Thursday, April 28, 2016

April Colors

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


Nothing but expansive light
in my murmuring words
under the weight of stones
my vision is unlocked
from the persuasive corridor
for my Raleigh bicycle
treading along familiar paths
by the Cape's green greeting
receding from icy winter winds
as the earliest tourist boat
disperses to the home harbor
under a glittering April sun
under the gazebo's pavilion,
here alone with my cat
purring on the back bench
near my orange kayak
anchored in the harbor
the sleepy dawn gleams
at a poet tenant on the earth
going out at daybreak
to discover a new bird sanctuary
along with expansive wings
climbing up near an Elm tree
as a wandering sojourner
who collects pine cones
and an earful of seashells
disturbs an echo
as the sea sounds
in the open air
contemplating the sand.

April 22

The ocean needs
to be spring-cleaned
bristling with salmon
leatherback turtles
and right whales
below the hills’ shadow
we forge the light
of living bodies
who wish to swim
out in the blue waters
as the sun is out
on the back roads
as climate changes
in the open air
shielding my poet eyes
open in rivers immersed
with man's junk
no wonder
we are in a funk
as my cry on this Earth Day
gestures my hands
to my sisters and brothers
on my bicycle
that we may see nature
in all its beauty guiding me
through bays and parks
with a child's enthusiasm
to recycle
full of my sleeves with words
now green to plant
and listen to a nest of birds.

(An Elegy)

Undercutting the wonder
of a Spanish translation
whether in Paris, Madrid
or the Argentine
your personality
is as thunder to us
yet close to mine
in its poetic way
will never vanish
in the showering rain
readily reading you
for hours along the Bay
you may please a lover
from the ease
of nature's idiom
or take a critic to cover
in the form of language
discovering a heroic figure
sums up your age, Alberti
in the chronology
as we students
turn the page
of your elegy.

 Iberia No. 2 by Robert Motherwell, 1958


We both loved Blake
Picasso and Matisse
as you spoke
of your painting
Cape Cod
at the first art lectern
in my adolescence
with your sense of open
spatiality of your soul
from a blue ocean of ink
in graphite and charcoal
all the artifacts and prism
of world culture
in drawing humanity
of the Platonic and Judaic,
minimalism or Sephardic
from primitive to abstracts
pop, graphite or monochrome
and the Baroque yet processed
he visits a Spanish home
in time of Civil War
with a personal invitation
now along the mural walls
with fresh
cosmopolitan innovations
vanishing in a cerulean motion
of him hunched over
brushing strokes
in cultured totality
drowned in an ocean
a free-fall imagination
of the learned from Vienna
or newly found eidetic sound
as an objet d'art in his memory
of burnt sienna discerned by critics
fueled by a critic's learned language
outlasting his Iberia No. 2
ground in deep concentration
from bards like your comrade
Frank O'Hara whose lunch poems
you carry with his poetic mantra
logos, symbol and signature
from the New York school.

 Cape Cod by Robert Motherwell, 1971

(for Emily Dickinson)

You have not been here
a moment ago
in a resemblance
of enfolded fresh jonquils
when the snow is gone
on the threshold
of the now-green lawn
a trove of trees surprising us
as a single purple crocus
in our April flower bed
emerges by a benefit chance
to focus on us to sum up
a singular lover of words
still with her spirit's momentum
by the Amherst Common
as we visit Emily Dickinson
away from tumultuous crowds
of college students from Maine
and ski country of Vermont
which made this discerning poet
feel the thrill of an hour
of wanting reinvented knowledge
knowing that my annual return
is a pleasant metamorphosis
wanting to bring
more long-stemmed violets
for her resting place
above a shower's jet of rain
as one of our prominent
public critics
recites her belief in poetry's lore
facing the sun in a private lane
of learning about her lonely folklore
that all acquainted with her belief
have concealed a reinvented quatrain
we are reacting to this spring
as we seek a season's relief
in the peek of the sun
to primarily view new saplings
that awoke us but not in vain
as turning over a new leaf
sweeping up any earthly deficit
of our authentic memories revealed
but never fully contained.


After a bitter cold season
sitting on a park bench
watching the Boston Marathon
yet knowing my running days
are darkly enfolding over
and seeing the college students
speaking Spanish and French
vanish on the finishing line
so many veteran memories
like the plover scanned
on the Charles River
or the last flowers
or first fruits
define my wind of words
in hours to live well
as time passes me over
under the university bridge
fulfilled without swagger
as the young invade my space
rooting for colleagues in Boston
Cape Cod or Cambridge friends
in their miles of the great race
who gave me
their running numbers
on their sweatshirts
so I could watch their run
on the telephone or fax
on the course of patriots'
or tax day
a poet walks by gardens
unhinging clinging vines
in the glorious sunshine
still with a sense of wonder
without a sense of holiday
reading Emily Dickinson
yet knowing her pardon
reaches our pavilion.


Unhinge me, Emily
from the past
embrace me
with our family
in a bramble’s space
where a fawn
seals me in April memory
of his noted presence,
unifies me with all animals
muscular mammals,
right whales in the ocean
and minerals left by the sea
speak to me
as poetry in motion
by nature's revealed language
in my own vernacular
at the ferryman's edge of shore;
rescue the leatherback turtles
in our hand-to-hand rescue
with our humanity in a quick eye
of a daisy chain of solidarity;
leave me satisfied
with my musical portion in life
to still hear the lyrical cry
of those tossed overboard
in distant boats of harbors
those who are devoured or lost
on the high uneasy waves
from old maps of recollection
along our Coast
hear of the poor offering
in the flavor of my bread
to discover me with the birds
in the Evergreen branches
overhead, as we recall
St. Francis' voice in his words,
Forgive the unloved,
the one not savored or favored
let all those divided in anguish
yet wish for hidden hope
among these forest homeless
who sleep here in the woods
resting in the shade of asphodels
and purple Iris of our eye,
let us welcome spring together,
Oh Emily, New England's
word-gathering daughter of earth
hear a thunder of shadows
in her small world
as we picture this bard of Amherst
gingerly writing
who is often ignored
or cursed by her neighbors
by passing showers of reverie
after her unveiled soft sleep
as she labors over the balcony
along the white stone steps
where farmers still plant seeds
in the dark apple orchard
near her own cemetery
as she writes about nature
in her Thursday diary
about a metamorphosis of season
here in her vineyard
remembering this daughter
in our kayak or swan boat
floating along the dark waters.

(An Epitaph)

Your living history is intact
though we do not know
all the facts of your creative
passing time on earth
but for us we will not bury
your talented memory
though even today
your four-hundredth anniversary
many are claiming your legacy
but we know your genius
from your plays as a narrative
in sonnets, or lines
from rhymes of your poetry
you still sing,
in this my epitaph
for Shakespeare whether writing
of kings or a reunion with beggars
by laughing with Falstaff
drinking cups of wine with everyone
or playing his part and folio
with Malvolio, a feigned Puritan
pretending he has no sin
claims he hates games and fun
as a disciplined steward to Olivia,
as William with baited breath
waits up for Lady MacBeth
to shame her until her death
or weeping with his character Lear
or discovering Hamlet,
Laertes' daughter
with Ophelia's tears
that brings us close to the stars,
today there is still regret
from the world's amnesia
after passing years
which seem but a day
yet there is always pleasure,
for Shakespeare is not done
from an open departure
this anniversary afternoon
from his fulfilling voice
in our multi-culture time
yet bestowing his lexicon
in full choice of disclosure
as the moving of the sun
or in a contrary passing
of a turning blood-red moon
we act in yearning scenes
learning your precious odes
among your strenuous choice
in delicious repast moments
in the wit of Measure for Measure
feeding you the food
of the gods, ambrosia
along the riverbed neighborhoods
to deliver you a rose of Sharon
from your literacy shed
on the wrathful provocative stage
in your Elizabethan poet lore
taking a knife to open up
your literary history's heritage
leaving us from Tudor strife
for an unknown country
and offer and urge the span
for us to inherit your humanity
in a solitary path for literary poets
on every librarian's page
from death to a life story
you own this inglorious stage
in our sorry fate's seclusion
as we play our fiddle
and hear from our chorus
in barren disbelief after
a Will Shakespearean farewell after
four hundred years to the day
with a dirge under your cover
in the conclusion of our grief
from an author and lover
who leaves us in middle age
forgetting the funereal
wishing for your success
in more than a thousand counties
of the English commonweal,
let's largely celebrate this day.

(for Thomas Merton)

Spring is roughly timed
for this particular sunshine
as a frenzied drone
suddenly falls
from the blurred sky
as a sailor on watch
calls me over me on the beach
I'm reaching for shells and stones
gathering starfish bones
for our souls are often
still bound
by those in dereliction
who have sinned
by speaking fiction against us
whom we forgive
as we look up and live
or as we are reckoned
by a second wind
quickly changing direction
as the weather vane shows
and blows to Oak Bluffs
dazzling in a morning's daylight
by the emerging trees
waiting on weather's contradiction
staring at prisms of a sand pile,
here two children on their knees
once waited to focus
and in one day created
a castle standing very close to me
in the same summer place
of a once St. Joan statue
and St. Nicholas snow man
just a few weeks ago stood
now April colors are in green
will motion us to catch
the guff of a castaway poet
in a French blue beret
along the glassy shadows
moving along the Bay
here on this misunderstood poet's
most favorite bench
stranded as in a lotus position
as a red blackbird sounds
seagulls are in a fullness
of flight
over the Cape's bandstand
as a newly painted gazebo
shines at first light
this writer meditates at dawn
as cicadas are heard along
the kickball graffiti walls
at the edge of birdsong voices
when no longer snow squalls
are heard
by Martha's Vineyard's shore
hoping that red salmon
will soon strike
by the river bed
and snatch over onto
my old fishing rod,
I'm selecting for a Sunday lector
a contemplative prayer
directed to the Holy Ghost
that angels be sent out by God
to protect those along the Coast
as my eye closes
over the anchors of boats
held in these still
uncharted wintry waters
children are watching
an injured swan
now packed away in a crate
in slow motion
being rescued on the ocean,
as my alto sax blows tunes
of a jazz sonata's improvisation
for an understated gig tonight,
searching to stare at a nest of birds
in the light of my language
of my binoculars’ clarity,
I'm offering daily bread
for these restless sparrows
hiding over
maple wood branches
of the gathering homeless
among the beachcombers
St. Francis would bless
I'm watching people go
to celebrate the Passover holiday
at the local synagogue
who have invited me to play
my music at a charity event;
may my riffs be resurrected,
live on for a call to life
for all those who reason in an abyss
in a new season's metamorphosis
addressed from a remnant of spirit
that rises for all from the dead.

Many thanks to B.Z. Niditch for this lovely poetry brunch shipped to us from the faraway East Coast, and to the much-closer West-Coaster Katy Brown for her beautiful spring photos! About his work, B.Z. writes: These poems reflect my life's history: acting in Shakespeare plays (whose 400th anniversary was April 23); Ni Yulan's struggle (a Chinese woman civil rights activist who suffered for her cause); Earth Day (April 22); poems on Raphael Alberti; a couple of poems on Emily Dickinson; and poems on Fr. Thomas Merton (very influential in my life) and the Cape Cod painter, Robert Motherwell. (For more about Iberia No. II, see; for more about Cape Cod, see


Today’s LittleNip:

—B.Z. Niditch

You, as a woman, Ni Yulan
won the international award
for courage yet a prisoner
in the Beijing jail
still disabled.
May you be set free;
though man may fail you
in your still hours
from troubles for civil rights
your fight for liberty is ours
as you will someday sit with wonder
under a Yulan Magnolia tree
with a bouquet of flowers.



April is Poetry Month! Celebrate today by reading a few of 
Shakespeare’s sonnets at
then head down to Luna’s Café at 8pm (1414 16th St., Sac.) 
to hear Nancy Aidé González read— and maybe participate 
in the open mic yourself!

Photos in this column can be enlarged by clicking on them once,
then click on the X in the top right corner to come back
to Medusa.