A Heartfelt Interview with poet, Nolo Segundo

 

The Paperback Writer interviews poet Nolo Segundo, as he discusses his life, poetry, and experience aging. Thank you for your contribution to The Paperback Writer, Nolo.

 

I chose ‘NOLO SEGUNDO’ mainly because it rolls off the tongue, like a mini-poem. Growing up in the 50’s, we had a freedom kids lack today. I rode my bike everywhere (and never had to lock it) and even went trick or treating alone– there was no fear then. Ah, and the 60’s (you would have liked the 60’s, Stella)– like Dickens put it, the best and worst of times. The Vietnam War hung over my generation like death, but it was compensated in part by the sexual revolution getting under way– and the drugs were soft, mostly safe, and cheap. And the music–‘effin’ great! Each group had its own sound, and we saw the Beatles EVOLVE from album to album, Yes, Nam was scary, but in truth, the sixties were exciting, alive!

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I haven’t time to relate why I went to Phnom-Penh in August, 1973, but besides a fascination with Asia, it may have involved what Hemingway called ‘a moment of truth’. I found the Cambodian people to be graceful, easy going, and gentle, which is why I still cannot understand the genocide carried out by the communists, the Khmer Rouge. (My confusion is reflected in the poem ‘The Face of The Buddha’.)
But it proves, like history itself shows, that evil exists as a force in this world. So does good though, and it is far more pervasive (this is logical, for evil always destroys, and would have destroyed the world by now if it had been in the ascendant.) I also realize that ALL good has some degree of love in it. Today we trivialize love on greeting cards and false sentiment, but it is actually the greatest force in the universe: because it is God, as I allude to in ‘Love Is Not Known’.  And this leads us to the tricky part, the soul.
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Today much of the world is secular, materialistic, agnostic/atheistic. Many of the educated classes don’t believe in God– or the soul at all. If they worship anything at all, I suppose it’s science, or wealth, or some form of ‘humanism’. Don’t get me wrong– I love science, I’m alive and walking because of it. But every thinking person has to choose whether to live life with God, or without him. And it doesn’t mean atheists are bad people: some are better people, more loving, forgiving and kind than many who call themselves
Christians, Muslims, Hindus or Jews. And believing in God doesn’t make life easier– for me it’s made my life harder in some ways since I had a near death experience at 24 and discovered His reality;but it has made my life far more meaningful than it was as a self-styled agnostic existentialist (Camus ans Sartre were big in the 60’s).
At this time I’m not going to begin going into the ‘unusual’ events of my 20’s– it would take too much time, and then too, I realize– in part from talking with others who’ve had paranormal or supernatural ‘episodes’ like NDEs, premonitions, out-of-body, and having visits during times of personal crisis form dead relatives who appeared as in the flesh– that it is difficult to relate to such if you never had anything ‘strange’ happen to you. Could I or anyone else be lying or at best imagining it? Yes, of course. My only test when I’m told such is to ask, ‘Are you absolutely sure this happened?’ Because I know, I’m certain what happened to me was real (though I could wish one or two parts weren’t) and like anyone who’s gone through such, I don’t care whether I’m believed or not.
But for those who have an open mind that there is more to the world than what our senses can perceive (the same senses that ‘tell’ us the sun travels across the sky while the earth stands still), here is what I know: my body and brain will die but my ‘consciousness’
exists independently, and has ALWAYS EXISTED, without beginning or end. (Curiously, this reflects our ‘mortal’ or everyday consciousness: you can’t remember being born so it seems you’ve always  existed– oh, and though you ‘know’ you’re going to die, who really believes it?) I also know there are other worlds, and not all are heavenly (so PLEASE, don’t ever try to kill yourself, because suicide is self-murder, and it really seems to piss God off! After all, would you not be angry at someone who took your child’s, or any child’s life? I mention this because I have talked to several smart people whom I sensed harbored an idea of suicide as a escape if things ever got too bad.)

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Well, let me wrap this up by thanking you, Stella, for the honor of being interviewed. It is my first, and probably my last– and that’s ok, because one of my constant prayers is to be free of my ego. When a poem ‘comes to me’, I think I am trying to capture a meaning to our mortal human existence that is perhaps a small ‘revelation’. My poems are simple, because  I believe that ‘less is more’ and too much modern poetry, like prose today or abstract art has become so recondite, so obscure that no one outside the writer has any idea what it means.   If one person read one poem and gets something out of it, then I’m a success– and by that measure, I feel pretty successful. (It’s how I define true success in life: if you love and are loved by even a single person out of the 7 billion, then you have ‘made it’.)  Old ‘Nolo’ has written close to a 100 poems in the past 4 years– he doesn’t know why they started coming or from where (the soul is a suspect) or if they will continue, but he is hopeful.

It was a pleasure to have you, Nolo. Thank you for sharing your life experiences.

 

The Paperback Writer has selected poems by Nolo Segundo for your reading pleasure below.

 

Ode To Mrs. Miller

By Nolo Segundo

I did not know how brave she was,
ninety-two and I, seventy less,
so young that old age
was textbook stuff:
a fact of life,
but not mine.

I was alive and free
to stride the world,
a colossus of youth,
whereas she had ate
almost a century!
And all her friends
and all her family
lay dead somewhere–
except in her mind,
still crisp, poignant
in its memories
of a wealthy husband,
a daughter dead young,
her own youthful beauty
remaining lonely in a
silver-framed photo.

She never complained,
this old, old lady–
never once did I hear
lamentations, bewailing
for the richness of life,
the ripe fullness she once
felt as wife, mother, and a
woman of grace and beauty.

She lived alone
in a basement flat,
barely five feet tall,
yet I’ve never known
any being braver…
but it is only now,
that I am become old,
I envy such courage.

 

The Face of The Buddha

By: Nolo Segundo

They haunt me still:
the brown children laughing,
always laughing, and
the women voluptuous,
languid, of the earth.

And the traffic policeman,
crisp, clean in uniform,
moving with ballerina grace
as hordes of cyclos and mopeds
and the occasional automobile
pirouette endlessly about him,
impatient bees made quiescent
by surreal beauty of white-gloved
arms cutting thick tropical air.

Everywhere was grace, gentleness:
temples incandescent at dawn,
with ant trails of orange-robed monks
cradling their pot-belly begging bowls.
The patient women standing by the road
to lump rice into the begging bowls,
the monks always staring blankly ahead
until the women bowed low in reverence,
grateful their gift of life was taken.

And how wondrous it was,
an accident in the street,
yet no anger, no bile–just
forgiveness, felt before thought,
thought before uttered.

How could such a people murder,
no, not murder– slaughter!
Their mothers and fathers,
aunts, uncles, teachers, priests,
friends and children too.
Change temples of peace
into charnel-houses?
Schools of knowledge
into bloody abattoirs?

The killers photographed
each butchered lamb, like
the devil’s children on holiday,
and then decorated the
classroom walls, making a
show-and-tell of horror
and despair….

Why? Why?
Why such pain on
such gentle people?
Why did God hide hide
His face while the world
turned its back?

Forty, forty, forty
years and still…
still they haunt me.

 

ON BEING SIXTY-SIX

By Nolo Segundo

 

His anyone ever rejoiced

Over  youth having fled?

Did anyone ever say,

“Glad the turbulence is gone”,

Without lamenting  firm flesh

And blood-swollen desire?

 

Now when  I look at young people,

They all seem actors taking my role—

Fresh of face and hungry for the world.

I almost wonder why can’t I change with one.

Inside I am them—twenty-four, no more.

 

My  hip may betray me—

Bone on bone, the doctor says.

My skin is drying, tiny lines

Sneak across my hands, up my arms,

With a pocket of fat hanging stupidly

Where muscle once bulged.

 

My hair is retreating like

Napoleon’s army in Russia,

Decimated by winter’s descent—

But I will not see a spring.

 

I walk with a limp now, and

Though I still look at pretty girls,

They no longer look back,

Except  perhaps with a bit of pity–

So gentle and kind it cracks

My aging heart a bit.

 

Once six-and-a-half feet,

Now I am shrinking–

Only a couple inches

You say, but my bones

Feel hollow, bird-like,

Borrowed unwittingly

From some old man

I do not know.

 

And yet—and yet

My soul has grown,

Much, much larger.

It overflows my aging form,

Filling the space between me and you,

Filling the space between me and humanity.

 

When I was a young man,

My soul mostly slept

In that god-like body

As it plowed fields of women.

Now, as my body diminishes, my soul balloons,

Filling rooms and houses and towns.

Soon it shall blanket the world,

And when it is free of its container,

The universe?

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