Thursday, August 20, 2015

An Unwritten Life

—Poems by B.Z. Niditch, Brookline, MA
—Photos of Pollock Pines, CA by Sam the Snake Man


We know how quickly
the excitable rain
will quicken a crowd
at our outside jazz gig
playing in a trio recital
of sax, piano and bongo
on the beach-red sand
in late afternoon's exodus
at a summer's vacation day
deserted for a five-minute break
as the sunshine returns
with runaways and black birds
knowing miracles
are for the weekend leave
of a returning veteran actor
in his motel
expecting to hear
from his overheated agent
during the torture
of his rehearsal week
unpacking his itinerant gear
hoping to remember the words
for BZ's play, Opera Bluffs
by his epigrammatic mirror
as a poet wanders alone
by the rough blue-white sea
watching the kites
on a parasol sky
under thunder and lightening.



Grass has grown
no wiser. Permit me
to speak just tonight
as an adviser to nature
asking the trembling wind
on my orange kayak
to be less vocal,
exhale to expunge
the cool sailing-ship air
as my blowing sax riffs
from a Garland tune
cover my fingertips
with Dizzy notes
sponging tousled kisses
from my chafed lips
provoke a July of laughter
between lonesome children
from nearby tourist boats
below the visionary sky
not being a latecomer here
forgive me, Charles
on this your river
smile with one wave to us
by a chorus of songbirds
to the underhanded runners
on sun-timed torsos
by cruising bacchanals
in glacial and facial memory
on this canal of a crystal sea
near the Esplanade's trees
where this poet played
by burdocks and jonquils
in a floating anniversary
of a thrilling jazz parade
life motions the currents
along the Atlantic ocean
as a metamorphosis of memory
chills the warm breeze.


There's a passion
between us tonight
the August heat
from the whole dog day
has abated on the hammock
behind the primrose bushes
of midsummer's open spaces
sweat enters us
and I'm in a four-letter word
as the sprinkler turns on
the lovebird feathers
near the fountains
of the Esplanade
telling my partner
I despise the phrase
"genuine leather"
who speaks in a quiet twilight
with a Catalan accent,
it all seems compelling
just to be mutely held
under electric city lanterns
glittering like stacks of stars
wondering if the memory
of these revolutionary stone statues
we walk by in hot weather
in our stammering adolescence
will fulfill promises
of these wonderful pink petals
on greensward tall grass
we hand to one another
passing the wispy esplanade
for another day.



An unwritten life
seems dismantled
until our dream verse
is complete
as a stopwatch on a runner
is suddenly smitten
by the marathon heat,
when we are on the defensive
in our syllables star of shame
to gamble, forget and forgive
our lost, secret, or rattled
which we must tame
just to take the matters
of meters in our rhythmic cause
to adjust our musical hands
from scattered thoughts
for the panegyric laws remain,
on our beautiful table
we ate in a repast of grammar
our language's delicious fruit
yet sometimes wish our plate
to be as shellfish now mute,
as a pastoral poet with a story
we run a victory lap
at the marathon
hearing the claps for a laureate
yet hammering our roots
from any self-made quarrel
we continue on
finding in our thesaurus' mind
the right rap in any dispute,
like a heavenly songbird
with its own sunflower dish
remembering where he once swam
off the Blue Hills lake
where under the August rays
we salmon fish,
masked by small gulls
a few sparrows call to sing
entering at my geranium window
awakening the neighborhood
outlasting shadows
on floral bushes to be heard,
remembering after the war
the poor Russian urchins
and orphans who took bread
with all their gall and nerve,
breaking it above the cupboard
to serve us at the cookie jar,
we ask for a sugary connection
for just that pronoun or verb
in our bakery's confection,
for it's not an easy game
to write poetry into perfection
not unlike pitching pennies
near the curb,
wishing for a lexicon's right word
to give us satisfaction
like a green tea, confection or herb
without a gaff's partisan reaction
to the dictionary's adjective
wanting a perfect paragraph
not willing to lose any expression
from any colorful photograph
or lost telegram's reflection
in a daily lively T.V. scam
or to leave us alone to believe
only in the garden's primrose
or like Adam's promise at Eve
wish to find the right trajectory
to parachute and seek pardon
over every Eden's word
with an anagram's own history
to scramble, land and disclose;
for poetry is a creative mystery,
being as rambling herald or Beat
or like Dizzy Gillespie
Judy Garland or Ella Fitzgerald
working riffs at dancing feet
knowing at downtown crossing
someone is walking by the street
recalling his own quotes,
another is in a red sports car
disclosing her business notes
in a relaxed new summer outfit
or a guy at the music bar
as a sax or trumpet player thirsts
with his critic's notes,
a starry-eyed beggar is in trouble
offering a gentle curse
when life stops at the traffic lights
at Mondrian orange or red
another pedestrian goes crazy
and manic in a tiff,
someone sees his double instead
another is in a panic to wed,
a brother drops his vegetables
by chance
on the farmer's market table
Esau forsaking his own
anger and defiance
wanting assurances like Abel
for an Almighty blessing
or like David, a poet and shepherd
as a small child had a staff
for his reliance to lean on
we hear his ominous laugh or cry
as we read of the psalms
in a glorious epitaph's goodbye.


Overgrown with tall grass
with pawns on a chessboard
August directs you
to a paper cut and iodine
after reading the Venice news
when laughter from the comics
even fails your words’ mood
a new sky-writing line
keeps me awake as the wings
of the beckoning gulls cover
over my blank verse metamorphosis
and interpreting my day dream,
waiting for the heat wave
to assign you to a bluish sea
filled with seven swans
we're diving off familiar docks
by the flying gulls
in the home harbor quay
near the tourist ships
on a weekend holiday
we survive on the ocean's barge
floating at the highest tide
to encircle my kayak journey
assembling a large tube by my side
from a feverish sandy beach
knowing in the news
in a Seventies time of images
a reporter will publish texts
or a camera showing
their T.V. secret sightings
of us on rope's lorries
back to back
or trying my sorry hands
at poker
as certain as I'm playing
the blues next morning too
so you play your guitar
near a motioning tourist boat
brooding near the rocks
by the jacaranda plants
silence covering us
from the shouting faces
by runners on their marathon
races by as the sunset leaves us
until the curling stars are out
as a my neighbor Diana
the actor in my last play
disappears as a huntress
with her understudy proctor
as the goddess hovers by
covering me with secret kisses
with favors for our late afternoon
reads me back my poem
until it is regretted to be late
with birds flying in the winds
in Venice's twilight of the moon.



The rose gardens
of our childhood
suddenly disappeared
and the cold authorities
have taken sister away
books lie in carnage
on burnt fields
in a glitter of brown leaves
of hapless remembrance
only the old styles are back
a general in a devil cape
all in black hides
behind the engraved portraits
of my once-lighthearted family
who plays bridge or charades
bleeding by tree brambles
the nights seem lonely
busy doorways of bars
hear assassin's bullets whistle by
a grey van pulling up
and arresting a honeymoon couple
ships of exiles float by
baptized late at night
and a boy poet in the rain
wearing a laurel wreath
from the garden
stands by the wet feet of a sparrow
as faceless men in overcoats
try to drive over him.


All her lovers have left her
to take cover
for the underground
only novel thoughts
of past artistic dreams
seem to keep her alive
wishing to harness bells
of Tchaikovsky's 1812
blaze above her roof
needing repair
empty and damp
from a hundred days
of rain in the summer air
with too few birds on trees
crying gulls,
and swans off the river
hide by a refuge and bees nest
near the cold movie house
of this city's glare
where actors’ greatness played
in Chekhov's Three Sisters
as performance art
there is now a motionless despair
in an unfinished yearning
Anna putting aside the world
for wisdom's discerning
in a trampled demolished time
and all her friends
have gone far away,
all the names of the dead
in exile, revolution and war
have taken their call
in a chorus of Da Rimini
so many souls scattered
and slaughtered from immobility
all shadow-days of her century
have left her
the newsstands are empty
except for the Arbat headlines
of crimes against humanity
humiliated with fainting brows
even your son Lev is gone
only the wind gnashes
over the breezes on the Neva
yet on radio Moscow
there is Mozart, con brio
and in words and letters
of her legacy
will slowly do her part.



Perhaps because grandmother
is Spanish
to expect tragedy
is already one
to keep in silence
in this century of Civil War
for a poet to deny
history's wronged words
is to have vanished
by farewell songbirds
when morning wears
her own children out
by her ungovernable piano
in her rented rooms
overgrown with Joaquin Rodrigo
feeling at home
with a Segovian lesson
on her Catalan guitar
resting now in her orange groves
tasting the imagination
of a child's surprise
in her prisms of dark eyes
you expect
to adopt her optimism,
even options of miracles
are the easiest daydreams
above stars in the open canopy
to brambles and trees
under the tabernacles we love
as children to enter in.


The sky and earth
will receive you
no longer living
by inscribing visions
in your poems, lovers, songs
when August days
offer vibes and embraces
over warm nights
planting yourself
in vocal and visual corridors
by repeated believing mirrors
covering green reading rooms
in summer playhouses
workshops, chances of parlors
as intrusive car horns
prompts a dream interpretation
of mood in drawing seances
once of a reborn solitude
with orchestrated
sated trumpets, sad cellos
on an FM radio
driving out his city moods
in pedestrian nature's ways
drawing mature faces
doing his insight business
by boudoir doors
in a full circle at midnight
from the fullness of summertime
in a New York minute
sighing over
a Long Island hammock
pausing on votive stones
charts, maps of stars,
changing all the clocks
teasing all of us
along the world's market places
by sailboat cruises on docks
in the rain-soaked seas’ last floor.


Today’s Middle-Sized-Nip:


When ideas crowd us
suddenly on a beach
or at the supermarket
searching for a peach
or when Nina nods off
kneeling at church
during her daily morning Mass
or at the unveiling of the sacraments
or someone makes
a railing disparagement of God
or at a past or current government
in a master class on Dickinson
or the noon sun dries out our clothes
putting miracle thoughts on the line
and life discloses the good
from all human disasters
as clear as alabaster or wine
or we read John Donne metaphysically
in his metaphors as divine
watching the birds as harvesters
during an August recess
we pick up wood as words
and can only guess
how they become yours or mine.


—Medusa, with thanks to today's fine contributors! Don't forget to check Medusa's Facebook page for Michelle Kunert's photos of last Monday's Sac. Poetry Center reading!