Green Hills Literary Lantern

I have a yellow umbrella 


I have a yellow umbrella.

Though yellow is not my color, you’ve told me—

and I agree—

it's never snapped, bent, or been torn.

I believe in my yellow umbrella, and foolishly

take it to protect me from the rain.


If the rain clears and I forget to take

it home, no one else thinks of taking it.

It's always there when I go back to ask.


After, I hang it high on a hook in my entryway

to dry. It is not mad at me for forgetting,

but counterpoises other faces and totems

to bless my house—a Mexican sun/moon

for instance, a charm from Tibet, a mask from Java.


The black ones I have and use, sold on the street,

are cheap but shoddy. Once I even had

a fancy-handled one of hand-carved wood.

They need to be resewn so many times,

and then give way. They’re hopeless, no defense.


Now, as I fold the yellow back and look out my window

down on the gleaming city street below,

I imagine, if we all opened such umbrellas,

the brightening bloom of a rainy day—

like popcorn, I should say.


I know you don’t wear yellow either, and

you know I’ve others for when I’m out with you.

But today I found another yellow umbrella

and bought it. Would you like it? Just to keep

for the rainy day you suddenly feel you too

might share with abandon

a courage to light

and hope.




James B. Nicola has had 300 poems published in periodicals including Atlanta Review, Tar River, Texas Review, Lyric, and Nimrod. A Yale grad and stage director by profession, his book Playing the Audience won a Choice Award. As a poet, he also won the Dana Literary Award and a People's Choice award (from Storyteller); was nom¬inated for a Pushcart Prize and a Rhysling Award; and was featured poet at New Formalist. His children’s musical Chimes: A Christmas Vaudeville premiered in Fairbanks, Alaska—with Santa Claus in attendance opening night.