Thursday, February 02, 2017

Improvising With Phil

Groundhog Day, 2017 (Anonymous Photo of Phil in his Youth)
—Poems by B.Z. Niditch, Brookline, MA
—Spring Tulip Photos by Katy Brown, Davis, CA


Never frozen
but lost in the sunshine
by the shade of windows
upon this earth's midwinter
in your crossing lines
of finely veiled frost
in Winslow Homer's time
a landscape painter
across hidden country scenes
by this poet born in Boston
and studying at Cambridge
as we both walk
in the spirit on back streets
amid many Christmas fir trees
now talking by first light
about your drawings
in your art museum rooms
not in posturing
but by mirrors of shadows
yet chosen to be unwilling
to acquiesce
in my stubborn adolescence
to leave these resting pictures
that house his watercolors
we breeze by illustrations
on a January-twentieth day
believing as we watch by
these forlorn
rainwashed docks
crashing when huge waves
splash secret barges
and life catches us ice fishing
at these hinterland banks,
your pictures are actually
shaping and shouting to me
in this twice-born illustration
here on this plain
with the Northeast wind gusts
covering over the harbor
of clipper ships
with nature boasting of its
powerful whiplashing of us
and I'm alone giving thanks
for this hour in a season
as we secretly lock in
and twice connect
I'm begin to reason
as a teenage art critic
wishing to feature scenes
of your marine paintings
from the Maine Coast
at Prouts's Neck.


You taught us
that no poem is ever lost
or even abandoned
that words will connect
and continue
as the snow in the sky
watches the birds on my roof
for though you are absent
we still are catching
your gentleness of time
we have sought
your memory in words
which today
crossed my mind
for Paul Valery
you are more than a shadow
into a transition of rhyme.


When we heard the words
in William Blake's Songs
of Innocence and Experience

you translated into the French
Phillip Soupalt,
dated for the next year
authored a monograph of text
we read at the Paris library
from the vault and bench
of this English genius for us
a pioneer for our surrealism
and your hundred verses
as you fled
the Vichy collaborators
to Algiers and imprisoned
by the fascism of the Nazis
for your patriotism
in your occupied country
our surface of memory
will not be buried by default
for an hour's service
among the sky birds
along the Seine
not for one era
fought in the underground
but rising into a morphing
into new glad-day word
from poetry's quatrain to keep
and to sound again
by your supplanted flowers
as others may sleep.


With the war clouds fallen
in Andre Breton's time
extending a vulnerable shroud
over his passing
still shadows us
to be willing as always
offering his less-than-still life
to the Resistance
with surrealistic manifestos
in his willing oratory
by the Seine jogging
along Paris's hallways
comparable to themes
of Freud we came to know
with his psychiatric medicine
and devotee of Alfred Jarry
who traffics as a poet
and absurdist playwright
in a surrealistic discipline
meeting the father of Dada
in the verse of Tristan Tzara
to those workers unemployed
shackled by capital's sin
in exhaustible prodding
weighing each one
reaching for peace
by dissecting fascistic bullying
herded into your infighting
upon a political tightrope
with your reputation
plodding on from one thing
to another as if it
only is to increase
a love-language as a poet
which gave us hope
during those dark years,
and know its critical process
into the sunset shade
on an awakening mural
from a universal dream
in honoring you
by holding up
a cup and a shield
of creative miracles
as a pioneer
from an abstract color field.


Your Enigmas of light
taught you
how close to tears
we are as shooting stars
as art supplants
each faint flame in desire
of reaching out to inscribe
those metaphors of love
from your red ink signatures
meeting Tristan Tsara
the father of Dada
indoors signing your name
by design on the canvas
over January sheets
near a day bed,
strengthening a paperweight
with atoms of snow
on these vulnerable years
by catching the memory
of a violin player's notes
from outside your art balcony
at your opening windows
crashing any daydreams
yet abiding in quotes
from your bride, Raissa
the Russian ballerina
with upturned eyelashes
when you know
it's your destiny
to go past
the Tuscany screen
as you desired to paint
The Uncertainty
of the Poet,

Today’s LittleNip:

January 19, 2017

like water drops
awake without thrills
as bodies fall
like rocking shadows
in a cold chill gravity
feeling as if by chance
the heavy weight
of the world
cannot stop
the avalanche
unlike anything on
the earth as it is sliding
from high hills
as in a soccer ball.


—Medusa, with thanks to B.Z. and Katy for an astounding repast on this Groundhog Day in 2017!

And my apologies to Jeanine Stevens for initially crediting her "Balanchine's Woman" to Tom Goff on yesterday’s post. Sorry, Jeanine!

Celebrate poetry (and G-Hog Day) by heading over to Davis 
to hear Patrick Grizzell and Geoffrey Neill read at the 
John Natsoulas Gallery, 521 1st St., Davis, 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. 
For more about Groundhog Day, 

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.