Conversations in a Graveyard – Daniel J. Nickolas

Elephants and eyelash mites, streams of life,

Of heritage both mighty and minute,

Existence spies through milky eyes in strife,

Cascades in raging sound—genetic root;

The song, the strife, the milky streams all end

And yet that end comes as a mystery

The wintry absence of breath

You are the dark, against which we defend

Without victory through our blind alchemy;

We’ll rest in the garden you keep, nigh Death.

We practiced the constructs of tradition:

Etched granite stone that lets us remember

And hides the decay of Your condition—

Pyres that lift the soul on pulsing embers,

Sweet platitudes that make our loss seem fair;

The urn, the casket, veil of shoveled earth

There to see, but not to look.

Yet for our work, tradition leaves us bare:

Nothing more than a blind and fragile mirth—

The hiding of a flower in a book.

Yet it’s the still rocks who feed the lichen—

The old trees, when scorched, who enrich the soil

Which grows the grass of the fields we lie in,

Crafts the loam that lets the fern’s frond uncoil.

Are our bodies the rocks, the wood aflame?

A nourishment, a balm, a new rhythm?

Yes, You give us a new name;

From one comes many—light through a prism—

You, Death—the one who will not be sated—

Are the dust from which we are created.

“Daniel J. Nickolas” is the thinly veiled pseudonym for a bookseller at Powell’s on Hawthorne, where he is the (self-appointed, unofficial) head of the science and mathematics sections. One of Daniel’s personal goals as a bookseller, and writer, is to help science-curious individuals unearth their passion for the sciences–a passion he believers every human, consciously or not, holds. He has previously published with The Pacific Sentinel, Pathos Literary Magazine, and The Clackamas Literary Review. You can find more writing by Daniel at

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