Thursday, October 29, 2015

We All Have a Secret Garden

—Poems by B.Z. Niditch, Brookline, MA
—Paintings by Tetsuya Ishida, 1973-2004


Between you and me
speaking confidentially
it's all an amazement
how Odysseus still inspires
our own return to Greece
through his words and phrases
we remember his exiled journey
that even a warrior like him
deep down longs to smile
visits an island of sirens
and birds until he relieves,
relives and returns
to Penelope at peace,
or recalling Jason's hopes
with the bold Argonauts
at Colchis searching
for the golden fleece,
or wake up
with a cupcake and saucer
in an English priory
reading the tale of Bath
by Geoffrey Chaucer
or when contemplating
from a chapel in Paris
the poet Jean Pierre Jouvre
being fortified as art rules me
back from the Louvre
seeing what is colorfully new
with a wide critical eye
among different classic
or romantic schools
taking in imagination's part
deciding what to review,
or by chance to fly
near the fountains of Trevi
designed by Salvi in Rome,
or just dog-walking the Spaniel
gone far from home,
or reading how Daniel
was a captive
exiled in far stranger Babylon
yet praising and praying
with the angel Gabriel
in his prophecy for Zion
with an interpretation of dreams
in signs for freedom, it seems
God showing him the demons
of four future kingdoms
with so much governmental danger
among the lions and beasts
it's a a great parenthesis
from his deliverance too,
or the shepherd king David
kneeling inside Jerusalem's walls
broadcasting from Israel
when God calls,
or in St. Teresa's consolation
in her convent in Avila
water flows in the Prayer of Quiet
continuously without delay
for blessings in depth and height
in her Seventh heavenly mansion
clothing her contemplation
from numerous conduits and way,
or we being devoted scholars
being creative back at college
quoting Rimbaud, Verlaine,
or the Romantic Baudelaire
seeking poetic knowledge
in a lending library of words
of linguistics from Saussure
or Derrida's heliocentric
metaphysics as an arranger
to my friendly mind
yet without a worry or care,
daring travel like Dante
telling his story with Virgil
his guide going forward
in hell, purgatory or paradise
for we all have a secret garden
and sanctuary by the bier
of Hamlet, Ophelia or Lear
to seek pardon and dwell
as Master Shakespeare,
not being a monkey, cockatoo
or any songbird on a tree
yet leading as a lion in a zoo
wishing like Daniel to be free
do not be embarrassed
at my words, all is well
we could be in a desert
or mountains of Grenoble
with your Alps goat herds
grazing for another day
it's all amazing,
wouldn't you say,
or wrapped like Leonardo
in the draped fashion of his day
by his paintings, sculptured art
inventions or portraits to portray
or hearing a Bach cantata
or a clarinet concerto by Mozart
we all have passed our part
in sonata, Passion or quartet
learning from the rapturous art
from Ravenna's Mosaic culture
or bolder frescoes at museums
above high Mobiles of Calder
echoes composers like Webern
or older Vienna professors
like Dr. Freud trying to convey
how our early genesis of genius
came gingerly to love and play
we remember Venus and Adonis
conferring dreams for us
or as the conspicuous insect
of Franz Kakfa
offers us his Metamorphosis
until his last regret.


As if words surprise
absorbing attention
when a smooth jazz poet
and alto sax player
with all-night riffs
emerges outside the club
as an Elm branch falls
because of a cool, bright
late October wind
over the downtown docks
the poet draws his eyes
toward the riverbed dunes
on the first light Esplanade
by the bandstand gazebo
with resting songbirds
delivering dreams in images
of articulate voices
yet somehow remembers
he must turn back the clock,
we survive with words
come snow, welcoming frost
speaking in a foreign sense
of divining phonic tongues
we watch until my kayak anchor
once fastened by inertia's rope
now moves like a swan boat
across the back of the pond
by the rocks of the sea
thunder waves over us
as the catch of sorry phrases
are a wonder of honesty
going beyond our sixth sense
to a characteristic fifth dimension
with intuitive friends
greeting me this early dawn
the sun rises by my bicycle
sighting our tense choices
at tension's moments of truth
as nature awakes the vineyard
an authentic bard of New England
walks over a trail bed of leaves
hearing chaotic squirrels
sit in an apple-orchard tree
as mourning doves chirp away
we're fumbling a football
with a blizzard of verses
red-eyed for a creative day.


Standing in a rose garden
under a poplar tree
asking no pardon to disclose
another's popularity

We are alone under a sky
seen by perhaps only one star
often wondering in the frost
the cost of beauty from afar

But our eyes are stone, cast
on two lonely birds
who sing us their solo tune
in a song without words

Putting bread from the feeder
and water for their thirst
soon they will fly ahead
satisfied from the first,

Few bother to stand with me
under this dream of landscape
or understand that poetry
has its own green band of escape

Here we take a surprised leaf
of orange, lemon and red
by our own relief
is already gone on this river bed

Asking to be born
for another century
as we walk
along haltingly,

Perhaps only Keats, Byron
Yeats, Dickinson or Shelley
will greet such an October sun
and still run away with me.



The door opens
to a china glass of blue
with nana's jam, kvass, groats
boiling green tea too,

Everything seen in nature
leaves small sorry sightings
daydreams on an exciting tram
as all things become new,

Over a dawn's trainload of ideas
drawn from my margin's outlines
and composed in an octave mode
a prodigy shares the road signs,

Until reaching our destination
where its treated human cargo lies
retrieves us at the last station
as a few children wave goodbye,

When is an expedition or experiment
ever wholly completed in rhyme
yet with a hello at our music school
we take our notes in time,

We try to obey the golden rule
in our own maxims and quotes
to pass any secret tension
we live in a cello's rosin notes,

And behave in familiar traits
as in a mirror's dark glass door
and confess as love waits
in a whispered corridor,

Watching dependent bureaucrats
yet one cool cat at every class
students grow into jazz
with knowing incomprehension,

Playing my dressed-up riffs
from an alto sax or solo violin
with an open sentence stress
in my first knowing composition,

Confessing to reach a harmony
beyond my voice's convention
to extend my speech choices
on a minor key's vocal invention

We wait for a breakthrough
in content and lyrical form
without any local fear of tension
to encounter a musical storm,

Learning English and Latin
Russian and Greek
translating Pushkin or Bunin
is always yearning to speak,

With a major melody you knew
a poet recites in matins verse
trying to recall the calm night
from Hebrew psalms reviewed,

From a good day's childhood
delayed from recitation and respite
through our neighborhood hallways
we are made to be always polite

After a virtuoso's breakfast
hoping to record
what echoes in our tenses
we sense its own reward.


You made an hour's listening
to your urban Beat reading
sound easy no matter
how consequential
you ask for a clever
underground voice
to make our attention span
pass all unconventional words
yet you once called yourself
a troublemaker in temperament
or street-wise young delinquent
who had so much tension
escaping Vietnam for Canada
defying the government
after a poet's vent and rant
you visit a secret zen peace garden
to observe a choice of leaves
when tossing and turning
sleepless in lemon and red
at Julian to the El Capitan's dam
flowing in a riverbed
as blue fish swim beside you
finding in his imagination
even a mermaid or merman
in an expectant delivery
of California's inclement rain
for a life is never a fading thread
there is always a clever knot
somewhere in any deluged plant
that causes us to survive
any injectant life-long pardon
remembering what you said
you made us wish to feel alive
willing to entertain
your departure is an absence
within October's rushing breeze
as we wade in your span
making eyes at the dancing moves
of you and partner Mary
move their hands and feet
from grit head to their knees
you showed us how to be brave
from any contrary countenance
flowing from a spit-image
of recognition and a language
writ to a connection
at your magnetic presence
just by sheer energy
in your main man-up ignition
offering and all ready to go
and fully release your poetry
at a leaking lip of chance
never drowning
but going by the implicit flow
in an innocent body of thoughts
with your unique way of language
yet dowsing for still waters
evidently listening
to sea-star shells bobbing up
amid the Big Apple
traveling to Brighton Beach
to hear sea-star shell echoes
hidden out by enlightened angels
with Whitman and Crane
and onto San Diego's
sunny Coronado
within reach of the white sand
by endless exits of parking lots
we remember you, Steve Kowit
engaged here to shelter
to enlighten us by an obit
for your own entwined memory
from my own signed elegy
you sought to be at peace.


To another time
and world where words
meant something
like the critical journey
of artistic voiceless
from frosty silhouettes
dazzled by sky birds
in their flight
you remain in memory
persuaded that light
from every abyss
taught us to touch petals
fallen in the thinned garden
in an age of the pitiless
you rose up questioning
like exiled freed Odysseus
waiting for Penelope
as an invited guest
to pardon what lived
and grinned
from a faceless mirror
at a lyrical wind
through an earth-wise valley
lifting our own darkness.



Yeats in the Rhymers Club
waits to share his words
not to scold, atone
to make amends nor please
at his pub on Fleet Street
but to be here with friends
as words rise on poet chairs
at the Old Cheshire Cheese
to abide with Dowson, Wilde
Symons, Lionel Johnson,
praising his circle to tell all
and to be set at ease
with their cups raised
making their own voices heard
as each now a grown-up child
no matter what shadows
the weather portends
they come out each night here
for as songbirds fly
near the window shutters
under the sullen Fall sky
poets arrive here alone
for their enlightened stupor
aware of the other's voice.


When in pursuit
of the past
you seal your words up
as in a waterwheel
watching the sea waves
as a lobster net catches
some red salmon
already ordering
my next meal
the sun conceals us
as in the allegory
of Plato's cave
with a theory of forms
as people are untutored
behind a visionary's wall
in a fiery burning parapet
where prisoners awake
and puppeteers may move
as in a snatching net,
it's like the last cup of water
we noticed by the museum
in a long box
of wild roses by the phlox
are gathered by campers
near the Blueberry Hills
thinking of packing
up our belongings
for our journey
to a hike up on trails
near the Green mountains
up to Vermont's high peaks
a landscape arises
out of nature from my camera
revealing out of nowhere
scenes of expectancy
as fond memory scenes
will return to remember
these wide open fields
in a variety of naming colors
of blond, green, flaming red
like Blakean seasons of October
by the White River bed
near a painter of oils
clothed fresh from the city
in his handsome denim
tells me he wishes to become
a Master of the snows
in the coming months
as a weekend jazz recital
rocks in an alabaster courtyard
near an ambrosia bandstand
I'm asked to play violin,
by the hyacinth out in the sun
my child spirit is within
nature's poet's full enclosure
from a lorry of sightings
by fireworks as we swim,
it seems our brief time
motions us to linger now
flowing as if we are by shore
near the quarry waters
on a visionary's mission
we motion our chapped lips
like Wordsworth or Whitman
transformed for our time
as a young rap singer
puts away his radio
of German heavy metal
sings about a fountain of youth
with a bong and guitar nearby
winks to remind us
at this hip hour
that we are like birdsong
or a mute blue-petaled flower
only here for an hour
yet after a brief melody
and riddled laughter we live on
drawn together
to share what is cool
as Wordsworth or Wheelwright
knew that often communication
is justice misunderstood
I'm here to honor the unknown
when words wait to appear
in the setting sunshine
to rejoice in the pine woods
gathering moss and stone
by the fawn, deer or lamb
as a witness to feel free
in an open sky's countryside
are never spoken as gone
nor of our missing
daughter, son, or swan
residing out by the sea
perhaps hiding out by bicycle
or out riding
in another neighborhood
as seen in the next dawn
suddenly finding
a last love letter of Dear John
below the blind alley
or writing on an Oak tree
by the golf cart lawn
a text message in Swahili
"I am who I am".


Today’s LittleNip:

I am what I am, thank God!

—Jimi Hendrix, “Nine to the Universe”   


—Medusa, thanking B.Z. Niditch for today's fine poems, and noting that more info about Tetsuya Ishida may be seen at

Odysseus verspottet Polyphen
—Painting by Joseph Mallord William Turner, 1775-1851