Monday, April 15, 2013

Muddy Beginnings/Pools of Clarity

Wild Iris
—Art by Jennifer O'Neill Pickering, Sacramento


slow and easy
in this fall of Han Lu 
mother of minnow
swimming in nursery schools
sleeping in cradles
of algae and sedge

dance floor
to Damselflies
gyration of blue unions
to the tambourine of leaves

tomb to families of oak
anointed in my waters
last rites repeated
in the current's passage

riparian spring
to hare and fox
drunk in the tent of dusk
and the apricot light
of a Samhain moon.

the place of wading
into muddy beginnings
and pools of clarity
changing my course often
lithe as the water snake’s glide.

Han Lu (Chinese season of cold dew)
Samhain (Celtic Autumn Equinox Celebration)

—Jennifer O’Neill Pickering


(In the style of Kenneth Patchen)
—Randall Kuffel, Davis
A silent twilight,
I sit alone on the bench
A withering tree peers over me

The stars reflect off the rippling water
I wonder which one is her
I wonder which one is her

Restless birds shiver behind me
A gust shifts my hair wordlessly
My rasping breath pauses
To enjoy the quiet

That wasn’t supposed to be her time
She deserved more from it.
It was mine

The street light dims
Ripples reflect the stars rhythmically
My bench looks empty
Someone’s standing behind me.


(In the style of Kenneth Patchen)
—Randall Kuffel

I saw our childhood home today
It was just like I remembered it
(The paint was completely chipped off
From the smoke)
The room we used to play in
Was still periwinkle
(The fire left it unrecognizable
The tile floor melted black)
Remember the swings we used to have?
They’re still there, and they looked good
(The backyard had no more grass
All that was left was soot and fallen wood)
Yep, our apple tree was still there;
There was a lot of fruit on it
(Our apple tree was still smoldering
And the yard smelled of burning hair.)
The dining room had the same tables
That we used to eat Thanksgiving dinner at
(The wood floors were totally warped
And the dining room tables were completely charred)
The attic we used to hide in as children
Still had the same old boxes and chests
(The attic fell into itself
When the flames reached the cross beams.)
The bathroom we learned to shave in
Still had the same tiles on the walls
(I couldn’t even walk into the bathroom
There was so much broken tile and glass)
We had a lot of good memories in that house.
I’m glad some things don’t change, too.
(Thank God that house burned down.)


—B.Z. Niditch, Brookline, MA

When the jazz horns
rail out on me
I was reading 
in the Frisco Chronicle
Kenneth's obituary
how poets have to endure
late recognition
standing there
in my rainbow of a scarf
my sister gave me
by the glowing sunny Bay
wanting to ask Kenneth
for help
gawking at the dawn sky
hearing the gulls
along sidewalk cafes
knowing that in my music
and monster Muse inside me
when my blacked-out memory
of my Beat past returns,
Kenneth will be remembered
from such mourning darkness
of penlight moments.

Blue Orchid
—Photo by D.R. Wagner, Elk Grove

—B.Z. Niditch

After an Italian meal
in San Francisco
eating a murdered calzone
at an outside cafe
after seeing a Fellini movie
then playing jazz
on a metallic piano
with an accordion player
accompanying me
will share a glass of cianti
now taking notes
on the waterfront
in the clumsy breeze
with flying sea gulls
in the amazing sunset
with the Bay still on my lips
for future expressionism
in my verse
an alarm goes off
with a shiver of lamentation
knowing I have to take
a return flight
direct to the Bay State
back to Cape Cod
yet thinking I spot Corso
or someone resembling him
with a smiling gesture to me
in a vacant lot
thinking he heard me play
my music passages
at the outside restaurant
on this subterranean twilight
know these dicey beat notes
smashing my impressionist mind
between two host ocean cities
will emerge in a future poem. 


—B.Z. Niditch

After watching
the Almadovar film
with my movie buff buddy
and actor in my one act play
back in Boston
talented Pillar from the Valley
that April night, 2002
feeling unconfined, etherized
from the dark theatre,
when Pillar calls me hip BZ
and almost falls
on the sidewalk face
and injures her own hip
wearing red high heels
doing a Marilyn imitation
near the cable cars
in the hills
hoping the harbor lights
along the waterfront
will make us feel a year
younger or sober
hoping for any phone message
or a message on my back
glued to our friendship
as it starts to rain
and we murder
a Spanish cinnamon roll.


—B.Z. Niditch

Some nights pass
with three cups of wine
pass my trembling hands
cold as April suddenly falls
over the devil's wharf
filled with hungry feral cats
near the marble steps
of the jazz club
my shoelaces are gone
as an explosion
from my car
reminds me my bills
terrorizing any constraint
of self-pitying misfortune
to plunge me into depression
braying like a lost mule
and makes the serpent
of a malignant attitude
try to play catch-up
with this double minded
blushing poor
in the mouth
once gutsy guy
putting my used car
in reverse,
not believing this night
is all due to my expletives
of a skeptical oration
from an enriched Beat poet.


Today's LittleNip:

—B.Z. Niditch

What conspiracy
follows our mad night
foams in the grandeur
outside my windows
to overshadow the cold sea,
tomorrow's deep monster
frightens in waves of majesty
but we will forget bad dreams
in our need of sleep,
and this melancholy fever
which keeps us up
will make us bolder
with a cup of black tea.


—Medusa, with thanks to today's contributors, and reminders that D.R. Wagner will be reading at UCD today at noon, and Jennifer O'Neill Pickering and Tom Goff and other readers will be at Folsom Lake College today at noon also. Scroll down to the blue board (under the green board) at the right of this for details.

—Art by Jennifer O'Neill Pickering