Monday, February 24, 2014

Snagging a Rainbow

frank andrick with David Houston and String Theory 
at last Thursday's release of the latest issue of 
Rattlesnake Press's WTF!
—Photo by Michelle Kunert, Sacramento

—Claire J. Baker, Pinole

The renowned psychiatrist
urged his patients
to watch rain falling,
listen to hushed rhythms
almost a hum
on trees and pavement

Walk in rain, feel it
splash eyelids, foreheads
hands, lips, taste the drops
how pure

I turn off classical music
listen to rain on the roof
bird bath,
wind chimes.

(from Trails of Naming,
Book Two, 2013)


(after his poem in Rattlesnake Review #24)
—Claire J. Baker

Diving out of the blue
the fish-hawk snags
from the river
not a rainbow trout
but a rainbow;
wings it under his belly
to a slightly different
part of the sky.


Pondering over the seed packages 
How shall I plan my garden for Spring
The winter's frost turned my garden nearly barren
just spared some snap peas climbing on a trellis  
I stare at the big empty spots; 
there are dried-out roots where last year's tomatoes were 
I take a rake to them to make them compost 
I think by late February the chance of frost has past
I put some crookneck seeds in
Also, do I even have the patience to grow squash or tomatoes from seed?
I've had heirlooms waiting in their paper packages for several years now
Or shall I just go the nursery?
Anyway, just like a piece of art
the garden plot is intended to reflect me

—Michelle Kunert

—Photo by Katy Brown, Davis

—B.Z. Niditch

Some people skate
in life to get by
others reach home plate
or merely catch a pop fly,
a few runners are satisfied
and after so many miles, fold,
another sports her laughter
with smiles commanding gold,
watching the Olympic
dancers on ice
some win silver or bronze
in their one chance or twice
bathing in their esteem
capture our attention
on long wintry days to dream
over a poet's amazing invention,
the spring dawn will bring in
cliff swallows to again sing
along the nests of Chino hills
resting in San Juan Capistrano,
and this alto sax guy
will compose on his feet
for the keyboard piano
as a blues-playing Beat.


—B.Z. Niditch

Outside we open to nature
whether on the basketball
court or ice skating
downhill or at the pond,
we wait with any skill
over a winter's vacation
casting an aura
of good will
at any weather's invitation
when we have time
whatever team we play on
there is still a thrill
in ping pong or soccer
trading in our silence
as we prepare in the locker,
hoping what we achieve
will be fun and not a dare
yet to inspire others,
not unlike the days
of ancient Virgil or Dante
we have laurels and songs
for our achievers,
yet we are warmed
even by watching the Olympics
on our T.V.'s
as awesome believers
from a far country
they too are our sisters
and brothers.


—B.Z. Niditch

Watching the Olympics
silent yet feeling invisible
through now unfrozen clouds
of my old television
brought up slowly
from the basement
on a back and neck
once traveled with exercise
now riddled with tinges
of dry pain
here on a warm pillow
now enchanted by
younger athletic movers
runners and chasers
on their endless mile treks
in a cross country event
like shining young athletes
in Aeschylus play
The Persians
on his poetic epitaph
about the Greek victory
at the Marathon 456 B.C.,
yet how many bodies today
lay fractured by practice
voices nasal
throats still raw
on stretchers
scattered on black ice
from the preliminaries,
some looking afar in dim light
now briefly palpable
like frosty ice sculptures,
drinking from water cups
before they embark
on snow-hazed skis
along white hilly paths 
yet exhibit to us pure gravitas
like earthly astronauts
swimming through thin air
in zero gravity
by colorful banners
of deafening friendly supporters
who wait for hours
by thick tree trunks
on empty fields
awaiting to view
the technical "spot on" numbers
for the record books
or taking videos
for their family and fans
as they are stars back home,
yet with a glass of red wine
in my tired hand
from shoveling the walk
reminding my memory
there are also
forty-year-old skis
in the frozen cellar
which once clearly stood
in the Aspen sun.

 René Char

Feb 19, 1988
—B.Z. Niditch, Brookline, MA

This exchange student
dispatched to Paris
with a cold arm
full of books
in a woolen sweater
to protect from the rain,
reads from Le Monde
of the passing of René Char
surrealist poet
and Resistance friend
on that cold February bus
putting in my diary 2/19/1988
answering his life's
graduated aspirations
still hopeful in a time of grief
with the unsayable knowledge
that a great soul in France
was following my finger
of my consciousness
in this slim volume
of a sacred few pages
even at unpronounceable words
realizing at that moment
how each French phrase
was important
as in any confession,
for justice mattered
like others of our voice
hanging on to this epiphany
which rise on occasion
convincing us in language
we are on the right road
when a Sorbonne woman
with a yellow umbrella
takes my book
and reads from the text
I'm missing my stop
for such pubescent ecstasy.


—B.Z. Niditch

When we were younger
and feeling modern and arty
we turned to jazz singles
and W. H. Auden at his party,
sitting still at his reading
from this witty English gent
and selfishly conceding,
wowed by his accent,
then invited to a buffet
of wine and cheese
much laughter on display
we celebrate with ease,
at table he publicly signs
an autograph for his fans
by long lines
and music from rock bands
makes way for a thrill
of greeting such a gentleman
on his birthday meeting
as only an epitaph will.


—B.Z. Niditch

Before my open door
outside my tiny room
leaving my chess board
at early dawn
waiting with raspy breath
with colonies of tourists
to be their Cape guide
along the ice fishing paths
of Frog Pond
here at the halfway hotel
putting on my new gloves
in an affable panic
asking the pale creeping sun
to exchange its morning face
for some tiny vanilla
snow kisses
on branches of love nests
in the open air fields
covering the rising white hills
as a frozen-whiskered cat
named Valentina
follows and won't leave me
and may sense some danger
from the black ice,
meeting two Russian-speaking
figure skaters
training for a future Olympics
doing their warm-ups
to Swan Lake's music
on their iPad
as it starts to lightly snow
asking for a shock wave
of a lesson on the indoor rink
and giving them a teaching
on basic English verb forms
as Valentina casts her shadow
to be our guest
who stays with us
until the stars are out
without a promise
of any more Northeast storms.


Today's LittleNip:

(In memoriam)
—B.Z. Niditch

So many flashes of wit
and lines to ponder
being an actor with a gift,

we can read you forever
as your soul skis
in the great beyond lift.


Thanks to today's contributors for our epicurean delights! You may've read in Saturday and Sunday's Kitchens about the passing of long-time contributor Michael J. Cluff of Corona. About Mike, Carol Louise Moon writes: I will miss Snake Pal Michael Cluff's postings. But we have a nice archive of his work that can be accessed at the push of a button at the top of Medusa's screen anytime we want to read him. God rest him. He was a good poet. 

Then yesterday, Taylor Graham passed along an announcement to me of the passing of Stockton's Marie J. Ross. I first met Marie about 15 years ago when she was assisting David Humphreys (who has also passed away) in a reading series at Barnes & Noble in Weberstown Mall in Stockton. Over the years, she contributed to Rattlesnake Review and to Medusa's Kitchen, and it was a shock to hear of her passing.  Recently, she was involved in A Starry Night readings; see for more about her. Here is her Facebook page if you would like to leave a message there for her family/friends:



Marie J. Ross