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  • By John Masella

Nights Are Nothing


Nights Are Nothing Harems of young people scamper along Paths beside the Navigli waterway. Purple and red neon replace blue day, Bouncing chatter supplants early birdsong. Sure, I can take your picture, if you’d like, To capture the joy of an evening out, Mixing with strangers and close friends alike Unconcerned with what to talk about. These moments are personal soldiers, fighting In earnest against black dread in small hours Between companionship’s golden lighting (Which your bursting heart swiftly devours.) My soldiers have grown weak with years, Weathered by deepening dark in age. I’ve known sadness often masked by rage, A cynic’s eyes were a dam for my tears. I remember this when I scoff at youth, And feel anger toward them for their noisiness. They can enjoy the night’s warm untruth As I sit with its brutal emptiness.


Keeping the Joy of You How does one grasp the bright, joyous flashes That wriggle and writhe just out of reach And can only be felt when memory rehashes? Can I take the warmth we made with each Slightly-too-long gaze past curious lashes? You speak, I listen, I learn, you teach. Where does the joy go after we dance In the dim Milan bar till a quarter past three? Is it just a byproduct of circumstance? I tried to lock it in a jar to bring with me. These peaks of connection don’t sell for free; Deep troughs follow transient romance, But it might be worthwhile after all, As in the absence of connection and giving, In the void there lies our downfall. Sweet smiles and looks are for living, And the power of magic is unforgiving And makes me, if but for a day, stand tall.


John Masella is a poet from northern New Jersey. Influenced by the likes of Philip Larkin, John’s work leans on realism and accessible language to explore themes of impermanence, missed opportunity, reflection. You can check out his artwork and poetry on Instagram.

12 comments

12 Comments


Michael R. Burch
Michael R. Burch
Jun 03, 2023

John, these are well-crafted poems. Martin Mc Carthy, who is a contributing editor at The HyperTexts, recommended these poems for THT, and I agree. You are welcome to submit five poems that you consider among your career best to THT. We accept previously published poems so that we can publish our poets' best work. Poems we publish usually rank well with Google and remain available to the entire world rather than "dying on the vine" as happens with too many good poems these days. If this interests you, you can contact me a mike r burch @ gmail . com Michael R. Burch


PS -- If you consider these poems among your best, you are welcome to include them and…

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john.masella6695
Jun 04, 2023
Replying to

Michael - I’ve recently become a frequenter of The HyperTexts and was looking forward to getting in touch with you. This is wonderful serendipity. Thanks for the comment; I’ll reach out to you shortly.

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ddouthat09
ddouthat09
Jun 03, 2023

I'm trying but failing to suss out the significance of the second stanza of Keeping the Joy of You. Why the break of rhyme pattern?

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john.masella6695
Jun 04, 2023
Replying to

A break in favor of the narrative I sought to maintain felt worthwhile, though your question is entirely fair and noted for future work as it may be distracting to some. Thanks for the comment! Cheers.

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martinmccarthy1956
martinmccarthy1956
May 31, 2023

It's interesting to be given two contrasting reactions to the same night, the same world, in 'Nights Are Nothing' : one from the perspective of 'young people', the other from their observer, whose defences against the aging process have grown weaker and more cynical with the passing years. This observer seems to have withered into the truth that these joyous 'young people' are primarily living a deception, and reality (for him, at least) is 'brutal emptiness'. A bleak vision indeed, but honest and personal!


Then, in 'Keeping the Joy of You', we are asked some serious questions about how to perceive and preserve the joys of our lives in the moments we are actually living them, rather than later on…

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john.masella6695
May 31, 2023
Replying to

Comment taken with deep gratitude, Martin. You captured both my narrative and my intent spotlessly. Cheers.

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jm6783685
jm6783685
May 31, 2023

It's nice to know that Philip Larkin exerts an influence over the American muse.


Two excellent poems by an excellent poet which would bear close study and close reading.


I too suffer from a cynicism which I find difficult to shrug off, mortified by the knowledge that all one can do is give full expression to it in one's art. And yet appalled by the fact of its possible influence. How one longs for the idealism of a Keats or a Shelley when the world was still young.

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David Gosselin
David Gosselin
Jun 01, 2023
Replying to

I do think it’s a mistake to consider something like Shelley and Keats’ enthusiasm/idealism a thing of the past.


The young poets brought life and vibrancy, a new ideas, into the poetic tradition, and also represented an epistemological leap beyond the works of their earlier Romantic predecessors (Coleridge, Wordsworth, Byron).


That same kind of qualitative leap is what‘s needed today. As usual, if it happens, it won’t come from the places one usually expects it.

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