Thursday, December 24, 2015

Always in Exile

T Street Walkway
—Photos by Katy Brown, Davis, CA
—Poems by B.Z. Niditch, Brookline, MA


Tiny snowflakes from the sky
sent to a circle of friends
taking a coffee break
stepping outside their offices
who usually stand outside
hall awaken
to relax their mouthy orifices
sharing in a cathartic fashion
their latest critical passions
near the small rock garden
when not sitting
in their bony cubicles
even during Advent
they have not spent their lips
of the choicest gossip,
here at the water cooler fountain,
by green-wreath rows
and padded Christmas trees
which are sent in with holly
by friends of the company
in the Green Mountains
of distant Vermont
here in the dissonant cold air
these foolish bureaucrats refuse
to hear out the street musicians
who play miracle Italian tunes
needing to pay rent or taxes,
or the poet who sings
a St. Francis canticle
on his way to noon mass
barters for warmth and zeal
with the recital of a limerick
always grateful for a left-over
of a hot meal on wheels
in the hallways
or Matt, the tall new guy
from San Diego
dressed in a cowboy suit
who plays the blues
from his newly baptized lips
carries a pawned soprano sax
and lives concealed
silently in the woods
who carries an AM radio
and plays a wicked flute solo,
the gossips will not hear
any jolly ring of pealing bells
in the snowflake air
from the Salvation Army
or receive any mail
delivering charities
preferring to vent and nail
their own news
nor will they listen
to the Apostles of the Jews,
preferring any jet-flight
to helping the crippled lady
crossing the street with a walker
here on the corner
of the Arctic Garden
making sports bets
as if they had a secret formula
to be with the football set
or by keeping a furor going
with their sarcastic bayonets
to play with any golden calf
hiding under a blanket
on the snowy soccer field.

 Steam Rising from Junipers

(for Andre Breton, 1896-1966)

Over the dark grove
of another generation
magnifying the quarter-moon
to question every encounter
of the stars over the Seine
midnight becomes a poplar
where exiles are conceived
in daybeds dreaming
singed from chimeras
of rejected lovers
among a threshing flood
fringed by an unwanted birth
almost buried by the snow
yet the murmuring baby
emerges whole by the park
in a laurel crib smiling
in his stroller
becomes a poet
who speaks in tongues
plays hide-and-seek
under hidden garden walls
watching as the winds rise up
from the dusty rain clouds
of a December dawn
inhaling the snowflakes
‘round her eyelids
near the edge of the shore.

 Drops and Condensation

(December, 1990)

Reading a Cyrillic keyboard
with dialogues
in a café frequented
by students at Cambridge
he strives for anonymity
tells me he is Andre
and is bilingual
originally from Moscow
who strokes a cat
and laughs hysterically
at my American jokes
tells me his parents
who were critics
of the regime
were taken away
after the war
as Siberian exiles
and never returned,
then wonders if the second
chapter of his life's dream
will add up to more
than a nightmare of indifference
since the thaw
as snow falls
outside my dorm window
he puts on his fur hat
under a seaworthy sun
appears on the pier
by the sweeping ice floes
yet somehow Andre
with his gallows humor
must have hope
as we pass by meadows
and empty fields,
he lived his early life
only by fearful rumors
now wanting to watch
the thorny trees with mistletoe
and carry an Achilles shield
to prove his agility
to be a guy above the fray
Andre takes up fencing,
as flakes from grey sky
move across the lacrosse field
winter wakes to be reborn
only seeing shadows instead,
Andre wants to do stand-up
to protest injustice
still feels like an orphan,
sings out a Russian peasant song
along the blue lake
with sky-birds sensing bread
as squirrels search for acorns
this poet removes the leaves
by my house with his rake
Andre helps me
but his heart still aches.

Leaf and Shadow


Watching Chekhov's play
The Seagull
with my Russian friends
up in the balcony
with a confessional love poem
slowly emerging
in my smiling imagination
when there is no language
that could sabotage
or upstage
the Beat in me
with my sax of a soul out here
in the provinces,
anyway it is starting to rain
on the island
wondering if our life
merely repeats
the family dialogue
from any generation
in any lyrical
or musical language
but this play sends me back
to my early childhood
making my thoughts
and aching spirit rise
between two continents
to rock the boat over me
knowing an aging poet
is always in exile
shipwrecked on the ocean
or by merely visiting
the company of another.

White Rabbit Who Visits Katy's 
Back Yard Every Day


The poet asks how much
as his Dutch friend
puts his hand
on the meter
does not dare
to talk about money
at Christmastime
they are both tired
and stood-up tonight
by their double dates
two bouquets of roses
lie on the front seat,
the poet needs to
study French
in the library
on the back bench
waiting for his exam,
but he will not take
the cab driver away
from his graveyard shift
lasting a lifetime.



Watching Monica
a film about young love
here alone in an art theater
everything seems galactic
from a cathartic acting
in black and white
with Swedish subtitles
feeling indifferent about life
when the speakers are not clear
at a midnight showing,
a woman in front of me
who had heard me play sax
at the local gig,
the watering hole,
asks me out for a drink
my eyes glance out
and I look a sight
with my sunglasses
at the empty seats,
we drive by the ocean
the air is biting us
wondering where my soul
is wandering sporadically
if this is what other poets
endure from loss
and family rejection
on this boardwalk at a time
of so many spells of dread
and hours of deadening insomnia
wishing to be a year younger,
soon we are afloat
on my orange kayak
at the shore
not questioning the moon
or the crazy cat
who follows our beach trail
hoping to restart
my motorcycle or my life
or at least to
think of something to say
when she tells me
her name is Monica.

 Angel Falls, Fresh Pond, CA


The anniversary
of a poet's last
parental storm
which drove him
to his cargo of relatives
where it was always
a Christmas party
on board in Long Beach
where he had a sailor suit
and was always forgiven
along a trail between daylight
and midnight
searching for sleeves
of tourist ships
barricaded only by fate
swayed by waves
lashed by time-outs
with so many stops
on blind-alley roads
covered with hilly bumps
that his motorcycle
heading to a reading
by Bukowski
is overshadowed
by reinvented memory
thinking at least words
will not fail him.

 Dew on Leaf


The leaves from the wind
sweep by the sandy beach
now filled with gusher waves
along the icy shore
as a swan glides by
that's where the news boy
first made love
his head is aching
from a German beer
left on the harbor docks
waves to the bicycle rider
wearing a straw hat
who was not catching any Cod
on the Cape
but running away from home,
tells his girlfriend
he cannot afford tickets
to see Adele,
that even songbirds do
not wish to return home
with all winter storms
forecast by the media
preferring a Southern warmth
in the tree branches
as they will crisscross
a laughing sky
to spill out the sun rays
glowing with footprints
of Rilkean and Blakean angels
to embark
with a lengthy departure
over Jamaican palm trees
in a resonant park.

Dancer and Mirror Rehearsing for Nutcracker

(in Anna Akhmatova's memory)

Breathe on me
but from afar,
but in your heart,
Anna, enlighten me
by a shooting star
of St. Sebastian,
over my ashes
sprinkle on me a ration card
I'm hungry for words
thirsty for verbs
searching for mushrooms
for a chard of cheese and bread
with frightened birds
below the snowy balcony,
as a bride left by his groom
with these bitter herbs
in this one room,
recently swept up
with the leaves
still I am the one
who believes
as I ride the train
by the Volga,
watching for an
open fish tank on the shore
thanking God for life
by glassy mosses
here is a wish to be
thankful for
in these oyster beds
and shells,
appease me
cover me with blankets
I do not care
about your lovers
crush me
with your red eyes
by the Neva
banish me
with your smile
in this lost
and tarnished time,
keep me writing
from all despair
in my calling
above all,
return my son
into his mother's arms.


Today’s LittleNip:

(December 16)

Hey, Beethoven
with pure music of reflection
where hopes were imprisoned
you stand in for freedom
remember we Beats
fill us again with an air
among soft flakes of snow
near your statue
ring out
interwoven with melody
of those drums and timpani.


Our thanks to B.Z. Nidtch and Katy Brown for this fine repast on Christmas Eve, and a note that Medusa’s Facebook page has a new album by Michelle Kunert, this one of last Monday’s Sac. Poetry Center reading featuring Nanci Woody and Tom Goff and hosted by Rhony Bhopla. Check out "Monday at SPC", and thanks, Michelle!