top of page
Tautology and Paradox
by James B. Nicola

“You’ll get here when you get here.” This I know.

No god can have it any other way.

It’s true whether you travel fast or slow,

and you will stay as long as you will stay.

Could it, though, be any other way?

Could you get here, say, sooner than today?

The answer to this, practically, is no;

but let us be impractical, and play.


“It is what it is.” This we have been taught,

though that’s not why it’s a taut-ology.

One might as well say it’s not what it’s not.

Neither’s of as much interest to me

as whether it can become what it ought

to be, what it might hope that it might be:

a better version of itself.

                                  You see

me now, yet I was nothing before you.

If I’m you’re mom or dad, this can’t be so,

yet seems to be. And it is always true

if you’re mine—unless somehow we choose who

our parents will be. I believe I knew

before I was, when I was nothing.


they can’t be proven, thoughts like this will grow.

If we’re the great loves of each other’s lives—

defining depth and reciprocity,

transcending all distinction between wives

and husbands throughout all eternity—

defying the impossibility

of being what is not is possibly

the point.

             Of God.

                         Of God’s love, as it strives

to be

        and to become,

                              as do we.

James B. Nicola - His poems have appeared in the Antioch, Southwest and Atlanta Reviews, Rattle, and Barrow Street. His seven full-length collections (2014-'22) are Manhattan Plaza, Stage to Page, Wind in the Cave, Out of Nothing, Quickening, Fires of Heaven, and Turns & Twists. His nonfiction book Playing the Audience won a Choice award. He has received a Dana Literary Award, two Willow Review awards, Storyteller's People's Choice award, one Best of Net, one Rhysling, and ten Pushcart nominations—for which he feels both stunned and grateful.

bottom of page