Monday, September 15, 2014

War Reporter

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


The fifth trunk
was unloaded
students came
to our assistance
we took precaution
to wash our hands
the luggage
had movie stars on it,
inside were theater props
eye make-up
scripts of plays
Beat poems
disquieting love letters,
pictures of tigers in zoos
amusement parks
bumper motor cars,
and swallows over California
that keep us moving.



Finding your trunk
eastward on the islands
storing my past chants
of your daydreams
browsing over beachcomber
poems written by hand
from an old dynasty
of your ancestors
in a frozen unwieldy box
you inherited
when we lived
for a while
as roving actors
in my company
living out of a suitcase
with withered flowers on top
rosin for my bow,
music sheets below
the blankets,
these felt black boots
from your sailor grandfather
pirated out a shipwreck
out of a Japanese harbor
now washed-out blue images
covered by the year's dust
from voyages sailed by me.


Postcards added
in a sliding trunk
move the Jeff Koons
Stuart Davis
and Mexico's Orozco,
toward my hands
as summer goes brown
taking my weekend leave
for a modernist retrospective
now held in New York,
an artist up the walk
took me for a four-hour
tour of palpable art,
bringing the Big Apple
back to me
through slides, audio
in a visual perspective
launching me
in memory of Village Days
of O'Hara and Rivers,
along Saturday traffic jams
with my sax kept
on my lap in taxis
my poems in parcels
drifting off in my one-acts
thinking there is
no mortality in art
feeling again free and young
resurrected with a breath
of ideas and idealism
encircled with my suitcases
full of pawned rhythm
and a smooth jazzy time
weeping on a tree
in Central Park
where I played kickball.


September eighth
a sky engulfed
the largest super moon
remembering how
to sleep the night
by playing chess
on the prewar bench
saved your life
now by the fruit stands
in the Paris market
before a little shop
of gloves and antiques
you read Poe
in French
eating a cheese Danish
and a Vienna roll
with a cafe au lait,
meeting a Jewish guy
from Munich
a psychiatrist,
at eight years old
was already a threat
to the Reich
who knew Schoenberg
could recite Rilke
and tried the organ box
of another Reich
when the country
had already gone crazy
incognito all through the war
a wayward educated recluse
living in libraries, print shops
and used bookstores
his son an astronomer
by a Hollywood star
of soap operas,
now exploring the universe.


The most rain
recorded in history,
as your diva's song
is also recorded,
over a runaway time,
a sunrise
is up now for Phoenix
when you tried
to translate your child's
chocolate dreams
into a Spanish Beat poem
by a soundproof studio
after watching River
in Stand by Me.



Radio waves
to us
on the oars' armpit
as lobster seekers
with their nets
on the boxwood boats
hear my music
setting out
to a Beat poet's muse
scenting the rain
in the home harbor's
first light.


Telling me
you want to take courses
to explore a timetabled life
from the Cape's sea beds,
to study earth's resources
over books of knowledge
on buried outlooks of forces
in maps, whirring voyages
by sign languages
primary walls
shelters, pest houses,
Morse code,
passion flowers,
lodestars, landfalls,
flying islands
vatic prophecies,
sentient expressions
music sequences,
talk down consequences
orisons, horizons
beyond your own,
telling you
search and research
until you find
the perfect petal
assigned stone
and harmonic chord
then be assured
that your attention
reaction and satisfaction
to every cynosure
will be ordered
in your opened mind.



At dusk
someone waits
upon an ocular silence
for the unknown solitude
in a secretive letter
of a revenant's passing
from an exile's absence
an earth's tenant
hoping his jocular wit
and avuncular humor
will carry him
as a foreign war reporter
in his blurred travelogue,
to a landing of peace.


If you are nervous
feed on Sextus Propertius
reaching for Venus
and in lust, just read Catullus
needing a poet's skill
there is the spirit of Virgil,
in your hurting middle ages
diddle Dante's pages,
for more of Paradise Lost
passages of Milton crossed,
expanding a confessional
at once Puritan, Catholic
(then secular) Lowell,
wishing to go over
Poe's Gothic path
stop first at Baudelaire
and Rimbaud
or drop a hand
on Bishop, Sextant and Plath
or at a Pound canto,
playing the lyre
or witty liar
the poet's critic
is ready to conspire
slandering a Nero or hero
try writing classic satire.


Today's LittleNip:


Waking by syllables
on my tongue
sounding in uncut
music sequences
of smooth jazz
camping out
under Maine's maples
my orange kayak
straying from the Coast
as any grasshopper
with my field glasses
checking out landscapes
and salty marshes
for my laconic diary.