Thursday, November 05, 2015

Under the Bright and Leaping Stars

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


Awaking by a juniper tree
writing early verses
like the exiled prophets
and poets Jeremiah, Blake,
Byron and Shelley
on hills, mountains, lanes
in an unknown universe
with my intuitive anonymity
wishing to travel beyond the Cape
outside the thrilling mystery
of diligently watching
these draped fountain walls
watered down of my own history
wishing to travel back and forth
in a kayak over the river's mouth
toward north, west and south
shaped by a gentle invisibility
peaceful word, sword and spirit
to other spheres of geography
down halls of eminent biography
with Keats, Yeats and Andrei Bely
opening diligently to love others
in my own unlimited sealed span
with you daughters and sons
swaying above Manhattan's breeze
with Crane and Whitman
Emily Dickinson and Merton
in my own raised trope's trapeze
hoping in adolescence for romantic
and critical trophy rewards
as in a prophecy to hope and desire
to be revealed in a lens of reflections
and shine into a stars firmament
clothed in a glorious new linen
with a divine-sent perfection
by a remnant of poetic souls
above all the earth and waters
hearing a chorus of small birds
beyond all space and time
in all fate and states of mind.



Walking on country roads
where my words should be
housed in a double row of roses
near my rock garden
caught between islands
as Fall showers us with wind
trembling on our back
between a life-line kayak
near a lobster boat man
speaking in Portuguese
out of breath
in the morning shade
drawing a cerulean landscape
of a blue dusty sky
at the Cape's coastline
greeting me
with six mourning birds
drinking in the river
as they plan to fly South
covered with sunshine
amid the shadows of the sea.


Add to your daydreams
a raucous rant of reverie
from a fearsome sleepwalker
writing over five stories
about interrogated soul mates
in a mystery meter rising
on the far side of the moon,
multiply mirrors of singers
at live dance halls
divided into lively couple’s clubs
as the dawn awakens our hearts
subtracted into diamond legends
from King Solomon mines
or Treasure Island
when all lights stamp reality
that quickly burns away
from any spade-handled dross
of locating coins and stamps
from underneath the dark sea
of sinking cargo ships
as epileptic saints appear
from laced curtains
behind buried Puritan blinds
who move like chessboard pawns
over toothless archangels
hidden in church bazaars
fleeing lower basements
as exiled wandering stars
rescued over by shark
and right whale waters
when strong Sicilian sailors
unload fresh salt for New England
for our home harbor
to cook on colder nights
as Mayflies search for trout,
cod, and red salmon
near whitened kingfisher herons
who rest and stretch out
on the sunny high-tidal beach
over a first frosty branch
reaching for bread and quail
along the edge of the bay side
of a camp site's lagoon
to search ethereal currents
near a once-crunchy snow forest
thawed now among birdsong
as rings of sea voices rise
where Edgar Allen Poe trains
as a once dismissive soldier
in South Boston by Castle Island
despising all regiment
of his rejected discipline
writes in a trance of hours
by the ghostly Atlantic's watch
hidden between portholes
hearing an oceanic Druid din.



Making the rounds
a nurse,
a chaplain,
a solitary,
a bishop at Mass,
a warden,
a missionary,
a wrestler,
all falling yet rising
as Lazarus from the dead,
hidden in four corners
Rimbaud watches
lives in French routines
his eyes open at the windows
at a tiny coffee shop bench
toward a bake
of cinnamon croissants,
baguettes or raisin bread
with his three Charleville aunts
feels at times as a clairvoyant,
picturing a starving midshipman
who sails to Brittany country
by a Bay's thrilling seaside
craving La Tartine Gourmande
as thyme-infused sardines
sautéed with tomato sauce
from an old French marinade recipe
are basted on the grill,
as Rimbaud remembers
the kindly sextant who cleans
off the Virgin's statuette
feeling as an idyll bard
who dream-tosses at his exile
while in Paris or Casablanca
wishing to make sleeping waves
rise over the body of the seas,
or once knowing an innocent man
on trial sent off to Devil's Isle
in his contrary engaging thoughts
he encircles the university
with its large library
roundabout the cascade
on narrow roads and streets
children watch a puppet show
still there between wars
or stand by on Bastille Day
for a revolutionary parade
near the city's cemetery grounds
assuaging the wise in adversity
always wishing to be astounded
or carry on in a tent
with a Casbah's surprise,
yet even pitying a limping beggar
in the alley before bed
under the bright and leaping stars
imagining the Christmas Magi
being put in the store window
as an absentee student runs
away from home at school
being teased for his belief
taunted and execrated
in the school yard snow
being named "sale petite Cagot"
as his visionary shadow
winces at long-suffering souls
trying to escape their foolish fate
now drinking cups of red wine
on draped stools behind bars
a vagabond asks out loud
for another round
among a crying-out thief
once nearly executed
by rope's guillotine
here in the line-up’s churlish crowd
this proud fool cannot wait
to be free while he is blamed
yet this time exonerated
not seeking a peaceful relief
yet seen here as a collaborator
in another street pickpocket crime
loudly mouthing and proclaiming
his innocence spilled here
with his hopeful brother
upon release.



On the train up to Boston
when the first fragile snow
fell from the heavens
like isles of rainbows
we glimpse our spirit days
as shade and sun's shadows
begin their narrow peeks
from a still-glowing first light
upon the walls and windows
like a pre-Christmas surprise
I'm busily eating
my brie cheese croissant
with a cup of coffee
when I was eleven
going to symphony hall
my violin case next to me
with a complimentary ticket
from my uncle and aunt
to hear Munch conducting
L'enfance du Christ by Berlioz
and across from me is Father Adrien
a priest from Brazil and Argentina
who is writing a biography
on John of the Cross
we strike up a conversation
in Spanish and Portuguese
and we became better friends
through a festival of letters
and when his book arrived
with his signature inscribed
knowing as a boy's shadow poet
from all my joy, loss and sorrow
I would venture outside my home
for a lone walk in my century
now writing in my diary's arena
of my open yet vanished geography
that secret divine appointments
would follow me
in my everyday history.


Calling on an angel like Rilke
embalmed in a mid-dream flight
of a cross-examined poetry
when lost in a parental storm
pressed by a mirage’s space
outside a tiny strange room
practicing my scales
about the recital riffs
of a first alto sax soloist
hearing church vespers
of those monks who return
from sleeping in the desert
now barricaded in prayer rooms
by a snowy mirror of stars
through cool long corridors
of a soundproof studio
by a constant metronome
of my fingered exercise
moving me to tears
the air assaults the island sky
with a dizzy rain
not far from my home
taking a November night's
chance at science
with a flicker of my wide palm
at a telescope in silence
from shadowy windows
to peer at the blood moon
outside the harvest fields
entangled in a pumpkin muffin
taken in the last light of sunset
as a songbird rests politely
by the lowered bridge's iron gate
near a wellspring marble statue
on the first icy draped branch
an anonymous poet waits with
a frosty glass of green tea
thirsts for a late Fall's pond
to skate as in childhood
as a wagon of hay riders
draws in my landscaped eyes
over the fallen red leaves
of a fallen birch tree branch
with my initials scrawled
from an adolescent crush
as an echo of dissonant winds
motions the sea breeze
as small exiting island birds
who love to circle and chatter
stake their nesting place
above the Cape's riverbed.



Walking in the Louvre
sighting Mantegna's
long suffering Crucifixion
mutely smothered
by the heavily wounded colors
reproving what transfigures
to be anointed for every age
in a scene of dolor's desolation
presaging a man of sorrows
liberally acquainted with grief
stretched on a visionary canvas
through the sunny windows
at an honorary altar's relief
carefully shaping a painting
in an oilcloth of pure lines
at our own reproof of unbelief.


(In Memoriam: Samuel Beckett, 1906-1989)

Through alleys and hallways
the runaway's heart beats
even by the French bakery
already tasting a baguette
with his own laughter
be does not beg
the manager takes a chance
for to him no one is a stranger
even by the crȇche and statuette
on hay and flower beds
as swallows visit
he returns to the river bridge
surprised to sleep and dream,
yet there is a poet nearby
on a secret mission
as a courier for the Allies
who lives with gallows humor
a day at a time
who writes plays every hour
when he can escape
here Beckett cleverly thinks
with an Irish wink
this optimistic boy needs
no critic or Schopenhauer
for knowledge is a wish
always ever after the last act
expecting another line of verse
to remember this child of promise
whose eyes are exhausted
who slowly swallows his bread
hiding out with the Resistance
who already sees the wounds
like a poet with St. Thomas
expecting to rise from the dead.


Rain on your torn fingernails
tortured by murderers
who do not explain
the empty road
an empty glass
a perfume of the past
in a cross-examined
eye socket
by a concave room
with one bulb of light
of toothless betrayals
there is a skull
by a ravine of hail
in a mouth of trampled snow.


(In Memoriam: Paul Éluard, 1895-1952)

A shadow wall clouds overhead,
a poet's Resistance face
on a friendly wall bed
there is no death in a tricolor
from life's red moon
waiting for one letter
by candlelight lost to a moth
in the darkness's surveillance
of a thousand portents of snow
with blood in a chance meeting
on the road's silence
from your sudden passage
in the corridor of a dim abyss
as seen from a sentry of birds
hatching in nests for the spring
Éluard, those breathless nights
by icy endless silver birches
at first light guards you
in the feverish voice and hand
from a war's metamorphosis
with long-rustled suffering.



Escaping as a child
from any weighted lashes
or hurts from the brown shirts
you are kindly lifted
on one of the last trains
to save you from misery
out of an unmentionable
graveyard of history's
great crime,
arriving in England
to discover your gift
as you paint all afternoon
by the sirens of thunder
amid all shades of rain
desiring a unique gift
in your deluged landscapes
of a romance with the world
that critics marvel at
with our big ben time
of a tower's great wonder
draped with a dowsing wave
at your hand and mind
amid a fountain of a soul's
residing hidden dreams
of flaming imagination
your eyes in a Blakean cast
of resonant fire
outliving the enemies of art
in the narrow streets
parting at London's backyard
in an unblemished toil
of colorful love
in buckets of paint
on a long body of work
covering the gated canvas
among uncovered fringes
of a last faded remnant
under the brightest tabernacles
of a final blood moon
with your miracle anointed oil
that will outlast our century
in brushes at the tall sun
now finally being honored
at the Tate gallery.


Today’s LittleNip:

When you’re writing, you’re conjuring. It’s a ritual, and you need to be brave and respectful and sometimes get out of the way of whatever it is that you’re inviting into the room.

—Tom Waits


—Medusa, thanking B.Z. Niditch and Denise Flanagan for today's hearty vittles, and a reminder that B.Z. Niditch's new collection of poetry, Everything, Everywhere, is available at