Monday, July 21, 2014

We Are Here For Art

Buick Headlights
—Poems by B.Z. Niditch, Brookline, MA
—Photos by Katy Brown, Davis


On Shepard Street
in Harvard Square
where we shopped
for wine and cheese
these poets came
to share their stuff
Aiken, Eliot, Lowell
and after
Plath, Sextant, Bishop
it was rough
even in the chatter
but there was laughter
in my small flat
there was vocal jazz
they called scat
in improvisation
here where I was
as a Beat
but when you
are young and in love
does it matter
when there is little to eat
I asked my guardian angel
for a welcome mat
and neighbors
in the hallways
always gave us a treat.

 Tall Grass on Lake Huron


The concert hall
was perennially quiet
on the stage
a woman bent over
her chair
with a cello
playing a Bach solo
I thought she was an angel,
no doubt
to guard my Muse
and music career
and every moment since
I breathe in her scent
of what is lovely, clear
pure, calm and infinite
as the sun lowers at dusk
in a white wood
or by the blue lake
in childhood
where we fished
for trout.

 Evening Lighthouse


Whether at sea
on my kayak
or on land
fixing it up
on my back
"We need a guardian angel
from heaven"
Igor, my neighbor
said in Russian,
"one who is partisan
for me
against domestic
and foreign enemies
who try their best
to make war
between nations"
and with one flick
of his wrist
he gave me copies
of Tolstoy's books
who was a pacifist
influencing the Indian Gandhi
and Martin Luther King.



The steppes of Vitebsk
in old Russia
on snowy avenues
where old fiddlers play
on roofs of wooden houses
even after days
of rented garments,
banishment, exile, hurt,
in poverty and persecution
from the Tsar's government,
there is a smile
from a guardian angel
in Chagall's paintings
and onto Paris in your day
you knew Apollinaire
and Robert Dulaunay
as you paint landscapes
and still life scenarios,
even after the war
with so much suffering
of Jewish souls
you grace churches
and hospital windows
in England, Jerusalem
and Switzerland
as shadows of the Word
for in this creation
we live in
you knew, in part
there is no permanent
or forwarding address
yet we know
we are here for art
to bless and bless.

 Wild Grapes

(JULY 19)

a handsome man
and free poet
in a silver age
adored by the crowd
on the snow-kissed Arbat
or unbowed in Manhattan
memorized by students
in many languages' pages
who makes us proud
translated in Italian, French
Greek, Hebrew and Latin
yet steps away
from the press
and groupies
in any city
he has his own friends
from the golden age
needs no poetic school
has his own Muse
so cut him loose.

Black Squirrel with Nut


We slow-danced
to the Penguins'
"Earth Angel"
smothered by
my first love
lowering our voices
and eyes,
we realize
that young crushes
rarely go anywhere
except in blushes
or in the bushes
and Linda
called me her Prince
and I composed
lyrics to her
as my teen lover
she eventually moved
out West
a Hollywood star
and years later
when I worked
on film scripts
as a summer job
for my uncle
we recognized each other
at a party
on Fairfax Avenue
in West Los Angeles
at a time when we were
both tranquilized
by all the guitar glitter
and rock energy
when the crowd
became so loud
in glamour and clamor,
we walked outside,
and I sang to her
from "Earth Angel"
and asked her
to be my bride.

 Great Blue Heron over Lake Huron


Out of the lobby
in my Italian hostel
with a few lira
left in my pocket
it started to snow
while I slept on a day bed
yet I kept a locket
of my friend Angelica
who was in the ballet
performing near Rome,
once during her rehearsal
of Swan Lake
she taught me
a few classical steps of dance,
but soon, being in adolescence
I was already on my knees
as any incurable Romantic
with an off-hand chance
aching with love,
asking to be her partner
of permanence,
not just this afternoon,
yet she laughed with me
and gave me a locket
with her picture on it
and being an unselfish poet
I promised her any wish
to make her happy,
and she admitted
she wanted a post card
of the fresco cycle
about St. Francis
whom we both adored
painted by Fra Angelico
from Fiesole,
having one day left Italy
I had a train to catch
and on board
met Robert a scholar
without his collar on
who directed me
to the right museum,
the storm continued all day
yet I dreamed in the dawn
to see Angelica on stage
but it was not to be
so I mailed her the card
at the airport telling her
I had to go back soon
to my country
yet this penitent bard
and good sport
will never forget her.



On the Sistine Chapel
angels flit by with wings
resembling children sailing by
in a transparency of glass
glowing over an ocean
of loving paradise
the painter's spirit
motions to us here below
on earth
my big eyes open up
over the art of heaven,
a boy is longing
to have such friends
on such scaffolds
without end
who passes by underneath
as bold art lends us
a phantasma of such joy,
the boy is enshrined
with such divine heights
by watching the glints
on these frescoes
feeling such insight
of snowy detail
as only God knows
of Michelangelo's colors
in silent white douleur
having the desire
of asking Him
for such assistants
as David in Zion
a Hebrew king
at a tender age
with his slingshot
requested arrows
for such assistance,
and on many days
slew a bear, lion
and spiders in his lair
and wicked Goliath
such was his request
with much sorrow
as he waited for
an instant answer
or by tomorrow,
so I wished for
a guardian angel
to guard me
in all my ways.

 Three Pipes at Sunset


We do not regret
for a guardian angel
sent a sunset
through Concord
by Cambridge
and Lexington
they were all there
the Alcotts
Hawthorne and Emerson
at their everlasting inns
I stood on the famous bridge
with a few students
ardently reading my words
from a few collections
as others fed the birds
and had a repast of memory
of American poets and history
with our confection.


Today's LittleNip:


I humbly ask
Rilke's Guardian angel
who is very smart
to fly over to me,
all expenses paid
by a benefactor
if he will not be delayed,
Angel, you once covered
his castle, tower
and cathedral sky
in Prague, Vienna, Chartres
every hour,
I once read how
in a euphoric few months
Rilke had great creativity
composing elegies
completing his poetry
with the power
in a prolific venture
shared with all society,
for he was our first
international poet
for every culture,
variety and nomenclature
we need you now
in our lore and legislature,
send over your angel
of our consciousness
to bless us
in our task
let me not be the last
to ask.


—Medusa, with thanks to today's contributors: B.Z. Niditch, who says he was much inspired by our Seed of the Week: Guardian Angels, and by Katy Brown, who sends us these photos from her recent trip to Michigan. For more of Katy's photos—this time her series on Michigan Farms—see Medusa's Facebook page.

And note the early starting time for Sac. Poetry Center's Poetry in the Park tonight: 7pm, not 7:30pm.

—Photo by B.Z. Niditch