Monday, May 19, 2014

Jacob Ladders of Endless Curiosity

Berkeley Pier
—Photo by Cynthia Linville, Sacramento

—B.Z. Niditch, Brookline, MA

After cotillion
in the I like IKE Fifties
Uncle Al left
our family
as a bohemian
and beatnik
growing a beard
and a pot garden
then told us
a young gay man
in his class
from Provincetown
an island on the Cape
had joined another society
that is,
the matachine society
at his coming out
graduation party,
when the town
was in shock
as his next of kin
then sent him
for shock treatment,
after his release
because of publicity
in the Kinsey report
he joined
the Sex Mishimas
a rock group
in the Sixties
in Tokyo
when he toured
the red light district
and due to pop
star fame
came to The Factory
for a one-night
stand and stand-up
comedy routine
in the Blue Angel,
met an actor Tom Cat,
all in black hose
an underground 
director of sorts
who drove him around
on his Harley
out to Frisco
with assorted
"the flower children"
in his entourage
where he filmed
his sex-changed
life and he heard
Allen Ginsberg
with his sitar
going along
for the ride
eventually joined
a girl-boy band
he named

 Sakata Garo Gallery, Sacramento
—Photo by Cynthia Linville

—B.Z. Niditch

My uncle took us
after the movie set
to the Ritz
for his birthday lunch
spring seemed for us
a blitz of California color
of trees and grass
ever so green
that all deviled daemons
could never touch
our Hollywood dream
and there was Judy Garland
over a rainbow dress
could this be real
I started to confess
and ask the cause
of seeing in grand reality
the star of the Wizard of Oz
maybe this was a daydream
as we drank our cream soda
so much of life's hospitality
must be reserved for angels
to appear on the screen
of us unaware or out of sight
thinking as a children's teen
reborn early, late,
when at sink among this scene
hearing Ella Fitzgerald's voice
listening to the coda
or what might have been.


—B.Z. Niditch

It did not take
us long
to size up
the situation
in a new comedy
of red lighting
to brush up the moment
at the flood waters
of Noah's
drinking bout
or our own nostalgic
cover-ups of demons
at the canvas
of Uccello
those moving strokes
on the museum walls
as we pass over
the life
of mendicant
St. Francis
in his perspective
at the foot-washing
of art.

Urban Ore, Berkeley
—Photo by Cynthia Linville

—B.Z. Niditch

Blue Bird watching
under a lambent sun
eating strawberries
on Cape Ann
where you gaze
by sails waking the light
at the last high tide
before you chose to be
exiled as an expatriate
to England,
your "Mother Country"
like Henry James,
but you too were formal
only to art
with words to make alive
and to play immaculately
with a vagary and sensibility
unlike your country's literati
as you sit on a bench
by Plum Island winds
long enough to hear
the sea-going voices
by the whiplash
of the waves
in your wing beat of a soul
in your transfigure strings
to change an epoch
with episodic breath
away from all your
crumbled demons
of a knotted
immediate green
in a harbinger of survival.

—B.Z. Niditch

Outside nature
the gnome
that inhabits
the hideout
of a votary's vacation
casts an aura
trading in my silence
over a pallid cosmos
at my refraction
on the ancient moon, 
like a glowworm
with a luminous secret
outside of time's absence
not warmed by a photo,
or the first violinist
losing an A string
in a furioso passage
from a sober bridge
sleeping off
a late-night wine
in a chamber music
quartet competition
closing in
from the hissing
in the front row
of a bad daydream,
or the last mushroom
from a far country 
on a thin spoon
of your lips
is no match
for a grinning poet
with egocentric words
in red ink
on the margins
of your farewells.

 Face Through Candle Glass
—Photo by Cynthia Linville

—B.Z. Niditch

That May locked you out
in a pinned depression
as you left Cambridge
and us for a season
for fine rainy Brazil
yet there was peace in
your silence, half heard
when you were asked
in a full auditorium
of poetry admirers
to recite from a collection
of dark blinding verse
as I peered at the doors
at your sheltered smile
as mount the podium
and austere gray rugs
as a highwired editor
of the Crimson asks you
after your reading
during the Q and A session
if you were really
in love with Robert Lowell
and your brief answer
so appropriate
with a brush of time
in your hands
sealing your world
at unknowable isolation
as you will soon allow
a South American
wisdom to capture you
away from personal demons
of your own loneliness
as you meet someone
who became a life partner
beyond bypassed waves
in a blue-aired saltiness
signed between lines
of my book
suspecting a friendship
by a fireplace aflame
at Memorial Hall
not forgetting how
memory embraces
into the guiding sunlight
of Harvard Square
in your stoplight eyes.


—B.Z. Niditch

For one born in the West
in San Francisco
you were not just that
quiet Yankee
that the world projected
for the t.v. show,
but with a melancholic
rather mature air
of a ticked-off nature
whose words move us
in a satirical metrical flow,
with war shadows
always around you
and endless poverty
making you angry
you pursued poetry
with myth and power
eventually showering us
with marvelous thought
and endless homily
to the delight
of a bygone century
in whose love
we sought.

 Milagro Cross
—Photo by Cynthia Linville

—B.Z. Niditch

Here I was at a penthouse
at a Manhattan cocktail party
with Uncle Alfred
when spying this talkative
guy in the corner of the room
by the pantry hors d'oeuvres
and he was Norman Mailer
walking by the open bar
signing autographs
in a book, something about
"Advertising for Myself''
and I walked over
in my shorts and heard him
saying "Face your daemons"
and shyly asked him, "What to do
Mr. with a fear of heights"
and he brought me up to the roof
in a New York midnight minute
this kid shaking all the way
was up on the fire escape railing,
a wayward boy in knee pants
squeezing a baseball and pads
in his hands for all the support
to console his buckling knees
who does not understand life
in the cool spring air of darkness
even until this day
from long years
of backed-up memory
fear left that very instant
and Alfred and I flew back
to California without my heaving
retching or tears,
knowing an angel unaware by us
can take hold of the daemons
shatter and disappear.

Today's LittleNip:

—B.Z. Niditch

We poets
love to receive angels
as knowable messages
in the form of doves
over the aspen trees,
at least when dreams
take over the fields
after a heart beat of rain
glistens over our fruit trees
when the earth and sun
are transformed as images
in a web's memory
and spring snapshots rise
through the green waters
of the Bay waves
hoping to site angel voices
on our Jacob ladders
of endless curiosity
grinning with joy
keeping us away
from undisclosed escaping
demons on the horizon
who cannot love us.



—Photo by Cynthia Linville