Thursday, March 24, 2016

Counting Tears in a Bottle

Glad Day, c. 1794
—Paintings by William Blake
—Poems by B.Z. Niditch, Brookline, MA


Hearing, like me
seagulls off the sea
by window gardens
opening in springtime
from secret signs
that only nature disguises
from sparrows over branches
once filled with ice
from March's muffled breeze
flooded by scintillated light
when our early clouds
of shrill loudspeakers
from bird feeders rise
in sky-bright reports rejoicing
when anticipation
of the time moving
forward with a lost line
of an unnoticed seasonal change.

Ancient of Days, 1794


On the March wind
bonded on a memory train
full of recollected words
to hear ringing chapel bells
above all roofs
and people's barricades
to make a faint way
near the rainy branches
with a kinfolk of lovebirds
who wish like me to soar
whistling for us in a chorus
above a chirping mundane earth
in space of a motorcade
to be welcomed by angels
in tents as combatants at war
have spoken on Blakean wings
in an Apocalypse of revelations
upon islands of outer space
from his telescopic observations
as an observer in his Southern sky
scatters about chattering
as Orion's constellations race
from its huge monster brightness
we are sensing the eternity
of his watercolor paintings
as thousands are enlightened
and waking to watch at attendance
his crayoned red dragon pictures
from his Songs of Innocence
and Experience
archive plates
in this sorely dissonant time
over his muted melancholic lips
as rouge faints and fades
on a transparent creative face
in coverage of a bard's forgetfulness
along tumbling towers of the sun
existing on a showering metamorphosis
of a token cultural blessedness
as attendant spirits and pundits
breathing out from Blake's
cowering and captured gorgons
dramatic demons and epic dragons
in a narrative of courageous poets
from our Jacob's ladders' surveillance
of dark blue pigeon-clouds
over a stars’ air traffic third heaven
as poets miraculously sing out
on white tufts of clouds
replacing all those who run
across the bells of sky and shade
to swing at all shrouded nights
of many-sainted hours
under a famous eternal light
of a king of whom you have heard
from the presence of a flamed sun
flowering from citadels and pits
in the absence of day and night
not ashamed of these few hours
having lost your repentant name
to chant for a wonderful new one.

 Cover, Songs of Innocence


Orange dancing chaos
of fingerprints from a painter
in the tuft of a visionary
from a sunlit studio
trampling colors
with wounds of hands
in images of spotted language
from angles sleeping
in his fiery eyes
about an abandoned history
besmirched with wounds
of war-dirtied faces weeping
in a sponged cauldron
from a mortuary of the voices
in an iconic shadow
recognizing the spells
of elemental rootless journeys.



Fifteen centuries
go by Andrei Rublev's paint
the lashes of art watering
in yellow, blue and red
to scrub your Russian icons
with wounds of exhaustion
on back breaking long ago
in the fifteenth century
with the suffering God
buried in prison camps
with angels alighting
on their windy
wings on riverbeds
of the people's penury
awakened blood of snows
with an artist heaving echoes
to answer the breathless
river at the monastery's dust
in the nights of panic
and pain at the steeples
of the church's sun's glow
saints still on gold ceilings
wander by forever
counting tears in a bottle.

 The Giant Albion from Jerusalem, 1804


Listening to the opera
of Donizetti
not to part
with The Elixir of Love
which I was acquainted with
since taken to the Met
as a child relives his joy there
thrilled with the combination
of a staged play,
music from an orchestra
with voices from a libretto
the elixir has not aged
drinking in every melody
of my young daydreams
linked by time, eye gaze
tongue and trembling notes
knowing there is someone
young in the audience
taken by the hand today
to the balcony of the house,
who will experience
a glimmer of artistic vision
for her or his memory
which will last in silence
every time they drink
from a resonant glass
of ethereal depths of fun.


You breathe salty lines
of portraits of your era
rubbing paints
in a visionary chamber
exposing photographic colors
from a terrifying fate
out of an astonished painter
of the modern era
as an improvising revolutionary
of a poetic expatriate
in later sanity of expressionism
changing the stolen years
among the immortality
of banishment and sorrow
squeezing out in exile
behind the iron doors
with tomorrow's pure flashing
in red fingers and footprints
of disconnected times
covering interconnected images
surprising a deranged flame
of light dilated in his studio
staring on a pale canvas
which lingers ’til our time
into the night's signature
when storms are raging
in a destined discovery
from resentment of madness
transfiguring our flesh
into disobliging disguises
from memory's adventure.

The Angels Hovering Over the Body of Christ
in the Sepulchre, 1805


No one expects Cain
here in the land of Nod
for Abel is slain
but all realize now
it is more than a fable
to be in exile from God
not even honorable Abel
expects a good sacrifice
as far as one can tell
who speaks to angel Michael
in this chapel and neighborhood
as religion passes to Nimrod
now in a tower of Babel
each telling their story
in their suspected private Hell
full of purgatory and trial
waiting for His glory
and the rising of the dead.

 The Body of Abel Found by Adam and Eve, c. 1826


Embracing tomorrow
after reading parts
of Julius Caesar
on the Ides of March
remembering in Italy
the newly baptized red sky
turning blue
going beyond time
as several birds in columns
arriving like Pasolini's
opening words to greet us
who after all is our brother too
as laughing tourists by the gates
and student princes
now starry-eyed
read you out loud
at a Roman bookstall
remembering my first Latin lessons
in recognizing the roots
of these ancestral pockets
in a thin paper mâché collection
from your knotted
own post-war faces
those poetry pictures
from a rejected childhood
as tiny snowflakes
appear on the beach
rippling into a diary
of writing Thursday on a page
my hand stretched out
to touch the branches
now white with much joy
that the long winter
may be over my palm
in a third-month finger of fate
from the stormy Bay rain
which drenches the Coast
walking on the sand
the sun flickers
its first light of sailing
and intoxicates the day
which shapes our tongue
of verse's vulnerability
asking for wisdom
to make it through.


Today’s LittleNip:

If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, Infinite. For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things thro' narrow chinks of his cavern.

—Wm. Blake, from
The Marriage of Heaven and Hell


If a thing loves, it is infinite.

—Wm. Blake


Our thanks to B.Z. Niditch for his fine poems today! For more about poet/painter William Blake and his angels, go to


William Blake, 1757-1827