the wind
brushing hair into my eyes like a
child, giggling I’m sure.

Raymond Carver falls to my chest as
I doze
and I think even here, where the ants
can find me, I’ll be safe
blanketed by his words.
How brutal he felt love was.
He kept writing about it, though.

Do you ever sit in a park and dream
that an old love will walk by?
Harm’s ghost undone,
by the sound of trees evolving
above you…
This world is too beautiful not to

April 12, 2015 / douglasnyback

The Morning After Dinner

By: Douglas W. Nyback


My fingers brush the handle of my
coffee cup, absently, as though it
were your hand.
Such an unconscious gesture
this is
to think poetically of touching you.

How broken we both are,
with only two smiles between us
laid bare in laugh lines, cut into our
by love’s half truths
perhaps, together, made whole.
If only for an evening.

It wasn’t moonlit when I walked you
but the cocktail of city lights painted
you perfectly, all those people awake
at the witching hour. How silently
grateful I was to them,
that they lived so I could see you.
You promised me nothing and I

We talked so deeply of God last
like two rain drops falling over a river
and landing
into all that everything.
“Oh!” we exclaimed,
when the image struck us,
“That must be what heaven is like.”



April 6, 2015 / douglasnyback

A Letter to Lady Optimism

By: Douglas W. Nyback


Dear Lady Optimism,
There is a pane of glass in me
behind my eyes
which I look through
seeing everything
while giving nothing of myself.

Brutal honesty?
Last night I raised a glass
in a room alone
nothing left but a piece of paper.
“May I write like a younger man.”
I charged,
never believing I would.

I hope for different things now,
kindness having abandoned me.
These things we take advantage of,
my God.
How beautiful you are,
Lady Optimism,
like you were painted with a brush.

You are to me
rain on London streets
a memory we’ve yet to make,
and perhaps never will
your inconsistent anatomy
pressing through your lips
and into my imagination
so I can make it limitless.

Ever the foundation of love,
fiction is.
I have an insistent impression of you,
sweet Lady Optimism,
an untrue extension of my own ego
begging to be proved wrong.
For I am powerless against them, aren’t I?
All these ghosts of how I’ve been loved.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 34 other followers