Thursday, August 13, 2015

All These Earthly Things

—Poems by B.Z. Niditch, Brookline, MA
—Photos by Denise Flanagan, Newton, MA

(for Bella Akhmadulina, 1937-2012)

Gathering blueberries
on a random August day
even as it showers
squalls and fierce gusts
will signal us
nearby our snorkels
on the ocean floor
where alighting grackles rest
near carrera fountains
near the edge of the shore
by my face-down rock garden,
and all the commotion of nature
the birds, the fronds and fauna
near the crystal twigs
of woodlands
my camera carefully watches
miracles of piercing thorns
as the last summer evening
primroses offer us
a touch of laughter
or discreet pardons
as the wharf's winds
ruffle on Evergreen trees
near the garden's rhododendron
as stemming a court of storms,
we do a late run by the shore
in a flaxen call of gestures
as a still life paints our picture
in our own domains
brushes away a wasp nest
as images from our palate
pass over art's procedures
near the giant pomegranate
my alto sax makes riffs
in glimpsed notes of fragments
in our bird-valorous back yard
by catching all of nature's ventures
the full lemon tree
of sunshine sustains us
by a chorus of mouthing herons
under Elms with wispy leaves
start to rapidly fall as apples
as an early Autumn grieves
by our mirrored Narcissus
over the luminous pools
at tendril corners with jonquils
near a bending philodendron
yet rising bees start to hum
in the heather and brushwood
showers begin to singe our gate
by the bean and corn fields
everyone speaks from our eyes
over the bright weather vane
as if only reborn when love yields
being anxious for the cirrus clouds
covering the nomad-shaped sky
counting clusters to disappear
passing by us as puffy shrouds
near moths and dragonflies
as rays with its late mist guard
nature's precious shield
helping memorial poppies of earth
to sustain our bardic poet wishes
in a near or far country of Bella
from a loving Russian voice
with lashed umbrellas waving
as flags on waterproof cloths
near hospital ships at sea
the captain calling for a rescue
by home harbor fishing boats
bodies float as brave Ulysses
on tomes and myths of eternity.



The windy foliage
at a distance
along the country road
in early August
wary of the dog days
but invigorated by a run
after the scorched silence
on the Cape empties out
a few wary tourists
heading for the waves
or home harbor boats,
here in the pure mist
of scattering hyacinth
my brush slowly shapes
cirrus cloud-like patterns
though a gorgeous labyrinth
drawn from the dark blue sky
under once-shackled
painted gold leaves
now fallen from nearby oak
opening my shining album
of discreet poem and photo
hearing sounds from lovebird nests
sprouting weathered wings
of departing grackles
wishing to sing of Whitman
this brier-sweet Autumn
near a fawn's footfall
as memories slowly walk away
from trembling thorns
on this last summer rosebush
near shifting bee hives
newly born as metamorphosis
on branches of Evergreen
from another generation
with extended memories
now gone from a counterfeit
time in the city,
I'm collecting blueberries
under poplars
wanting to play Mozart
in the open woodland
on a self-made magic flute
to transport me though time
by another blossoming island
without boundaries
in a chimera of daydreams
hearing wary hunters depart
in the light of day.


We walk early on the beach
under summer's sun
of defenseless heat
reaching for a backpack
green with expectation
of my own traveled past
wishing to grow up
to live on a kayak
with a waterlogged existence
carrying a blue bottle
tossed to reach eventide
a century later
with this poem inside
on the ocean's spectrum
reaching the bitter drought
and humdrum sounds
of blackbirds swept by waves
as the light strikes my face
by heavy currents
motioning off shore
the waves admit me
to their rounds
a dog avoids my tracks
remembering my navy cap
with a twanged voice
in a white shell's echo
alerting me
there are fresh bluefish around.



Daylight rescues
a sharpened skeptical pen
from a laundered
morning's open shirt
my pea jacket is pawned
yet ready for pick-up
my starlit eyelashes
rehearse my new play
staring at a print
of Modigliani
by the jalousie windows
where the cat slips
inside my pocket poetry
delays my August holiday
of abstracted absences
a portrait in blue
from a styptic face
in crayon of a sated pale hour
crashing on a distracted time.


Playing my alto sax sonata
for "Hart Crane's Memory"
in refrains of riffs
at a Big Apple club
wishing you could be back with us
but you are near shipwrecked cliffs
by a chorus of sandpiper birds
over the Florida keys
watching a thunderous hurricane
as swallows rise
here under thundering rains
wishing a sunrise on your back
praying for epiphanies
against mad voices in your head
falling on your hurting knees
after a brooding distress
recollecting all your daydreams
above your searches and cruising
in underground shelters
hiding alcohol, drugs and booze
feeling like a castaway from Beelzebub
playing hands of solitary poker
without jokers or an ace of clubs
wanting a fast-fading Muse of love,
sleep now, Hart Crane,
by the poplar shade of shutters
on your trembling thin arms
knowing soon the bittersweet scent
off every crooked staff tree
will waft to outlast the waves
engulfing the last sea's epitaph
amid humid windows
in the portholes of your ship
weeping and laughing
at the last hour
not asking to save face
by seeking any pardon
at the fountain of perennial youth
when no one behaves,
Hart, may you find haven and heaven
on these island encantadas,
now rest in peace, in the weft
of a wind-fallen sea
among a release
of a million millennial sunflowers
walking by evening primrose gardens
near parting leaves of a Juniper tree.



On Caravaggio days
believing I'm in the fury
of August's sudden shudder
amid nomad navy waves
and hearing the last siren
as a castaway sailor
getting wisdom to be stronger
with a Homeric poetic song
to outlast on the earth's belly
by the equator's corner
hidden on top-deck quarters
by first light with a memory
caught under the iron ropes
and clapping masts
of another century's ways
without much good hope
lost at sea when trills of images
doodle on my canvas
shut off from a photo's light
in tenebrous thoughts
and dark-screened visions
illumined my human shape
from homemade sunglasses
chasing away a weekend
from any loveless afternoon
in an obscured puzzled time
of a subterranean retrospective
wishing to paint as a refugee
in a new signal of modernity
by recreating electric bas reliefs,
my face passes over continents
on my small kayak
by flying gulls in this daydream
as if on a grey cloudy moon
in distances welcome my shadows
dusting off blue balloons
over my drawing boards
at bay from nature's pleasure,
bright colors hurry to rush in
backing me along this fjord
brushing up my canvas
and lost green knapsacks
to greet me and embrace
breathing in a savor of ocean air
by motioning my camera landscape
in a Mediterranean transparency
over the floating river's lagoons
draping my belief in peace
without facing a rapier or sword
taken in by art's chance lottery
from a wandering phantasmagoria
by a living lesson in another century
over a leisured refuge
taught only by nature's deliverance.


In a Frisco club
walking in with my sax
from the now muni metro trains
at a rehearsal
where you sing on stage
at a young fragrant time
when we both needed to relax
hoping for success at our age
when you were my Muse,
I'm carrying my pocket poetry
of my very first collection
you sign on your handbag
tonight feeling alone
needing no wine or confection
as the bright lights are flickering
others in the jazz corners
even some in lively drag
are laughing and bickering
as your emotive voice
echoes in the hallways
Nina Simone, always kept us alive
with a hot photograph
taking her spot-on picture
over by my shoulder's camera
at my musical riffs side
an adolescent heart smolders
from the ashen smoke
in the jazz underground
when you spoke to me
by whatever field of expression
in your love songs
for us to survive
witnessing to love's impression
whenever our lives went wrong
remembering those early poetic
notes sounding
by my playing the piano
your music keeps us alive.


(Thomas Merton, in memoriam)
The seabirds hear an odyssey
from my green guitar
sent to me from Venice Beach
to get me off the hook
from parental storms back East
putting on rosin for my strings
over the crosswise weft
in a warm red cloth
recounting those raft days
of the Sixties
facing the surfing waves
searching for starfish
by the clefts of solid rocks
now like my overcast memory
melting away
in the sea's blue shade
by leafs of olive and redwood
fading as back to back sand dunes
blacked out near red bird-trees
bending over the last light
of an August dog day
playing chess, checkers
and solitaire
while eating jam crackers
feeding the fish, salamander, birds
while reading Rimbaud
and "Fleurs du mal" by Baudelaire
this Beat poet with his guitar
playing smooth riffs
not knowing who we really are
standing by windmills
feeling like a young Daniel
by the terror
of untamed beasts and lions
with so much adolescent pain
by a furnace in the airless heat
wishing for an after-holiday shower
or at least a gentle rain
returning from camping it up
in the dark rehearsing my plays
under tents with my fellow actors
in Utah's Zion national park
preparing to go on
with a fistful of first acts
to off-off-Broadway
with red sunburnt eyes
while searching in my temperament
for peace at the church door
taking a holy week to be a lector
by reading in Latin and Greek
of mighty angels helping Gedeon
in the Book of Hebrews,
going as a visitor to Gethsemani
at Kentucky's abbey
where Tom Merton also prays
in corridors and on remnant pews
amid a pungent pine tree silence
next to a juniper odor
within a body's firmament
needing solitude at the monastery
away from war and violence.

(For Juan Gelman, 1930-2014)

All these earthy things,
the small myrtle at the edge
of the pond’s tall grass
as orange Mexican fruit falls
sponging Juan's sandal's feet
near the pomegranates,
a nomad poet in solitude
on his hammock
senses an allergic hay fever
by an Argentine raspberry stalk
where an exile from the Ukraine
by the hunched valley
locates carpenter bees
by the woodland sounds
while students search for turtles
taking a photo of their carapace
for their nature class
by scales and nets of fishermen
in a sky wall of early blue gauze
over the hospital ship's docking
with its odor of cold milk
in the early rain's horizon
by an open barnyard field
of slender curled tendrils
the poet collects shells
to hear echoes
of this gentleman's words
at his notebook's blank paper
near the ocean's grove
watching the hauling of lobsters
in undulant waves
near the docks of the shore
as this time is suddenly baptized
on mizzled rain drops
for an August greeting word
with so many crying gulls
at the noonday
next to one another
with hidden wings
of tiny birds curled on branches
who sing of Juan Gelman
in the eventide searching
for his missing daughter
by a harpoon found
from the ditch waters.


Today’s LittleNip(s):

Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time.

Happiness is not a matter of intensity but of balance, order, rhythm and harmony.

—Thomas Merton


—Medusa, with thanks to today's contributors B.Z. Niditch and Denise Flanagan from Massachusetts!