Monday, August 11, 2014

Toy Boxes & Lauren Bacall

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


Playing with toy boxes
of greeting cards
taking them apart
and making them rhyme
in my childhood
with my riddled fingers
to unravel lines
in shadow works
by corners of envelopes
and sending them out
in muted green bottles
out along the ocean
inscribed with BZ
initials with my life boat
and address
hoping their departure
will reach someone
on the same wave length.



to The Toybox
a Danish pop group
while at a dig
finding a painted blue vase
from six centuries
of crossroad civilizations
in the dusty dirt roads
passing bottled water
in a plastic cup
from my dusty hand
with a vertigo
of nervousness
as a desert wind
moves on my Panama hat
to hide me under a hot sun
the Beat of the music
keeps me going 24/7
as dawn opens
and I spot a mountain lion
wishing to be like David
I write a psalm of a poem
or take the picture
of the wild cat
capturing my imagination.


Recalling the lyrics
of Pete Seeger
as a camp counsellor
singing out "Little Boxes"
a satire on suburbia
in America
"with everyone looking
the same",
but what about Russia
and those boxed in
the Gulag camp
it's a shame
that Igor my neighbor
had to go there
just because he did
abstract art
of a primitive
and crudely drawn
'stache of Stalin
well they say
the Cold War is not over
yet I can still see
by the waters
the cranes are flying
and Picasso's doves
of peace flying overhead
by the ocean wind
consoling my voice
for justice and peace.



With a toy baseball
in the batter's box
a pint of peanut-kid
named Doug
in the barn burner
of a little league game
hacking the ball
and ready to hit
a home run
for the young southpaw
with a provocative stance
near the space
of the dugout
delivers and
smacks it out of the park.


Of all Cornell's assemblages
boxed in and out
of surrealism with her
"Have and have not Smile"
as a tough but loving
actress captured
in his imagistic portraits
through your yearning in
The Big Sleep
this film noir kept me up
all night trying to figure
out who the gangster is,
and in the comedy
How to Marry a Millionaire
she succeeds in Manhattan,
I'm rattling against
the box spring
of my mattress.



In a male-dominated field
of constructive furniture
making artist
Louise Nevelson
have a rough time,
yet a sculptor
from beyond the pale
of the Ukraine
seizing scraps
and wooden pieces
with a like-minded
drab uniform colors
in unfeigned above-board
came to America
working tirelessly
inside tiny rooms
of attics until she moved
to larger spaces
she eventually
had her woodcut exhibitions
throughout the world.

(August 7, 1927-1996)

The ocean at Swampscott
and Marblehead
summons your voice,
as children motion to
you in a wheel chair,
suffering from a palsy,
yet what fragments
of words seen
in your papier-mâché
of a smile
from ten kilometers
off the embracing waters,
while I play a quarter
violin in an open house
I won't forget you.


(August 8, 1922-1985)

An echo still heard
in unceasing winds,
as if the first ray
tracing the sun
never singed or shined
on the snowy hands
over Mayfair England

Morning radio jazz,
not Charlie Parker,
after a sleepless
vision of dead letter files,
a golden retriever
losing his walker
in an unexpected gazebo
at Brighton, as a bird
hovers by
a ditch water sea

No city speech
is ever the body language
of a cursory speaker
announcing a bank holiday,
shadowing forth
his all-out optimism
as he ends his day
at a three-star hotel
in a medley
of ill-composed lyricism,
as a bartender,
who changed his sex
for his social affectation,
passes out poppies.

Today's LittleNip:

Poets should live by a city with a river in their image.

—B.Z. Niditch