Monday, August 25, 2014

View From the Bridge

Bridge over Sugar River, Sunapee, NH
—Poems by B.Z. Niditch, Brookline, MA
—Photos by Denise Flanigan


I'm not really
eating an Italian ice
and frosting
from a vanilla cake
as a first-of-the-year
brisk birthday party
while holding onto
a newborn's
cold shoulders
here in a steely
suburban cottage
on this inlet off the shore
with Inuit snowshoes
among the glaze
of high heels
a half-mile away
from land
wishing for a hay loft
a cool bicycle ride
or a luxury cab;
I am here
yet not really
asked to be
the entertainer
with my alto sax
and communicative verse
after whirlwinds
of a tropical storm
lash the Coast
when the lights
go out beyond the rocks
along the frosted deck
as we added attractions,
playing charades
and Monopoly
in the zippy winter night
as a Beat is here,
not really.


Ice cold but fervent
at first willing to explore
all that's out there
in these choppy waters
cover the sea of the Arctic
with icicles on my mind
suddenly a Beatles song
on their White Album
speaks to me out here,
Bob Dylan singing to me
"Along the Watchtower,"
"There must be
some way out of here,"
close to my own lyrics,
at first shy by these glaciers
then exploding as a vision
in the movie Titanic.



To read other minds
in constraint
that entwine your own
is to go beyond
the unfazed milky bones
which link us all
in connection
of one language
beyond any lighthouse
of words
over any Tower of Babel
here in these frozen waters
off the Atlantic
watching ice fishing
amid worms and bait
for flesh skins and bloody fins
which die and regenerate
in subterranean blue waters
as charging lobster hunters
now vanish from the sea
with their nets
eyeing icy traces
nearby of a turtle egg
not wishing
to interfere with nature
in a fetid feverish tidal basin
spilling over
a relieved chilling whisper
in a lagoon and Laocoon
from a faint wave sinking.


One of my actors
in the Original Theater
roller bladed even on ice
to get to his audition
he had tunnel vision
of his lines
with an eidetic memory
so I kept my eye on Adam
even when he left us
for the Big Apple
since I had no funds
to pay him for his worth
then went to Hollywood
and became a star
but when I needed him
he always came back
to us in roller blades
until he fell off
listening to Coltrane.



Andy Warhol at the Factory
with a passion for art and film,
I'm late and a still life
by the kindly porter
paying a chilled alto sax
reading poems
on the train underground
for some spare change
my camera rolls
for we underground Beats
are giving our readings
on street corners,
finding a lost Ernst print
at the Chelsea,
here is cheap vodka in draws
as time lapses
in my synapses
of taboo tripping,
needing a prescription
for a drug-free America
losing a nude display
of Gordon Parks' sequences
after getting the "Shaft"
on the way meeting Lana
a transvestite
who asked me for a light
and turned herself into
a bulbous yet
nosey chaperon
asking me to do
her laundry
of lace aprons, slips, dresses
of silk, Egyptian cotton,
and chancy things
drifting in the wash
in bathed icy bleach
of celestial swimsuits
from Esther Williams'
Technicolor sets
swirling shirts and blouses
lifted things from Macy's
from a drawn basket
in shiny scents of Lestoil.


With the romantic permafrost
congealed in a sun's cold glaze
at the Sorbonne library
here I am in the French lexicon
with its once-underground poetry
with Baudelaire and Rimbaud,
once again playing jazz
in my mind
to a melody of Mahler
in alternating rhythms
of rondeau redouble
and Rameau
before a French mirror
doubled up in a rimy room
for Verlaine and Mallarme,
the wind has Paris icicles
then in the cafe
we murder warm croissants
after portmanteau movies
of Jewish and Spanish refugees
seeing bridal angels
of Chagall
in the night and fog
by a synagogue and church
of our passing.



The military colonels
drink ices
while putting a poet
Yannis Ritsos away
on the island of Lemnos
exiled for years
when freedom was frozen
Yannis remembering
his twentieth birthday
in a fervor
of fevered expression
he coldly suffered
yet working poems on islands
from life's painful images
amid political repression
your language amazes
as you write in silence
Yannis Ritsos
on your arms.



When the cross lights
have a blackout
the sky opens
sprinkling ice flakes
on the window pane
spitting like riffs
on taxi window
thinking I spy Bukowski
as a barely alive shaman
reeling and needing
a ride
picking him up slowly
though shaking off
the tiny flakes
on my left sandal
on the street
the guy sits in the front
with me
as I take off
wanting to play sax
facing a cool guy
I only read yesterday
we in the same magazine
too shy to speak
where he slowly sinks
to rest in the best position
and not seeing
this fetal arrangement
as the best
for his strong shoulders
staggered from drink
with a little run
from a strangled cover
escaping the open air
by shafts of night
with the scent
he crumbled a few dollars
saying he was overwhelmed
with words, bills, lovers
in a sea of underground
mostly living
above a storefront
at edge
of the bus line,
we cannot lose sight
of being railroaded
by a hermit's fate
when a life wants to be
a year younger
on empty days
of sleeplessness
when you make a living
from your car
and here is possibly the poet
stretching out on my blanket
a body machine
beaten up by time
in this part of the city
of angels
knowing the devil
visits the friendless
with cold hands full
of change
and bourbon.


Today's LittleNip:


Rates of statistics
from catastrophic
climate critics
not listened to;
upon these icy mountains
a mother and child
under shadows of trees;
only drops of rain.