Monday, November 25, 2013

Unexpected Angels

—Photos by Denise Flanigan

—B.Z. Niditch, Brookline, MA

My meeting with Greg
who wanders the beach sands
picking up cans
who was going to
a twelve-step program
tells me
he was in Narcotics Anonymous
and AA
now he goes to a love addict
he was the brain child
and star athlete
of the high school
but quit and joined the navy,
feeling embarrassed,
I told him life itself
can be an embarrassment
even with his five marriages
which didn't work
or his kids in six counties
he was under the skin
of a tough economy,
no one is perfect
in our life's cold treatment,
just to enjoy the sea air
and Autumn leaves today
not to expect an easy answer
to find your unexpected
road on the highway.


—B.Z. Niditch

Sam, a construction worker
I met while fishing on the Bay
had to listen, read or watch news
every hour
while I want to escape it
by adventures which move me
or an adventure in language
of self-building phrases
that last in memory,
circle others' imaginations,
liberate anything retrograde
or reactionary
where words agitate
to free us from grief,
grow mysteriously like dandelions
and glow like planets
finally I read Sam a poem
and played a song
on my alto sax,
he turned off the news
and to my relief
we caught our fish
for the day.

—B.Z. Niditch

He was obsessed
with drawing dragons at four
riding a bike at five,
watching cartoons at six,
juggling at seven
clam digger at eight
card tricks at nine
sheltering birds at ten
folk dancing at eleven,
fortune telling at thirteen
then decided to be a monk
but was told he had to be silent,
watched films at Hollywood playhouse
at fourteen
secretly sky diving at fifteen
peace marching at sixteen
fishing for cod at seventeen
without much expectation
at eighteen,
obsessed with his travel case
even to outer space
at nineteen
wrote a novel at twenty
then he became a Beat poet
and ran his first marathon race.


—B.Z. Niditch

My teacher called me captain
in French
on the skiff and boats
in my sailor suit
he enraptured us with joy
by letting me row
when the sky moves higher
by a bird cloud horizon
soaring from silken water
its breath beyond gull voices
resounding over a silvery Seine
from a procession of Parisian light
asking the moon's exiled laugh
not to forget the face
of a deeply blue chilled adolescent
enjoying wildly the winds
half-kidded by older sailors
backside at the dock
this poet takes shelter
from his sleepy weariness
contemplating the night's air
like a newborn embracing
these decomposing notes
of a daydream world
releasing his silky thoughts
on board with words
that will survive this voyage.

—B.Z. Niditch

In the sea my body
pushes its limits
feeling weightless
as mermen, nymphs, angry nereids
address me as a hidden Medusa
a great goddess of the old world
still moves our imagination
where breath still has a chance
to survive another day
with sonic cosmic signs of life
on a tropical pacific paradise
below an earth full of haze
filled with vipers of pollution
earthquakes, cyclones, hurricanes
along all coastal islands
with theirs sudden volcanic eruptions,
among all voracious wars
more common than a bar fight
or any shore's wild edge of roses,
here I swim, discarding
my own modest warmth
far from any sad news at home
along the emerald undertow
waves won't miss me
nor my composed poems
in skin deep waters,
enjoying less rife contacts
unknown to anyone
in the blue surface glimmering
near crayfish, minnows,
even white whales and sharks
on the run from blinding hooks
evoking my nature's desire
in the unwinding suspicions
that move us every day
here far away
from shellshocked hours
in this transparency, rising early
when time freezes our tensions
and a once-smooth beachcomber
convinces himself
to stay exposed but silent
on the ocean floor until he rises
casting shadows with wonder.


—B.Z. Niditch

Just the sound of the words
stares at you on the first draft
by fresh white paper
or at your computer
with expectations to achieve
the frenzied wonder of language
when phrases suddenly flow
homeward from your past,
when an unexpected angel
climbs in your imaginative ear
by the family piano
in this furnished music room
and quietly reminds you
that nearby a self-analyst
tries to understand
my creative gift
and within a quarter hour
of a Mamas and the Papas song
around me
the poem emerges
in correct precision
hoping it will inspire others.


Today's LittleNip:

When I have a creative insight, there is a high. I think back in the day, I made music as much as I did because it made me feel so good. I think you could argue that there is a creative addiction—but, you know, the healthy kind.

—Lauren Hill