Thursday, July 14, 2016

A Place to Sing

Landscape I
—Paintings by Amedeo Modigliani

(For Annie Menebroker,
in memoriam)

When day settles
the poet is still at home
on night waves of the sea
to fulfill her wish for wildflowers
when hourly dreams sparkle anew
on the watering mirrors
with words winding by her side
she still loved the marigolds
by the edge of the shore
and only her memory
of journey will endure
only the third-person diaries
of films which she adored
turned into a play on words
imagining mushrooms
under afternoon fields
she would gather from earth
in a painful first light
when she fed the birds.

 Landscape in the Midi


We move on blankets
of first light
by ourselves wishing ourselves
to tape our memory's footsteps
ever so silent as salt
adolescence breathes
by your snorkels
we dive in early
our toes curl
along breathing fish
we are as shadows
in the deepest mirrors
opening the visible windows
of nature's warmth
airing out our communications
with our eyes by waves
in raising our fingers by fins
wrinkled and bottled up
from mermen and mermaid suits
opening our adventure's windows
with new strokes as we wave
to each other motioning
love bubbles to each other
in this metamorphosis of ocean
down here by slanted goggles
at humpback whales
who play reading out headfirst
and then spy a porpoise, dolphins
smelts and salmon
expecting it's lunch time
on the bedrock beach.

 Standing Nude with Garden Background


A morning of shadows
of an adolescent's hours
on a park bench
counting the boats
anchored by the Bay
now moving out
in the silent daylight
scenting flowers by the sea
who connects each fold
of French hydrangea
near floating marigold
motioning my viola bow
on the greensward lawn
playing for tourists
by the ocean dawn
for apples and honey.

 The Cellist


The Beat is in a cinematic dream
with a technicolor vision
of his iconic organic poetry
in celluloid words
watching the making
of Percy Adlon's Bagdad Cafe
spontaneously rising
like a phoenix here
in the myth of the desert
here in a dynamic film set
in California's Mojave caves
basking on my unconscious mind
as a mythmaker's sublimation
seeks to encompass masks
of alchemy's extraordinary powers
by proxy of psycho dynamic images
taken by camera for his creation
in an iconic and mystic world
of his own screen phrases
and dialogue of metaphors.



Reading Whitman at ten
when feeding pigeons
at the brownstone
on a sunny Manhattan day
while having salmon salad
on a cream cheese bagel
at an outside café with dad
others are playing
chess or backgammon
talking about Hegel
who digress on Stalingrad
with a dream for peace
if we are to survive
going for my violin lesson
a Woody Allen comedy movie
then to visit the abstract artists
the Strand a used bookstore
and listening to jazz
on a Harlem bandstand
to make us feel alive and free.

 Self Portrait


Born on July 12th
with beauty no boundary
only an animation
of duty to art
in portraiture of culture
an exile, bon vivant
with vistas of new language
in an open color book
with a smiling frame for us
as your natural landscapes
lives on beyond the midnight
moon and tomorrow's
tiny lemon suns of the air
shaping our belief
in the dark studio
from your sidelong hours
as you are entranced
by Baudelaire
glancing at the clouds moving
in your bas relief and name.

 Young Redhead in an Evening Dress


On the Charles River
listening to Handel's Water Music
with a group of poets in sandals
eager to read out their dreams
and share their wounds
by delivered sailboats
prevailing here in a flotilla
filling in Eastern winds
visiting me in every age
from all over the universe,
there was the topical painter
and bard at the helm
William Blake
just waking up from Paradise
and the just Saint-John Perse
at the stern by the docks,
Whitman from Manhattan
Emily Dickinson up from Amherst
both at a chance encounter
join in the variety of speech
as Paul Eluard from France
waves to the crowd
yet Chimako Tada reaches first
floating in from Japan,
those influenced by Dada
Tristran Tzara or Hugo Ball
or by listening to a cantata
like Wislawa Szymborska's words
set to a call of stirring music,
sharing the boat is Petri, Csori
from Hungary celebrating
and deliberating with Rosetti
Zagajewski, Vasco Popa
those who were called prolific
like the wise Italian Zanzotto,
Dylan Thomas, Celan, Pasolini
with Gonzalez, Vallejo, Lorca
vetting or outsmarting
their Spanish words
or reinventing language
for our martyred vanishing age
and those who in bereavement
summarize and analyze as critics
all these poets' achievements.

 Portrait of Picasso


It always begins
in exile or banishment
to discover a new way
for art to paint
a personal history filing
in a patina on miracle ashes
by a spray of the passing
lyrical crying river
brushing to shape a geometric line
on the poetic canvas
interpreted by a life signing
of awaiting his signature
by risking nature's own statistics
in poster and sculpture
of a prodigal of dissonance
the century opens up to you
as you transfigure time
shape, dream, form, voice
in an iconic chance way
of paradox and paroxysms
in a recall to shift his choice
to utterance and acceptance
of an invitation of surreal
evaluation of contradiction
from a painter's brushing
evaluation on genius scales
in a romance at patience
looking at the dolphins
in an ambitious summation
from anguish at his horizon
by modern interpretation
over the sunlit drawings
of a substance of reformulation
at how to create a language
of a universal journey
into a voyager's reinvention.

 Nude Anna Akhmatova


Even the sky is abandoned
by the birds
doubled by your sorrow
to bring prosperity back
to the long silence
in anger of the poor
in the sugar fields
yet you find an orange
at the side of the river
write a few lines of memory
breathing in salty waves
of sun-soaked mirrors
for those who love the sea
murmur of a hidden lover
falling through pages
of a many-worded diary
hoping after the siesta
the birds will return
spreading their wings
on branches to discover
screaming for a place
like you to sing
under a patch of sky.


Today’s LittleNip:
When I know your soul, I will paint your eyes.

—Amedeo Modigliani


Keep up the good work, if only for a while, if only for the twinkling of a tiny galaxy.

—Wislawa Szymborska


Give me a museum and I’ll fill it.

—Pablo Picasso


—Medusa, with thanks to B.Z. Niditch for today’s fine poetry and art inspirations! Paintings are by Amedeo Modigiliani (1884-1920). For a biography and complete works, see

 Lucas' Foot
—Photo by Katy Brown, Davis, CA

Celebrate poetry and new births with the arrival 
of Katy Brown’s new grandchild, Lucas, on July 11, 
and then head down to Luna’s Café for the long-running 
Poetry Unplugged, 1414 16th St., Sacramento, 8pm.

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.