Monday, April 28, 2014

This 1¢ Life

Lithograph by Robert Indiana
—Photo by Michelle Kunert, Sacramento

—B.Z. Niditch, Brookline, MA

Everyone has a pulse
raised for music,
as this poet at LAX
tries to feel alive
after boarding,
carries a bit
of sax loneliness
on sleepless luggage
from his pond crossing,
a young Spanish woman
sure of herself
sits in front of me
with a guitar wrapped
on her shoulder
offers to carry my stuff,
tells me about
her sleeplessness
in deserts of dawn's sand
on the pale horizon
where the hungry travel,
yet here in a rainy season
Pilar accompanies me
to my reading and gigs
when signing autographs
of my newest collection
after my sax recital
I'm eager to delight
in her rattling energy
when I'm out of focus
yet a sudden adventure
of a holiday presents me
to learn a lesson
of a friendly companion
from her steadfast way
in a recovered journey
among accidental
reticent strangers,
yet here is someone
on board
who may actually change
your jumbled life
for good.

 Andy Warhol illustration for the Jae White Butterfly poem, 
"I Love Your Kiss Forever"
—Photo by Michelle Kunert

—B.Z. Niditch

Nerves in a passion
of perpetual motion
for a lonely
alto sax player
trying to locate
the city gig
where he is
to perform tonight
here on a beat-up car
in the poisoned Big Apple
lost again like any tourist
on a Brooklyn Street
a woman with a red boa
stands by Central Park
dressed all in red
tells me she is
buying out all albums
of Adele
with a few traveler checks
a stranger gave her
now sits in the front seat
of my old auto
suddenly runs away
while I'm getting noise
from other drivers
in New York's traffic
as she decides
to leave me
going into a fancy Rolls
next to my old one,
my memory returns
dancing to a blast
of '90's music
on the floorboards
at a five-star hotel
in San Diego, when
another future star goes off
with an anonymous prospect
leaving me again
without a partner
as any brief life's passenger.

 "Orange Naked Woman" by Kilki O.K. (Kilki Kogelnik)
—Photo by Michelle Kunert

—B.Z. Niditch

Everyone has a pulse
raised for music
trying to feel alive
after LAX
when a vibrant cat
named Fluff Puff
jumps out
of a woman's luggage
tells me about her
spy novel Lost Canvas
about art forgery
in old sections of Paris
during the Great War
yet here in a rainy season,
Dina accompanies me
to my club
eager to tell me
of her future plans
reading me her
Hollywood script
in a visual world
only a verbal poet
could imagine.

"7 Indigo Flowers Left Home" by Pierre Alechinsky
—Photo by Michelle Kunert

—B.Z. Niditch

Through so many scars
on the verse and verge
of death so many days
yet years of pleasure
still riffle
through my words
which appear as lyrics
in your measured hands
half in sunlight
as voicing shadows
capture nature
and never dwindle
like a taper's
tallow candle
whose flames we kindle
under our still breath
through so many faces
whom we locate
in poppies' grave places
and by river-sown fields
when life's bee stings
as only a snapshot yields
to remember that one time,
where we run our paces
like adolescents and ponies
and like safflower seeds
released on
a crossroad breeze
and eaten by tiny grackles
entangled on
mountain's ash trees
to disappear out of sight,
we lose ourselves
in blossoming valleys
resigned as these birds
with black purplish wings
who then fly out of sight
where silence of phrases
are penciled
in these lines on paper
over endless
outback-warm grasses
as you topknot your hair
in a bun
as a bee has stung you
by a loose wind
going up big blue hill
as gestures of spring
trace us and are fused
by fresh honeycomb air
in a swarm passing by us
we are dazed by nature
and completely confused.


Our thanks to today's contributors: BZ Niditch, as always, for his poems, and Michelle Kunert for some photos from the current 1¢ Life exhibition at de Young Museum in San Francisco. This exhibition, which runs through Sept. 7, showcases poet and artist Walasse Ting's groundbreaking artist-illustrated book, 1¢ Life, which celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2014. 1¢ Life features 62 original lithographs by 28 American and European artists created to accompany 61 poems by Ting. For more info, see  (Michelle's photos may be enlarged with a single click.)


Today's LittleNip:

Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.

—Scott Adams



 "1¢ Life" by Roy Lichtenstein
—Photo by Michelle Kunert