Thursday, October 15, 2015

Birdsong Words

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


Fall is the time span
to read Whitman's Leaves
of Grass
to man up
or be mowed down
when passing the touch football
over strawberry fields
after a half hour
of hearing our neighborhood's
chorus of birds
with their grackle of sounds
as two mourning doves
warbling and meadowlarks
begin to sing above us
feeding on garden sunflowers
as we jam into jazz
with my riffs of sax
on hedges of forsythia
near woody gazebo grounds
laughing by the music bandstand
a thousand times over
at daybreak in a circle
of first light
by Japanese yews and shrubs
as we relax on benches
covering pea-green lawns
of the golf course,
as a huge turtle suddenly dives
into the ditch water riverbed
we are already boarding my kayak
for the mid-Atlantic
catching blue fish or salmon
after our croissant repast
delicious confection
stretched out on our hammock
by a breeze's quilt
at our early clocked-out business
feeling no missed guilt
for leaving our now fenced-in
gate by our open-window Cape
hearing music outdoors
as Fred the cat hears young Igor
the pianist swaying to Chopin
before Stefan and Eve arrive
at three in the afternoon
for our daily seminar
to share their enterprising words
for our poetry class
at a house call at the lawn
and we realize the daily news
on the house steps
survives another headline
wishing there were no more
rumors of war
as we are in reflection
by the tall sunflowers
relaxing by cherry blossoms
by trembling hilltop slides
and playground swings
near the greensward dunes
even contentedly surprised at all
to sum up at our own deadlines
that we can no longer ignore.

B.Z. with Mums


First morning call
in late September
after being curled up
on my thick blanket
in a night set of dreams
that is remembered
in the familiar sound
of tiny grackles at the fountain
by flowing cold waters
and sunflower feeder
outside the narrow backyard
near the white frosty mountain
waking my motionless lips
for a bard's prayer met
in my quiet sanctuary
by strands of documented words
somewhere between Genesis
to Revelations's Apocalypse
hearing the peal of bells
in a submission for the day
watching the last summer roses
and pink and white peonies
on the landscaped fence
disclose the metamorphosis
of the sky’s rainbow
along my ride to the Bay
in the fresh autumn air
with my finger on a crawler,
a hot latte and a French croissant
attached to my bicycle basket
a notebook of poems
and letter from my uncle and aunt
excited about my new collection
Everything, Everywhere
stopping by the airy docks
to speak with a lobster fisherman
who returns from Gloucester
and Cape Ann with a fresh catch
for the restaurant in view
Ramanujan hands me a coupon
for a free Thursday lunch,
the golf grass is still newly cut
with a few mallards on the course
as my mind 's eye is writing
from an imaginary source,
the wind rips the high tide
on the back of a river run
checking on my kayak
by the Oak tree acorns
encountering the Fall's nature
from its branches and twigs
in a changing wooded debris
by my practice in a marathon
to raise money for a charity
near the club of my last read
with my small band
at a dizzy sax recital gig
someone has put up my initials
unauthorized by me,
someone on the ocean waves
puts down his anchor and oars
out on the silver blue seas
for the last summer time
on an island's liquid mirror
watching the nets and nests
of nature's surprising vitality
will be aware of a poet's words
now in a sun-rising frontier
my syllables speak
for my age and century
over the birdsong words.


A rescue ship sways
over my rusty orange kayak
under a noonday watch
of windy North Atlantic gales
refreshing my five senses
as silky rain shadows
the horizontal settling light
on my back
catches up to a poet
spying a right whale
who writes into the sunset
from his warm hand
on a bare Fall red leaf
over embraced whispered lines
as he breathlessly swims out
rushing under the weight
of blue soapy waters
planning to sleep early
near greensward gardens
over tall grass dunes
along Rockport riverbeds
at the home harbor beach.



Without regrets
the sunshine is quickening
on Frank O'Hara's day
leaves his single bed
in Manhattan
goes to the sink
in a soapy washcloth
with words on his tongue
saving face in a mirror
stares out of a sealed window
checks his lottery bet
as is his business pattern
up from the dank cellar
by his thick doors
puts up a print on a napkin
of a portrait by Larry Rivers
an art friend at the Cedar Bar
on his bedroom wall
Frank finds a pawn check
along the dark corridors
circles his gothic hallways
still chain-smoking
until he devours a bagel
chestnut soup and cup of java
from a persistent vendor
on the steps covered for Fall
by trembling leaves
this October morning
a fly-by-night pigeon insists
on greeting to thank him
with an unwelcome offering
on his newly dry-cleaned coat
as he tries to think of a title
and words for a new collection
at an urban read at his recital
trips over trembling red leaves
this October morning
with a future lunch poem intact
inside his slim poetry pocket
he is slap-happy
knowing he will get
a massage soon,
yet under cloudy skies
it starts to briefly rain
in a shower of five minutes
he is showing up early
at the dank sweat lodge
forgetting the foul weather
the sun returns to its secrets
as Frank tells Casablanca
(the wonder world's masseur
wearing a sable collar
and a white turban)
loads of gossip from the club
who plays dodge ball together
with him many afternoons
yet remains a rank amateur
sharing a poet's flashing words
and flesh on the pool table
for a rub-down and towel
near the lanky guys
in the locker room
as he forgets what is not loving
by handing Casablanca
another soup spoon
for his epileptic episodes
when brother Frank is able.


Chesterton would live
in his stories
as a priest detective
in the character of Father Brown
with his own actor's laughter
from a loving smile
in cheek and in check
would sit down
to rest in his easy chair
on the deck
after he had his daydream
writing his archdiocese fables
relaxing by watching golf
which the glorious bard
and critic cynically regarded
as "an expensive way
of playing marbles,"
having cottage cheese
and red wine for lunch
would find a murder case
rather contrary to solve
with a hunch
at least by his own directive
not minding to tell
with a Punch and Judy show
of his secretive business
and elected to divine
from his human cargo.

October 11, 1885

The sun wanes on Mauriac
by his slim volume of verse
Oranges we read
in the back bench
of the class
never dreamed of being
in Paris near the Seine
tracing the rainy riverbeds
with my breathing outlines
by margins of red wildflowers
whose aroma stays with me
all these years
winding over my poems
embarrassing me
at my own readings
in narrow winding streets
from many cities
of the universe
from your weary pages
Francois Mauriac
you live with me
in uncertain hours
at the French library.

October 12, 1896

Over a pine-covered park
in Milan on a city bench
eyeing the cloudy smoke
from the nearby factory
as a boy runs
his paper airplane
lands on Montale's knees
nursing his own darkness
in a soft October rain
over an ease of grief
in a loss he sustains
from a lover, Dora Marcus
to his life's birthday wish "Yes"
by the seaside beach
hearing a songbird's echo
in a sparrows’ chorus
upon a shade in this corner
of the highest tree branch
by the patched-up grass blades
within reach of this writer's
still life from an artistic belief
yet cursing his own secret fate
of Dora's shadow bent over
his unearthed notebooks
by his earth-wise desk
as he steps on
fallen red-orange leaves
on the thick dune riverbeds
as his lyric speaks to us
this awaited noon day
in his voiceless quatrain
close to his home of rest
in this familiar city.

In memory of C.S. Lewis

In the presence
of heaven's silence
in a halo of red stars
when the sun goes down
now everyone on his bed
wants to get out of town
and travel to Mars
at least with a Hubble
there is a telescope
to guide and not trouble
you with flying hope
in case of a heathen war
people need something
or someone to live for
in trying to cope
with headlines we already saw,
we will choose signs and wonder
in the open blue skies
offering a divine kiss
from the Prince of Peace
in a law we will not miss
for we are under grace
whose kingdom will increase
even in the space race
as a mighty God, priestly King,
everlasting wise counselor
from our poet lore's lover
bearing the high gifts of Zion
from a day and night castle
in mansions of stone
no longer willing
to be man's slaves or vassals
or jeopardize our dry bones
nor to hide as a sci-fi novelist
and believer's visionary apologist
under night's wise cover
of C.S. Lewis,
here blessings will ring out
for a thousand years
from a bell tower
of wonder in a universe
from holy things of paradise.


After the mad laughter
is heard in Hell
of Nebuchadnezzar
to worship after Baal's image
in his age we can tell
that before the fiery furnace
for three Hebrews all is well,
here in the third heaven
we hear divine messengers
with their angelic wings
by Bezaleel and Ezekiel
who bring us to holy tabernacles
for our unique offerings,
life flows as bright stars
swinging back and forth
from tracks of Europe
in the South and North
as the Hungarian officers
mount on horseback
with the rider hussar's whip
by the Czar's sparring racks
with rope from the Cossacks,
the morning bell is heard
for the conscripted army
signed by the Kaiser's censorship,
in the West and East
under the agrarian flames
Stalin and Hitler's as gods
became scorpions and beasts
in the sectarian worship of man
giving out Party cards
with a master plan
for class and race began
and a totalitarian chorus
of the egalitarian populace
rises before their firing squads
are all in the stands
here are all the names
of tall statues from the exodus
with always-breaking news
in an awakening glorious history
in the Word story of the Hebrews
not saving face from famous rulers
who ruled over their nation states
but giving glory to the King
we remember to high heaven
those whose skillful poets
sing of faith and power
Milton, Donne, Dickinson
Anna Akhmatova
St. Teresa of Avila
our charismatic daughters
and St. John of the Cross
a son whose living water
distills as showered conduits
as our night visions fulfill
waiting on the holy Carmelites
unwilling to bow down
nor eat the dross or leaven
but choose freedom over loss
as we pass over to Peter's gate
yet like Esther or Mordecai
wearing a golden scepter crown.


Today’s LittleNip:
Poetry is ordinary language raised to the Nth power. Poetry is boned with ideas, nerved and blooded with emotions, all held together by the delicate, tough skin of words.

—Paul Engle


—Medusa, with thanks to B.Z. Niditch and Denise Flanagan for today’s fine poems and pix, keeping us in touch with the Other Coast!