Thursday, May 21, 2015

The Unacknowledged Legislation of the World

 B.Z. at Good Harbor Beach
—Photos by Denise Flanagan, Newton, MA
—Poems by B.Z. Niditch, Brookline, MA


When will understanding
mend our wronged lives
a poet waits on a phrase
with his words landing
from an instructive sail
on a morning's longed-for map
over our chilled Coast
after a dawn's brief nap
as in a moving equation
adds up to a verse's line
may suddenly surprise us
by its bird song brevity
and make our praise
the most minimalist
on such glorious May days
such as this shine,
knowing as former formalist
in my profession
and briefly academic
make a confession
who someone who turned
completely Beat at sixteen
going to his reading
as James Dean
on a motorcycle
then insisted on a most informal
sun-flowered reality
drove me as summer seer
and wine drinking urbane poet
to seek his own nomenclature
with a sleek urban partiality
as a Whitman city slicker
with an A personality
in a contrary nature free of care
to that which the critics expect
on a bar of selections
to choose a cask
of a different liquor,
as a glancing free spirit
with his own resonant sect
shadows my own predilections
in a masked conduit of taste
not asking any favors
but what proverbs asks us
in a semblance saves us
from a wasted sunrise
along the dunes meadows
holding onto a sheepdog
from the highlands
his orange kayak
plunging into the sea
without a seersucker suit
by the islands to compose
playing a viol and flute
at last feeling to be free.



Your light captures
enraptures us
by the horizon's rays
of a May's dawn
then is gone
at sunrise
plays on our day's prisms
of our impressionism
and quickens as a jazz riff
in a sandstorm of time
or grain
on an open field
in Northern California's plain
shaken and gone as breath
dazzles our landscape
shapes our way
in wings of a swan
waters our eyes
like rain sings outdoors
among the crocus
and drops into oblivion.



Those mornings
waiting for a line of bass
or any fish to appear
losing no time on the tall grass
by the dock and deck
admiring the black swan's neck
in the springtime of adolescence
after our papers are examined
and our moving eyes
stop to look at the clock
when the academic year
is through for vacation
we flee to our passions
wishing to ride out early
in a rowboat or kayak
over the motionless shore
on the Pacific Ocean waters
to catch up to our poetry
and complimentary love life
with a fearless conscience
embracing an opening wave
by a school of salmon
in frenzy then motionless silence
of too much cool memory
already tasting the filet of sole
cooked along the sea.



To locate my part
along the bare stage
in a windowless studio
to find his lines
standing in a circle
motionless for his helplessness
murmuring in gestures
before we go on stage
not forgetting Beckett's words
or nuance
just to have a chance
to take in a part in summer stock
to survive the clowning reasons
for several dress rehearsals
and to live in another's soul
for an open air season
by the ferryman and south shore
out by nature's scythed grass
for scenes in the park's theater
is to be once again alive
expanding my portfolio once more.

 B.Z. on Ben Bench

May 21, 1265

Wherever sealed
in a waiting room
shading in a portrait
or fading out of love
my Latin returns
of your verses to me
or watching a Saturn sky
having lost hope
from my old telescope
of viewing
a meteoric pattern of stars
of my own visibility
here in Manhattan
writing in nine circled bars
for sax and orchestra
by leading a comic, satire
or a satyr play
your words still enthrall
here on your birthday
along the sea shore
fixing my friend's oboe
and I call on our Abba
to rescue me
as only you know
reading of your journey
through stories
of love poets
trembling in awe and majesty
of undone absurd times
over weird griefs
treated to middle-aged
bruised law's iniquity
that through your harmony
of verse we are free
to share our beliefs
my friend, Dante Alighieri
with an open window
of nature's spring relief
in an upstaged conduit
of mythical divine
or diluvian sights
scuttling our awkwardness
of veiled or impaled
mystical reflections
from a horizon of delights
with no directions
away from empty dark nights
to recover our souls
as an exiled refugee
in a concealing purgatory. 


May 21 (1926-2005)

There were two of us
who spoke together
of Martial
after your shielded reading
during your partial recital
when time came to a stop
and soon were translated
yourself to passing glances
in a memorial
on a free-wielding
rush of your words
by keeping the lamp
of dancing verse
of our blushing flames going
in a changing season
by a college room fireplace
of a strong voice aiming at
swaying your delightful
flirting audience
suddenly all
in inescapable silence
as if to say, Robert
only in taking off
all our night shirts
for your love poetry
can still make my day.

Glory Cloud

May 24 (1940-1996)

How you learnt English
from the Russian
you told us it was Auden
who made you modern
after "the bronze horseman"
of Pushkin
in the land of Lenin,
how you wished to emigrate
after reading
"Notes from the Underground"
and we signed petitions
to the new heads of state
and waited for years
until you came
appearing to be our emigre
reaching out to us
suited for us in grey
to teach us by our shore
in newborn smart verses
you held us captive
as a sounding millstone
took your enlarged heart
only too soon leaving us
as we translated
and celebrate your day
in a nightfall you depart.


May 25 (1803-1882)

We stood on the rude bridge
you wrote verses about
on the same earth
under the soft blue sky
by red-winged blackbirds
on the Evergreen and Elm
as if they sing out
your very words and sentiment
on the branches above us
as kayak riders on riverbeds
with their freshened white oars
waving to us as amazed students
over the sea passerby wind
circles us from down below
on the Concord riverbank shore
the scent of lilacs overwhelming us
my faithful eyes in silence
at your buried back of history
comes alive as a hall of mirrors
of the sun's floodlights reflections
we take out your poetry, criticism
devouring lunches from our knapsacks
and relax on the May tall grass
in spring's full-flowered accord.



You may look back
in distracted sentiment
offering a poet's
enacted commandment
by living freely
in our universe,
or you may choose to curse
some of your past verse
or bottle it as milk
for nature's sake
as in a robin's red breast
or take on Daphne under a tree
and make words come alive
from a dictionary's treasure chest
of silk or at a measured snow
or target a free verse phrase
and fly with St. Sebastian's arrow
as in a somersault of Apollo,
there is always tomorrow
to take cover in the rain
words are often contrary
from the finest brain,
you may choose directions
on any page
for a new collection
as you relax with a latte
on a repast
over tables of confections
with any number
of cucumber sandwiches
or with watercress,
so put on your flowered laurel
with poetry as a lasting prize
or quarrel with an eidetic critic
at Browning's monologues
with an empowered surprise,
you may be blessed
in an ecumenical sharing
on altars of bread and wine
and learn in a searching dialogue
calling on the rabbinical divines
with garments of cassock
reciting in a church, mosque
or synagogue,
we remember to earn our paradise
from our language vaults
in all the shamrock of years
that from our last venal penalty
is to seek to alter and pardon
when our venerable imagination
does not yield or falters
its garden's flowered vegetation
as Shelley said of poets
we are the unacknowledged
legislation of the world.


Today's LittleNip:


Ski season is over
by the birches' branch
in Mount Snow, Vermont
the borderline wind wants
to make us cold
when we are told
of the disordered avalanche
from the hilly ranges
near the emboldened rescue
everyone is a friend
in the whitened frenzy
there are no strangers
in the craggy bends
that we know.


Our thanks to chefs B.Z. Niditch and Denise Flanagan for today's contributions, and a reminder that there is a lot going on today and tomorrow in NorCal poetry! Scroll down to the blue box (under the green box) at the right for all the details. 


 B.Z. at the Poetry Wall