Nola Schwalb

My Father, Who Cries, Who Laughs

My father

A good man

A prideful man


My father

With years at sea

Balancing on choking wood

His voice hoarse from eating

Withered roses

Found stuffed inside his

Drowned men’s pocket

“I love you

Come back to me

Yours always”


My father

His eyes weary wet

Hold salt-bleached laughter

Swigs whiskey like a sailor

His men laugh

He cries when he reads

His daughter’s letter

“She’s grown up, I think”

Swig, swig, swig

Till he forgets


My father

He braved a storm

Meaner than lead

Bullets can pierce, you know?

Sharper than shining



My father

He came back eventually

He missed his ocean

His frown always ticked at his mouth

Birds sing more beautifully

When they’re flying high over blue

He says


My father

An old man

A withered man

I watched his ashes float on the froth

Of the deep blanket

He called his own

He smiled

I saw it in the sky

100% Sea Salt Tears

whispers like deep blue
sandpaper across my back
my bones
as if hurt was
to live there


fingertip feathers-
they always were such savage knives-
across lips
as if one
could fix
all that hurt you are


all love like you mean it
sea salt tears like
an ocean
you never did know my


sidewalk cracks
over my
heart the treads
are visible
and clean
you never did know my

Nola Schwalb is a freshman at Boston University, currently undeclared in the College of Arts and Sciences. She is an avid reader and an abundant lover of poetry. She has been writing poetry and short stories since she was a middle schooler, and plans to write creatively for many years to come. When not nursing an exceedingly hot mug of tea, she can be found chasing after cuddly dogs and yelling at her little brother over the phone.