Thursday, August 04, 2016

Shaping His Words Like Playing Cards

Shakespeare and Company Bookstore, Paris, France
—Anonymous Photos
—Poems by B.Z. Niditch, Brookline, MA


We played backgammon
while having green tea
and poached salmon
by the poplars
watching larkspurs in Paris
on the deckchair near the Seine
among radiant shadows’ silence
with a glass case of red wine
while it starts to rain
by the embarrassed knotted trails
along miles of a mossy riverbed
in the airless last day of July
with my friend Alain
a tender hero of the war
for the Marquis Resistance
who saved a group of refugees
on a Fascist train heading for death
he tells me of his dreams
in a series of scouting episodes
like gloves of voices replying
from routes of the living dead
he hands to me his hidden memoirs
amid his forbidden bar codes
where the wind blows pages
from a loving exonerated language
he has already said opens
history's disordered doors
through a distance of voices
of chance unknown faces he lead
through marshes, swamps,
up mountains like Hannibal
in the footsteps of Swiss Alps
until his own fall in his mission
when missing for over a year
yet rising from his collapse
on his own fearful amnesia
when he finally writes his memoirs
at home in his own leisure
he autographs for me
in an inked personal signature
his shadow sinks on the sofa
under the window cry of gulls
from wind’s rustled lightening
on a personal dawn of sole effigies
by the Hamlet skull of those lost
on the earth of our settling algebras
of those in wisdom who have passed
Alain still says "Yes", for all our cost
of long suffering for freedom
in the prisms of our journeying
to end the darkness of Fascism
as he reads me of his floating ages
from a language which presages
a future prophecy of Fortinbras.



A slice of melon
taken into a voyage
to the moon
as Yves Tanguy laughs
into a colossal shadow
of the Seine
on a last July afternoon
remembers his age
with a taste of time
on days of memory
forgetting the doom
from a windy gust
of rain on the knoll
reading Proust
until the shadows
pass the liquid silence
of calcified space
in tolling bells by carousels
wakes his horizon noon
in flawed polished mirrors
birds scrape the sky
yet we cannot escape
a solitude of skin.

 Shops, Paris


Getting to the Seine
no longer knowing
which road leads us
to the sea in the rain
with beach houses
made from sandy imagination
that collapses space
in an infinite dawn garden
of hours’ exigencies
from breathless faith
within reach of the shore
still questioning if existence
with pardon a landscaped sky
as our daydream visions
remain as images
of two young sojourners
backpedaling on our bicycles
to reach a wayside inn
for a croissant and coffee
thinking of past lives
in the echo of images
near the distant July phantasms
and phantoms of budding images
near the garden of birds, cicadas
on a hillside of bumblebees
near nests of bewilderment
hearing the last train
inhaling goodbyes at the station
as we rest quietly
under the hot beach sun
at the knees of a lost parchment
to reach on a parentheses
of Pierre Jouve
keeping words alive
within the graffiti tongues
of the city's asphalt walls
since only dialogues of justice
are still our lonely vault of language
with an interpreter of exhumed words
of looming dreams
covering legendary fragments
in a century's silent histories
of adversary manifestos
and a loss of identities
in the waves of children
spilling every reborn snow-shower
of our passing meridian
from singing streams we know
of time's oblivion.

 The Red Wheelbarrow Bookstore, Paris


In a tiny Parisian bookstall
mirrored by Saturday visitors
a poet brushes by a long silence
looking on high walls
by corridors stacked with verse
with stares for poet precursors
of a boy's visionary ancestors
in a gossamer-eye light
of Baudelaire and Poe
love notes fall
from above consummate shelves
opening a roomful of streaming
Bonnefoy's smoldering words
as the boy waits to receive
his voice in my inner consciousness
from budding ideas in leaves
of language spaces
at an equivocal exhibition
as I guide my hand through
to trace from darkness to choose
one slim volume's leaves
in a corner of a used book store
feeling completely unsure
as he leaves the bench
in a perusal of choosing
phrases in mind
intoxicated by your intimacy
of vocal lyrical verse
near my unsuited sleeves
to share a lifelong encounter
engaged with his universal spirit
purchasing to share an afternoon
in the chapters of a poet's
marooned labeled connection
in the shape of your French
amid the reinvented wounds
from a hidden fabled collection
worn as a bandage in mine.



His body refuses to mortgage
or reinvent experience
of shade or shadows
since his words began
by the breathing on the river
Seine when waves coil
the objects of his memory
looking out of the window
of high school where he writes
to reinvent each hypnotized mirror
of each moment as he raises himself
on his chair to quote his parchment
like oracles lost in time,
now he remembers word miracles
by his favorite garden chair
when he gathers in his language
as a thirst for paradise to share
a poet came by egrets
near the daybreak butterflies
not wanting to answer
to the summer foliage
in a caressed rhythmic voice.
Jean Follain,
bending the French ear
at the fountain
of an aroma's buzz
in sauntering
by the dragonflies
and birds
with the white plumage
he forgets to love
all beehives
in the sting
of so many others
whose memory
is alive in Paris
like Mallarmé’s survival words
yet misses a venture
in his brother anniversaries
every other day
by the sea-blown waves
he will even invent snow kisses
to survive what he craves.

Street Seller in Paris


Light captures with ease
the perspective
of your Dada colors
on the silent inventory
of familiar canvas
brushes pass though this night
making you feel exultant
knowing this mural drawing
is primitive yet revolutionary
unveiled in an African floral
distant memory
implanted in a vineyard
spanning artistic glory
now swept
by a historical place
not contrary
to personal causation
but with coral traces
of temporal expectations
yet obliterating what faces
to shape all emergency limits
or eviscerate any other footfall
in a geometric pastiche
of kept curiosity
by waiting on honest artistry
in a mastery
by a universal reach
of form
resembling each gentian
as a revealed immensity
from a critically daring passion
in presentation
of a panel's velocity
fusing past spectacle honors
with the vocal miracle
of an easel intensity
upon stormy primal layers
of a suspended encore
in a staggering metamorphosis
of four-score time
for Picasso's language unfolds
the solitude of rhyme
weighing in assertions
and solo proportion
of a poet's chant
by debating syllables
with verbal moods
from a full generational abyss
as only a lethal contortion
that language lands to deposit
his images storm
from a lyrical language
showing form, space and date
with the back-brushing
of his second-hand
as a commanding face
of vibrancy
before the act exists
from every bond
of a mind's state
with waiting
palette and tongue
from mirroring abstracts
to abscond
all exigencies of fate.

 Rainy Day in Montmartre


No words to speak or tell
under a grey blue cloud
where men created Hell
in a crematory shroud

In a brief span of time
grief had its way
and crime in chimneys
Nazi Germany had its day

We look to history
for any Q and A
for a way to Purgatory
only God can say

Here is only smoke and ashes
in only a wide abyss
no one spoke under the sun
to a lonely praying Francis

Here are Gentiles, many Jews
who walk to commemorate
and file in with commentaries
by stacked-up body cemeteries

There is a light rain, the air
which will spy a bird and butterfly
we say never again at any cost
at this human word holocaust

We may cry on His shoulder
who is dearer than a brother
or share His love with a sister
to be bolder and love nearer

But it is here that we die to self
putting our sins on the shelf
let us live for affection
above our own imperfections

Looking to Jesus our author
for our new atoning directions
who alone forgives sins
in our skin and bones

Forgive the darkness here
wipe away our repentant tears
we say yes to share with you
in our sentence of fears,

And through our raining dreams
of all those shameful years
we remember the hailing light
that dawns on all our nightmares,

For you care for us all and least
in spite of our failing all
we too write our names
on the wailing wall

United in the sun
and oven birds
nun and priest hear
the Rabbi's words.



Brushing his shining hair
near summer foliage in fetid air
playing soccer at a home court
near garden graves of a monastery
Pier Paolo with lukewarm hands
passes the ball to another
as an extra supporting
one enthusiastic team
in the dusk-dream of the uninvited
with his laughter heard by hedges
on the dewy shadowed grass
at open-marsh bird field in Rome
dividing his break time
in shop windows without much cash
searching for bread
and cheaply priced wine
excited to have woken up early
in the bird-sounding street
one hour shy of first light
when a lone orange is located
in a soup kitchen dark church
of St. Anthony
along with fresh-cut greenery
before his hungry bloodshot eyes
as he shares sliced bread
with the younger ones
for youth will outshout youth
in a generous hunger
of game stamina
on the silent sparrow grounds
of adolescence
the ball is caught and yields
with pronounced energy
on the sunken-open grain fields
in the shadow of being invited
suddenly the rain invades
a sunshine upon shielded plains
by the rocks of July landscape
its butterflies and birds parking
on a valley's greensward boulevard
the boys are mimicking
all who sink or fall into red phlox
moving by riverbeds for a swim
now gather wild dandelions on edges
hearing a jazz sax riff
off the docks at shore
washing into a new baptism
to listen to an unknown voice
of an outspoken Italian bard
named Pier Paolo Pasolini
who shapes his words
like playing cards
to share with friends
amid an intoxication of day stars
on a canvas of graffiti
when only his poetry amends.

 Autumn in France


In an awake July landscape
peering into a bard's pastime
of my own boyhood's journey
to light my moody way
into the Derry neighborhood
of my annual Franconia pilgrimage
bicycling on the sunlit grass
on unlit roads
in memory of a folk language
heard from burdock
in New Hampshire orchards
which spoke to me
as a critic abdicating
his silences clocks out
in the solitude of a tree
from the off-the-cuff Frost voice
of a poet recording for us
his mood of running words
as we catch
a passing elemental sprite
of neon butterflies
and bright birds
rewarding all who visit here
until a thousand guests arrive
from dawn in the rough here
still enlightens from solitude
a choice all through the year.



Hours rest on your dream hands
John Ashbery
of a poet expecting cirrus clouds
in a sky of shining first light
empowering us
by his boundless spirit
when he is alone not in crowds
he knows a chorus of a million lives
from his recalled posterity
in places before hidden shrouds
when his mood of archives
are deposited
full of enthralled charity
in a surprising
prolific stem of words,
somewhere a student is calling
out to your sunshine's reflection
along the Hudson
knowing how you intertwine
wings of enfolded birds,
with daws, sparrows, crows
as webbed paper cranes
rise by boats on first light
by a scullion-thick riverbed
delivering to him to watch
a mirror's weather vane
from a concave boasting complexity
in an outlined direction by a sphinx
on the artistically designed Coast
slipping through his Freudian fingers
in the solitude of experience
he thinks in the dexterity
of Plato and Socrates
amid white caves of feathers
and drinks a glass of red wine
not expecting
any celebration of song
along the river
in a solitary catching twenty winks
meditating with a dictionary
on his pressing sentence
writing over his knobby knees
on a July 29th vacation day.


Today’s LittleNip:

Poetry is the clear expression of mixed feelings.

—W.H. Auden


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

 Sign, Shakespeare and Company, Paris
—Anonymous Photo

Celebrate poetry today by dreaming of Paris and then
heading over to Poetry in Davis to hear Chris Erickson
and his One-Man Show, 8pm, or go down to Luna's Cafe
in Sacramento for Poetry Unplugged, 8pm.
Scroll down to the blue box (under the green box 
at the right) for info about these and other upcoming 
readings in our area—and note that other events 
may be added at the last minute.

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.