Monday, July 28, 2014

Magic and Tragic

Cottage on the Cape
—Poems by B.Z. Niditch, Brookline, MA
—Photos by Denise Flanigan


More than poets on earth
or mourning doves surfacing
on the resonate sky
the shore was more pristine
in my childhood
than we ever imagined now
when in our memorable eye
and the metamorphoses
of our crouched bodies
we look back
over the ocean's tide
which once held us
in its secret language
over the wide space
carrying my memory today
by my freshly painted
orange kayak
with my binoculars
on these gigantic wave ways
to travel amid the sound
of fish and bird
yet in the shadows
of summer's toxicity
amid noisome flesh and blood
of uncaring human beings
who leave things behind
these local yokels or tourists
dropping items in the water
like slippery combs
or napkins, bottles disregarded
from fast food lunches
we are determined
to clean up
what wastes our time,
to create lines and words
like the clear sunshine
as light overflows on us
in this season to remember
on a discolored Cape.



A false lover's lane
on any country field
in Toxicity City
can contain
I told a guy at my gig
who asked me
where such love is
around here,
I told him
such love
may be off the beaten track
or in unfriendly wood
where there are ticks
in the midst
of a July heat wave
or by the Cape's shore
on wet blankets
but you can ignore my advice
that we can guess
his neediness
that quickly turns a person
into poison ivy
if he is so aroused,
anyway, he was a daredevil
made his moves
and thought
he met his mate
that night
but the next week
he had cooled off
but she left him
a hundred miles away.



Waking up
to acid rain
over the statues
turned as green
as the tall grass
on the Esplanade,
putting on my suntan lotion
as my Parisian friend arrives
at the subway station
from the Big Apple
with dying red flowers
in her arms
her slouched thin body
hovering on the street
telling of the exhaust fumes
for the last four hours,
we walk slowly
Edith now out of breath
along the beach
she wearing a mask
because of her sensitivity
to allergies from pollution
we speak and kiss
in the French manner
I show her my upturned kayak
strapped to an anchor
in the endless winter,
we do a brief run
along the waterfront
and we play duets
of Debussy
for violin and the piano.


The summer student
with adolescent energy
and muscled acumen
tells me of his sexuality
in his term paper,
and how it changes
with each person
he meets,
in the hot or cool side
of him;
his paper was good
but he was crying
not being understood;
the next school day
he came out
but if he expected me
of all people
to be judgmental,
he was wrong;
on the contrary,
the class
embraced him
and accepted
his paper,
which he read
out loud.


(Birthday, July 28)

John Ashbery's shadow
in Central Park
leaves the lilac trees
in the darkness
of a newly arranged
softball field,
thinking a birthday wish
doesn't make
the film footage real,
or a refreshing orange
may drink in a fragment
of a childhood memory,
distinct from the art
of a Cezanne canvas;
here on a bench
two cops with first aid kits
give lasting attention
to a drug intervention
on the other side
of the absent-minded grass,
near a muggy
swearing-in ceremony
on the loud speaker
for new American citizens,
as a marathon ends
by an ice cream stand
in the arbitrary dusk.



No one wants
to believe me
but Hart Crane
is alive
in every house
where a guy
is told to leave;
I swear I saw you
at two a.m.
on the Brooklyn Bridge,
wearing only a shadow
of yourself
yet blighted
and almost invisible
for lack of direction;
Hart, speak to me
among the Keys,
diving in over the waves
along the Florida shore,
to my guitar's last song.


(July 20, 1945)

The moon still there
after the war's ending
but many ask
where is Paul Valery,
for across the waves
of the Seine you are still
silent because of your mentor
Mallarme's passing
which caused you
to have years of solitude
yet he wrote plays
aphorisms, a study of Da Vinci
yet with his great notebooks
Les Cahiers frozen.
I tried to decipher if they
were at La Sorbonne
that summer abroad
when in my studies
spending hours in the library,
I would have bread and cheese
on the Seine under the moon.


Today's LittleNip:

A poem must be magic and tragic, aesthetic and an anesthetic.

—B.Z. Niditch


—Medusa, with thanks to B.Z. Niditch for today's Kitchen fare, and wishing Taylor Graham a happy birthday!