Thursday, November 13, 2014

Postcards of Doubt

—Poems by B.Z. Niditch, Brookline, MA
—Photos by Martie Odell-Ingebretsen, Sacramento


When this benevolent sun
reaches us this November
on the mushroom field
we remember reaching
the doubting river
across a hundred miles,
perhaps you too
have sailed by here
at first light
when the cool dawn
wrinkles in the wind
from a four-day Northeaster
and a few strong squalls
snap and snatch
the bark whirring
on oak trees,
here at the sealed window
a poet in a green scarf
and dark jacket
waits for calm
to explore thick woods
along the Cedar Valley bridge
sunshine gleams
on a lonely road
as sparrows and grackles
search for bread
in the faded dawn
of an unruly coast
from a collapsed boat
at the home harbor
drifts over a constant wave
of a ditch water shore.



All your postcards of doubt
found among my lost poems
of the Sixties
in my hermetic attic
between low shelves
of my Governor Winthrop desk
as we still grieve on Veterans' Day
about the war's uselessness
as messages beat in my soul
from your foreign body
we know love outlives
the casualties of slaughter
by these common graves
as I'm putting yellow flowers
for our best friend,
taking a few extra breaths
watching the mourning doves
on the aspen trees.



No doubt
a newborn named Seth
stares at us
from my close friends
moving with doubts
from the island to suburbs
choosing to leave
your boat house
to land
a half-mile away
to compose a jazz concerto
near the university
but not out of sight
so his child
could have more friends.


to explore
without doubt
all that's out there
as the rain of morning
moves along the river
here a Beat poet
eyes the rising currents
by the wharf
at first light a fisherman
asks me to help him
to carry the lobster nets
then in the midst
of a November storm cycle
this sleepwalker floats by
in optimum visions.



To read other minds
that entwine your own
is to go lopsided beyond
the unfazed bones
in fishing for lost
flesh and bloody fins
which die and regenerate
in a subterranean pink
as a changing lobster boat
now banished from the sea
traces nearby a turtle egg
not interfering with nature
in a fetid feverish
tidal basin
spilling over
a relieved whisper
not doubting you will have
a crazy cache of fish
by noon.



It seems to me
the Greek poet Homer
though blinded
wrote the news
about Ulysses return
from exile and war
to loving Penelope
and eventually to us
drawing in the summary
of his treacherous countrymen,
for us to learn his lessons
his welcome from the waves
of foam to faint ocean breeze
in the terrible heat of sunshine
his legs and whole body
out of shape
to his own service
seizing fame for his acceptance
of his far journey
by jagged lines of death
in a dignity of himself
musty from his right armor
waiting to see peace emerge
from his wife and son.


Once, a neighbor
gave me her collection
at a festival in November,
signed on the cover
by Carolyn Kizer's own hand,
opening me up to our well-being,
her words shining in the sun
as a witness to creative joy
for many years,
first light leaves us to think
as we drink our cider,
her selected works
still on my oak desk
attempting to answer
questions for poetry lovers
by one we recognize
as a resilient survivor
of '60s culture quarrels
when life laughed and cried
through her words;
taking refuge in the shade
at the mouth of a river,
we read her again
now, with her crown
of green laurels.


Today's LittleNip:

—B.Z. Niditch

Rates rise of statistics
from catastrophic
climate critics
not listened to;
upon the mountain
a mother and child
under shadows of trees;
only drops of rain.