Perry S. Nicholas

Water On Mars

                Upon watching a story about Mars on Mother’s Day

I remember when we used to talk,
mornings before I lifted off to school,
imprints of your words on my mind,
now dried up like water on Mars.

Your voice a confident, foreign,
robotic barking like the men
in a ground control station
as they direct the astronauts—

mine a staticky code, searching to find
a common frequency with you.
I didn’t know what language to use.
You always sounded so right.

And when men landed on the moon,
I wished it was me—bouncing,
light and free, an unfathomable
distance between us and our home.

These days only your faint tracks.
I barely hear the sound of water flowing,
or you questioning why I’d want to travel
anywhere that far in the first place.

The Daily Planner

               I understand you, Father—Conway to the High Lama in Lost Horizon

Our beautiful baby granddaughter visits us,
my father scribbled in a plastic red journal
I spread across my lap like a snooping child.

A gift from an insurance company—
ironic since its lawyers screwed him
out of collecting a secure life.

Daily squares, two to a page,
top to bottom, then top again,
often never finishing the work week.

Always ballpoint, helpings of time,
positive affirmations he was still kicking,
an occasional stick man portrait thrown in for laughs.

Every day a bonus after his accident,
he must have felt he had to record each one,
no matter how grammatically flawed or mundane.

Ordinary is as ordinary does.
Some weather reports, some sweet servings
of his new granddaughter or successful sons,

some job related, though never any
complaints of everyday aggravations.
The last penned note, a scrawled fragment:

May 6, 1989—Seen the doctor all morning.
Summer stalled and fall froze into his final winter.
I frantically search through snow-white pages.

About the Author

Perry S. Nicholas is an English Professor at Erie Community College North in Buffalo, N.Y. He has published one textbook of poetry prompts, three full-length and five chapbooks of original poetry, and one CD of poetry. He has hosted four poetry venues in the WNY area. You can see his work at

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