Saturday, January 21, 2012

A Rose in Winter

Photo by Katy Brown, Davis

—B.Z. Niditch, Brookline, MA

Sun enlightens
backyard oaks
as red leaves fall
from blue hills
in tenuous shadows
and a child
we know all too well
makes friends
with nature's words
writing his initials
on a branch.


—B.Z. Niditch

In a knotted hatred
of war since childhood,
domestic or foreign,
my lonely initials
from my right hand
held your immigrant suitcase
by ash trees
in their cold shiver
like our own
at first light
near the train station
hearing questions
in broken English
anyone would ask
moonstruck by miles
between two shores
awakened by red eye
in lonely latitude
enveloped by darkness.


—B.Z. Niditch

Waiting around
on silence

The sun turns
on our backs

Clouds hide
seabird voices

Stretching sailors
ice fish

A graffiti artist
at the lighthouse

Dunes breathe
an eternal winter.


—B.Z. Niditch

On wintry nights
when conversation
like auspicious ivy
wears out
our hospitality,
and darkness
in the living room
exhales vagrancy,
as lamp lights
beneath a reflection
of elm and evergreen
cannot judge
our past cadences,
a cool silence spins
on our long day faces
until we recognize
the familar steps
of belonging.


—B.Z. Niditch

At three
am or pm
there is little
to ask for,
takes place
outside the city
at the nameless hour,
the electric chair
is always ready
with present company
only to execute
there is little mercy
on the sleeplesss walls
when a red rose appears
in winter
outside the hospice.


—B.Z. Niditch

Until the sound
of sparrows
at the edge
of first light
in dawn
of barely awakened
as to the day
breathing in
the large mountain air
in one commotion
of birds flying upward
near the roof's melody.

By evergreen leaves
trailing in the yard
we overhear
resuming echoes
by the balcony sun
we welcome
unless we should close
the coverlet
and resume our rest.


Today's LittleNip: 

Today, while begging food, a sudden downpour.
I waited out the storm in a small shrine.
Laughing—one jug for water, one bowl for rice.
My life is like an old run-down hermitage—
poor, simple, quiet.

—Ryokan (trans. from the Japanese by John Stevens)


—Medusa, with thanks to today's cooks in the Kitchen. Katy Brown will be reading at A Starry Night Poetry Series in Lodi this coming Sunday (tomorrow) at 2 pm; go to and scroll down for more info. And you can learn more about B.Z. Niditch at

And please take note of our new feature on the green board at the right of this column: N-SOWs (News-Seeds of the Week)—poem ideas that have been taken from the news.

 Canada Goose
—Photo by Katy Brown