Thursday, June 23, 2016

Treasure Trove

 The Cat of La Méditeranée
—Today's Paintings by Balthus
(Baltusz Kłossowski de Rola, 1908-2001)
—Poems by B.Z. Niditch, Brookline, MA


A tableau of color
filled in my sequences
of a Balthus dream
knowing of the artistic relationship
of Rilke's friendship as a poet
between these critical innovators
elicited in the Swiss mountains
his paintings grow in demand
in credited creator's portraits
of Alice in Wonderland
this cat or kabuki
only few acknowledging
his matured genius
or understand you
like Giacometti,
Bataille or Camus
with a mind's eye to capture
what his later celebrity brings
in his divine nurtured rapture
from the nature of things.

 The King of Cats (Self-Portrait), 1935


At old orchard
a Beat bard visiting Maine
tosses on his enfolded blanket
covering me at dawn
until the last sunset host
puts on the classical radio
next to the last
remainder-book bench
listens to a musical interlude
of an audible French soprano
as the poet reaches into the bin's
lower depth to search for ideas
in the deposit of a musical score
finding my right lyrical voice
of sheet music in a choice
of chromatic chord and time
setting for my poem
to a harmonic mood of feeling
from a context revealing
a jazz rhyme and rhythm
pledging to record a sonata
for my new composition
about Edgar Allen Poe
playing solo riffs on my sax
as we follow the hourly rising tide
on a mile-wide isle of beach
as sunshine loses direction
under the veil of a Raphael blue
pale ceiling hovering above
as dawn's clouds pass over me
in pure reflections reconciled
from all of natural creation
when Debussy is stirred
in the background
when plaudits of heavenly sound
take over a poet's words
as a small singing bluebird
sounds on beech trees
some of the wise poetry notes
in phrases of John Milton, Dryden
and Dante's paradise reach me
which welcomes my eye motes
at early sunrise as Poseidon waves
above from her passionate myth
at my laughter's attention
covering a daydream's voice
at my intention
of La Mer by Debussy
after the clarinet's echoes
leave my temperament
newly reborn out of love
with a French horn and strings
pass over violin, viola, cello
on their bridges
motioning our brave contentment
to acknowledge the sea-knowledge
without any singular boundary
along scales of a gorgeous ocean
in its tempo of colorful shapes
of humpbacked whales
as in open chorus of stars
praising creativity
in a dancing ovation of ingenuity
for all of us by an enthusiastic
five-star drum-roll rave
as the symphony's conductor
from our harmonies’ choice
of phrasing and melody
in moving the G staff and bars
of dissonance to console
in a cacophony that moves
our soul's capacity
more and more.

 The Street, 1933


We sat in the parlor
while on the piano
we played the sonata
of Mozart in D major
for two parts
and from wayfarer songs
of Gustave Mahler
composed from his heart
after being caught
by the Bay's spring rains
played some alto sax riffs
and tried my best
even as a romantic
on the sofa to relax
we sang melodies
against Sturm und Drang
and sought refrains
while we enjoy bluebirds
hanging by a hedge
near a cherry tree
knowing life is a gift
this June night
we rehearse Chekhov
of the Orchard
and in my own poetry words
of a bard's night verse
we acknowledge a kept love
even the cat slept tight.

 Still Life, 1937


June showers in a heat
fall into our picnic basket
it must have taken hours
when the barbecue flames
rose on the lawn
in the smoke by the gate
under the tent of crickets
this Sunday
we heard a Beat poet's
parched voice
fading from view
on the street between rains
reading of his experiences
in locating the names
of orphans from the Argentine
called "the disappeared"
of whom Jesus was one
were hunted and rounded up
by the military state
almost vanished
whom he saved
as a jazz brother invited
a young man who was famished
for a Spanish meal and wine
offered a kiss of peace
and we passed the plate
and he stayed overnight
until dawn.

 Girl and Cat, 1937


Paint exchanges phrases
as a poet of future tense
to deposit ready-made art
in an uninvited exhibit
from our language's sense
for society does not welcome
Duchamp's à la carte variety
thinking it shadowed solely
for faint fools or a joke
on their delighted part
as a Nude Descending a Staircase
once upon a tabled bench of rumor
arranged behind the stage
he defying all fabled ring of rules
in our century of cinematic scenes
or what is labeled a commodity
in stardust charismatic schemes
by denying all old drawing laws
with a new dramatic charter
amid the underground of humanity
of once a treasury toxic cause
in a barter sold for a modernity
from Marcel's strange
pleasure sounding manifesto
the calls of a hidden artist spoken
as if in a metaphor of dreams
until his wondrous exhibition
awoke to hit us mightier
than it seems anyone's ego
with a departing leisure of
good humorous glow
in the French neighborhood
on the cold walls of museums
only part of the viewing public
nervously understood the show.

Thérèse Dreaming


Sylvia walked in a hallway
of pained light
through the window
it was always night
living for words
always in the shadow
of living out the hour
in her poetic insight
from an already blemished day
astonished at her nerve
at a man's wrath
Sylvia moved giving flight
on her own contemporary path
from a finely shaped mind
in a new confessional school
that others hardly would find
bared to be understood
and cast out with an icy cry
of harassed laughter
wishing to write her name Plath
on the encased blackboard
rejecting all chalk sounds
that would be erased
to reinvent her past,
no one knew who
was stalked after
such was her lot and rule
recognizing her own fame
she composed by the mirror
taking out her lipstick
not realizing any blame
and shut the door.

 The Room, 1952


In a treasure trove
of living words
there is no border
to love or to define forgiving
it is already done
yet here we are in the sun
listening to Charlie Parker
deciding to explore nature
and reach a nest of birds
caught in dark branches
or here at the beach
we assure that inside
of a shell and rock
that a hurting turtle
is well protected,
we make our ways
through Platonic caves
until we motion
with a divine measure
that we will be connected
in a snorkel of wishes
through the ocean waves
to find and save the fish
from man's leaving plastic
and all sorts of nets and metal
to save part of our planet
below our earth's
geological shadow
we let go
from the diving board
and swim in our words
in a dramatic mile below
like Jacques Cousteau
surfing with
an environmental smile.


Today’s LittleNip:

I kill an ant

and realize my three children

have been watching.

—Kato Shuson (1905-1993)


—Medusa, with many thanks to B.Z. Niditch for his poetry and inspirations today.

For more about the Polish-French modern classical artist Balthus (Baltusz Kłossowski de Rola, 1908-2001), cats, and Rilke, see

To hear Vladimir Ashkenazy and the Cleveland Orchestra play Debussy’s La Mer, go to

 Celebrate Poetry!

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.