Thursday, September 25, 2014

Metaphors, Meteors, and the Metaphysical

—Photos of Manchester by the Sea by Denise Flanigan
—Poems by B.Z. Niditch, Brookline, MA


There is something
in our footsteps
of anticipation
from our shadows
as morning lights us
at the library
which brings our memory
to intertwine us
whether by wind, rain or sun
carrying us to
a safe hideout
of learning and wisdom
in the aroma of quiet
as solitude emerges
in a profile of student
silence moving
among books of knowledge
from quiet places of discovery
toward hands that retrieve
our common histories,
here is a love note
in green flyleaf quivering
on a volume of Proust
binding us
in remembrance
of searching the past,
here is Dickens
a novel account
of hard times,
a selection of Irish, Spanish
French, Russian,
and a section of Jewish poetry
on this back bench
in creative corners
by brusque magazines
commentaries and reviews,
which stay with you
beyond two weeks
in their bound leather
from these solitary rooms.



I woke up light-headed
like Rip Van Winkle
in Washington Irving's story
from a blanket of a daydreams
this time with a pile
of my chapbooks next to me
as hundreds of patrons
approached the closing door
to attend a poetry reading
with large letters
pointing to once-buried
now mobile animated t.v. screen
where I'm hesitant to move
in a living silence
of my own resonant mood
trying to waken my memory
tied in an unfolding knot
of the conjugated past
in shadows overpowering me
illuminating coats and sweaters
surrounding your initialed name
on the programs given out
in a pleading sun of an off-season
with a sense of confidential fate
glimmering with a protective ease
as I randomly make my way
to the main lecture hall
expanding this pleasurable time
that after all the months
when time slipped
through my printed page life
night riding on my bicycle
to tiny used bookstores
cobwebbed academic buildings
public and private schools
to lecture and urban read
by covers of dusted-off chairs
in silent walls of unbelief,
here everything is tidied up
and within a people's reach out
on unfamiliar yet kindly faces
with ardent enlightened glances
directed toward me
who knew of my writing
and gave me the recognition
of my craft that words sought
in an itinerant language
of my excited fortitude.


With energy
in a single silence
near a river bed
with notebook in hand
by edged rocks
off the sea coast
lying on a blanket
of speechless reminiscence
full length
in the abrupt sunshine
dissembling his papers
by the deck of boats
in the home harbor
watching bees everywhere
in a grimace of worry
and shapeless nerves
breathing years of words
near a lost compact
with two boys stumbling
in the ditch water's edge
under a warning sign
for our protection
in a shattered gorge
and land passage
to recover loss
in an undertow
a swimming memory
of being there years before
among noxious cat calls
and hasty judgments
by growing wild flowers
garden snakes and turtles
in a life deserted
remaining only as gestures
of my trembling fingers.



A poet late
for his urban read
takes a wrong u turn
emerges on the boulevard
between two countries
winds up
behind the beech tree
gazebo and esplanade
meets a French woman
sunning herself
on a blanket by hedges
next to her oil portrait,
she gives him directions
and asks to accompany him,
they arrive early
she translates his poems
for the Montreal audience
then is awarded a contract
by an art studio director
who sees her portrait
and elopes with her
and the poet in the courtyard
huddled into the shadows
signs his autographs
on the back desk corner
spending a restless night.


a silk stocking,
a bourbon glass
in an actuality
of fragments,
opaque sun,
at the 13th station,
a paradigm
worn of desperation
in the Jerusalem
a partial vision,
by a rock
water colors
its clam shell
shadows on pale stone
reefs, unbelief,
the last fish surviving
in the Yantgze river,
or a scene
of Heddy Lamarr
in a Hollywood
orgasm in Ecstasy,
the Toulouse Lautrec poster
damaged at matinee
played by Jose Ferrer
in the movie house,
a partial eclipse
the aurora borealis
sky writing.



Out of passing
the risk of the sea
waves to us,
out of passing
the earth captures
a caravan in an odyssey,
out of passing
outer space
rescues a sky
of astronauts,
out of passing
red fruit and flowers
at a funeral cortege
of populist poets
who enter the Square.


from the start
with breakdowns
and long suffering
as once revenants
awakening an inward start
in an artistic sense,
forsaking their part
expected to be played
with complete indifference
parlayed by language
on bets and vetted
of an original parlance
as proper lyrical gents,
with nonsensical Edward Lear
or castoff John Clare
their lives scoffed in arrears,
like poor Rimbaud,
Montesquieu and Baudelaire
my God, as a dandy
having an honorary degree
of divine favor handy,
and by the good wake
of their bandied souls
would ache with mine
at the words taking up
their arbitrary tolls,
as Artaud and Poe
give them
a literary break
the Muse will not
let go,
or Eliot, Joyce
who heard a dissident
voice from a nervous soul,
like Sylvia Plath
for all her wrath
in confession
while not divine
in her profession
set us on another path,
or Sexton
with a wit and talent
in her quirks to tell
all the lit-crit jerks
needing repentance
of her long-suffering intent,
and our local friend Lowell
in his poetic works
whose commentary
was not a vocal crime
even in his "Imitations"
in momentary space and time,
yet spent on by critics
whose local intimations
they found didactic,
like restless Pound
not of sound mind
in their assignations
and sent away
on unsavory grounds
of political assassinations
being absurd
and eccentric
pacing around like a bird
with their minds racing
bound by sleeplessness
to confess their story
and sum up the poetic age
in a melancholy hell
just for glory of the word.

          (Sept. 26, 1888)

Solitary in awareness
with a felicity of words
in seasoned laurels
of a mythic sinuous space
over critics' quarrels
you found a language of grace
to our generation's relief
contrary to other spells
you sound in a mystical way
to search our nature fearlessly
in plays and mature poetry
that sounds among shadows
in a venture toward places
of hermetic church bells.



(In memory Cesare Pavese,

Bouncing his leg
off the table
saying farewell
to his nerves
nibbling at his soul
to wish he were
at a year or century
earlier or later
having seen anger search
for him in his stress test
in signals and signs
weighing on his life
of literary exertion
scaling in different
directions of Italy
like a weather vane
under Turin's grey sky
for so many seasons
trying to forget a memory
of mountainside sorrows
in noiseless playgrounds
and college libraries
reading Dante and Virgil
expecting change
in an earthy twilight
or on the seashore
with promises unfulfilled
in love and punishment
from an arbitrary existence
yielding to a squeezed fate
of vigil and desertion.

         (September 22, 1955)
In Southern California,
you crashed our world,
for your films do not go dim
projected in our youth,
still East of Eden
or Rebel without a Cause
in the learning limelight
of a wayward truth
remembering him.


Today's LittleNip:


As a meteor drops
into the lyrical quatrain
a sky bird stops in
her perennial refrain

a spider webs us
on the bark of a tree
outside a chorus
of larks initially.



—B.Z. Niditch