Monday, July 14, 2014

One Life

Seahorse Sculpture, California State Fair
—Poems by B.Z. Niditch, Brookline, MA
—Photos by Michelle Kunert, Sacramento


Just returned
from an unearned vacation
at Walden Pond
visiting with a transcendental spirit
the poet and hermit
Henry David Thoreau
what an eternal naturalist
botanist, travel writer,
and quotable internationalist
lived here in Concord's lore,
near the seemingly betters
of his earth and birth day
Hawthorne and Emerson,
I needed to chill out
and enjoy the outdoors rays,
he also kept a journal
of essays and letters
opposed paying taxes
for the Mexican War
and slavery,
they say he conveyed
a brave personality
of eccentricity
not even to wear a tie,
far from the reality
of the courtesies of city life
and none too Yankee-friendly
or approachable
as he surveyed the wood
with much strength
and today I have briefly
squatted on his land
fished in his waters
or may have used
his plough or axe at hand,
been at least questionable
or tried to be good at conversation
with him at length,
and he may have understood
that we shared a lyrical life
of a natural brotherhood.

Van Gogh's Starry Night done in jellybeans by
Kristin Cummings, Cal. State Fair


Still with all anguish
in the times we live in
a poet is always
in a new home
an exile
feeling the sunshine
on another's back
just this July dawn
we plant a rose bush
watering it
with terrestrial love
under the doorway
of our tiny worlds
with more innate curiosity
as the school guide dog
from Martha's Vineyard
suddenly visits us,
reading that he was lost
during Hurricane Arthur
by the accurate description
the Cape newspaper
gave of him
we get food ready in a bowl
sent from a Tokyo film maker
at Christmas time
with a video of me
in my broken Japanese tongue
reading my surreal peace poems
with her better translation,
and we call the newspaper,
as the delightful owner
of Spot in a half hour
drives along pathsides
of the beach's Bay
waves to us on the beach
spies Spot near the rose bush
who embraces us all
we are taken out for lunch.

 Gingerbread House, Candy Exhibit, Cal. State Fair


An Italian food inspector
I've known since I worked tables
in high school
in Corelli's diner
showed up
at my reading
on a summer night
supplies pasta
for a party of thirty
my back is sore
from planting a rose bush
he gave us
and he tries to be
my personal
chiropractor as well,
my reading attracts
over sixty regulars
plus the Cape's tourists
so the loaves
and fishes are divided
to the multitude
after I sign autographs
of my last collection
the atmosphere is fantastical
and joyous not realizing
what's going on
under my sorry-sighted eyes,
not aware of large crew
who are not being disguised
but are real people
and that I'm being televised.

 Mona Lisa made of jellybeans by 
Kirsten Cummings, Cal. State Fair


Clouds, winds, rain
someone cries out
as the grey sky
announcing Hurricane Arthur
opens up
a young guy on a bicycle
by fear
in his head
within a quarter of a mile
of having a breakdown
wanders over
by our back yard
with remorse and guilt
on his face
has had an accident
not far from
our yard and tells us,
perfect strangers till now
his girlfriend Mary
is pregnant
and he is afraid
of his dad
who has threatened
him before
walks in our door
his right arm
needing a sling
a blue bird is flying
over our slate roof
of our carriage house,
which catches
my camera's eye
it turns out
this guy is named Art
and we give him
a coffee
and he asks us
what he should do
about the life
of his future child
for better or worse
I can't quote the verse
but tell him to choose
what his conscience tells him,
that the storm inside
and outside us
cannot last
and the shutters open
on the Cape
sunshine returns
Art gets back on his bike
and asks us to call his dad.

 "Fake" Candy House, Cal. State Fair


A vessel sails
on warm windy nights
along the white Cape
navigating our voyage
in the unclouded dusk
annulling our deep voices
under a full moon
of cabin fever
in subterranean smoke
and cautious shadows
over whispers of transport
keeping scientific watch
on islands of discovery
from dark glasses
our heads patted with oil
of past silhouetted finds
which fishermen carry
on their open-sore bodies
far from drowning memory
on the deck
filled with climate reports
near the portholes
ink wise without fear.

 Candy Exhibit, Cal. State Fair


Oblivious in sleep
on a park bench
by the gazebo
with a needle
out of his left arm
I tell him
not to hit and miss
out on a July vacation day
he tells me
he is a singer
and homeless
stays as a beachcomber
as long as summer lasts
tells me he is intimate
with the lady life guard
every other night
and I share my latte
and Danish cheese sandwich
he shares his anguish
from a death wish
since he fell at adolescence
in his swimming pool
and has frontal lobe
epilepsy as a whiplash
takes over his body language,
as I put a spoon from my coffee
in his mouth.

 Roadwork, Big Sur Highway
—Painting by James Edward Fitzgerald, Cal. State Fair


A musician plays
a wicked sax
as if were blowing out
his brains
for tonight's talent
the prize being
a hundred dollars,
yet before I go on
on this new gig
in Provincetown
Tom tells me in an aside
he is an exhibitionist
and doesn't always draw
in a straight line
does abstracts
is divorced
plays both sides
of the love game,
I tell him,
love is not game
and words
mean a lot
to the lot of a poet,
that you may be cool
and street wise
but your language
is provocative
as he drinks
several Sam Adams's
from a huge beer glass
suddenly he gives
me a blue envelope
from his ex
with a love letter
between his hands,
asks me to read it
out loud
and I know his wife Dora
by her signature,
that she plays drums
writes slam poems
sings scat,
and he is amazed
that our paths cross
on this misty night
tells me
as in a confessional poem
that he has fooled around
with girls and guys
during their marriage
of seven years
when he cries in my arms
and suddenly settles down,
asks me
if I'm a priest, rabbi or shrink
that he feels
at home with me
and would like to go home
with me,
I realize Tom is double-minded
blinded by a life
of hiding from real love
which he thinks is sex,
saying St. Francis's prayer
and write some good lines
as I play my alto sex
and win first prize.


Today's LittleNip:


Being grilled
by an ex-cop
at my barbecue
about oil spilling
from my old Harley
who just sky dived
dangling and suspended
from thirty feet
survived the morning
in a moment of fear



"Lips" BBQ made by Mac Warren,
Outstanding Award Winner, Cal. State Fair