The Sweet & Low Down

Nick Harris
Author Photo: Sally Harris  

In his first poetry collection, Learning to Love, Nick Harris focuses on his own and Everyman’s attempt to find enduring love despite its fragility. He portrays the impermanence of relationships in the face of wanderlust and insecurity, but he also portrays a compelling urge to return, to cross thresholds left behind. In this short but expansive volume, Nick Harris’ odyssey and final victory is that of all men who remain true to their instinct for union with a loved one, a woman who has remained constant in the manner of Homer’s Penelope. And as in The Odyssey or Eliot’s "Wasteland," water (in this case, the blessing of rain in a parched land) is a necessary medium for homecoming. In the end, not even death has dominion over love, whose power is greater than all the perils that bedevil it. About the book, Holly J. Hughes, author of Boxing the Compass, has written as follows:
Learning to Love cover
  Cover: Sally Harris
“In Learning to Love, Nick Harris spins a contemporary version of the ancient tale of exile and return. On his journey, he takes us to distant lands—the cedar trees of Lebanon, the olive groves of Greece, the shores of the blue Aegean—as he makes his way home to his beloved. In these quiet, vivid poems we experience the poet’s wrestling with desire and exile as his poems are ‘illuminated from the inside’ and voice ‘the songs of a thousand birds strangled by the sun…a thousand trees alight with green flames.’ Like the poet, we arrive back on our home shore changed.”

Nick Harris was born in Kampala, Uganda, and subsequently lived in Lebanon, Greece, and India, while intermittently spending time on his fatherís farm in Northwest Washington State. He has studied woodcarving in Greece and sitar in India, and is a recent graduate of Seattle Universityís Creative Writing Program. He lives with his ex-wife and grandson, to whom they have dedicated their lives. He is a Peer Support Specialist in the mental health field.

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ISBN 978-0-9843418-4-9

Copyright © 2010 by Nick Harris

5.5" x 8.5" chapbook/pamphlet, 28 pages





The Farm

That morning when we woke
and you looked at me,
I melted like a glacier
in the hot summer sun.

And that morning when we kissed,
you tasted of sweet cicely and lupine.

And that morning
when I ran my fingers through your hair,
it smelled of fresh cut hay.

And that morning when you moved,
the river swelled,
pushing against its warm sandy banks.

And that morning when you spoke,
the cottonwoods chimed,
bowing gracefully to their queen.

I have died a thousand times
but still haven’t found
my way back to you.

Hunt for You

I search for Clovis points and fire pits.
There is life here, or was.
Here is a bone and there a painting of a bison
impaled on a spear, wishful thinking.
We all do it, plunder our dreams
and make off with the most appetizing portions.
My hands paint your white body with longing.
Your loins are cool and refreshing.
Out on the high plateau,
the emptiness is never ending.
I love the look in your eyes
as you watch me hunt for you.


A heavy cover of sky – no pastel,
roots screaming for water
and it does not rain. Dry as cicadas,
leaves turn inward,
rubbing against the dry wind.
And it does not rain.
Gray soil turns to dust. No colors.
This will not do. The bird-bath is empty,
deck chairs are cracking, your eyes are fading.
But there is rain on the coast far to the west.
It’s coming down the strait
and around the mountains to fill you again
and cool you. I will hold you
as you bloom again and again
and the gray soil turns black and the jasmine
blossoms, white as stars.


The rain is here again.
It sweeps the ground
in search
of your footsteps
like a blind man’s hands
sweep over the contours
of his lover’s body.
It’s falling on you, I know.
I can feel the drops
run down your face.
I can feel them
on your shoulders
where my hands should be.
I can feel them run down
your back where my hands
should be.

By and By

I walked along in the rain,
minstrel to my thoughts. Music poured down
on fir trees and the street danced.
I shook drops from my face like a mutt
without a home, hungry for respite
from my wet pockets. But the rain fell
on green lawns and blue cars and red lights.
Walk, the blinking sign said
just as I thought about running. I could feel water
soaking onto my shoulders. Wet fingers touched me
deeper by the step and yet the minstrel in my mind
sounded like a thousand mandolins.
I could feel the water washing away every desire,
dousing the flames that had kept me tossing in bed
the night before. I had felt death so close
I could smell its breath, fetid and fueled
on my dreams. When I woke
the rain was rapping on the ceiling
and the windows were obscured with darkness
and I knew that I would walk today.
Where, it didn’t matter. Why, it didn’t matter.
Now I see our home in the distance
and shivering with anticipation I step, lighter than air,
over the threshold.

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