Thursday, April 16, 2015

Skies of Monet

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


April visits me
in the shade of noon
a gull on my porch's gate
is doing stretching exercises
sprawled out for a rest
watching me paint
a watercolor
as warblers sing
in a wordless address to nature
amid a repast of lemony fruit,
here in that restful time of day
seasoned by a trance
of bartering for warmth
along the shadowy willows
by the shore
a dancing light moves by
the soft winds off the Bay,
there is a brief showery rain
and suddenly a melody
in a minor key for lute
floats in my private landscape
with a clear harmonious sound,
swallows sway by me
and sweep the dust on the road
as if saints are at their prayers
coming from quietus to life,
now the sky is full of sparrows
and a host of other song birds
who drift along cirrus clouds
chirping to their own tune
in a upturned spring rapture
from a transparent light
at noon from a daydream
sustaining unison and vision
a poet leans out his window
to restore a vase of geraniums
put away for a season,
the air off the ocean floor
recalls a daily rumbling seaweed
you would wade through
where he in the triangle mist
of hedges, flowers,
and woodland trees,
would run a half-mile
even take a quick dip at the shore,
now his words
are curved in silence
remembering those hours
in chimes of the abbey
where Merton silently passes us
rejoicing in the intimacy
as grace is a refrain in our ear
knowing even at this noon
we cannot go back
to embrace the self-assured
morning shining like rubies
in the effervescence of light
or at a kaleidoscope of diamonds
we would emerge from the sunshine
feeling the watchful eye
of the white cat
whom we shelter in our arms
under the once-shivering Elms
it is the stroke of Thursday noon
draped in our grey eiderdown
napping over a hammock
in a downcast chill of memory
knowing we survived
the boxed-in winter
and longing to watch
from the beach house
a merciful sky of Monet.



You ask for change
from strangers
outside the bank
but have no interest
except for words
without thanks
it's still April Fools for me
and like any southpaw
you try to change
your melancholy expression
from behind your bearded jaw
to play kickball
with a new life at a wall
after doing a confession,
you find a lucky ten
from a lottery ticket
and find yourself
doing a cool tango
with Juanita in a jazz club
she calls Daniel's den,
we drink and eat tacos
before the place closes
after a chance for love
a poem emerges
from that time spent
feeling like Dostoyevsky
in California's nineteen-sixties
with his Crime and Punishment
gambling for rubles on his knees,
we're not a member of the law
or clergy
more like Pushkin or Whitman
writing his elegies
or a blackbird
in a stage of flight
here on the sands of Ocean Beach
like a San Francisco Beat.

 Light on Glass


A Mozart miniature
stands on my piano
after long cold winters
of an obscure slumber,
he cannot turn my way
to lift his musical gaze
or argue any gifted formula
in our modernist culture
with my interpretations of days,
if he could hear my chanting
mouthfuls of prayers
to high praise
or my playing
rhythmical jazz tunes
while watching the snow
with me on the island shadows
of my memory's ways,
as he listens
to new lyrical cool
sax exercises and exposes
in metaphors of my confidence
he may make sense
or be moved by my tempo,
yet we are both alone
staring at the new moon
with my clicking of a scale
in a merciful shade of my solo
with schooled instructions
composing riffs and numbers
on those evenings of ours
we have a dance of the hours
when music cannot fail
our reed and powers.



We follow your eyelids
of words under winds and hill
watching the snapping
of trees along the boulevard
as any Parisian
of the avant-garde
attenuating the good nature
of a Rousseau
capturing love's rendezvous
in the April breeze
by the Seine's flow.



Hands of acting
in a Beckett play
too deep for words,
you rubbed out
my initials
on the Elm tree
on opening night
consenting to live
for another day
like Godot
recollecting my lines
in the studio basement
still on this April dawn
trying to feel enlightened
for a voyeur and voyager
here estranged from family
and frightened
by breakdowns from friends
praised by the directors
then slapped down
by my punitive understudy
the dressing room awash
in so much nervous energy
we decked out
in satin or black gowns
feeling like being
one of the actor's clowns
and living like tiny birds
in nests trying to survive
yet wanting to flee
from so much hurt
with tiny cups of goat yogurt
packed away in my suitcase
near a book of psalms
in Latin and French
found at the bus stop bench
as if a sign were sent
when I got this part
at the positive audition
and could pay my rent.


Students making a movie
on Emily Dickinson
here on the Common
on an April dawn
by sweeping swan boats
near Puritan statues
where Ann Hibbins
was hanged as a witch
and Crispus Attucks
gave his life
in a revolutionary act
and I'm asked
for commentary
and facts
on this documentary
across a hundred memories
where we swam as children
in Frog Pond
running the Boston Marathon
by rose vines
and memorial stones
over enriched cemeteries
of famous gentlemen's bones
hearing bells at Advent
after barely paying
the Beacon St.Chambers
monthly rent
with my long-hair appearance
always quoting Whitman
and Baudelaire
in the dark hallways,
a professor and former editor
near a tall Elm
asks for a camera shot
for public exposure
and we remember
Robert Lowell
eating out with us
at Dante's on the hill
knowing in still-life mood
hobnailed in my profession
by so much intensity
poets like me
need a day of solitude,
yet am thrilled
I'm still recognized here
amazed at the sunshine
and fresh air
after the grey winter's
voiceless breath of snows
gave us solitary shadows
where the cool winds
near drifts of white beds
helplessly recover from
its death blows
to trace the night.



Birds are on long Elms
here in Cambridge
my face pressed
against the glass
of the auditorium
early on a twilight spring hour
amid resonance and recital
to hear you read Beowulf
now you too are translated
from a visionary's words
still hearing your awareness
of our natural lyrical world
your suggestive voice stills us
in a life affirming read.



A mystical glow
on a warm island wind
as the noon sun
drips icicles
in the loving glen,
friend to O'Hara,
Schuyler, Ashbery,
your artist husband
my unsealed eulogy to you
who loved St. Francis
of Assisi
when a greater love
is revealed in this elegy.


When snowdrifts
fall asleep
and a poet is exhausted
under the portico
with wounding dreams
and sorry sightings
of dark walls peeling
not knowing when reality
from diary or dowry
of our brief journey
will inherit us for
another day
on this planet earth
between images of light
in visionary desire
from deep mirrored nights
feeling awkward
on the track
of the marathon
with old sneakers and socks
left by a go-go dancer
from Boston
with a broken back
who fell
the morning before
on the newly painted
bottom stair floor
near the motionless clock
with me reciting to him
from Homer's Odyssey
he also returned lonely
from the navy
injured by former lover
over the laughing swells
of the China Sea
reading my last collection
asking me to autograph it
under the cover of my poetry
not standing on ceremony
by telling of a desperate flight
and of his comradely feeling
like any exile.


Today's LittleNip:


You thought
some day
your princess or prince
would fit in
like the right shoe
but then you realized
as a young adult
that she or he loved you
not in the singles' ads
or in movies, cartoons
or fairy tales
which were unreal
almost without reason
that when the secret language
of love poetry emerges
everything will line up
in its silent place
intently gazing at you.


—Medusa, with thanks to today's contributors for their tasty poems and photos! See for more about Ann Porter.

 Katy's photos today were taken at Boa Vista Orchards
in Camino, CA.