Thursday, April 02, 2015

Writing With Emily

—Poems by B.Z. Niditch, Brookline, MA
—Photos by Sam the Snake Man

(for Emily Dickinson

Driving no love away at night
in my hansom cab
Emily and I ride on a horse
my heart murmurs at her urges
to write poems together
keeping my quiet handsome rumors
of a Beat poet's secrets to himself,
on a mute road full of birches
with icicles hanging on
a country-white church
here mourning bells and doves
sing and ring over a winter retreat
in the smell of a scented woodland
seeing dawn come into focus
at first light in a small town
by the bride of Amherst Common
where Emily Dickinson resides,
near the forest of black bears
who also hide out on the Square,
I'm acting tonight as Brutus
focused on the Ides of March
to air out his poetry
by the powerful new branches
waiting for a green spring,
searching for bread sticks
and a Caesar salad
at the Lord Jeffrey Inn
and later to attend
a college Shakespeare symposium
and later to watch
the Visconti's film Ossessione, 1943
amid emerging birches
in greening of this hour
eyeing fragile limbs of saplings
in gentle tidings yet to flower.

(for Emily Dickinson,
1830- 1886)

Close to her love for words
with a familial feeling
like a bluebird
of being alone yet free
in our unconventional nest,
reading her secret passages
trying to understand,
she is clothed in a silk dress
at a poet's haven and royal realm
by golden butterflies
confessing to me on my laptop
her foiled imaginary sins,
we rest in folded pages
and passages of my own diary,
here by New England's flower beds
this poet's soul forgives
all that is contrary to love
and lives in eternity's hours,
we rest on greensward grass
by her cemetery river bed
I'm presenting a red rose bouquet
to Emily of Amherst
feeling obsessed like her
by being always an outsider
implanted like lovebirds
by branches in a first spring garden
watching from our swings
the tiny spider
dissolving its web by the birches
urged on only by the East wind
over the honey and apple walls
of the farmer's market
perched near the horses' gates
feeling like a thirsty outrider
knowing her discovery of verse
has no regret in language,
which has blessed and pardoned all.


It's time to be consequential
and a bit more courageous
of all our potential threats
around us,
as Beats obsessive to words
we must rise above rhyme
rhythm and our fallen reason
and get back to poetry on the streets
with new existential facelifts
not forgetting
from the outrageous past
amid reactionary and contrary walls
of surrounded Philistine envy,
but to embrace a pure love
from shadowed gates
of ancient cities and deserted towns
where the volcanic past
arises from the dust
by rains and ruins
engulfing our possessions
with sleep-housed memories
of unexplored excavations,
carrying heavy shovels in our hands
traveling the seven seas
wearing a voyager's sailor coat
of Ulysses searching for Penelope
wishing to embrace
Circe's magic bracelet
by Daphne's green tree,
our specs to the wall,
counting with searchlights
for the magus of a buried life
wanting to have a dialogue
with one of Robert Browning's
dramatic monologues,
or have a charismatic heavenly vision
of Rabbi Jesus' Aramaic journeys
up the Mount of Olives,
here in a present-tense hour
there are no dead bones
from the greatest to the least critics
after all we are vers-librists,
with a prosody and mean rap
or hearing a Rolling Stones melody
with the laughter
of Gershwin's Paris Rhapsody
insisting for music as lyricists
not ever to be embarrassed as mystics
but to live as kings, queens or priests.


Where she was
ticks off in my memory
like waves
of a thousand lights
and faces here
in Tokyo,
amid twilight places,
to take obsessive pictures
of a snowy city ablaze
in its midnight life
over clear stargazers
with a daughter's enigma
of lost love
as one eye fills with water
trying to breathe in
the presence of dangerous air
where rumors stretch now
in alleys and valleys
as in the poems of Yokio Mishima
spotted for casual
or sensual personal desires
from geisha dancers
in memory of a thousand days,
a stranger is not forgotten
nor one kiss on a dense stone
even in the zen garden of peace
as an innocent west wind
whisks past our fear-sweat
and the hot fires of adolescence.



On St. Charles Street
Dixieland jazz
appears in a hat passed
out of nowhere
with confetti in a parade
of witnesses,
it must be an obsessive dream
of Poe from a century past
along Canal and Bourbon
in a Lent-costumed underground
with airs of old Absinthe
drowned in my course of tears
as Tennessee Williams is alive
crossing St. Louis Cathedral
with madrigals singing
above live jazz bloused blues
with crowns on our head
we sign out from our hotel
impressed as royal kings and queens
with shaving cream
or lipstick returned to their kits
yet our still life portrait
is not burning out in our party outfits
of fiery New Orleans memories
with gold gowns and silver coins for tips
when dawns drags out
another day as if prepared
for a last Apocalypse
a few souls carrying safety pins
in their backpacked search
for a brown or green scapula
near the St. Louis' Church
near the Mardi Gras
with a Creole pecan-laced dessert
for a last supper from their carnal sins.



Regardless of any news
for any meaningless wishes
of my obsessive compulsion
to write in a rear-view mirror,
it's time to change the clock,
to emerge from your own abyss,
we hear what music can do
even with introspective blues
the rock songs of The Doors
or grave news on T.V.
our mood suddenly rejoices
in the interlude of an aria by Bizet
with its alto voice of a minor key
listening to an opera recording
here leaning out on highway
sensing at the ocean's edge
amid the mad swirl of The Pearl Fishers
we acknowledge the critical success
of Bizet's opera
in a lover's expression
taking away any emotion
of seasonal depression
in my own confessional largesse.


Life has smeared us, John Milton
that our love for Him
or for nature will not last
circling like Lucifer's lie
that we are cast
as a lost victim in the pit,
forgetting any icicles
in the drifts out by my door
soon there will be buds of green
outside my rear-view mirror
as we drive along the Bay
covering the twigs and trees
taking it easy in the sun,
this March freeze will be over
by the Charles River,
blue jays will soon besiege us
on the Longfellow bridge
by large Puritan houses
now turned into latte cafes
where I will again play sax
in my smooth jazz way,
a Boston spring is coming
taking up my second-hand bicycle
regretting the Arctic breath
and my clouded obsessions
with the past,
opening my windows
on the future wonder
with my Beat poet's words
under the town clock's window
singing out hymns with the birds
to lyrically embrace
the birch trees in the cold wind
with all of winter's dark shadows
even on my face.


(In memory:
Daniil Kharms, 1905-1942)

You wrote me in Russian
from the Ural Mountains
to tell me
my poetry reminded you
of Daniil Kharms
dying in a prison asylum
from starvation
during the purple red siege
of a fiery risen Leningrad
you were the third person
in the fourth country
of two centuries
to tell me as well
that there is a connection
between us,
perhaps Daniil is now speaking
at this hour to me through others
even from his unmarked grave
without any riverbed of flowers
or ready laurels
nor grave monuments beside him
or any lamented bells be heard
yet at moments of the day
we will remember you,
Daniil Kharms,
though quoted verse
of a noted poet disarms us
we will be devoted
to fulfill your memory,
in small edited books
of knowledge,
Daniil who understood
that all poetry is a gift
like songbirds scattered
in the sacred wood,
for when any of our words
are outlawed by the state
or bodies burned in a war
amid a law's scared censorship
we are all harmed at our door,
giving out my maxim
that "poets need to be appreciated
in life's secret tears and laughter
and years ever after,"
we as yet have not learned.


Today's LittleNip:

The soul should always stand ajar, ready to welcome the ecstatic experience.

—Emily Dickinson


Our thanks to today's contributors! with a note that Straight Out Scribes will be featured at Poetry Unplugged at Luna's Cafe tonight (plus open mic), 1414 16th St., Sacramento, 8pm, Geoffrey Neill hosting. Also check out Medusa's Facebook page for the two wonderful albums showing Sacramento's new Poet Laureate Park, one by Trina Drotar, and one by Sandy Thomas.