Thursday, April 14, 2016

Walt Whitman Drops By

Gold Calla in Rain
—Poems by B.Z. Niditch, Brookline, MA
—Photos by Katy Brown, Davis, CA


In my Uncle Scriven's study
my Aunt Sarah brings me
a cup of delicious green tea
with a cheese croissant
on hand from the bakery
retelling me a children's
ancient library story
of a scholarly miracle
during the Chinese Han dynasty
she wakes me up to my Muse
with daydreams on the bed
as we hear the sky birds
outside the shed sing
I'm refusing to be monocled
or jostled by time this day
of my first recital by anyone
by arbitrary or capricious
as I'm about to play
on the tiny violin
"Thaïs” by Massenet
as my aunt would insist
on dressing me
in a spring tweed suit
and school blue tie
in the classical library
wearing her tight satin gown,
as she presses on me
"Make out your daily list
put away your meditations
of clever Marcus Aurelius,
Jesus and Latin for now
and do your lessons later,
you must practice Bach
to be a greater violinist
than you expect
and focus on your solo
for a few hours,
forget the radio free jazz
of the Sixties sax
by John Coltrane
or Charlie Parker,"
as she waters the garden
of darker purple jonquils
crocus and April flowers
and tries to relax.

 Pink Dogwood in Rain


What grieves in my sighs
when reading your verse
fructifies like a fresh orange
to remake my life better
when feeding like a sponge
on your youthful words
in your recollected letters
who believes like Keats
that "Beauty is Truth"
from an intimate universe
can never forsake us
but makes us stronger
when hearing a siren or bird
your phrases wait on me
like a weak nurse a sailor lured
by lovely maiden tears
dissolves in exiled waters
as a missing son or daughter
realized in a forbidden cry
of freedom and rescue
from an old Ovid myth
forbidden to expose
any ancient absurd curse
in a less
obvious underworld time
when children
from a sung chant
flow as a haven
of metamorphosis
to the bird chorus
fountain's abyss,
yet your words feed me
Wallace Stevens
with a new proclivity
hung as harps by your angels
from a Greek mountain
to mourn over
a poet's longevity.



Abstracts in
a downcast reaction
to form as art
in a geometric shape
partly from the absent breath
glowing on a cubist canvas
keeps your past illuminating
on the pastiche of a wishing wall
of the British museum
opening as my resisting eye
among the lasting stones
casts an elemental power
through the museum's shadow
of the noonday sun.

 Red Leaf in Rain


A glittering shiver
of branches
on a wide wellspring garden
by the greensward
river vines
as Reverdy's days
hide to wade
in his nocturnal dreams
missing the winter
running deep
as the fine dawn snowflakes
fall over the Seine's shore
makes him feels
almost bewitched
by the rippled
breaker wind
he pardons
his frozen scarf
over his lips
scattered breath
he returns
from the countryside
among the city's
stepping stones
wrapping him
in Monet faces
in the pastel
mirror’s pool
constantly wishes
he may atone
as a first-of-April fool
in the ways
he has past behaved
fishing for coins
in the wellspring,
acting an an adolescent
as the wind untangles
the lost strokes amid showers
of a Paris boatman
who faces a loss
as two black birds fly
over the Tuileries
from the height of trees
in a blue sky
cross-over return
in the vibrations
of the swing
at an endless breeze
in an embrace
of a yellow gentian
along quick-eyed eddies
on his metamorphosed delight
as flowers grow
under a full sky
on a pure poet's insight
who pauses his reflection
to paraphrase his lines
watching a sure
sail's direction
in a belief of reflection
of Reverdy's
newly written words
on a pale linen
handkerchief by the garden
of asphodels watchful
of the seasonal birds.



In the Civil War of brothers
not embarrassed to be here
in Falmouth, Virginia
encouraging the wounded souls
where still bleeding soldiers rest
upon makeshift hospital beds
reading Walt Whitman
who like a miracle drops by
as the early April snow dries
on the roads there is still ice
now their guest
comforts the sick
as an American poet
will light up
every translated spirit
in the room
from his enlarged
empowered eyes
transfigured from
far-off highways
he travels alone
as a witness
knowing all
are painfully young
his fated words
never outdated
with no cowardly sacrifice
in a deep poetic voice
we atone
for those who witness death
among scattered gravestones
and see their own deaths twice
for such is a war's
terrible sacrifice
on the surly
warring battlefield
of barren darkness
and gloom
yet devoured
with clay images
with stony path
by unsung tombs.

Today whether we are under
Paris’s sun or in Belgium
or Boston's stars at a marathon
in Japan or at Jerusalem,
a pacifist poet proclaims
his international verse
like bearded Whitman
with extended arms for peace
knowing we too
are part of one chain
of light to release
for if one is hurt
than we are all stained
under the darkness
of an unlit lamp of liberty,
whether you are by a fireplace
of forest wood
or hear the blasting from
shadows and shade
we still welcome
Walt Whitman to pass by
with his Leaves of Grass
to make our neighbors
over choice mountain ranges
in the Ganges of India
on heights of Afghanistan
or by the fountains of Isfahan
or ports of San Francisco
by Fort Hood
or San Bernardino
or whatever neighborhood,
we still need
Whitman to comfort us
in the imagery spirit
of a dream-voiced poet
beyond any penny dreadful
bending from his knees
by the bed of veterans
in loving imagery
for all races
who long to be free
here branches
on every country's trees
we will pause
for those in need
as we listen to their suffering
caused by war,
hunger or poverty
with his comforting
words uttered
by the screens
of a narrow bed
masked only by a curtain
cast by first light in our shed.

 Waxwings Find the Berries


No matter,
Oh Man, O Beat,
my Whitman children
get on your feet
you who witness
for justice
or with a kiss of peace
sing out,
young or octogenarian
in a Zen chant
or Gregorian
or if you are
an April Fool's truant
skipping school for the sun
let's move on the dance floor
with a wonderful kiss
as jazz riffs run,
we are not like
that lost pigeon
our love messages
from state to state
now missing
from this slate roof
without a forwarding address
we have not yet found him
in this April darkness
without any proof
of his mate
but if he asks
we will say, "Yes",
nor are we Beats hung up
on the rungs of a ladder
by merely being
a Rodin sculpture
and not moving madly
in a Paris adventure
rather we are free
to request
an invite or free bite
for any guest
in the counter-culture
for what matters is language
in eating up the pursuit of truth
this night
from a cup of wine
or vermouth,
to be a choice clairvoyant
with an ear like Rumi
or Van Gogh
with a dissonant voice we know
will in the future
be on the street
a clear dissenter
to romance,
sing or jam jazz
on a sleeve
of the underbrush snow
sounding our airs
on a wing
like a troubadour
to shape
every geometric word
as we make
it on the dance floor
having a caress
of understanding
from lovers
showing off on swings
or brushed by on bare trees
on the First
of April spring,
hearing Ginsberg's epiphany
of “Kaddish” and “Howl”
read by a student
with flower
power from her lips
who rushes to stay here
to be clear
and have cover
hides in a landscape
nest of birds
among birds and owls
to escape
with her runaway life
out to San Francisco
rather to have her name
in an adolescent
gossip column
saying Marie was
on an energy trip
to escape
her father's solemnity
from all his wealthy friends
for she does not wish
to go to
cotillion's high society
or to be a restless celebrity
and live constantly
for daddy who appears
weekly on a T.V. comedy
but for herself
to make amends.


Our many thanks to B.Z. Niditch for today’s fine poetry celebrating peace, and to Katy Brown for the glorious spring photos! And speaking of Walt Whitman, Bob Stanley and Moira Magneson will be reading at Luna’s tonight, 8pm. Both of them have done chapbooks with Medusa’s Rattlesnake Press, and Bob’s was aptly named Walt Whitman orders a Cheeseburger, after his poem by the same name.


Today’s LittleNip:

Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.




 April is National Poetry Month!
Celebrate by going to Luna's Cafe tonight
at 8pm to hear Bob Stanley and Moira Magneson!