Thursday, February 25, 2016

Shadows Flooding With Light

Shadow and Fence
—Poems by B.Z. Niditch, Brookline, MA
—Photos by Katy Brown, Davis, CA



A dirty-blond stranger
with a long grayish beard
from Provo Utah
slept on a chimney
one snowy night
resting on a jazz club roof
of the local forest ranger
on another cold evening
after he awoke
laughing inconsolably
told us he lost the fret
of an A string
on his wine-covered guitar
which he replaced
then he created out of magic
a folk song with lyrics
of sublime originality
about the fronds off
Cape Cod waters
we invited him as a guest
to our outdoor city theater
to do stand-up or sing
with a T.V. host on the couch
to interview Rex
but he spoke in revelations
that gave him authority
larger than most
with an enlarged history
that no one could vouch for
suddenly like any cowboy
or imitating ghost rider
took off with a wandering eye
of a pedantic lonesome soul
perhaps searching
for God or sex in mind
or some vocation as his goal
courts over the duck pond
and elopes in a glitter of stars
to get far away
with a rich scientist's daughter
from Woods Hole
vanishes with all his insight
with a jolt
of his open-air sports car.



After the peace march
you emerged in the city
walking alone
with a home-made sign
speaking against war
without a moment
to drink green tea in a glass
like our grandparents
but you cleverly managed
to cut the lemon
four ways
from the farmer's market
burying my daily worries
as we remembered playing
backgammon and chess
when we were in advanced
Algebra Two math class
of Mr. Feeney
who was so poor
he wore his tweed suit
from the Goodwill
every day
but your nana
fixed his buttons
before our last exams
in the long corridors
of the library hallways
years later
we saw each other
in the Big Apple
at the poetry slams
as you intersected me
on my motorcycle
suddenly flakes of snow
appear on my old pea jacket
by a rush of city traffic
as sirens go off
at the red light
lost near a Soho district
where we did disco dancing
along the tinted bars
where I once played sax riffs
in weary alleyways
smelling of marijuana
with a chip on the old block
of my Manhattan street
where I met expressionists
in their cold starry-eyed lofts
at a series of February storms
yet hide to get our bones warm
by visiting the Cedar Tavern
drinking beer, wine
or Mexican tequila
talking at the revolutionary back
of Pollock, O'Hara, and Rothko
those now-famous artists
along with their poet friends
who became mine,
Ginsberg, Kerouac, Franz Kline
Leroi Jones, Greg Corso.

 Misty Half Moon

(born February 19, 1876)

The triangle remains
closer to a geometric time
of your creation's shadow
my red eye turn to you
speaking to us
drawing near
in a negation's voicing light
as a guide
shading in the indivisible
of a clear line of a blade
resting over a pitying floor
in this museum's corner
with a sculptor's heavy arm
by your vibrant cut
known as Brancusi's stone.


(January 5, 1932-February 19, 2016)
In passages and raptures
reaching each word of yours
in the name of your rose
outside a house trellis
of nature's tree groves
knowing your strong voice
has a sanctuary backstage
you are not lost alone
in this actor's dressing room
not in a mourning dark suit
before a motionless camera
for I'm consoled by your prose
leaning over your novel
read under my sunny window
accepting your tinged photo
on my one-lira's Italian postcard
near a transient travel oil lamp
our era shapes your epitaph
as dawn rises to laugh over the dust
from a somnambulist character
of an exiled story of stranger
disclosing many weathered years
in travelogue soundings heard
from varied nesting archipelagos
tidal waves are at high tide
remembering the lost ships
as shadows flood with light
over many a night's filmy eyes
amazed at Eco's unsurpassed energy
immersed in history, poetry
and narrative dialogue
that we witness in your shade
for your lost artifacts
with honoring presages
and passages over triumphant lives
left behind by murdered friends
in an age of light and science
you taught us chapters of life
in an illumined tempo
against the rocks and branches
at islands of the Mediterranean Sea
embracing us by a horseman's statue
to record our darkness
with shining phrases of ardor
now at digital libraries
scattered in arbitrary manuscripts
chronicled by a fable-teller's fate
in several languages and tones
embraced by a trembling hand
of reinvented time and pendulum
outfoxing the stones and a leaf
in his unsigned books at length
by a chalk line from fans
awaiting your enchanted speech
outside Milan's momentary
yet innocent snowy gates
or wherever the literate gather
to your soul-mated reflections,
in stories, words, letters
you made our world better.


(February 10, 1890-May 30, 1960)

Hardship by the Volga
night has electrified
a witness to mirrors
of a poet's spirit
clinging to words
when censorship
vilified you Boris
not the last time
you heard the moans
in corridors
of locked-down prisoners
with their backs
to the river rain
stars shattering
both war and peace
in Siberian steamships
a shadow in careless space
of a white sky resurrection
your eyelashed quarantine
now with the silent dust
your voice unwavering
into a spring of seedlings
of the hearth and garden
your light leads us
to the watery swan
and flapping wings of birds
covering you by gates
in buried underbrush lanes
seeking and dreaming
like the last dawn
of a notable obituary
shadowed by lightning
as the poet is gone
into a sanctuary's pardon.



Who may have answers
on this stage
like a signal to Hamlet
settling all my questions
but he does not rely
on my reacting to his ephemeral
last words, words, words
but on defying my own reason
to this actor and poet
who merely recites his lines
after rehearsing all night
watching Hamlet curse
with Shakespearean lines
about all his personal strife
I'm trying to memorize,
yet willingly knows nothing
as to the good prince's motives
what gives into his suffering
at the votive stone
taking notice of my part
in this play's atonement
yet having my own moments
since searching in his soliloquy
for his own past identity
that we witness and reveal
to this patient audience
who still fears his uncle
but cannot forgive the deeds
of unending violence
after the murder of his father
with the new king's silence
has those doom of secrets
opened here in this living room
and is weary of his mother
the waited-on moody Gertrude
whom his personal young life
has offended and violated
with his own gloomy melancholy
soon turns on his girlfriend
the confused beautiful Ophelia
who will soon be dead
in an excused adolescent season
but all our hourly lives are on loan
to a higher wonder of power
like leaves on the snow
may survive in the spring
to reveal a small jonquil flower
dancing in the underground
in the sunlight.


Today’s LittleNip(s):

I come here to speak poetry. It will always be in the grass. It will also be necessary to bend down to hear it. It will always be too simple to be discussed in assemblies.

—Boris Pasternak

You die, but most of what you have accumulated will not be lost; you are leaving a message in a bottle.

—Umberto Eco


—Medusa, with thanks to B.Z. Niditch and Katy Brown for today’s fine contributions to the Kitchen!

For more about Umberto Eco and his passing, see