Monday, March 25, 2013

Spring Fever

Southside Park
—Photo by Annie Menebroker, Sacramento

—B.Z. Niditch, Brookline, MA

Be amazed
after this long March
of winter's retreat
here along the Cape
writing a poem in silence
in your muted voice
at early daylight
in my Christmas
muscle shirt
my sister sent me
with an exercise routine
nearly forgotten
doing a half-mile run
along the acrid beach
among new tide marks
of a couple of turtles
who line up beside me
at the shore's edge
with my awkward body
of words on my lap
by the muffled noise
of shore birds
and the gulls' voices
so strong in the air
as a lobster boat
drenched with a new cache
of fresh fish passes by
the monster head
of a white whale
worthy of a line
in Melville's diary
is taken by my camera.


—B.Z. Niditch

For one born
in San Francisco
you were not that
quiet Yankee
that the world projected
for the t.v. show,
but with a melancholic
rather mature air
of a ticked off nature
whose words move us
in a satirical metrical flow,
with war shadows
always around you
and endless poverty
making you a bit angry,
you lit a radiant lamp
of poetry's fling
with myth and power
eventually showering us
with a marvelous thought
of spring
yet reminding us
we emerge from snow,
yet to the delight
of a bygone century
in whose love of words
we sought to know.


—B.Z. Niditch

The cello springs
on tonight's lips
of Bach's shadow
outlives the body
in contrapuntal
of your fingers
stretched on time's
open memory
at arm's signals
set for listening,
we realize in song
what craft
moves the chords
of the ebullient notes
to sway us
on blue angelic clouds
a resurrected voice
out of counterpoint
at the podium,
briefing through
spoils of pages
by a now quiet
selfless metronome
hidden in echoes
of an ephemeral past
over fine strings
in those mingled hours
quivering in practice
in an absence of speech
at recollected silence
exposing a cantata
of sudden fiery flights
motioning to catch
the mysterious precision
over unsettled rhythm
now augmented
by courting gleams
of fanning applause.

—Photo by Taylor Graham

—Taylor Graham, Placerville

On his mountaintop all night the hermit dreams
his breath's unconscious prayer reaching
toward the stars while he lies in body-sleep
on hard ground, his long beard fingering
for root-hold in soil or rock, reaching toward
earth-center. So far above a landscape
pale by daylight in the haze of distance—
outskirts of people's lives—and by night, dark
as its king in his dim kingdom, the hermit
dreams stars scattered in bright cascades golden
as kernels of corn, six quarters ordered
by the king as return for hermit prayer, corn
to last an earth-year almost as sure as manna.
His story now ancient and ambiguous,
the hermit dreams and half-dreams what
eternity might be, beyond his cold mountaintop;
dreams his soul in prayer even as his lips
freeze wordless with winter; as his beard keeps
growing like earth-hunger.


—Taylor Graham

By night, Orion hunts.
Our sheep, bedded down in dark
under Stone Mountain, dream of grass and spring

even as heaven shunts
to a new season, an arc
in some grand pattern—a ritual fling

we give dates to, as if
we could bind it to our brain,
catch Trickster Life as the coyotes sing

of hunger. Puzzle-glyph
of flooding and blessed rain.
Will famished sheep eat thistle for its sting?


—Taylor Graham

She wouldn't—couldn't—
read her words out loud. Shyness
put them down on paper,
clutched them there,
she thought. But they brought her
to the room, everyone standing
waiting. Read, someone
said. She began. Some words
got swallowed by mistake
and almost choked her.
Then a phrase, pulled into her
lungs, started tingling, expanding,
floated up the wind-pipe, became spoken air.
The audience breathed it in,
inhaled her poem. Gave it out again, magnified
twentyfold. As if it were a common dream
given words which weren't hers
anymore. Could this change the world?
Change her?


—Taylor Graham

This morning after rain, three lambs
are dancing in the meadow under the violet-
green shadow of a swallow come home
for the spring. In the shadow of Stone
Mountain, I've lost an hour counting clover
leaves and filaree (don't call it clock-
weed) and listening to grasses whispering
a common dream of green-gold-violet
covering the earth. One lamb is floating
now as on that dream, lying in oak-
shade on the grass, reciting mantras
in the idiom of sheep, of endless time
that runs through sleep. And yet last night
I heard coyotes cry, their echoes shadowing
the dawn, shadowing the grass. And
now, in woods beyond this field, more
shadows cluster as earth and time
and weather go about Spring's business
of changing the world, changing
future into now, as present into past.

Our thanks to today's contributors, including Taylor Graham's LittleNip rendering of the Brevee, the current Form We're Fiddling With (see green board at the right of this). The photos of Southside Park are part of our new Facebook album (see the Medusa's Kitchen page on Facebook) which was put together by Annie Menebroker, Katy Brown and Kathy Kieth, to honor the bandstand mural painted there in 1975 by the Royal Chicano Air Force, which will be having an exhibit at the CSUS Arts Festival in April. The RCAF is a Sacramento artist collective with a primary focus on Chicano cultural awareness. These artist/poets are responsible for many local murals and public art installations, including the Southside Park amphitheater and the Downtown/Old Sacramento pedestrian underpass. The RCAF was founded in 1972 by, among others, José Montoya, (Sacramento's second Poet Laureate), Esteban Villa, Juanishi V. Orosco, Ricardo Favela, and Rudy Cuellar. In addition to the CSUS exhibit, there will be an Art History lecture, panel discussion, and reception on April 13. Scroll down to Medusa's blue box at the right of this and see "More Than a Week Away" for details. And don't forget to check out the mural photos!


Today's LittleNip:

—Taylor Graham

A growl
a howl—
turn on the light!
My sheep
deep in the night.



Tree trunk, Southside Park
—Photo by Katy Brown, Davis