Thursday, April 09, 2015

Blue Plate Special (Every Thursday)

Don't Slip
—Poems by B.Z. Niditch, Brookline, MA
—Photos of Yosemite by Stacie Sherman, Orangevale, CA


April fools us
by a Muse's amazing ways
who spells it out
under her nature's breath
with a hundred excuses
from our winter's guest
since being in our nest
offering a feathered high five
yet hands us birthdays
of a survivor's success
making us feel alive
from under the weather
wanting to sea dive.

Now we play chess or bocce
on grounds once covered
with snow-white memory,
waiting for a fairy tale spring
contained in nature's secrets
whispering our earth-wise regrets
for being four months indoors
with cabin fever
now we rest with Jason
our golden retriever,
soon to recover the shock
by the changing of our clock,
being wall flowers
now going wild
near the river bed
from newly planted saplings
arranged in the countryside
by gardeners on the dock.

Hummingbirds are freely
flying by the seaweed basin
on a deserted Bayside beach,
here a lone jazz poet
plays an alto sax
in his own paced awkwardness
breathing out on the sand
reaching for his solitary exercises
at his arm's length
from troubled sharps and B flat
augmented in solo sounds
as any cool cat.

His wounded double life
emerges as a musical poet
and jagged Beat
he still turns up the heat
in lyrical volume to sing out
his speech of floating blues
on fresh blankets to recover
his love for language,
as we follow him by the Cape
known for his long black locks
of unfolding hair
and a one-day Whitman beard,
whose life is on loan
composing his daring verse
from a thousand notes
draped in soft tones.

Perhaps a few beachcombers
may often remember him
as that nonconformist
who quoted Baudelaire
and outlived his daydreams
by drinking in his good words
and refusing a rocking chair,
he is still heard in rare echoes
reciting from a book of Thoreau
by the woods and shore
of early-morning songbirds
in voice-overs
from his jazz piano.


Reading Villon
in the open streets
amid the chattering classes
reading their news online,
an orange kayak resurfaces
from its tightly knotted anchor
protected from the winds
by the sea's home harbor
and an unusually friendly jay
even brushes off from us
on the last spongecake of snow
over the salty water docks.

It is the last day
of crazy March
with four harsh months
of a freezing troubled repast
as a red cardinal
addresses me in blank verse
my second-hand bicycle
passes by the welcome wagon
by river beds
near the first tourist ship.

We begin to realize
time and images are only
for this last March day
with my gloomy sunglasses
at a bygone season
with our rapid astonishment
at a foursome playing bocce
on the white beach sand.

Watching the ice fishing
on a breathing barge
of a shining eternity
in the weathered thoughts
of every third-rate philosopher
drinking in the local pub
as a smooth jazz guy
hunts for some sun
all winter
who still falls for the love
of a once soap opera star
clenching her hand
now out of luck for the lottery
he wanders alone
like Villon
raising his riverbed eyelids
into a celestial spot at first light
when oysters appear again
on the blue plate special
of the fish shack bar
every Thursday.


You cannot expect
the awkwardness
of your adolescence
to make any sense
of your sudden victory
at the finish line
of the school marathon
on these reproachable fields
of Central Park
a red apple in my mouth
and a sunflower
in one-time dreadlocks
of hair done by Maria Jane,
now the soap opera star
who jogs by me
is also in the breakdown lane,
preparing my lesson in Latin
with Virgil and Dante
having my back
from the underworld,
writing school odes
for bearded Whitman
once walking
in his cool shadows
after attending an urban read,
it is not our fault
we are wrapped
in an April Fool's Day dream
from your progeny and breed,
Walt, my life
has now weighed heavily
as our memory fades,
I'm under a bandstand
playing solo sax
from these tall passages
feeding songbirds on the grass,
as a Manhattan wakes
my uncle already
at seven in the morning
to work on his film
about a New York rocker
now hands me
his Spanish shirt
from the laundry
having called my mother
to check up on me,
we hear a familiar cry
of a soccer match
outside our high windows,
an Armenian poet
outside our door
plays the accordion
recites to me
about his own boyhood
in Yerevan.


When a city poet
needs the right word
in his own tense time
sentence him
to long life
with a language to express
like Whitman or Verlaine
to every quatrain's punctured line,
believe me,
he's punch drunk
from the Big Apple sunshine
perched as a songbird
by the clothesline
running from
the Chelsea hotel
wishing he was back
in the Sixties
playing sax again
in a fresh white collar
by the midnight subway train
with a new brass ring
his fingers rattling out
from a subterranean brain
near a cup full of dollars
at his sandals and feet
he's again chanting
like an aspiring Beat.



With my opera glasses
of indelible memory
lent to me in adolescence
by my uncle and aunt
Maria Callas appears
as Lucia in the mad scene
with laughter and tears
on the beautiful Met stage
here in a dramatic set
sings her bel canto aria
amid a choral palace
of raucous applause
from drama queens
she in her taffeta gown
with a glamorous gold tiara
in di Lammermoor
a poet still remembers it all
as the surging crowds
make it to the door
there is more clapping
on the balcony and floor.


Ulysses of war and sea
of exile and Penelope
we still hear
your war memory
as in Homer's diary
now housed next to mine
I'm playing a jazz solo
in the spring-cleaned attic
waiting up for our journey
to have a mile run by the sea,
hearing a poet's staying echo
of unconnected fragments
marking in outlines
and texts from my repertory,
still feeling a bout of cold air
from my old balcony
wishing to catch blue fish
in the deep ocean
far from ditch waters of the Bay
along the low tide's sea
in this mysterious spring day.



Even if no one reads us
this day
here or at the bookstore
my fans and friends
are only one step away,
for a unique reality to enjoy
my hemisphere of words
they are assured of a welcome
with the honor of my decor,
as a former stage
and art director,
that in my unique
metaphoric, once-historic world
there are at least four star actors
spending time by paging me
to suspend reality
if only for tonight.

It seems to be O.K.
even in this small softened
of a drama's verse,
we may still fall in love
with a Shakespearean star
in a critically traded universe
that our poetry will live on
despite it all we are
who we are,
you even may doubt
that the Romantic writer
is on an ageless search for love
as in the comic film
A Coffee in Berlin
with everyone our enemy
above all we cannot win
with Daddy, even a shrink
cannot censor or begin to think
of the irony of our words
from our body language.

(April 9, 1821-1867)

Today the spring wakes
to a poet passer-by
disbanded by fortune
and four love letters
in his back pocket
who watches the crowds
by the Parisian arcades,
it starts to rain on the Avenue
by a children's noonday parade,
when suddenly in need
of a notebook and pen
to scribble out words
returns to a waterhole den,
he quietly enters the door
at a café table and chair
wishing for a hot brioche
for his dining pleasure
and a cup of merciful wine
in no small measure,
his mind races again
immersed in the language
of a midnight quatrain
refusing to bet on life or horse
for a dubiously quoted dandy
has no money for the bourse,
who keeps alive
what only absolution will reap
from his fleeting curiosity
as a keepsake to survive
after nights without sleep,
not always forgiving himself
for being born a Baudelaire
on this wake of a cloudy day
yet thankful for a few francs
lodged in his suit jacket
on noon's absent-minded April
to fill up his small tray.

With fears and long suffering
along dark corridors and hallways
the spark will return to sing
and he will work again
and thrive at this rebirth
at this season of the year
for every Gentile or Jew
there is still time to renew,
whose God of space and time
has forgiven all sin
on this enduring face of earth,
as spring has embraced
trembling branches of yew trees
from the April winds
in the watery air,
reminding you it is your birthday
poor Baudelaire,
here at the end of solitude's hours,
and after all the smoking mirrors
from carnival masks appear
in this devil-may-care world
of playing Tarot cards and solitaire,
you will achieve your goal
by composing "Flowers of Evil"
in fervor for every lapsed soul,
as you rise to leave
Bette Louise, the lovely server
with ringlets of brown hair
and laughter's red lips
thanks you, Charles Pierre
for your generous quips
and past jokes
lacking much in tips,
yet it is after all Easter Vigil
an hour to forgive and let live
as you try to believe
your poetry will still be alive
after the last apocalypse.


Today's LittleNip(s):


Lost to the prince
of the air

in the Alps
where souls

suddenly disappear
by a convincing scream

with the collapse
of German wings

as a lonely bird
sings a poet's words.



A hundred shades of sunlight
on your Manhattan studio wall
of green, sky blue, red
a poet expects flying gulls
from the phosphorescent waves
to reach the bronzed Pacific
in a glimmer of first light
animating a festival of play
as an aspen of spring enters
our radiant morning field
from a perfumed vision
at the level of green eyes.


—Medusa, with thanks to today's wonderful contributors!