Thursday, November 06, 2014

Shining Against Hurricanes

—Poems by B.Z. Niditch, Brookline, MA
—Photos of the Sacramento Chrysanthemum Show,
Shepard Garden and Arts Center, Sacramento
by Michelle Kunert


Pumpkins in the bins
and wicker baskets
for a wicked desert
with Irish coffee
in a Druid hour
of chicken, corn and potato
and all the fixings
to show off and skirt in
a cook's culinary power
now we put out to boast
after our meal
the last flowers on the mantel
for our enchanted host
by the newly enameled walls
which I newly painted
for the tar-fired long halls
up to the steel and wood attic
and down in soundproof basement
where I play jazz violin
near closed casement windows
to forestall early winter snows
or any undisclosed Devil's trick
as I write for my niece Lizzie
on Halloween
a lovely panegyric of a play
she dressed up as a Barbie doll
and has her Australian way,
and my nephew now as an owl
as we read Ginsberg's "Howl"
and act out in the old English
dream cycles of the ghost
in Dickens' Christmas Carol.


In a chaos color
of a mural
in an October flash
through light
of a city traveler
the eye
full of pronouns
wounds the hot earth
near the warmest body
at sea,
when even the sleepless
will rise on canvas
to blanket the earth
with pantomime green
innumerable as half-moons
on a brackish shoreline
of trees.


The lobster cargo now
bound for another port
here in Gloucester
by Good Harbor
seeking spoken support
in prayer that sings out
from fisher kings
tiny statues now broken
over the ringed floor
from the Northeaster
on their knees,
their strong wives
once behind shades
of their cottage house windows
listening to echoes on radio waves
of their rough-sounding lives
during the pelting snowstorm
turning to rain which melts
and parks its shadows on earth
pounding with a northeast wind
on frozen mornings like this
icicles form as silhouettes
across these jetties
waiting with curiosity
for any possibility of rescue
in these dark green seas
with sea birds disappearing
and you hearing the breath
of the volcano-type hail,
four stories high, staring at
the hump-backed whales
expecting a picture with tales
from your ship, the Quarto,
once on a striped-star shipping line
by the heavy-drawn locks
and you now sitting by the docks
sipping Portuguese wines.


Listening along the Volga
to David and Igor Oistrach
when I toured Russia
hearing them
playing a Handel sonata
on a recording for two violins
with the rush of the waters
from their crystallized strings
moving in the twilight
as the foam from the waves
rises by a snow-capped night
of secret language
as my telescope points to the stars
and the cosmonauts rise up
like metaphors
motioning in a future poem
voiced in me in a sea vision
and voyage to the planets
in music cresting
by the ocean's mouth
wanting to go up ladders
to far constellations
carrying my words
over red mountains and plateaus
with floating grey clouds
unveiling the stars.


Still you speak songs
in a no-name wind
with footfalls to flourish
in your whole notes
as a frieze of ourselves
all will be loved
cared for,
everything, even sunshine
rises to walk
by crippled water
we travel now not alone
on the greensward valley
by the black mountain school
near the bluest river
as diminished chords close
on the hard drive
still you, Robert
speak now without words
as your minimalism rises up
in our footloose language.



They took you
from your poem
during the War
everyone expected
the streets to speak
of you but your words
were read silently
by park benches
as wayfarer winds passed
children wrote out
their names
secretly named for you
knowing it was a language
of love that wanted
to preserve your memory.


Late night watching the BBC
on 100 years of Dylan Thomas
with his professor of poetry
and my mentor
David Malcolm Brinnin
who taught English
at Boston University
and wrote Dylan's biography
brought back so much
about the sorrow, pain and self-pity
of the Welsh poet
and how at a tender age
I walked bravely
into Cambridge bookstore
with my uncle's hand
hoisting me up
to this Jacob's ladder
as we bought Dylan's book
for my new closest friend,
the Word, my constant companion
somehow capturing my imagination
from the tallest and oldest stall
in the city at the edge of night
and then seeing it all over again
the television lights of the Big Apple,
the unthinking grime and petty crime
in the Fifties red-light district
of drinking bars under the stars
and the movie marquees
your language, Dylan Thomas
is also for our time and age
as you earned your own degrees
along rivers and farms
without any coating of arms
but in poverty
making us rich in your posterity
and promise.


The passed-away will rejoice
that line your bookshelves
Cavafy is more comfortable
by the billiard table
or playing chess
with Auden by the attic Greeks,
that on your art shelf
the yellow Christ
of Gauguin would fit in
near the conflated trees
of Rousseau,
that life itself will not waver
but shine against hurricanes,
flames, executions
for we rise on marvelous dunes
watching soaring bluebirds
covering tumbleweed fields
reaching tremulous skies,
our words will be retrieved
like paintings
from every Beckmann, Klee
Chagall, Renoir, Velasquez
and paper cranes and kites
may be as the likeness
of love letters
in this printed world.


Our thanks to B.Z. Niditch and Michelle Kunert for brightening up our morning, and our apologies to Robert Lee Haycock for leaving the last line off of one of his poems yesterday. No need to be sorry, he says—but Medusa says otherwise! This was a fine poem, and the last line gave it a perfect turn that buttoned it up. So here it is in its completeness, and thanks for sending it to us, Robert:

—Robert Lee Haycock, Antioch

I looked for you in the stars' icy fires
I looked for you as the days spun back

I looked for you in the green flames of leaves
I looked for you as new love died

I looked for you in unchanging moons
In suns that stood still
In meteors that mounted to the skies

I looked for you through a ridicule of tears
A humiliation of successes
A surety of doubts

I looked for you in the young man's empty promise
The old woman's unborn children
The baby's ancient soul

I looked for you among the leaden clouds
Beneath the ponderous heights of the sea
Above the unassailable mountain roots

And I found you



Today's LittleNip