Thursday, October 27, 2016

An Age of Dry Bones

—Poems by B.Z. Niditch, Brookline, MA
—Photos by Denise Flanagan


My free ticket to the loft
for a party
is waiting for me
in the attic
of my old studio
in upper Manhattan
excited by my invitation
for an exhibition
of Roy's pop art
knowing his surprise
of his birthday celebration
soon to be
at this Autumn night
as the soft leaves fall
by chestnut vendors
in corridors' familiar patterns
taking the underground,
my riffs breathing aloud
inside my mind
getting off at the right stop
as the doors open
at this green light
along the Red Apple station
traversing the hour's watch
at the big city's charm
by brownstones
on this rainy journey
and meeting a friend
with an armful of flowers
who speaks to me
of my poetry on Coltrane.



We met to chat in the sun
about poetry and literature
ten minutes from
Boston University's
Sherman Union
cultural center years ago
when the flashing lights shone
on the Charles River
in the early Fall snow
your wife Alice asks us
to pray for his exiled soul
having an after-life in Jesus
and to light a candle for him
who was a believer,
as the Elm trees shiver
on the campus
where you read and lectured
with understanding compassion
for the holocaust victims
those interval of thoughts
are not lost
in your poet's compassion
at the itinerant wars over
Biafra or Ruanda
or the Catholic martyrs
like the championed poets
Robert Southwell
or Edmund Campion
for you knowing the cost
of being a Christian
and those who
merely use religion
only as in a politician's fashion,
goodbye my friend, Geoffrey
except for your words
as I see three bluebirds
over the Atlantic surge
to the third heaven.


Pablo Neruda's voice of justice
rises as tall greensward grass
in Santiago
with moving and embracing love
you pass by the trees
now with the rubbed-out initials
and names of the Resistance
after writing a correspondence
of poems, letters, essays
in your voting-out
the reactionary choice
of politicians
with your contrary cry
for the miners
and workers’ rights
from the strikes of a poet
splitting the nails
of the crucified
with the spikes
of an invention's interference
in free speech
wanting a space on earth
for the poor
with a hopeful tomorrow
for those who are ignored
inscribed on your lips
from revolutionary words
not to be silent slaves
of any feared system
even called Christian
when words flame
into an apocalypse
which borrows from
when state fascism
carries us through
the nights
of the disappeared.



When in love
we turn to Lermontov
a charismatic poet
and authentic critic
here we remember you
by the laughing cliffs
by the Volga or Neva river
as constant waves roll by
we play a zenith
of jazz riffs
in an American way
this metaphoric afternoon
by three sprays of leaves
the winds on our ships
in a burning Autumn sun
of exiles who overshadow us
and make us believe
in our dramatic soon return.


Peter Oresick an icon-maker
poet and painter
from the working class
of steel and iron and glass
background in Pittsburgh
sounding over bailiwicks
of a dramatic universal appeal
from the Charles to the Neva
has passed as a swan
into first light
on the Public Gardens
drawing in Marina Tsvetayeva
Milosz, Sterne, Adrienne Rich
with innate knowledge
privately without fanfare
and in a charismatic way
translated more than
a few letters of learned words
to better share with us
recently had his last meal,
had studied in Boston
at Emerson College
where we commiserated
as many an iconic
language wrapped itself
around our glue and pitch.



While reading Ovid's
love elegies
Christopher Marlowe
hid his manuscripts
above his alcove drawers
with his kept secrets
and friendship letters
poems and plays
to share his better days
with the beautifully black-haired
Sephardic Amelia Bassano
the  “Dark Lady"
in the worshipful sonnets
attributed to Shakespeare
yet we did not know who read
their secret texts
some of which refer
to a forbidden sexuality,
as Chris was threatened
by the royal court
for being an enemy
and not loyal to the Queen
as an atheist of sorts
and urged not to consort
with this wonderful jewel
as he kissed Amelia Bassano
a thespian clever Marrano
yet brought up by conversos
and four lesbian moms
she who came hidden at his door
originally from Morocco,
behind her doubled masks,
yet you ask me for the secret
that she kept in her religious
sect forever
we ask if she was a Jewess,
Christian or a Moor
behind her mask
that history cannot
any longer ignore
yet she was an emerging
and wise poetess for sure,
for Christopher Marlowe
had so many troubles
like Amelia Bessano
being lured in and baited
by an evil nation-state
yet he waited at his age
to make a living
upon the Elizabethan stage
from his poet lore
hoping the London stage
would at least have
an offering for him
or a yearly position
that he could deposit
his mind's dramatic greatness
upon the theater would fall
from his traumatic soul
worried that an inquisition
or investigation would ensue,
that his whole genius identity
would be lost or discovered
in the tempest-tossed
medieval age
from his hours of procrastination
over the stage
at his fulfilled state of mind
which insured him a double life
yet he preferred
to have a kind benefactor
and to write plays and poetry
as a dramatic actor
to give out the wonderful lines
which will rhyme and reason
as a charismatic performer
in the theatrical season
yet others thought of him
only in connection with sin
in the dark visage of crime
from history's time bombs
yet it was he who reasoned
that he was always in danger
to be critically double-crossed
by his stranger assassin
at this metamorphosis of time
Chris hiding in his hallways
to take away his life and liberty
by the powers that be.



How you kept those days
to yourself in luminosity
wrapped around shelters
from the wind and rain sounds
in the silent shades
from the warmth of words
in a fathomless memoir
of effigy and memory
hidden in lexicons
of reading gouged language
in a potent healing space
from a compassing occupation
circling its venerable watch
in time of fresh engagement
discovering a twilight
and solitude on a park bench
audited by secret voices
in bird echoes of inhaled hours
of nature's translated words
in unrequited French syntax
by a faraway sculpture
created from stone
by a rustle of first light
on a visionary hour
in a philosopher's gesture
of waiting-room verse.



Just to achieve
an experimental design
into enigmatic shapes
on the Fall thickest night
or to paint in images
before geometric mirrors
as an open-air somnambulist
walks along night corridors
with insightful dreams
in an early aloof Autumn
leaving the Spanish starry air
in a revolutionary flight
vanishes as an underground exile
to draw near a light's canvas
by his four soundproof walls
listening to a guitar recital
in his Parisian studio.



A shadow photo
of David Jones
reveals him
as an innovator
poet, painter
we hailed in our century,
missing him
readily as an original creator
with more than a momentary
confirmation as a philosopher
a fine literary commentator
we spoke of the Aboriginals
from my brother-in-law
and Dylan Thomas'
"Christmas in Wales"
he offered us an invitation
which never failed
our imagination
in a dawn's conflagration
of burning a candle's flame
scanning our language
of words and thought
in a matured vision of light
embracing the Name
in the self-effacing midnight
for grace on his lips
from animated night
where we pray
for a sonorous dawn
in an age of dry bones
from the abyss
of a future apocalypse.


Today’s LittleNip:

I do not know which to prefer, The beauty of inflections, Or the beauty of innuendoes, The blackbird whistling, Or just after.

—Wallace Stevens


—Medusa, with thanks to B.Z. Niditch and Denise Flanagan for today's fine poems and pix!

 Celebrate poetry tonight with features and open mic 
at Luna’s Cafe in Sacramento for Poetry Unplugged, 9pm! 
Scroll down to the blue column (under the green 
column at the right) for info about this and other 
upcoming poetry events in our area—and note that 
more may be added at the last minute.

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then click on the X in the top right corner to come back
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