Thursday, October 01, 2015

Dancing Hours

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


Twilight tenderness
on beds of earth and sky
dwindling lineaments
of a great returning love
sleepless by the porch
by veranda’s ivy high art walls
over Fall's bonfires
of ashes on red leaves
eating fortune cookies
raspberries, pomegranates
Jaffa orange peels, grapes
newly grown and harvested
not wanting the darkness
of shooting stars above us
having candied meat
from a roasted fireplace
on a table mat
full of herbs and sunflowers
consoling us
for turning back the clock
to the exodus or Iliad
or wanting an expectant snow
we read the proverbs
to say one word
of either "Yes" or "No."


Dancing hours
by leaves and ashes
on a September lawn
daydreaming in the margins
of living like Flaubert
reading out loud
the story tinged with grief
of Madame Bovary
still flecked
with a proud novel memory
yet wanting relief
by the Charles riverbed
from an Indian summer day
heated by the sunshine
sunk down on a bench
in a sanguine dawn
of buoyant Autumn
no bird song grieves,
today the rent is due
maybe he too speaks
in a French accent
with a bottle of red wine
wanting everything new.


In the time zone
which never sleeps
and Motown awakes
over what is inscribed
as Hebrew lettering
on a Swahili blackboard
not far from the city
a poet walks alone
by a thirsty bird sanctuary
in blocks of slow clouds
basking with his sax
in the sun
a blues voice moves this way
through tall buildings of clay
a woman over Jacob's ladder
on her staircase
is swaying under sunshine
in an unknown tongue.


A younger one devours
French bread
standing there
by the greenhouse
near the playground
of slides and seesaw
with a toothpick
in hand
flexing his smile and muscle
watches me reaching
on the porch for a peach
and D.H. Lawrence
not knowing what is mine
or his business
near the Blue Hills and woods
with a ruddy way to dip
and dive in Houghton's pond
when he was nineteen
a first light overcomes us
as he combs his hair
in the careless and callous
plunge into the water
here was a tourist guide
and a life guard
soon gasping for breath
only the freshman swimmer
made the purer drift of wood
float from me that saved
his raw body form
from the stranger of mouth-
to-mouth life from death
over the purple solitude
of a bard's bitter adolescence
he cannot fade
until the sun enfolds us
in the fresh miraculous air
of a blanked-out memory.

(in memory of Robert Lowell
who died September 12, 1977)

Emerging September images
as first sunlight filters
your morning presages
passages of your time
and emerges at our walk-along
over these pavements
on ancient cobblestones
by your Beacon Hill history
drawing us near the river
refreshing our memory
as mineral water
assures us by Boston Common
at the stunning fountain gates
of an interweaving day
spoken to our thirst and hunger
as a chorus of songbirds
on sight-read branches
is heard where oak trees
offer acorns on the Esplanade
as passing marathon
joggers run by us.

(died September 30, 1955)

The light on your Porsche
stops your car
on Route 466
heaven stops its mirror
from night corridors
in a Hollywood Styx
you were once driven by
your acting mobility
now you are lost
in the lines
of cops coming by
to the suburb's neighborhood
watching adolescent bones
rise in a window shine
when the sun in your eyes
becomes cross-wise
listening to the radio
from a descant of melody
opening your five-star doors
by unfixed road signs
in shadows of your nobility
over curbs of lantern wicks
remembering East of Eden
to get over any way to paradise
with a night of film clips
and a nip of white wine.


In the cool museum room
in the first snow of morning
after Bach, brioche
and a Spanish latte
by a chorus of airy sparrows
with laughter in the esplanade
you, Diego overwhelm us
at the hidden art wall
of your airy Bacchus
or at the supper at Emmaus
with scenes of Jesus's family
or staring at courtyard portraits
you have a Sephardic flair
which loves the valid sunshine
in your bardic divine gestures
painting in your space and time
Venus and Cupid not forbidden
by an artistic Dionysus god of wine.



Last birdsong of a chorus
leaving us alone in the desert
with a box of harvested seeds
from the eucalyptus
for our reconciled needs
in shadows for us
along with a daughter
like heart-sick Penelope
with mourning beads left
over the boat sail waters
of a once-exiled hopeless ship
waiting for a handsome son
of promise and exile
in a Ulysses dream of return
just to see his smile
of this former warrior
as the Greek sunshine burns
and Homer writes his Odyssey.


Cut it out, Matisse
in your cut-outs
geometric shapes
your hand-written phonetic soul
suddenly calls us after liberation
asking us to live with courage
your wall art upgrades
Vichy masks
in your apartment splicing
into a scissor forming work
in a fingered atomic clock
for our emergency rooms
in your ruminations
during an occupation
we just ask for existence
not essence or existential threats
essential for animal skins
just to make us a human miracle
in a mineral and vegetable diet
yelling in tortured German
against the wall for Freiheit,
you cut us off in a future
with sutures for survival
you are not late in your cortege
in your prestige and revival
just bandaged up by war.



In the Sixties
hearing talk
about Marx, Engels
at an urban table
while having a bagel
lox and cream cheese
then a despondent actor
arrives and leaves us
for a T.V. rehearsal
talks of Three Sisters
of Chekhov and The Tempest
by Shakespeare
with an art student
puts down a conduit of books
with her last test
discusses Pieter Bruegel's
The Tower of Babel
and his Conversion of St. Paul
yet not appalled as daily news
of the nation emerges on a radio
from a young future correspondent
listened to and challenged by
all these socially changed students
with their enlightened reviews
of a universal humanity
in a rudimentary manner
contrary to what was expected
so early by the morning clocks
that was able to form a quorum
in a half-eaten breakfast
as an an avant-garde poet
goes to class on Kierkegaard
which the professor
nicknames me through the year
in a quick cafeteria repast
their conversation stayed with me
though many arduous pages
in the college library
looking up a montage
of art, politics, economics
in an objective way.


When stammering
for a word or design
to move my day
for a serious drawing
on paper, canvas
over a napkin
in an apron of repast
in mysterious remembrance
when out of interference
or remonstrance
a delirious picture
of Hieronymous Bosch’s
The Garden of Earthly Delights
welcomes in my mind
that space and time
will wondrously unwind
(as Paul Valery recalled
about you in prose poetry
in mastery and singularity)
like a fresh dazzling wind
and my night's memory
will recall what my search
was also all about,
the mysterious way
art expands into a morning mirror
of my anonymous history,
surviving my own abstract
revived expressionism.


Today’s LongerNip:


We need John Donne
as the sun is setting
for a poet
over the pulpit
as a conduit
of words in the spirit
at least Hopkins
or a Jesuit suited
to reprimand
war as sin and injustice
or the discipline
of Ted Berrigan
Dorothy Day
or Merton
to speak for peace,
let genesis begin again
release the doves
in a metamorphosis
as birds of love
increase, let us begin
as a dramatic "no man
or woman is an island"
for we critics of fascism
are in a crisis
in a time of politic Osiris
rising as comic paganism.

Our thanks to today's fine contributors from The Other Coast! About the photos, B.Z. writes: Had a great day in Gloucester north of Boston, an Italian and Portuguese area, toured the Cape Ann museum, had a great fish dinner. 


B.Z. Niditch, Dreaming of Ulysses...