ed nichols

two poems

Chestnut Blight Observations


A learned professor at a distinguished school told his 

students to go in the woods behind the school and look 

for wonderous things. Then write a story about what 

they saw, and on Friday read the story to the class. 

So they did.

Some just went to the edge of the woods and looked.  

Some went deeper in the woods. Only one student went 

all the way back in the woods. 

They read their stories Friday morning. The stories were 

unique: a rabbit running around a hole, a squirrel sitting 

beside a creek chewing acorns, a green snake slithering 

on the trail, two lizards mating (this brought a chuckle

from the class), other stories about animals, wildflowers, 

and so on.

Last, the student who had ventured to the backwoods spoke 

about enormous chestnut trees rotting on the ground. 

Their insides exposed. He explained, they are dead because 

of the blight. Chestnut blight is a canker disease. It came 

from China. Be careful of anything that comes from China, 

he said several times. The professor did not like the chestnut 

blight observations by the student. He ordered the other 

students to kill him with the professor’s Tai Chi sword.

So they did.



The Conjuring Man

I was sitting in a rocker on my front porch doing nothing. 

A man came walking down the road. I waved to him. 

He walked up to my porch. “Might I get a drink of water?”

he asked. “Sure, come up and have a seat,” I said.

I fixed him a glass of cool water. I asked him,

“Didn’t you used to run the carnival in the summer?”

He said, “I did, but they sold it to a man who took it to 

California.” “What you been doing since the carnival left?” 

I asked. “Odd Jobs mostly. I also do conjuring for folks 

with pains,” he said. “My wife has bad migraines. She

is in the living room now with the shades drawn,” I said.

“That’s too bad. You mind if I talk to her,” he said. 

“I’m willing to try anything. It’s been a strain on our 

marriage,” I said. I walked him back to the living room 

and introduced him to my wife. 

Then I left them and went back to the porch. 

After an hour or so he came out. He told me he thought 

the conjuring went well, the pain had left her brain.

I offered to pay him, but he refused to accept anything. 

I wished him well. Told him to come back sometime. 

Two days later, I came home from work and there was 

a note on the refrigerator from my wife. She wrote she 

was leaving me to go live with the carnival man. She had 

never known anyone who could make her head feel so good.

10 March, 2021

Ed Nichols lives on Lake Oconee, Georgia. He is a journalism graduate from the University of Georgia, and is an award-winning writer from Southeastern Writer’s Association. He has had many short stories and prose poems published, online and in print. He is currently working on a collection of his southern short stories. And a book of prose poems. Some of his prose poems have been recognized as very similar to James Tate’s prose poems.