Nicholas Giosa

In This Sliding Light of Day, a generous collection of verse from a richly varied lifetime, Dr. Nicholas Giosa looks facts squarely in the face, accepting with good grace and wit the brevity of life and primacy of nature, but also praising the glories of our brief residence on Earth. In poems both philosophical and visceral, richly allusive and down to earth, he values love above all else, decries the folly of egoism, and calls on us to seize the joys of the day. Ginny Lowe Connors has written that “Nicholas Giosa’s poems ask the great questions: ‘Who am I? Why am I? Was there / an intended assignment to my stay?’ Often they want to know how it is possible to reconcile ourselves to our losses, loving the world as we do. The subject of a poem might be the act of giving an elderly father a haircut, or the Lincoln Memorial, or the eye of a cataract patient as viewed on a screen by the surgeon; but whatever the immediate subject, these poems always urge a consideration of larger issues. In his reflections on the human condition, Giosa draws on art, history, mythology, music, and classic literature to create poems of uncommon grace and wisdom. This is a volume one wants to return to again and again.” And this from Alexandrina Sergio: “With a splendid richness of language, the remarkable poems in This Sliding Light of Day plumb the soul of remembrance, recognize love’s power of redemption, and weigh life’s gold against its dross in their brave exploration of the whys of our existence. Poet-physician Nicholas Giosa draws us in through startling imagery shaped by the evocative vocabularies of mythology, classic literature, and science, punctuated by humor both gentle and sly. In intelligent and achingly human expression, he asks, ‘And what of us, who never learned to leap / who looked within and came up empty…’ and answers with an invitation to ‘Come .... Let us keep faith with the unvarnished / earthly things – gifts – that greet our eyes each day; / in this manner, let us reap, / in this manner let us pray.’ This poet dares give voice to the universal longing for immortality and offers that ‘We are the leaves that have fallen, / whose dissolution makes the soil / an instrument of renewal....’ This Sliding Light of Day is a generous, accessible collection from a wise and honest poet.”
This Sliding Light of Day - cover
Photo: Nicholas Giosa

Dr. Nicholas Giosa is a retired physician who practiced medicine for forty-six years, twelve as a general practitioner and thirty-four as an anesthesiologist. Always, however, the arts have been a second vocation. He has looked at the human parade as it stumbles and endures, and has tried to put his reflections into his poetry and works of art. His poems have been featured in the Connecticut River Review and have appeared in The Lyric, Italian Americana, Connecticut Medicine, Caduceus, Survey of Ophthalmology, and The Black Buzzard Review. He was a finalist in the 3rd Annual Redgreene Poetry Prize Chapbook Competition and has won first or second prize in a number of poetry competitions sponsored by the Connecticut River Review. For many years, his work was featured online by the Campbell Corner Language Exchange of Sarah Lawrence College. His book of poems, Words, Wounds and Wonder was published in 1996 and includes his own artwork (photographs, lithographs, etchings, woodcuts and pen & and ink drawings). Dr. Giosa lives in Wethersfield, Connecticut.

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ISBN 978-1-936482-77-1

Copyright © 2015 Nicholas Giosa

6" x 9" paperback, 230 pages



copyright © 2015 by Nicholas Giosa


Not as a Thief

Softly, I lift a kiss from the open purse
of your parted silken lips, steal it
while your eyes are shut in sleep, as
you traipse and turn about as dreams permit.

I take it not as a hurried thief of night,
weighted with harried heart and illicit gain,
afraid to startle you, afraid you might
rake me with silence and censorious mien,

but as one at ease with the riches of his estate,
whose brightest jewel is the glory of your face.
I await the dawn, to praise and illuminate
each turn of cheek, nose, lip that I have traced

with prayerful fingertip, to see the crowing sunrise
recede before the radiance of your eyes.

April, 1984; January, 1993


To My Son

In the burning of my ashes
what will make right the flame,
the reason for our proximity?
What persuasions shall remain
as dying embers, to light your way
through evening’s shroud of solemnity?

I have crossed the seas, strode
this prodigious womb of earth,
looked up at this changing canopy
of incorporeal air. I have probed
the heights and depths of the mind’s conceits,
the ungloved self, sought the word –
the consuming word –
thought to find a philosophy or retreat
that might be called the journey’s end:
an unclouded view where shades
of doubt could not contend.
I did not foresee the search
would prove elusive – well beyond my reach.

I have gathered little in this Socratic
sieve of yes and no, of give and take,
little that would point what star
to pray your gaze upon, little to locate
the fulcrum of your proper equilibrium.

In the dying of my embers,
that will make the burning right
if in the trial of your encounters
you might ascend as an unfettered spark –
a cry of affirmation – defy the dark,
and for one brief moment
stay the closing edge of night.


May, 2002


Yellow Gauntlet

The much-maligned dandelion
from whose leaf some
make salad, others wine,
with uncommon audacity
blares, “Be bold,
forswear timidity!”
as it assails the stronghold
of that perfectly pampered,
persnickety parcel of lawn
of verdant homogeneity.
Sticks a yellow “pshaw” thereon,
strikes a blow for impudency!


June, 1996

Apostrophe to an Earthworm

It may be doubted whether there are
any other animals which have played so
important a part in the history of the world
as have these lowly organized creatures.

–Charles Darwin

Tiller of earth, conduit
to the bearing trees, the shrubs,
the grasses and sprouting grain
which climb the attending air;
you who leaven the soil
upon which we tread,
lending ease to our path
as we try our way
through the seamless surge of time,
teach us what mysteries prevail,
plying the season unseen
as nature’s dealings unfold.

Instrument of renewal
whose castings are as a carpet
of petals at a nuptial
affair, from which communion
new issue proceed,
teach us the place of travail,
its patience, its need
for the wheel to turn,
for the cycle to hold.

Survivor of ages – destined
companion – you who favor
the fallen leaves of the ash
and the hickory, you who trade
on decay, how shall I shield
you from the ravenous robin
who would rip you away,
you who know better than I
that we all come assigned, tied
to each other in a weave
of beginnings and endings:
a web of connections –
this matter of being.


July, 2003

Dark Provinces

I awaken to a night full of chimeras;
sleepless, I consult with myself.
I open my eyes to a black room
without corners or ceiling,
the lone accompaniment
the ceaseless ringing in my ears –
that garrulous mistress of age.

I see bones of the century:
the forced marches, the boxcars,
the barbed wire camps, the piles
of remains – anatomies more grotesque
than any of Hieronymus’ scenes,
without even the plea of palms turned
heavenward, before the entry of nails –
bulldozed into the incredulous maws of earth.

I am taken with the absence of miracles,
the pity of prayer in the face of madness.
Death and Chance – in perennial
embrace – whirl in a ubiquitous
dance without respite, like Francesca and Paolo.
I must have fallen into a crevasse
of a fever – possibly a dream,
one of the circles of Hell.
Soon, I’ll awaken: the nightmare will end.


April, 2001

Vanity of Vanities

Keep me from anonymity!

Mark my having been
with exclamation
more substantial than some tilted stone
worn by wind and weeping rain;
or some white ort of bone
that might bemuse –
alas – a burdened Dane’s summation:
a short soliloquy.
Nor score the hour
with some meteor’s sweeping eulogy:
a fleeting swath of fire written
across evening’s timeless bulletin –
disquieting trajectory!

if I could choose,
let it be but a word or phrase
only I
have said.

July, 1997

In Remembrance of Dr. Ettore Cuffari

Now, more than sixty years have passed
since you loomed large and formidable
in our classroom: a soaring bridge
to help us span the conjugation of essere, to be:
io sono , tu sei , lei è, noi siami
our Virgil, as we prepared to plunge
into the abyss of a second language.

We were hardly pilgrims in search of Holy
Writ or immutable wisdom,
or lost in the middle of our journey;
we were barely undiapered, waifs of the Depression –
when a haircut and a shave were two bits –
who were just knocking on the door,
seeking entry into an unvarnished world.

Your Ph.D. and thick coke-bottle glasses
gave testimony to your passion for learning,
spoke of your rich Italian history,
your understanding of the trajectory of language
and the quandary of the human masquerade.

Beyond the use of the past perfect tenses,
conjunctive personal pronouns,
the government of the infinitive,
by the pamphlets you composed and had us read,
you pulled us through your looking glass
into a garden of wonder: of first-met
poets, artisans and imposing monuments.

You laid upon us a litany of players
that left our minds agape, when you allowed
us to walk through the portal of your pantheon.
It was at your feet that we heard for the first time
of the inventions of the banished Florentine,
which he culled from the confusions of this world
and mirrored in the nine circles of Hell –
all bared in terza rima.

You extolled the names of the truly great
of former eons, like a pealing bell
from a cathedral’s stately tower.
You praised Boccaccio’s bawdy Decameron
and Brunelleschi’s dome; through your eyes
we gazed at Ghiberti’s Gates of Paradise
at the Baptistry of San Giovanni;
we pondered the masterly and curious Leonardo
and the raging talents of Michelangelo;
we thrilled with Galileo who sought truth
through observation and came upon
the turning moons of Jupiter;
and on and on you chimed
of the titans of another time.

But you were rooted in the present tense
as well. In your first encounter with the class,
you said, “You are here in school to stay
out of prison.” That got our attention.
We weren’t sure if you were putting us on,
but we were more than certain you were not,
when, as you were intoning the more recent creations
of Italian ingenuity, listing Marconi, Fermi
and Montessori, you heard Alfredo Marzetti
mutter, sotto voce, from the back of the room,
“and the Mafiosi.” You strode to his seat,
seized him, slammed him against the wall,
put a knee to his groin, and hissed,
“Don’t you ever dare say that again.”
You froze us with awe.

You taught us beyond our pubescent days:
words and ideas you rained upon our innocence
seemingly fell upon unseasoned ground,
like spilled seeds, that only in the remembrance
of later years, flowered in our understanding.

If I could reassemble your bones,
give breath to your soul and unhinge your tongue,
I’d sit once more at your feet,
a novice and debtor in renewed veneration, again
seeking guidance for the straight way
of the journey that yet remains,
in these, our waning days.

April, 2002

This Realm of Time

The failing light of day falls on
the bark of a stately tulip tree;
this patch of gold – in passing – slows
my promenade, invites my eyes and mind
to mark this impalpable brunt,
this enterprise, this realm of time,
which unwinds without a care,
which wouldn’t stew a fig nor spend
a beggar’s coin to know what thoughts
I bear that give me pause, engender my concern.

Like a sometime mistress, she never loses
stride with each and every step
I take along my evening stroll,
seemingly taciturn, yet
everywhere I look, her commentary
speaks to me: the patch of gold again
becomes the dirt-brown bark of the tulip
tree; clouds fray into a sieve of dusk;
the sun drops down the slot of closing day,
while hours slip among the shades of memory.

As I make my way back to where
I started from, I’m aware of being
somewhat poorer, diminished
by this wily paramour who has spent
one of my allotted cache of precious days,
from the twilight stillness – but
for the pendulum of footsteps upon
the pavement floor – I thought I heard:

Do not chafe at what dwindling days may yet remain;
accord each hour its proper place, its proper name

February, 2004

Thoughts on a Wyoming Night

Within the enormity of this domain,
this sweep of night, this dark array
where pales of memory, like uncertain

stars, presume to mark our stay;
listening to the wind of our ruminations
whose tumbling images drift our way –

torn from twists and turns of past impressions –
taken with the awe of mountains, whose presence
raises questions and beckoning expectations

that affront our size, the brief history of our residence,
the shadow of our solitude –
leaves us somewhat drawn, begging our significance.

Herein, we tilt at windmills of this interlude,
this night, that taunts the guile and fury of our dreams,
that wears a veil of mystery, a distant attitude.


November, 2001

Do Not Go Begging

Do not go begging when the end’s in sight
And the piper comes to claim his pay;
Recall the music, the laughter and the light

That danced us on our way, when young and right
We’d had no cause to mark the rush of day;
Do not go begging when the end’s in sight.

Let memory stay the closing arms of night
And keep thoughts of what’s to come at bay;
Recall the music, the laughter and the light.

’Twas heaven when chits and birds did excite
The ear, and flowers sprung the eye with their display.
Do not go begging when the end’s in sight.

Let the head bow to what must be, despite
The darkened silence that’s but a stone away,
Recall the music, the laughter and the light.

Neither cringe nor rage at the dying flight
Of autumn’s day; regard the leaf’s slow calm decay.
Do not go begging when the end’s in sight,
Recall the music, the laughter and the light.


June, 1999

A Summation

As I edge closer to the ending
of my years, I seek a summation.

It may be that the reckoning
is somewhere between a stab of hope
for a resurrection; a final bone
of gratitude for this bit of awareness;
or a stark resignation – a surrender
to the reigning forces of the inanimate
order of things, a tryst with oblivion.

When I think on the enormity of the cosmos,
the incomprehensible number of years
in this scheme of time and space, I disappear
into a black hole of nothingness.

And yet, the crux of who I am
bellows at the notion of this dismissal.

Now, deep into old age,
I struggle with my history.
Through the wee hours of night
I wrestle with a stranger, as Jacob did:
Who am I? Why am I? Was there
an intended assignment to my stay?
...Did I do it right?

I roam the alleys of long-lost years
through the corridors of memory,
in search of that which leans
toward permanence –
besides the tilt of a slab of stone.

I reach for answers in the spell of words,
juggle albums and mounds of books
in search of meaning and remembrance,
in search of that which would be heard,
in search of, perhaps...a lasting poem.


March, 2006

Instructions for the Last Hour

Allow a window, permit the eye a final flurry –
mingling with the leaves of looming trees...
and the heaven’s uncertainties.

Raise the shade that one may see the light:
gift bountiful that enthralls the living
with awe and celebration, for all their journeys.

For the ear, a brief allowance:
perhaps the Ave verum corpus, a nocturne,
or an adagio of quiet praise or prayer.

For these wracked and cankered lips,
a syrup that will touch and cling, wet and soothe,
and quit this raw and constant wear.

For these sticks of bone and waning flesh, a pillow
beneath the knees and a light comforter – a cloud billowy
and untethered – to cover the remains of this bare vessel.

That my exodus might not be demeaned,
wheel me to the toilet, undiaper me,
for one last divesture of this somatic shell.

Finally, let me recall once more the faces of those
that bore me, loved me, shared my time,
saw past the moments of my lapsed humanity.

Now, the light dims and falters;
I stand outside the hour. Now, let go.
Let the eyelids close, darkness fall and silence be.

January, 2002

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