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The Leap: Four Poems by Nolo Segundo

cake with walnuts, image by Russell Smith, on Pixabay

The Leap

I was half-mad with despair,

Hopeless in love and life,

At the end of my rope—

so I chose to drown,

To cease all pain in

Sweet oblivion, to be

No more, to be gone…

And when I flung my

Young and strong body

Into that swollen river,

I thought that’s what

Awaited me—nothing!

But, oh, I was so wrong,

For my agnostic mind

Could not foresee the

Awaiting vast blackness,

The pain beyond pain,

And the utter aloneness—

No other souls, none

But my bodiless mind

That had spurned God

And love as well, and

Now roiled in torment,

Until I called out to Him

And was released

From hell to return

To the world I had

So recently spurned.

Some will discount

This as the ravings

Of a young man

Breaking apart—

It’s only fear, just

Imagined terrors,

Be brave they say,

Neither heaven nor

Hell awaits us, our

Only fate, extinction.

I might wish them

To be right, but

They are deluded—

As I once was, for

Now I know there

Is no way out, no

Escape from oneself,

From one’s mind,

From one’s soul…



The poet and the doctor became friends late in life—

as old men they looked over the past in similar ways,

wishing their youth never ended, their work continued,

their lives again resplendent and filled with promise

as the one healed the body and the other the soul…

But Time is always Life’s master till Death frees both,

and so the doctor sent his patients away and the poet

lost his words, the words he tried to heal with, words

that sang and danced and played like carefree children.

The poet told his friend, the doctor, how he found his soul

whilst in the blackest part of hell, utterly alone, in pain

far beyond any pain the doctor ever treated, the forgotten

soul the poet found again when he threw his life away…

The doctor listened to his friend, the poet, but could not

or perhaps just would not believe—he could not see

existence beyond mortality, nor purpose beyond chance.

The doctor was so wise as to be foolish, thought the poet,

and I, so foolish as to be wise?, he wondered to himself.



For almost half a century

I have wrestled with God.

Our unseen match is daily,

in my bed before I sleep,

at the table after a meal,

sometimes while driving

along a lonely, desolate road

and always while watching

the evening news with its

graphic proof of humanity’s

stupidity and wickedness,

over and over and over...

I try to pin Him,

to keep Him in one place,

to hold Him just long enough

to see, to know, to understand.

Sometimes I think I almost have Him,

but no, He always, always slips away.

Of course it is not a fair match—

my little brain that can hold but

one lonely thought at a time;

my hands, once powerful,

now arthritic, crooked fingers

still trying to grasp at divinity...

but even when young and strong

I could not hold Him—still,

we wrestle, God and me, and

sometimes I suspect He wants me

to win, but mostly, no: I know

I’ll never pin Him down—

not in this life, not in this world,

yet He lets me try...

I think He likes it when I try.



I’m in the decade before the decade

she left the world, and my world...

The world did not mark it,

the world did not miss her

(any more than it will miss me)

but my world of lost childhood does—

my world of sun-gold and ocean-blue,

my own little world reading book after book

whilst sitting like a happy little king on

the porch of my grandparents’ old

house on the bay in Ocean City...

I read in gentle sunshine, I read

while breathing pure ocean air

and sometimes smelling a cake

baking in Nana’s kitchen and

knowing I was safe, sure, alive...

I’m in the decade before the decade

my Nana left the world, and as I near

the time when—God willing—I’ll be

with her again, the 40 odd years since

she left my world compress, smaller and

smaller Time itself becomes, and freer

and freer is my once lost soul...


Nolo Segundo (his pen name) has been published in more than 50 literary journals in the US, UK, Canada, Romania, India, and Italy the past few years since he began writing again after a 35-year hiatus. He doesn't know why the poems started coming to him again, but suspects they come from someplace deeper than the unconscious mind—his soul.

As a young man, he did not believe in either soul or God—not until, at 24, he suffered a major clinical depression and, in an attempt to escape to what he thought would be extinction, nothingness, he leapt off a bridge into a Vermont river. The near-death experience he had was not of the “white light” sort—it was terrible, actually, but he has come to thank God for it all.

Fifty years later, he’s still trying to understand all of it, but he knows that chance is the real illusion, and the problem with sentient human life is not that it is meaningless— the only logical conclusion to atheism—but that there is so much meaning in virtually every moment we can only grasp a portion of it.

He is the author of two books: The Enormity of Existence, and Of Ether and Earth.

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