Thursday, March 26, 2015

The Annotated Spring

...Upon Which So Much Depends...
—Poems by B.Z. Niditch, Brookline, MA
—Photos by Katy Brown, Davis, CA


Expecting so much from life
as the sun began
this morning
the possibility of early spring,
a sight of a pandemonium of birds
on the birches
a day of green expectations
everywhere in a melee of joy
even in our deconstructed time
that language will conceive music
from its existentially dormant potency
undisclosed from winter blues
there is a flurry of hope
in the windy air,
a love potion on everyone's lips
a marathon to be completed
and a hundred lines of poetry
on a free press
running through
our earth-wise world to be heard.



At the glass window
a once-daydreaming student
now twenty-five
and endeared to poetry
hesitates to put on
her brand new skates
until she reaches
a blind blue hill rink
invisible to the quarry,
as a visitor of graffiti whispers
in the wind as he initials
the local Elm
marked above her
that he, her former tutor
in the language department
is in love with nature forever
waits by the tallest tree
near the clearing woodland
frozen in ether
with a photograph
from winter's last welcome
of bears and foxes
now has written all over a branch
of a hundred-year elm
his new poetic lines
and waiting for her to skate
at the annotated spring.


Not expecting to go back
to the features of the '90's
expecting awareness
of a Beat poet's adventure
enamored of enchanted
words taken off City Lights shelves
my posthumous self declined
like a quivering expression
from a straitjacket gesture
and jackbooted memory
still frozen from my urban read
a brother still in the shivers
of alley darkness
with an apotheosis of my sax
blown on the streets
and park bandstands
embracing a life's work
in a Whitman existence
prepared on the night sands
of Venice Beach
by secret slopes as life stops
for love making everything new.



You managed to arrive
early in my life
while budding ideals
surfaced along two Coasts
in subterranean joys
as I climbed up to dive
in a flow of ocean
having traveled
having cut short
all circuits
to my becoming a poet
surrounded by birds and fauna.


Mary, the earth was not singing
through lilting melodies
of cloudy melancholy or dance
on St. Patrick's day, 1966
when you made Irish bread
for us in an impoverished March,
after your two sons were drafted
sent away by Uncle Sam
to a far country
sister tracing in school on a map
a worn-out distant Vietnam
yet rays of first light appeared
on your closed showery window pane
through your hope chest
and fragile furniture desk
where we read Ulysses
of James Joyce in secret
writing in my three-storied novella
the hearth riddles and tales
in the clutch of spinning
top of the morning greetings
between the bread and wine
lids of potato skin and corned beef
at last celebrating peace
in bottles near the sacristy
doomed to a mother's capacity
for love and trembling faith
in a world of home bound magpies.


I can't tell what you are
or who you are
trembling inside
your foreign tongue
words move me
from your harried fingertips
outside your managed pretenders
who escorted and extorted us
in the ways of conversing
bridging the love gap
of a decade's surprises
crossing a court of thresholds
of blind dates.



Chuck, the life guard
now far away in Frisco
saved sister
from drowning
she was a rainbow to us
when we were nine
dropped into a bloodshot world
from a diving board
all of us only small bodies
that summer of haunting shadows
needing rescue, drafted to 'Nam
we even named our cat Chuckie
after you.



I.D. lost
no passport
only a transport to death
on Good Friday,1945
you being an ordinary actor
in a small hamlet out of nowhere
when your poems fall out
of a Salvation Army jacket pocket,
with a color photo you naively spy
a round-up of children
heading for a scout meeting
by campfires on the tall grass
and sent to their ashes.



Time placates these words
in a deserted breath
stopping by this green taste
of spring in a repast
crunching Japanese rolls
in a Zen garden
on this peace bench
admiring the yews
far away from home
in a life without us
or a second time
to check us out
in our absent tour of duty
yet resilient memory
nailing a poem by my right hand
of a once-pledged friendship
plagued by twigs of war
and forecasts of prophetic peace
now by sunlit riverbeds
will pass over a pardon
for our last photo and narrative
addressing us by name
by the coffee house
a soul offers to cross over
with me, hand to hand
at the finish of a marathon line
with only love's forgiveness
at the other side of the world.


Here we are, poet
exiles, gnomes
or vagrants migrating
with a seasoned
destiny like sparrows
but with no one
in your specter
to take you in,
perhaps people think
we are curious
a bit eccentric
like hesitant words
in muffled speech
and language,
perhaps another poor poet
in the Americas
will recognize me
through his glasses
jumping over hills
or at intersections
of the winding sky.



by the silence
behind trees' first light
of a wintry vacation
maps our hours out
on a park bench,
I'm slowly drawing
pictorial sketches
from haiku
when red ink
falls on the hands
by my melancholy watch
brushing away
odd-and-end thoughts
as suddenly photographs
in music as a cat
crawls under a park bench
with a frozen numbness
alarmed by the voice
of the poet I hear
in my spirit
Dylan Thomas
reading "Under Milk Wood"
wanting only to drink
at the local pub
as familiar faces
run from the cooling breeze
of the fountains.



When your life mushrooms
in your earth-wise field
near the windy dunes
of your hiding place
which whisper
from a sheltered sunshine
words of an excited embrace
stolen from your diary
and you listen to bird song
in a belated pleasure
which holds you today
to the retracing
of that desire,
if only that echo
of a past tenderness
were not a lost mirror
in the pockets of memory
of your lover's shabby coat,
it may be time to listen
to the ash trees
once again in your face's tremor
amid boughs and branches
in this blushing brief sun shower
making no noise
yet rain falls on every leaf
in the woodland foliage
as a whitetail deer stops to eat
motioning his nostrils
in the taunting soft air,
you ask to live through
a trackless field
to locate a pointed path
you were once guided to
you wait without a map
clustered by a lover's quarrel
for a noonday welcome
without any more suffering.

 Poet's Table


There is still a frosty glaze
of shower waters from heaven
across the wet streets
of a shivering Paris loft
where the wind whispers
its surprises and embarrassment
between stones and shadows
from echoes of a bygone age
of this poet also here alone
who remembers your words
on a French printed page
wishing to celebrate you
though the earth may have
forgotten your brief life
caught in a round of memory
touched by brief facile loves,
long-suffering lapses
bearing so many curses
betrayed by escorts and friends
intimidated by awkwardness
and the seven familiar sins,
lifting up his red wine glass
by this high window's tavern
waits on a vibrant toast
to Paul Verlaine
though few will acknowledge
what quenches us
in this unsettled universe
rising to remember
the Courbet portrait of you
in notebooks at my desk
from my time at the Louvre
this is your amazing day
Paul Verlaine,
amazed by an arch of small circles
of sunshine behind the curtains
by the strangeness of the hour
my eyelids also shine
at the aching icicles outside my door
waiting for spring skies
of this mostly cloudy adverse March
yet each moment
has a secretive light
reaching out from rain showers,
knowing that even below the Alps
there is a flower bed beneath the trees
trembling to give birth
to neon and gold butterflies
in the darkened breeze.


Today's LittleNip:

A tapestry of red rugs
pointed from a blinding light
to a poet's secret language
we exist waiting
for understanding
as a verse suddenly
fills a watching eye
grateful to be astonished
by emerging spaces
of a fragment of a universe
in gestures of trembling
yielding a collection
of sheltered nature.


—Medusa, with profuse thanks to today's contributors! Katy's pix were taken in the garden of Davis Poet (and Poet Laureate Emeritus) Allegra Silberstein.

—Anonymous Photo