Alfred Nicol


Bad Head Day

“We shall never heap enough insults on the unruliness of our mind.”

More like a homing pigeon than an eagle,
Off on anyone’s errand, flying low;
Mere hummingbird, one sip and there you go
To taste another colored bit of treacle;
Hoarder of tickets, clippings and receipts;
Peddler of small favors, trinketeer;
Loser at Chutes and Ladders played for keeps,
Darting on an impulse or in fear;
Flip-flopper, window-shopper, Old Unreliable;
Pliable, driveling swivel-neck; train wreck;
Besotted pothead at the salad bar
Mistaking the couscous for caviar;
Poetaster spitting up inanities,
Or making perfect mermaids out of manatees;
An awful lot of nothing in the aggregate;
Paralegal for the devil’s advocate.


Alfred Nicol is the 2013 recipient of The Robert Frost Foundation Poetry Award. His book of poetry, Elegy for Everyone, published in 2009, was chosen for the first Anita Dorn Memorial Prize. He received the 2004 Richard Wilbur Award for an earlier volume, Winter Light. His poems have appeared in Poetry, Dark Horse, The Formalist, The Hopkins Review, and other literary journals.