The Words

“I’m quite tired of beating myself up to write.  I think I’ll start letting the words slip out like a tired child. “Can I have a piece of pie” he asks, and then he’s asleep back on the cusp of the moon.”

~ Jim Harrison from Songs of Unreason

 

Oh, the words. . .

they spill

heedlessly,

sometimes needlessly

breezily,

dreamily fluttering

gliding owls

against the moon

hearing her tune

(she hums and croons)

echoing it back

with a hoot and screech

just out of reach,

the right words

flittery flit

lazily split

do a dip

then flip

from my mind

(leaving me behind)

they fly,

I sigh . . .

and wave goodbye.

 

This is for Day 19 of Jilly’s 28 Days of Unreason—poetry inspired by the poetry of Jim Harrison.

 

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Breaking Free

“We’ll know as children again all that we are
destined to know, that the water is cold
and deep, and the sun penetrates only so far”
~ Jim Harrison from Death Again

 

Torn from parents

hearts ripped apart–

how it starts–

the cycle of hate

spinning behind gates.

Business we’re told,

souls are sold

in heat or dank cold

children are taught

the rotational fear,

fraught frontiers–

till some break free

to lead us

from insanity.

 

This is a quadrille for dVerse, where Kim has asked us to use the word cycle, and a response to Day 18 of Jilly’s 28 Days of Unreason, inspired by the poetry of Jim Harrison. Last night we saw Audra McDonald in concert. One of the songs she performed was a medley of “You’ve Got to Be Carefully Taught” from South Pacific (Rodgers and Hammerstein) and “Children Will Listen” from Into the Woods (Sondheim).

 

 

 

 

Someone to Love is the Answer

Monday Morning Musings:

“Then we’ll break the moments. We’ll split them over and over and we’ll have all the time in the world.”

–I.G. Zelazny (On a sign at Grounds for Sculpture)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Make someone happy

Make just one someone happy

Make just one heart the heart you sing to

One smile that cheers you. . .”

–from Jule Styne, “Make Someone Happy”

 

Almost forty years wed

together pretty much

from that ninth-grade dance

(sideways glance)

when you stood whispering to your friend

before approaching to say–

Would you like to go to the dance with me?

Certainly,

we’ve trod on toes

and missed some steps,

I’ll concede,

but mostly we’ve agreed

and danced

knowing where to place hands

there

and there

(hold my heart).

Laurita Inn

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Inn at Laurita

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When did it start–

moving from shuffle to waltz

and tango in the night–

mostly delight–

of course, there’ve been fights,

but then an embrace,

a dance,

not a race,

with time to

pause–

look at art

Grounds for Sculpture

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

stroll hand and hand,

understand

the need to

rejuvenate

feel the sun

relive, rewind–

Remember that time?

Lovely, yes–

Let’s have some wine,

Laurita Winery

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

and dance together,

waltz in a circle,

not in a line,

because the path curves and wanders

Longwood Gardens

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

so, we can ponder–

how old is that tree?

Longwood Gardens

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

and listen to nature

and a voice that soars

Audra McDonald at Longwood Gardens

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

here outdoors

Longwood Gardens

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

complimenting

the music of the heart

(ready, start)

we continue the dance

you and me

one, two, three–

See?

There we go,

fumbling

gliding

sometimes slipping and sliding

onward the show,

(more years)

more things to know.

 

 

Our 40th wedding anniversary is later this month. Our VERY wonderful daughters gave us an overnight getaway to the Inn at Laurita, where we stayed in the “Shall We Dance?” room. We also had a wine tasting at the Laurita Winery and a massage at the spa. Thank you, thank you, girls!  The next day we visited Grounds for Sculpture. We were fortunate to have absolutely perfect weather. Last night, on Father’s Day, we saw Audra McDonald at Longwood Gardens. She said she was going to sing selections from the great American songbook. Well, I could listen to her sing anything. She said that “Make Someone Happy” serves as a sort of mantra for her. I loved the mashup arrangement of “You’ve Got to Be Carefully Taught” (Rogers and Hammerstein, South Pacific) with “Children Will Listen” (Stephen Sondheim, Into the Woods). And she sent us off with the reminder to think of all the wonderful children and to “remember your humanity.”

Here’s Audra McDonald singing “Make Someone Happy.”

 

 

 

 

 

Unfinished 2

I told the poet,

I think

I think

of my dad more now,

of love not really disguised

but not quite recognized,

now the way broken

and the words unspoken.

Those days

trips to places,

open spaces,

drives to historical sites,

we always stopped

to eat,

no outing ever complete

without food,

and those restaurants,

the lingering traces,

scents and memories mined,

and entwined

with all the things

we never said–

too late regret

for what was,

remembered,

perhaps imperfectly.

Seeking to flee

our parents

and love—

the things as children

we never see

but now–

so much of them

(unfinished)

in me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This goes with my Unfinished from a few days ago. Robert Okaji’s “Empty Cup,” got me started.  I realize it also fits Jilly’s Day 16 (yesterday’s) quotation for her 28 Days of Unreason, poetry inspired by Jim Harrison’s poetry.

 

“You can’t write the clear biography
of the aches and pains inside your skull”

~ Harrison from Skull /  Songs of Unreason

 

 

 

Unquiet

“I’ve spent a lifetime 
trying to learn the language of the dead”

~ Jim Harrison from “Sister” in  Songs of Unreason

 

In the graveyard they lie

cool and peaceful, undisturbed

by us walking there—so we deny,

forget they suffered, dying, the verb.

 

What is the language they speak–

they in their graves, and we strolling by

reading a headstone, what truth do we seek–

once she lived, now hear the sigh

 

of ghosts who wander just out of sight–

that shadow there behind the tree

you almost see, a dress of white–

and wonder now, memories or fantasy?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is for Day 15 of Jilly’s 28 Days of Unreason, poetry inspired by Jim Harrison’s poetry. We’re just over halfway through, but you can still join in the fun.

I’m also linking this to Open Link Night at dVerse.

6 – 14

Freya at Pure Haiku selected one of my haiku for her Celestial Bodies theme.

purehaiku

songs soar from its rings,

revolving rhythms drift far,

carry time through space

© Merril D. Smith 2018

Merril D. Smith sits in her kitchen, weaving whispers and dreams into poetry. Read more of her imaginative poetry at Merril D. Smith.

This haiku stayed with me right from the first reading. I particularly enjoyed the last line …

This haiku is part of our Celestial Bodies theme!

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On Its Banks

“The hardest part is when the river
is too swift and goes underground for days on end”  

~Jim Harrison from Songs of Unreason

 

Here,

heedless of morning light

or evening flight

of geese across

the river runs,

through history

of people who

in transitory transit

camped along its banks

when silver shad streamed,

fished for oysters and pearls

of wisdom

flowing from,

with,

to

the sea.

Rolling river

pushes and pulls

life through seasons

and time

changes

everything.

Turn, turn

around

and underground

the hidden bones

turn, turn

to dust–

ghosts walk

beside the water

dreaming of what was,

waiting for what will be.

 

Delaware River

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is for Day 14 of Jilly’s 28 Days of Unreason–poetry inspired by the poetry of Jim Harrison.

Unfinished

“I took a nap and wept for no reason”

~ Jim Harrison from Songs of Unreason

 

My sisters and I

sat at my father’s deathbed

he, though unconscious, raged–

we held a vigil through the night,

waiting for the dawn,

and light

to see him released,

the raging ceased.

I napped then

for days it seemed

dreaming

I heard his voice,

crying when

I realized

it wasn’t real,

but love

disguised.

 

This poem is for Day 13 of Jilly’s 28 Days of Unreason, using Jim Harrison’s poetry for inspiration. I guess this is an early Father’s Day poem.

 

 

Avalanche

“The mountains are so dominant
that some days the people refuse
to look at them as children
turn away from the fathers who beat them”

~ Jim Harrison  from Songs of Unreason

 

Ancient mountains                              within a blink

stare granite-faced                               when disaster looms (unseen)

rising through tenebrous skies            before the before

in stillness stand                                  when time slows and stops

until the rumbling rocks fall,              and then, you move to avoid the sudden slap

a tumbling torrent,                              of striking blows–too late to turn away–

forever changing what was                 you’re buried in the detritus of dreams

 

 

For Jilly’s Day 12 of 28 Days of Unreason, poetry inspired by the poetry of Jim Harrison. This is another cleave/contrapuntal poem or cleaveapuntal or contracleave. . .

Whatever—it’s a bargain, three poems in one. 😉

 

 

 

 

 

 

Read the Signs, the Truth in Love

Monday Morning Musings:

“I want to know what’s true,

Dig deep into who

And what

And why

And when

Until now gives way to then.”

–“It All Comes Back,” Fun Home (the musical, music by Jeanine Tesori, Book and lyrics by Lisa Kron, based on the graphic novel by Alison Bechdel)

“How do you measure a year in the life?. . .

How about love? . . . .

Seasons of love”

—Jonathan Larson, “Seasons of Love,” Rent

 “Nearly everything we are taught is false except how to read”

~  Jim Harrison from Songs of Unreason

 

In and out of rain,

we find ways to spend our days

in theaters, or with wine

time passes–

the summery glow

flowing like the rain

that later comes and wanes

then comes once more

driving us indoors–

but in sunshine

and feeling more than fine

we sit and dine

eat the pizza,

sip the wine

Auburn Road Winery, New Jersey

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

wanting to stay

in the moment

in this day

that seems so perfect

in a world weighed

down with suicide

and rules defied

by those should lead

but have no creed–

except desire and greed–

those who raise the false

to say it’s true

and don’t read

except in snippets–

whipping it

up for the masses who follow blindly

where he leads–

despite his misdeeds.

I wish I knew why

or what do

(Read—the facts—what is true.)

But how about love?

 

We celebrate with friends–

retirement from a job,

but not from life,

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

there will still be stresses

and strife

though lessened

with time to enjoy,

as she’s now unemployed—

hope springs

and with it, a thousand things

that might be. . . if only

we remember what’s true

and love.

how about love?

 

We see a fair

magic on the street

and in the air

divers and floating

 

PIFA Street Fair, Philadelphia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

and people emoting.

we stay for a while

then walk through the city

parts pretty, some gritty,

to see a play

we’ve seen before

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

but wonderful story,

wonderful score,

the musical version of a memoir—

of coming out and suicide

of being young and older,

still alive,

the story of a father

and a daughter

the lies he told

They discussed books

but she never noticed the looks

he gave to young men he employed

or to boys–

She later read between the lines

things were not fine. . .

time and memories open a gate

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

to see what was and what might have been.

Families are complicated

to understand the whats and whens

when we relive in our heads again—

but was there love—

how about love?

 

I watch the Tony Awards,

where the themes of diversity

and inclusion

are not an illusion

though it’s the craft of acting

to make deception real

but we feel

when the students,

witnesses to horror,

of bullets and blood

sing “Seasons of Love”

feel—

all the feelings

true and real.

(We all must feel)

How do we measure

a life and love?

Celebrate with pride

do not divide

into us and them,

stem the growth of hate

and celebrate–

bake all the cakes

for everyone.

Don’t shun

the moments

in the sun

but remember

to fight the danger

of those who do not read

and who would cede

our world

to those who should not lead. . .

but be aware–

stop–look for magic everywhere.

Magic in the Streets Old City Philadelphia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ve linked this to Jilly’s 28 Days of Unreason, using the poetry of Jim Harrison to inspire.

This is Day 11.

We saw Fun Home at the Arden Theater in Philadelphia and went to the Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts (PIFA) street fair. It’s raining again here in S. Jersey, with a flood advisory in effect.