Thursday, October 20, 2016

Onward to Oz!

—Poems by B.Z. Niditch, Brookline, MA
—Illustrations from
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz 
by W.W. Denslow
[Click once on each photo to enlarge it.]


Despite your smile
of a starlet in
this dressing-hall mirror
the way your wrinkle creams
line your Roman face
your dancing hands sparkle
as your blue-green eyes move
and flutter in my portrait
of you in this mud room
your laughing lips
move the resonance
into a metamorphosis
of the dreams of Hollywood
and all my awaiting hopes
for your formless freedom
when you receive an Oscar
and stardom rest
in a yearning apocalypse
with my one-act play.


Letters relocated
close to my cellar
my poetry is
in a defense mechanism mode
from a Thursday arrival
of a stellar honor code
in an eyeglass prism
from an invitation of an ode
ready to be read
in my B.Z. short film
for local lovers of poetry
from underground covers
of our metaphors
inscribed by my fans’
many signatures.


Seven wounds on my chest
received in the house of a friend
while making this film
during Octoberfest, 1993
in our Sunday best
with a guest searching
for a way to be blessed
by giving out
our street poetry
behind rival maritime lines
in our secret correspondence
as Allies by secretly recording
a new short film in German
from a decoded spy glass
disguised from their beers
off Normandy swells
pretending to be
fishing by French coastal sea
rewarded in a world
without end
we living poets
are wishing for survival
to exhibit our art of bravery
and make over our rivals
as we are asked to take off
all our eye-hidden masks
by umbrellas
of the sixth fleet's arrival
off of the last of Germany's
U-boats at 8 bells
we managed to escape
and at least to pretend
to be free of the Nazi
beast in the swells
of the Rhenish falls
by disproving the enemy
over the hellish walls
for our love will win out
over a forbidden fascist infamy
hidden in their blasphemy
by listening to the call above
we will float over history
into a democratic port
to be refueled in Manhattan
where a renewed Walt
Whitman awaits us all
near Emma Lazarus' statue
with an iconic American family
into a faultless
patterned renewal.


Much has been made
of a numbing comparison
from my plays and poetry
to Beckett
by French critics
at our melancholic furtive ways
of putting dramatic grave words
on humanity's headstones
as we both are born free
hating fascism's dictatorship
and sated scurrilous censorship
known as a spilled-out memory
in Germany and Italy
renouncing a hated tyranny
under our eyelids
of a hidden idolatry
and ideology that makes
for a human traffic of slavery
Samuel and I will not succumb
to a charismatic world
now guided by
the deaf and dumb.


Sketching my eternity
in my qualms of a new play
looming over my memory
entering the skin of wit
of this existential poet
as the early dusk falls
on the sandy tall dunes
this Evergreen tree
still reminds me
of my bz initials
put on my own island trees
by student signatures
as my palms bear witness
with my bread and psalms
at communion
to sing out praise
from my roadside altar
raised near the iron docks
of Iberian fishermen
who offer me a salmon lunch.


My voice cracked
as we denied your passing
the foliage lost another leaf
though there was no sound
again in the backyard
when we heard on the radio
word of your accident
yet still we may pause
at your fine acting
but the underground earth
has overturned in a moment
as your memory scatters ash
in a scent of last rose petals
invading the garden
by the elm tree trunks
your voice of hope sounds
from a line out of your film
A Rebel Without A Cause
the sun pardons you
by the river's warming mouth
we put your initials
on a tree beside mine
near the embracing ferryman
who sheds a tear
by the docks near me.

 Melting the Wicked Witch


The camera loved
her images
in an accordant pool
of Italian carrara marble
in West Hollywood
meshing into lines in her flesh
now with an urgent emergency
of being on time
at the bus stop
there she is painting her lips
in her mirror
from her satin handbag
here is Marilyn Monroe
going for an audition
as a well dressed showgirl
giving off confidence
from her intricate sense
of acting ability
from her mirrored eyes
in the dressing room
of her breathless distress.


It's a new Fall day
for Judy Garland
the stars have faded
like the yellow leaves
to shed tears by a skyline
of first light
as I open up the car window
and clear out phrases
from my Beat-crazy life
while taking away shadows
for my pop art by painting
the town red,
while eagerly awaiting
Judy Garland
always late to the set
introduced to me by Sonny
my uncle and a publicity agent
on this movie set
under bright strobe lights
which will soon blush
at midnight
on global cups of bottled red,
I am innocent of complaints
in Judy's mind's eye
after her shadows are fainting
instead of waiting
for her for hours
knowing she will need me
to brush up
on her lines of dyed makeup
in the laughter
of dark hallways
while forgetting back home
those parental storms
in Kansas, the Big Apple or Boston
leaving everything as regrets
for the incoming film scenes,
suddenly I am forgetting
to pick up
my Fall yard leaves instead,
as I have to fix
my anchored kayak tied
to a tree at the hub's river bed
my memory is delivering us back
to those late hours
at the nightclubs,
to pause over storytellers
of a convicted good cause
even as a cowardly lion
will pass by our fellows
with his thick hands and jaws
near the stuffed straw man
somewhere over the rainbow
of my loving conviction's cause
together with a prediction
of those wild stories
coming alive
in Judy Garland's
morning glory days
on the yellow brick road
as we go by the stars,
onward to Oz!

 Judy Garland, 1922-1969


—Medusa, thanking B.Z. Niditch for today’s poems and inspiration! For eight things you may not know about the Wizard of Oz, go to

 Celebrate poetry—and stories—and remember that 
at noon today, there will be poetry at the Sacramento Room 
of the Central Library on I St. in Sacramento. 
Then tonight, Bob Stanley and Rick Rayburn will read 
at Poetry Unplugged at Luna’s Cafe in Sacramento, 8pm, 
and Traci Gourdine and Evan White will read at 
John Natsoulas Gallery in Davis, also 8pm. 
Scroll down to the blue column (under the green 
column at the right) for info about these and other 
upcoming poetry events in our area—and note that more 
may be added at the last minute.    

Photos in this column can be enlarged by clicking on them once,
then click on the X in the top right corner to come back
to Medusa.