Thursday, May 05, 2016

Spring Days

Untitled, 1969-1970, Eva Hesse
—Poems by B.Z. Niditch, Brookline, MA
—Today's art pieces are by Eva Hesse (1936-1970)


Spring days
when the sunshine of reverie
shadows the ocean waves
consoles and bends me down
to try to make up
for a lack of exercise
on my landless exiled back
having a laughing wonder
that a bard survived
all the surprising
starry blizzards and storms
in a winter of rough
breathless snow
now in a binocular sunlight
over a long shipwrecked night
swayed by winds on every side
now eagerly watching upon
my orange kayak
a weary poet behaves
with guts and grace
in open palm and hand
watching mirrored faces
of swimmers and fishes
will also return to these waters
along the deep corridors
off the wellspring of the Cape
Poseidon appears on the Bay
suddenly with his wife Amphitrite
in Ovid's imagery with their son
hidden with Triton
his son among mermen
and twelve pagan deities
with shoulders barnacled
having a gold armband
carrying a cold conch shell
he blows like a trumpet
in his spiteful mouth
to calm the strong waves
when a sailboat overturns
near the edge of the sandy beach
and two crew souls start to sway
in the handy arms of their oars
yet rise to reach me
without delay
I am content as a clam
O daughter of mythology
along the imagery of the sea
in the excitement of early May.



On a ship
in perpetual motion
among the salty spells
retelling of my poetry
from trembling footprints
from my clattering snorkels
among jelly tongues and wings
along the mysteries of the sea
my eyes on landscapes
of memory and mercy
circling between oceans
writing this Thursday
in my monologue 's diary
which like Melville's log
sustains me on my journey
as I speak in a Browning dialogue
over maps of Forbes, Burney
exploring light and dark continents
as we move haltingly underneath
the docks along oceans
by a six-gill shark shaped
with locks of teeth
hidden beneath a vampire squid
a draped Atlantic wolfish pair
and a swimming Pacific viperfish
as we were range unaware
even with a laughter's monologue
by strange wonderful creatures
moving in a thousand leagues
in thinking of a sax
rhythm and tempo
the waves are teasing us
pirated by drinking truants
as an express call and wish
in an alliance and allegiance of hope
now caught between the energy
of pleasing rains
featured on the pivotal
scales of taut justice
in a call to save the whales, dolphins
mammals and creature
sighted in a bright ice fish flow
knowing that my journeyed
self-entangled remains
on my wishful treasured rope
over my environmental journey
by a shelf of poetry
hoping for the horizontal chance
that from their colors and shapes
they will survive and dance
in a clean environmental space
to rescue right whales, turtles
under this gentle bubbling Cape.

 Ringaround-arosie, 1965


May I say, may I
chanting by the maypole
in my sighs and allergies
for the lilacs of spring
as I sneeze on the back porch
here in Vermont
you need not decide
anything today,
just say May I
in any variant of language
across the soccer ball fields
with screams and shouts
in spring's first game
by the morning salt marshes
as you put your back up
it's not your fault or blame
for wanting an enlightened shield
from the insects
on the potted plant
your friends have bought you
as you wonder at the bench
at the French brunch
with a daydream all winter
to enjoy all these gifts
of spinach croissants and cheese
since on the ski lifts
here in Burlington
with this rain and thunder
on the open pavilion
as I play a few jazz riffs
and ask my motionless lips
to let this dawn just play out
and take up all my needs
as sunflowers are falling in
with butterflies
all over the ground
as Linda, a student
of English next door
asks me about a poem
she just wrote and can't ignore
tells me it's like love
an adjusted
and carefully timed atom bomb
yet she fears to attend
the junior prom tonight
going with Vincent
the boy next door
who out of a lame shyness
of his dyslexic syndrome
masks his real fears
and may be a no-go
she is sorry for bothering me
an old friend of the family,
as she starts to cry
wanting to go home
blaming herself
as we eye Vincent
with the soccer ball
who manages a goal
and a magnificent win
for his team even as I tell him
his human choice of a wish
will succeed in athletics
despite his anguish of language
that he will be distinguished
as he asks for a more fluent voice
which makes for more discipline
as we wish Vinnie well
knowing at his masked age
how self-confidence ranks high
when Linda and Vincent thank me
and we all say goodbye.



Stripped and clipped leaves
of wintry cold
would give wide sway
as new bare trees enfold
allowed him to believe
that new fruits and green
would give him to yearn
a good chance to discern outside
standing outside the monastery
leaning in his boots of Auvergne
of his remembrance of a day
that brings spring to return,
this happened to me in glory
when away for a season
in adolescence of my history
suited me to have a belief
as new saplings gave me
a relief of his presence
and Brother Lawrence
accompanied me to Salem,
Jerusalem and Florence.

 Legs of a Walking Ball, 1965


The raindrops on Sunday
resume to fall on your roof
perspiring at the wellspring
from her last words
in her vocation
were as a fathom of letters
swaying under her raised arms
carrying a knapsack's
spiritual cover of her volume
from an bas-relief of leaves
of an art's phantom photo
on your commentary in the Iliad
of a hushed lover Patroclus
looking over Achilles
from a larger parting cloudy sky
children are rushing by the river
for a frisson of laughter's
leaping faith of excitement
Simone stares at
her opinion's proof
that the wind touches us
by smiling at our belief
that God has not abandoned us
after confessing your sin
when you heard the flocks
of birds sing a chorus
away from demon hawks
haunting gulls at their nest
as a branch leaf trembles
on water drops faintly warm
by the sea rocks on the beach
reaching out to the sand
for shells in her skeleton hands
emerging soon as shadows
in this mirror of afternoon
hearing church bells
far from guns and weapons
not welcomed anywhere
during the storms of Occupation
as a night exile in the country
writing between imagining
Janus and Jesus
on an island with bread crumbs
content amid vigorous sun dunes
you are self-martyred
whose praise remains with us
as ransom with your insight
always feeling like a wanderer
or a stranger rather than a mystic
a contrary philosopher
or literary critic
to atone in your own convent
with a new horizon for saints
by bright argent stones.



You survived fascism
in Germany
and came to America
on a short journey
to discover art
and sculpture
of which you were
a master of minimalism
staking her own part
in the free forms of culture
we will remember
those flexed circles and squares
in latex and bric-a-brac
and gorgeous fiber glassware
you could cut with a knife
of which only now
discover who you were
and not pass over
that we were unaware
how a new art was conceived
that which we take to heart
from Eva Hesse in our culture
to share and retrieve
your wonderful sculpture,
you fearfully became part of us
in your brief precious life.

 Hang-Up, 1961


Jasper Johns
changed how we view
the business of his pop art
as he is listening on the radio
in a confluence of music's part
introducing a new language
beyond the classical
screened for our critical age
spawned a lyrical minimalism
as in John Cage's technical part
who opened up to me in his studio
with a jazz solo number vibrating
in attraction of eternal magnetism
by greeting and speaking to me
of his blistering personal romance
now trembling on the piano
with its skull of Hamlet
let loose with words of meaning
“To be or not to be,"
for his reality show rehearsal
as well in our dancer's meeting
in flow free expression's heart
when Merce Cunningham
starring in a solo performance
emerges from his own life span
landing on a new form of rehearsal
covering a horizon
of the outdoor stage
that all the stops were changed
and altered by a rocking sound
of the Sixties underground
from a wide range
of our distraction still slams us
as live trip wire
of extended witnesses
in art, music, poetry's satisfaction
when at a party in the Big Apple
tears drop from our eyes
as we question what we saw
or when we wrote of our times
our rendered words recognized
now quoted by millions
from realized open pavilions
in San Francisco Beat time
from a flawed yet exciting era
expecting a call of many changes
casting all art chimes to meet us
as we chant with a recital dance
when John Cage's cowbells ring
by shimmering rhythmic feet
from a past of preferred professions
to a new era of liberty for us
where we were once all merged
in a chorus to belong
for we poets wish no longer
to be lyrically estranged
from a choral song
but represented in part
as in Homer's oral tradition
from the ancients' throng
in a showboat floral procession
with questions to follow
on a displaced float
getting an answer on canvas
stayed on a variety of location
as to why art was directing you,
Jasper, to monitor, install
and capture innovation as we recall
your vocation in our celebrity
cultural society for all
representing an art of tomorrow
on our corridor's graffiti wall.



When Beth a friend
and former student
invigorated by a mile run
raises a poetic glance
with an open-ended smile
despite her accident
in another marathon
a while ago in Aspen
holding a bunch of flowers
now here in Boston
always wise
with the right answers
in class to analyze
she messages her knees
as a former ballet dancer
after our brunch is done
with red wine
and hot butter croissants
of Danish cheese
as she collects her breath
in an hour's exercise
others spot her sunning
by the vines of trees
to wish her success
as a champion runner.

 Untitled, 1961


The lost-at-sea from the shore
as sleepwalkers on the plank
cannot fold back daydreams
ship-shaped on the ocean
rolling on the forward waves
tossed over by oars in midstream
from a May Day call in the sun
with blankets to mask themselves
to wait in the dock’s shade
hearing the bells listening
over the Cape's church
to escape confession's closure
for what they have done
or how they have behaved
and hide their exposure
by dreaming of us
in the long sun
yet on the dock give thanks
awaiting to search the Caribbean
for Baudelaire's and Coleridge's
albatross over the bridge
as jazz players, poets and sailors
often trodden down
or crossed out by life
among these rocks
wishing for love secrets
not judged by effect and cause
awaiting for double knots
of strife and trouble along
the softened ocean spectrum's
direction of the weather's flaws
about us the twin albatross' wings
hiding and biding time like Esau,
jealous for his lawful heritage
from his just brother Jacob
or in his criminal inheritance to wage
life's awesome double-mindedness
but we search for juice of carob
on these leeward islands
expect to be blessed by God
in our forward direction, "West",
to be saved like a bird's feather
from a wandering rainy journey
of kindly saints to launch us out
who sing over our sailing perfection
covering from the belonging nest
in the amazing wellspring of nature
by a chance to wish for rest
over the fishers’ riverbed
we hope to be delivered
egged on by a shivered connection
with a crown reserved for kings.


Today’s LittleNip:

Do not be discouraged by the resistance you will encounter from your human nature; you must go against your human inclinations. Often, in the beginning, you will think that you are wasting time, but you must go on, be determined and persevere in it until death, despite all the difficulties.”

—Brother Lawrence


—Medusa, with thanks to B.Z. Niditch for today’s fine poetry!

For more about artist Eva Hesse, see the following links:

And for info about the documentary being released about her, see

 Celebrate poetry today by writing poems 
inspired by the life and art of Eva Hesse, 
then head over to Davis to hear Matthew Zapruder and 
Jason Bayani read at the John Natsoulas Gallery, 
521 1st St., 8pm. There’s an open mic, too!

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.