Friday, August 30, 2013

An Expressionist Time

Burned Thicket in Diamond Springs
—Photo by Katy Brown, Davis

—B.Z. Niditch, Brookline, MA

Consumed by a workload
going postal at reflections
since adolescence
as my words
spread on maps
interlacing city walls
posted with graffiti
and by survival laws
of a constant necessity
(only when we mature
are we all ears)
then turned about
from urban revelry
to settle as silence
in whispers at night hours
trying to make a living
at playing sax
to outwit any appetite
for a lively domestic policy,
yet expecting any joker
to buzz outside the door
uninvited to lean on me
for a lottery ticket
that never comes out right.


—B.Z. Niditch

With a banker's valise
of debits and credits
he lets nothing slide,
another clerk guy
near me watches
his city bureaucratic
luggage made of leather
yet looks down at everyone,
with four degrees in hand
a fellow with a Masters'
his breast swells
appears as bullying man
with his inherited authority
holds your own work up,
and with a dirty mop
in hand he overpowers
another brother as well.

 Looking for a New Home
—Photo by Katy Brown

—B.Z. Niditch

On the bed and breakfast
on the Cape's wharf
an ex-sailor
asked me to feed
his parrot for two days
with droplets
of pollen and nectar
and assorted berries
in his coppery cage
with sand under him,
my adolescent nerves
let a lowly push-back
of my musical fantasies
go crazy and the parrot
named Royce
near my refrigerator
seemed to enjoy
my sax improvisations so
that he accompanied me
with talk of a critic
but no harmony
which got my mind
to compose a song
for Royce on sheet music
and the ex-sailor left me
his small treasure
of coins and stamps
of little monetary value
but for a teenage kid
it was a cool job.


—B.Z. Niditch

Taking a cab,
hearing riffs
of Miles Davis in the back
snow kisses the window
and I'm late
for my urban reading
with a letter
from Denise Levertov
who spoke with peace
with me on the airwaves
helping me
with an introduction
lacking air
with jazz everywhere
On sleepless hours 

stroked by kilometers

of magnetic language

grown up from running

on fragments of words

in uppermost fervor

of memory not distant,

in an expressionist time.


—B.Z. Niditch

In the subway
fiddling for coins
on cold floorboards
a dry mouth
eating a cheese cracker
the D string snaps
by broken panes
in the windy underground
on the Blue Line
a dark trembling angel
pulls out frozen posters
of Jim Morrison
blanketing his graffiti
discursive wall signs
holding his old Walkman
over the edgy stage dust
offering to sell
his theatrical poems
for a Saturday night
lottery drawing
as huge winds outside
the station along Revere Beach
slam even the turnstile
in this underground,
throwing the night off course.

 Burned Leaves
—Photo by Katy Brown

— B.Z. Niditch

Whispers under the rain
on Argentine blankets,
small talk of you, Borges
at the garden party,
wild tongues motion
at the reading recital
for the children,
mumbling voices
for the verdant voice
to host an angel cake day
in the back of our yard
you are welcome
to hear my sax
made out of snow
my dirt guitar
on the tall grass
near the blue moon rocks
the flautist on the hill
playing a young Mozart
breathing out the air
from the open Bay.


—B.Z. Niditch

Asked to MC
a junior poetry slam
after spending time
correcting my exam
trying to communicate
on the first date of the show
hearing wild outbursts
from large audience's row
while begging for silence
with swigs of beer
in the hall and everywhere
some in tennis shorts
or miniskirts
when we needed to hear
poems in diphthongs
with lines
of hurting ailing pain
motivated by the brain
all we got were cheers
and jeers as on Jerry Springer
until our highbrow teacher
spoke from his heart
and was a dead ringer
asking everyone to do
their egg head part,
and this almost beaten up
Beat Poet
stole the show's secret
when jazz violin and sax
had everyone relax,
when music and words
mix in as an omelet.


—B.Z. Niditch

It was a hot August
before my freshman year
at school began
here in this old movie house
in Cape Cod
where I was an usher
when Tuesday Weld
was on the marquees
in I'll take Sweden
with Bob Hope
playing for months
I knew every line
of every part,
even volunteered
to be an usher for
The Longest Day
during Christmas vacation
which is what it was for me
when the water cooler
broke down
during a snow storm
and I had to watch the movie
all weekend,
unable to open the doors
during the blizzard
with good and plenty, cola
and popcorn as my friends,
then I was moved up town
to an art theater
when Monica Vitti
was a sensation
when a publicity agent
for Oliver
and a cousin of mine,
Sonny, recognized me
down the aisle saying, "BZ,
you could do better work"
and gave me a summer job
the next year
doing film scripts
in Hollywood
where I met his mentor
Orson Welles,
who met Sonny
while he studied film
at the New School
I am here watching Orson
eating four oysters
in his hand at one time
at a West L.A. party
when method actor
and Orson's acting coach
spotted me
and I later showed him
my one-act plays
at the Brown Derby deli
soon I started
the Original Theater,
being quite a ham,
playing sax
and reading my poems
during intermission.


Today's LitterNip:

—Taylor Graham, Placerville

Daypack full of Woodsy Owl bags; my dog
Roxy with empty saddlebags, dancing
as we set out on a Monday morning in July,
bound for the summit lake; climb up

through boulders, past a chain of little lakes
(burnt foil in a fire-pit, broken pair of sun-
glasses). Indian paintbrush, raven flapping
above. Glint off the trail—strip of cellophane.

Sagebrush and scree. My dog sniffs a jacket
stashed in rocks. At windy overlooks,
she inhales the western news. Valley haze
below; here, blue sky. Five Owl-bags of litter

before we reach the saddle. At the lake
Roxy swims while I pick up trash: dirty sock,
rusty grill-rack. Lunch break. Take off boots,
splash my feet in the coldest water. Is that

an eagle high overhead? On the return hike,
packs full of litter, overflow slung from my
shoulders, we meet two hikers. How sad,
they say, so much trash in this beautiful

wilderness; sad that my dog has to carry it out.
We retrace our hike—no litter now. What
a beautiful place! My wages for a unpaid job,
my dog joyful under her saddlebags.


—Medusa, with thanks to today's contributors: Katy Brown with her haunting photos of the burned area behind our house;  BZ Niditch, who comments on our Seed of the Week (The Best Job Ever) with his poems and by saying "it's not easy being a poet and having other jobs…" And you can hear Taylor Graham read at the Sacramento Poetry Center this coming Monday with her cohorts, the Red Fox Underground. That' s25th & R Sts., Sacramento, 7:30pm. Be there!

Fireman's Glove Left Behind
—Photo by Katy Brown