Thursday, December 03, 2015

Don't Wait, Lena

 Self-portrait with a Black Eye (2012)
—Paintings by Lucien Freud
—Poems by B.Z. Niditch, Brookline, MA


You put your skates on
as you enter the rink
near the glazed Frog Pond
on Boston Common
by your mates
and start to sink
but it's happened before
so you think
and here is friend
by the icy blaze
and you are sure
to think twice
as I watch you
with my sheep dog
intently in the haze
you take the advice
of your teacher
as he reaches for his niece
she is safe.


December 4

Images and icons
transfixed in my memory
when as a child
as in a waking dream
with my uncle and aunt
in the Big Apple
after a chocolate croissant
strolling in the museum
got a glimpse of Kandinsky
in assuaged surreal colors
asking to admit to art
in chaotic fingerprints
of a wild abstract
along scenes by corridors
of luminous language
hoping to draw near
the long paneled halls
to take the part as any guide
from Virgil to Dante
searching like Christ
for a bride
knowing only beauty
survives all what has been buried
in early winter has not died
and instruct us for the ages
for what is on the wall.

 Welsh Landscape (1939-40)

Birthday December 7, 1878

The lyrics you pen
from your wrist
are still modern
and delicate in their twist
of raw cutting emotion
from your pacifist words
here in a Japanese Zen garden
by the sands of an ocean beach
we swoon to participate
as you pardon our wounds
we wait on the small birds
from a less fevered heaven
to reaching out
in a lyrical way
and sing a musical chorus
by the mourning dove
and all we ask
is a handful of stones
to toss by the river
shivering from hunger
in this orphaned world
at a monastery's silence
under the juniper trees
and red Autumn yews
away from storms
of war rumors and violence
we hear on the radio news
to be delivered by a warm sun
along this breezy river bed,
visit us today Yosano Akiko
with the beauty of your verse
covering a unique fiery spark
with friendship and kinship
from all shadows of the dark
bring us to seek your light
where we are safe from snow
covering the Common statues
as a cat appears by mistletoe
here in early winter
we wish to hear a lark
over a bright fir tree's glow
at a public park.


December 4, 1875-1926

Moving in the café
your eyes toward the glass
of an apologizing red wine
reading a daybreak letter
from Marina Tsvetaeva
on a white laced napkin
she wishing him
an animated greeting
of a happy birthday
amid the still shade of winter
in the windy noonday air
feeling they will never meet
though it is both their desire
as he glimpses a familiar face
and an inky Russian signature
from his muffled red scarf
a cold Vienna lamp
near an ardent first violinist
plays the second Hungarian
dance of Brahms
as cat-shadows tremble
along the dawn blue wall
of quick first light
as all the black birds
have gone away
toward a frozen Danube
as a poet's last ride
transforms his words
from a sheltered carriage
in a rapid horsemen's tears
as Marina Tsvetaeva
throws stones by the rivers
which do not come back
as the word songs of Rilke
are heard by memory
along the Volga or Neva.

 Susie (1989)

December 8, 65 BC-8 BC

Why did taking Latin
for four years
ignore Horace's odes
considered too controversial
in his textual codes
for a chorus of children
and yet we see quotes
patterns and traces
from his sexy verse
on commercials today
as he influenced Dryden
and the moderns
like Hopkins, Housman
and Auden's universe
in his "Blame Poems"
with its disarming verse
of lyrical satires or scandal
from whom musicals
are still inspired
in Manhattan's Broadway
we desire his charm
on his birthday
December 8th
for a clever poet
never retires
for heaven's sake
or puts the candles out
on his fiery Roman cake.


December 8, 1922-2011

Lucian Freud
escaping fascism for England
drew us to the museum wall
of his explorations
from our modernist psyche
over islands of colors
no matter how his comedy
compares with our own spasms
at the parodies and paroxysms
ever biding on a brave impact
with complexity and proximity
in special newness
and a special panache
on a museum's display
in scenes of eccentricity
in the candid nature
of shaping art
from a city narrative
at our century's influence
from sympathetic and synthetic
innovation of expression
finding at portraits escapes
to interview model and painter
as an aesthetic interior
of our own discovery.

 Bananas (1952)

Birthday December 8

I played your jazz idioms
in your classical music
knowing you studied
in Paris
with the conductor
Charles Munch
who lived near us
watching him as a boy
walk his dog
up the Blue Hills
my aunt introduced me
to you as a child prodigy
and we talked of Martinu
at the symphony
then had an audition,
yet with the musical world
at my feet,
"BZ suddenly turned
into a crazy Beat"
(some relative said)
at my family's only hearing
yet comparing
every note of every phrase
of playing Martinu
he thought that poetry
was only a phase
of my adolescence haze
yet the presence of words
kept me to relax
interweaving, illuminating
with my violin and sax
in a recital circling on tour
and on Martinu's birthday
he will not be ignored
but will play in his honor
at a local venue
from his first sonata's score.



Don't wait
a moment
write, play, compose
don't lose a Beat poet's
line of thought
for Lena a flower child
of the Sixties
still puts on a rose petal
over a California float
caught up in the frenzy
for the coming parade
in Pasadena
don't wait, Lena
or fritter away
each day
just don't float,
wade or fade away
in the Pacific
but show-boat
with your keen wit
as a stand-up
or you will sit
with a cup of pea soup
or knit in a rest home
without even a T.V. dinner
see that you don't despair
in a motel room
nor pull your hair out
with a comb
dream, be with it,
Cousin Lena
and renew your youth
desire the earthy dew
with your poetry laurel
cover a green Parnassus
with Jason's memory
it's where the Muses live
on the mountain lift
forget all family quarrels
your lover may still be heard
as a Christmas gift
though not alive
since his ski fall
in Greece
Jason is still
in your golden fleece
he will live in peace
with twenty candles
spread out on the cake
with red wine in a bottle
it's on us, awake, awake
Lena, put your hand
in mine,
forget Whoopi on T.V.
life is a drama that goes on
you have no enemy
in the family
forget the many years
of psychiatry
after Jason's parting
life has a way of outsmarting
any loss
play the trumpet or drums
sing from Samson or Delilah
read Plato or Aristotle
hold onto the cross
or join a free chorus for us
as Handel's Messiah sings
out from the symphony
with timpani crashing.

 Eli and David (2005-6)


The sky's stars
surprise me this December
resisting the awaking cold
with a consuming light
inside my telescoped heart
which enfolds light snow
in my rock garden
doing my part to remember
and like St. Francis to pardon
and feed the last chorus
line of floating birds
near the lake
as a homeless needy soul
who calls himself Linus
lights an animated bonfire
near the church
circling our bodies
as the winds increase
let our own common ground
bring words to search
in a self-effacing metamorphosis
and grace for peace.


Today’s LittleNip:

Rosa Parks was a woman of strength, conviction, and morality. Her action on December 1, 1955, to defy the law made her a leading figure in our nation’s civil rights history.

—John Shimkus


Lucien Freud, 1922-2011