Thursday, August 27, 2015

Reading Whitman in the Woods

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


You are reality
on Summer Street
energized by the sunshine
discovering a young poet
now walking up
the Fine Arts museum steps
by sleepless French windows
nearby visiting René Magritte
by the reading room
opening up to his "Empire of Light"
through sleepless windows
watching a grackles’ nest
glow by white marble stones
resting on wellspring shadows
of daffodils, aspens and asphodels
cupped and coupled by wrens
passing under night lanterns
by the flickering tall grass
now mustering a seized vision
covered by early Fall's leaves
a red bird wings and feathers
burning from the sun
into a now-blinded shade
on the Common's park bench
examining Dickinson's words
by the waters’ glen and glade
watching at the Fenway pond
of bright red turtles and ducks
by lily groves, dunes and trees
on moistening lukewarm waters
as robins rest on Greek statues
calcined in folklore's insolent myths
of painted arrows and bull's eyes
piercing our lost memories
to wish for open hands
in a Moses fishing rod
praying for halibut
salmon, mackerel and cod
over the Atlantic ocean
as a caterpillar rides
on my right shoulder
a wise woman walks
motioning with an Asian parasol
to keep her from the heat
watching her borderline smile
passes by us with weary feet
as the poet not wishing
for any public disclosure
in his private posture
whirls on a branched hammock
as if God's sorrowful mystery
of his secret phrase of words
hides him in a fissure of rock
near a chorus of songbirds
and graying pigeons
finding strawberries
on unmade river beds
reading Whitman in the woods
along the sailboats at Bay
he carries the berries in a basket
to his neighborhood
stretched out
for a long August day.



Shadows of a spider
outside my window
up to the ceiling
by the rising pane
feeling like an outsider
just passing through
my doors
like a driven exile
or any stranger
no one ignores
as tiny drops of rain
float on an early hour
revealing doubled images
by my stopwatch
catching a bit of sun
arranging my hours
at the string of my day
in a morning prayer
without a rope of delay
watching a bocce player
throw the ball
along the troubled highway
concealed by wall flowers
he murmurs by the bridge
filled with muddy traffic
he retrieves the ball
near the fallen leaves
now turning brown
in a low ridge garden
near a mote of hope
without panic or guess
of pardon to survive
then retrieves the ball
in the upland glen
as I'm the only witness
writing it all down
as in Psalm 45
a ready writer
with a lively pen.


Those Sixties days
of Warhol's night out
in the Factory
when genius is annoyed
and rent is due
your life is spent
so why argue
about cost or salary
lost love is free
as a founder's pop art
when everyone is a superstar
or a bounder
playing on their art's fantasy
from your insomnia's
enamored world
why get hammered
for your cursed insight
on flirting drama queen
tabloid film
or unrehearsed musical words
until we hear by chance
from crowded laughter
sudden shots on a jammed gun
as an ambulance pulls over
to take Andy away
after boasting Valerie Solanas
wounds the art critic
Mario Amaya in the hallway,
why selfishly try to hurt
you, Warhol
a talented religiously-oriented
Polish soul who needs to be nursed
will sweat it out and perspire,
what days of the Sixties
by the unemployed you hire
until in your own Freudian slips
you are cursed by its death toll
like so many Sixties politicos,
how we admired your tapestry
when art's roll call's inspire
you to become bolder
by the boastful camera lens
as your shoulder now bends
who can sleep
as art takes a qualitative leap
and we all make amends.



By the paper birches
of my back yard
on my winter vacation
everything is first light
in this hinterland
away from the shadow
of a cliff stone bird
who catches a Siamese cat
on a jetty of my sleep
I'm driven by a sled
in the linear snow
the sun rises in Moscow
by the tidal pull
of my ink-dream bed
from a first collection
near the shed
holding my own papers
of bone-sinking words
far from home
in the bluest eye, it seems
of my Idaho recollection.


Beacon Hill
was not so quiet
in the icy November
as Robert Lowell
passed show dogs
near a hydrant
on Joy Street
under a lantern's twilight
by red brick cornices
of my college days,

If only I could call back
to you from life's mystery
a professor would day "Yes"
to a writ of congealed voices
translate you as a novice
from the thick darkness
as a poet-confessor in history,

Perhaps the evergreen trees
have dropped their acorns
to remind us
of a chorus of song birds
still wounding
my perpetual adolescence
as a marathon passes by
angled by a scholar's eye
hearing water music
over the Charles River
my memory of this hour
never parched or drowned
over the mythic bridge
where sailboats load
to deliver passengers
to the emerging underground.



Still trudging through
Long Beach's bubbles
my friend is all smudged
keeping underwater
with snorkel practices
yet now reaching out in songs
for Bernadette
from the mud of daydreams
by warm sunny blankets
of outdoor accidents
his sports bandage treatments
under thunder rainy squalls
yet this laughing acquaintance
survives it all
by his taking cover
from a liberal household
filled with a private arbiter
of his business of family secrets
in perpetual parental storms
as a metamorphosis
of one's own geography
comics, history and statistics
leaning on intermittent devices
with his own pale ices
some brief hours of scrutiny
of our own tiny disbelief
spelled out in a lesson plan
for this young man bicycled
up from a far country
from heat waves
on a thousand bridges
and sandy roads
in this dawn by the sea
our feet in blue water
presenting me
as a friendly apprentice
in our art class
his painting of a torso
shaded by chiaroscuro
unraveling a young spirit
in a poet set to sail.


Finding out
how perishable verse
escaped all the pallor
of speechless brainwashing
from parental storms
you make mirrored gestures
and temperamental faces to hide
from a troubled look
with a cyclone of words
and your double-up Muse
you escape Paris
for a Morocco book
without injury from any roulette
leaving no imagination
or shame from Verlaine's bullet
and the optional joker
of a lost game
in exile and detention
of a lyrical correspondence
to insure your name
with myth, identity or nation
a smile not gone wrong
Rimbaud, you are free
and risen by fourteen stations
outside with a prison song.



With painted crates
filled with a carriage
of cloud and loganberries
with Igor and Galina
all ready to board
up to the riverside
and carry over to crystal lake
and take a swim
by unmade river beds
with us hardly awake
taking red wine and vodka
in three cups
by dishes of caviar
and Danish cheese
over these cathedral-gray hills
with my still life palette
pulsing with nature aside
over this warm landscape
with a sure understanding
in an art of hours
near the musk of a storm
gathering by bird feathers
we will quiver like lilacs
as in Stockholm, Scandinavia
by warm garden wall flowers
hemmed in by perfection
thinking twice
if we are in Eden's paradise
by a river so close to home
sometimes asking
to extend every divine moment
out of all nature's schools
in late summer's creativity
as you sponge and sail
out by cool waters
in your orange kayak
putting on a thin snorkel mask
to swim in fresh waters below
questioning are we really here
already near the peaceful edge
of the shore by river beds
at our nature's zen garden
at peace in perfect weather,
a poet relaxes
on an Australian outback chair
near Newton's back benches
with chocolate almond bon bons
our French snacks and fare
as Galina in a lovely soprano
Russian voice suddenly opens up
with an early aria
from Glinka's opera
Ruslan and Ludmilla
based on Pushkin's poetry
which we all read
over an Indian beaded blanket
making us all proud,
nearby a tent we are
in a forty winks’ sleep
on white sheets
near Zeus's and Athena's statue
in her hands are divinities
beneath a stone wing goddess
Nike carries a palm branch
and staff to the marathon runners
as a wondrous messenger of victory
here on an August noon
we believe in a metamorphosis
hearing squalls of thunder
by the cliff,
writing on papyrus papers
from blinding writing notes
for my new play's dialogue
hearing a chorus of wrens
in a brief sun-shower rain
by this unorganized marathon
yet scarcely keeping
my eyes open later in the day
near the newly fallen acorns
by white oak trees
at the small ditchwater’s glen
shooting the breeze
in riffs of a smooth jazz tune
reading Emerson, Thoreau
and Whitman along Walden pond
taking photos with my light camera
as a dog watcher of two
out of school:
a mini Doberman Pinscher
named Ruby and Daphne
a blond golden Retriever
run to their reflective pools.


Not too early
in Soho
to play a Bach solo
in a familiar pattern
on my viola and cello
of a string player
ready for his recital
aired on all the open rivers
off the isle of Manhattan
always delayed
by a telephone call
from squalls of a snowstorm
with their covert faint flakes
by a cold piece of sky
with a memory always sent
by a secret mail delivery path
holding a warm love letter
as my sudden wrath
is quickly waned away
at newly painted hallways
on the last day for rent
by a business telephone call
from my uncle or aunt
or my avant garde bon vivant
from the subway's underground
saying goodbye for a better today
yet alarmed by the school bell
near the park bench
where I write my music
yet suddenly falling silent
under the warm French lamp
knowing this I.O.U. fool
also needs a stamp
forsaking a panic attack
or a primal scream
when you awake
for a trial of your back
or from a personal attack
wishing feel better or safe
as any partisan to smile
by interpreting Joseph's dream
as any Egyptian exile.


Today’s LittleNip:


Touring the Prado
remembering the lines
of El Greco
in your paintings
"The Old Guitarist"
of Picasso
came to my memory
the symbolist visionary
in the midst of myth
of the blinded beggar
drifts by me
a great space
on the horizontal wall
touched by the light
in a blue cubism.


—Medusa, with thanks to B.Z. Niditch and Denise Flanagan for this morning's fine fare!

 B.Z. has breakfast on The Other Coast