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When the World Was Quiet: poem by Nolo Segundo

mountain landscape, image by Heidelbergerin, on Pixabay

When the World Was Quiet

When the world was quiet

And life moved with grace,

Time measured by seasons

And years instead of minutes,

And people saw the world as

Close by, with foreign lands

Far away, another universe,

Not quite real, not quite true,

Then the mind could rest,

Enjoy the “simple” pleasures

Of family and friends and old

Neighbors to share old tales.

Life was taken slowly then,

No faster than a carriage ride,

And evil belonged mainly in

Crusty books of ancient times.

There was no rancor, no bile

Stirred by relentlessly biting

News that chews at the soul

Like the devil’s own pitchfork.

There was no magic screen

To capture you slave-like and

Bound for barren lands filled

With children starving, babes

Dying before they walked, and

War and Disease and Death all

Coming through an open door.

Once we trod the earth unshod

And breathed the virgin air and

Sang love songs to God in heaven

And saw others as brothers, some

Lost, others newly found, all to be

Welcome, all to be heard and seen.

Now we see the other as less than,

As missing our noble sweetness,

Sure we have found the truth, and

Those who do not march alongside

Must march against us—we need

No god to be on our side to know

What must be done for justice…

A poet like Emily could write in

Peace though a terrible slaughter

Raged far away, its madness slow

To reach her ears, giving her time

To let it sweep her untamed soul.

But she could not breathe today,

Her spirit smothered by the loss

Of distance and time and mercy.

When the world was quiet

And life moved with grace,

We had a sense of ourselves,

Our footing in this world,

Our dreams of the next…


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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