Thursday, January 05, 2017

In the Spin of a Lifespan

Wall of Lights
—Photos by Katy Brown, Davis, CA
—Poems by B.Z. Niditch, Brookline, MA


A reveler, traveler
poet and troubadour
greeting you my readers
from my soundproof studio
with a poster-silence
in my underground
feeding the sparrows
and tiny grackles and birds
sounding out by the snowy
branches near these shadows
of the Elm and Evergreen trees
trying to relax
and play my clever alto sax
on this narrow roof
turning into a sharing
of my word's language's
endearing and enduring
for my reading guests
in this new year.


(DECEMBER 21, 2016)

On the lucky hole
in the solstice of 2016
at winter's equinox
a poet is ice fishing
up in Vermont
with an awesome scare
of a continual sorry dream
before first light
is lifting from the fog
near the homecoming lorry
doing exercises
and a basin wash of my gear
in the Bay
by my anchored kayak
after a nightmare
amid a week's rain
in liquid silence
at the sky's softened amnesty
waking out
of a rudely continual dream
turning out in my blankets
in the hall
after sleepwalking
and sight-reading
from a Mozart score
all night
in my overalls
at this open cloudy hour
now listening to the radio
of Horowitz piano playing
a nocturne of Chopin
my memory carries
that music inside shadows
of Warsaw
when this poet visited
the ghetto to lay flowers
and pay my respects
without much language
at the memorial
and then back in Boston
wrote a newspaper editorial
to dovetail my grief
in my brief lifespan
then sharing
an Andrez Wajda film
Ashes and Diamonds
by hosting a class
of Asian students
with their abandoned unbelief
at the Second World War
wishing to emulate a hero
from the encore and echo
of history's worst nightmare
in a cursed time
of mass murder and crime
yet we are plaintively
here in the cold air
watching a lively flight
of a rookery
delightful cormorants
diving into the cold waters
swim toward us
along infinite streams
of enfolding dunes
of greensward tall grass
and sand dunes
soon it will be spring
with some brothers
or sisters boasting
others rejoicing of surviving
in a French, Danish, Dutch
as a New England winter
passes by
now watching at my art bench
from my one open eyelid
the radiant sunflowers
to blossom
with June crickets
and moths,
or playing catch,
or again reading
Nabokov's Lolita
while like St. Francis
feeding the tiny birds
embracing a dry day
when we can
and catching butterflies
from a chrysalis all around
with no more snowflakes
to be found
drawing down
another dawn time
of a speechless absence
in my art's perspective
find my barely touched
yet chosen sculpture
of skill for over a year
still covered over
with a silk cloth
hidden and now revealed
in the frozen attic
of my retrospective culture
from one concealed eyelid
as I'm listening to Massenet's
opera Thaïs
at an open windowsill
then playing my own riffs
on my alto sax
when famished
and almost murdering
an almond croissant
assigned and finishing
this semester's term paper
of reading Hegel and Marx
feeding and devouring
a bagel and salmon lox
having a vision of Paris
reciting Baudelaire out loud
with an imaginary albatross
nearby watching larks
and Sylvester the Persian cat
wanting his milk
or a sandpiper bird
hovering to sing by the shore
with embarrassed regrets
like a ghost of Hamlet
and at a loss for words.


Up in Vermont
a poet making the holidays
relevant and taking
the time for the Lord's glory
offering a Gregorian chant
and telling the Christmas story
before the offertory is given
knowing we sing our hymns
breaking the bread
drinking the wine
even being divinely forgiven
for the Samaritan and sectarian.



After December hunting
for grouse, woodcock
in a meal of venison
and remembering to take
his medicine
at five o’clock
the clever Boston poet
puts on a Prussian blue blouse
he received at Christmas
jacking up the car
takes his racing wheels
for a ride to the Adirondacks
and Ossining
in a New Year's meltdown
of nostalgia's memory
anonymously checks back
to anchor his orange kayak
by the huge Evergreen
when he shields
a cat from a field mouse
near the public park
and reading Basil Bunting
while feeding the birds
in the darkness
yet he’s wide awake
crawls into his parking space
and kills a crawling venomous
timber rattlesnake
trying to lunge at his face
puts on a radio tape
of a late Bach cantata
through the shadows
of the first-light sun
scraping the snowflakes
off my windowpane
it seems
someone has been
cyberhacking anonymously
the music of a Brahms
violin sonata The Rain
he's memorizing
to be playing at a chamber
musical recital
next Wednesday night
at Carnegie Hall
now he's realizing
it's already first light
and time for bed
taking a camera
selfie to picture
himself instead
in the car mirror
seen ordering
a morning take-out
and murdering
a Spanish omelette
the poet vanishes
in the shadows
and escapes a bullet
of Russian roulette again.


After jacking up
the car
and taking my kayak
out to sea
speaking to a student
about her major
in French literature
especially Balzac
and Baudelaire
while carefully playing
on a park bench
when it is nearly dark
and losing to Anna
wishing her
a happy new year
seeing a sign
searching for a missing
Doberman dog an alley,
but do beware!
near a bar
together choosing
to speak to a stranger
by the city church
who is praying
on his knees
to the King of the Jews
inviting him to dinner
saying he is a sinner
in his nearly fainting behavior
crying on a crèche
to his Savior Jesus
telling us
of his writing his memoir
and how his thesis
is on Renoir's painting
The Bathers
I'm listening
as I used to play
the violin solo
from the opera
of Massenet's Thaïs
by meeting a single person
who tells us in his words
on a playground swing
seriously relaxing,
holding up my jazzy
alto sax
in bars of a riff
near a lost bird's wing
"There is no security
only love we cannot refuse
even as authentically
we must choose the justice
of humanity as
we are constantly hearing
about cyberhacking
of reporters on the news."



A homeless shivering guy
Bob Lester,
the theater and film star
a once-and-former student
of mine reaches out to me
Les was out of the country
in Canada
once jailed for growing pot
and with a walking stick
robbed in
a skinhead mob attack,
soon on this very spot
of the up-and-coming trial
walking along the beach
wanting to sail in a kayak
anchored on the waves
I now realize was mine
here at Cape Cod
at this romantic spot
on a lover's lane
upon this last day
of the year
having a tiff with Jane
a former girlfriend at a bar
leaving his fish and chips
on the passing plate
in the dining room
having a selfish wish
with a fortune cookie
says does not want to behave
until he feels
completely free,
wanting a stiff drink,
begins to think
his once-amazing career
in acting
and literature is over,
delivers to me
his best limerick
with a smile
knowing I'm also a poet
while holding onto
a three-leaf clover
to deposit
in my new Christmas vest.


Reciting this freedom poem
in a reading in today's
student hallway's light
remembering that December
167 B.C.E.
the Maccabees worked
against any brutal fascist energy
just as the pagans in years past
were hailing and adjusting
to the trilogy
Satan's dark synergy
of Haman, Hitler, Stalin,
which will fail from
their propaganda instruments
in their one-world plan
we choose a Son's miracle
of Resurrection
as we refuse to give in
to them for a direction
up to heaven.



Tom had a green
thumb on the farm
who was quite intelligent
enjoyed a political
or ethical discussion,
played drums
and knew all the stops
on the organ
and learning the percussion,
attacked as a football tackle
and last seen
this past Autumn
on the local T.V. screen
when he was numb
in his right arm, ankle
and had a head concussion,
his nurse in the hospital
was Methyl
who was an artist
and playwright of the Absurd
from Austin Texas
she had a word from a friend
to send Tom to a hospital
up in Boston
there she bought him
two Hocking paintings
and a Lexus for Christmas
then the couple
married soon after
and then Tom joined
a band called
Rocking Laughter.


Feeling a bit balmy
a night within him
at the Salvation Army
or Pine Street Inn
traveling to Boston Common
through dark sleepless hours
with practically empty bins
sitting with his knitting
collapses on Park Street bench
the air emphatically
naked as the Elm tree
he takes his leaves and naps
in melancholy flesh
over the helm of seasons
up in Maine
missing the fishing season
with secondary sorrow
for he has literary plans
set for an arbitrary tomorrow
wishing he
quietly plain-speaking
was back interviewing
with that Globe reporter
who gave him a twenty
or was it a Lincoln
now feeling exhausted
busted and invisible
knowing you were
once smart enough
in this rough-and-ready
trade to pull your own weight
even on the old freight cars
at Penn Station
you used to read
The New Yorker
and The Nation under the stars
now with indolent suffering
and the face of vigilant want
you cannot forget
that Montreal cheese croissant
or the Ben and Jerry's treat
up in Stowe, Vermont
as Joey feels a weakness
in his kneecaps
under snow-drunk skies
to some he is only
a reluctant soul
a vagrant taking his toll
as in a disguised shadow
with a few fallen words
to the wise
for out of pollen
there will always be a flower
on this repentant dawn
for in the trash can
near the swan boats
and grassy dunes
at an early-bird hour
Joey finds his fortune
in a lottery
as his life resumes.


(December 1999)

Off my bicycle
in December
back from Plymouth Rock
in my orange kayak
as a whale watcher
back after a snow storm
at my Governor Winthrop desk
forgetting the time or season
of my grandfather clock
by catching the warmer sun
reading Helen Vendler
my former English professor
about Emily Dickinson
whose views vary (in a way)
from her own reasoned philosophy
contrary to a Puritan glossary,
while waiting for a new century
I'm in the hall
reading Oswald Spengler
about his cycle theories
lunging in on history
after the sponging madness
of several friends’ company
playing musical chairs
with a nostalgic laughter
at Christmas break
carrying the bard Catullus
in my arms from the library
and listening in the dawn
as we wake early
to hear a Bach cantata chorus
from the Harvard-Radcliffe choir
in an old recording
singing for us,
as we're eating a spinach-
and-cheese croissant
as a confection
and drinking a warm saki,
I'm in an old wizened sweater
and overalls
reading the bold letters
of Berryman and Lowell
as Akari recites
and tells us of her part
for an up-and-coming
five-act series
of Japanese Noh plays
and freezes on her masks
in the underground poetry
now in a frenzy of her task
of acting out
of a wounded sensibility,
I'm sharing and relaxed
thinking of my own ability
as we jam on riffs of jazz
on my soprano sax
reciting our own slam poetry
to perform in the old library
for our predominately
student audience
hidden under the silence
of darkly hidden corners
at a once-varsity dormitory
now a three-circled-row theater
with its widely
red-marked marquee
outside the sports building
we are supporting the story
of a novel literary proof
from Leonard and Virginia Woolf's
free-spirited chapters
here over a roof
above the city of Cambridge
wanting to just relax
from the strife and noise
of schoolgirls and boys
in our wintry vacation plan
adjusted from our deep affection
at least for a poet's sensibility
of knowledge
in a spin of a lifespan.


Today’s LittleNip:


Sleigh bells
and a bright fire flickering
candles of the holidays
still glittering at daybreak
waking abstract colors
on a silkscreen
the cat awakens
for her milk
as a poet bicycling
in the dawn's brightness
with a musical, lyrical
desire sees a cardinal
on the lawn.


—Medusa, with thanks to B.Z. Niditch for his fine poems that hinge the new year and the old, as do the photos of Katy Brown—who says she knows Christmas is past, but the lights are still pretty, yes?

 (Anonymous Photo)
—Celebrate poetry, and go down to Poetry Unplugged 
at Luna’s Cafe tonight to hear Genelle Chaconas and
other readers turn the world into words in Sacramento, 8pm. 
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.


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.