The Alchemist

This poem is one of my favorite things I’ve ever written. It’s a perfect form Petrarchan sonnet, and a poem that was adapted into that form from free-verse after I realized I had written 15 lines in something approaching iambic pentameter and with a very obvious question/answer.

It was originally published in Riddled with Arrows issue 2.3, Objects and Artifacts, in November 2018.

“The Alchemist”

No pointed hat nor sweeping robe required,
Nor lonely lamp-lit tower stabbing sky.
No pedant’s cant, archaic chant to ply,
Nor pestles filled with mortared coal expired.
The iron discipline of midnight fires
And winding dark roads walked alone, though, aye;
Unflinching yen to face the truth of why,
And burning will to manifest desires.
All I need for alchemy is my quill
And paper blank. I dip it in my vein
Of sorrow, let my sadness over-spill,
Transmuting into words my darkest pain.
A minor compensation for my ills,
To pages, not my soul, leave thusly stained.

-Elena Nola

“You Are the Commodity, Your Time Is the Coin”

Or, “It’s OK to Simply Be Sometimes”

Everyone in the world keeps asking me for my attention
My time for their words, idea, perspective
My focus on what they made
Because they hope to change me
Some days I feel willing to be changed

But lately all I want is to heed the call of the dew on the garden
Still in shadow from the rising sun
To sit with the birdsong
And the warming cloak of silence
And let myself stay exactly as I am
-Elena Nola

The Tarot Tree in Riddled with Arrows 2.2!

I am very pleased to share that my first online publication was with Riddled with Arrows, a journal of meta-writing and meta-poetry that is just lovely and fun for people who like writing and writing about writing (and maybe even writing about writing about writing…it’s writing all the way down!). For those of you who know anything about my undergraduate program, Plan II at UT Austin, you know meta is like…Our Thing. Or, at least, it was, 15 years ago. I assume it still is, because, some things don’t change.


I’ve also always been drawn to poetry and writing that acknowledges itself as such. I would never want it to be the only thing I read, and certainly not the only thing I write…but I am supremely self-referential and have to keep a conscious throttle on not inserting myself into everything, not demolishing the frame that holds the picture as if it is truth. Look through my eyes becomes impossible if authorial self is present, if a reminder that this imaginary object is imaginary is inserted. So often I remove such lines when they sneak in, or choose not to write from that angle, and when I find something I cannot not write from that angle, I wonder who would ever want to read it besides me? It is pretentious, is it not, to talk about one’s work within the work?

But sometimes there is a value in calling a spade a spade. Some things cannot be said obliquely, but only with direct acknowledgment of medium. And thus, my contribution to Riddled with Arrows Issue 2.2 “The Invisible World”.

Hop directly to “The Tarot Tree” if you are in a hurry but truly the whole issue is worth the read!

Kiss kiss.