River Poet, Behold Dawn

Sunrise Clouds over the Delaware River

River Poet, Behold Dawn

after the storms,
moon-shadows danced to fiddle tunes
and dreams swirled in the air,
dressing the forests in purple light,
the gowns made of love, lust, hope, and fear.

These, the pictures that dangle beyond reach
in an endless gallery–
though I will recall some, if I can,
before they vanish in the apricot sky,
in the susurration of the river,
and the cries of ospreys carrying them far into the clouds.

This seems like something I’d share in my Monday Morning Musings, but one doesn’t argue with the Oracle.

After the horrible heat and humidity, we finally got some rain—not enough—but we had a beautiful day yesterday and beautiful weather that will last through the weekend. And there was a full moon. Last night, I had some interesting dreams. The Oracle knows everything.

The Restaurant

Saint-Loup-des-Bois (Nièvre, France) ; bar & restaurant, François GOGLINS, Wikimedia Commons

The Restaurant

It had seen so much—
first dates and engagements,
birthdays, and once a birth—
a death, too—no, not the food—

here, weary people had shuffled in after work,
the weight of life like a box of books, heavy and
threaded with old ticket stubs and bookmark photos,
carried from place to place,
but set aside with the coats and umbrellas,
to be picked up again a couple hours later,
by carriers feeling refreshed and somehow stronger–

the empty dining room remembers
laughing children and impatient lovers,
whose fingers parted to lift a glass or spoon–
love, grief, joy, excitement embedded
in these walls, still scented with garlic, lemon,
and vanilla that had floated
like champagne bubbles

to burst, sharp as the chef’s knives
in the kitchen–where unplugged appliances
yet hum, remembering what was, wondering
what will come next.

A poem for my prompt on dVerse. My dad would have been 103 today, and he always took us out to eat on his birthday. I wonder about some of the restaurants we went to a long time ago.

We Sing

Frants Diderik Bøe, “Birds in the Midnight Sun,” [Public domain]

We Sing

Who can count the stars in the sky,
or every type of bird that flies,
struts, or swims
on rivers blue-jay-bright, or soars
the night on vast raven wings?
Can you count all these things—
pinprick lights, feathered strings
connected songs, they, we sing.

A quadrille for yesterday’s dVerse prompt—the word was type. I will be back later to host today’s Tuesday Poetics on dVerse!

Winner of the Rooted and Winged Writing Contest

I am SO thrilled and excited! My poem, “How I Learned,” won the Rooted and Winged

Writing Contest!

My thanks to Luanne Castle, whose new poetry book, Rooted and Winged, is coming soon, and eagerly awaited by all. And of course, a big thank you to the judges: K.E. Ogden, Suanne Schafer, and Elizabeth Gauffreau. Congratulations to finalists:

*Jess L. Parker
*Serena Agusto-Cox
*Stephanie L. Harper

You can read my poem and more about the contest here.

What about Dreams?

Monday Morning Musings:

Sunrise Clouds–a new day

What About Dreams?

I’ve written of the river ghosts,
but what about the dreams

that drift, twinkling like stars
beyond reach—as far as

the eagle that soars so high,
blink, and she’s gone–yet seen–

Bald Eagle flying over the river

or the shy deer with quivering ears
who disappears—

but some dreams are like herons
still and waiting to pounce,

A heron at Red Bank Battlefield, and two heron photos by Doug at Pittman Golf Club.

remembered with a sigh, a shudder,
or a smile,

some–you want them to stay awhile.

History slogs, then leaps,
slings arrows of love and hate.

Light and Shadow at Red Bank Battlefield

We are cool—then hot,
here, then not. But

in a world where bees may think and feel,
and trees whisper deep underground,

why is it strange to believe that stars sing,
or that dreams might come true?

It’s been very hot and humid. We didn’t go anywhere this week, but we did celebrate Shabbos virtually with our children and their spouses.

Shabbat Shalom!

I had access from Focus Features for a free streaming of Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris. It’s what I think of as a “comfy” film. You know that there will be some upsets, but somehow it will all work out in the end. It’s sort of a fairy tale. The acting is excellent and the film looks beautiful. The Dior gowns, of course, are gorgeous. I thought later that though the dream to go to Paris to buy a Dior gown is not something I can relate to, most people have dreamt of doing something, so in that way, her seeking the gown is a sort of symbol and the movie a quest. It’s not deep, but it’s charming. A definite feel-good movie.

We also went to our video backlog and watched another play. This one was Pipeline on Live from Lincoln Center. It was excellent—both the play itself and the performance. The poem “We Real Cool” by Gwendolyn Brooks is referenced several times in the play. I found this wonderful video about Brooks and the poem by Manual Cinema on the Poetry Foundation site. We’ve seen Manual Cinema performances live twice, and their shows are wonderful.

And if you missed it, there was an amazing discovery at Red Bank Battlefield, the park where I walk nearly every day, that I wrote about here.

This August or Another? Stuck in Time That Passes in a Flash

This August or Another? Stuck in Time that Passes in a Flash

1.
She says eat the cherries,
they’re yummy,
but as she sneezes,
and I look at the dirty bowl,
I don’t feel neighborly anymore.

2.
Promises are scattered,
like crumbs for fish
in the pond–
Gabby Giffords* is still fighting
for gun control

3.
My cat rubs with pleasure,
his chin to my chin
sleek-bodied, silky-furred,
he watches me with giant eyes
attentive as a mind-reader.

4.
At the precipice,
do we accept the inevitable,
or turn to stride through dust clouds
looking for the trail
marked “Love”?

5.
The air is electric,
we wait for an exciting answer
to the sky’s question–
lighting to thunder,
the illumination of mystery.

*Gabby Giffords is a former representative from Arizona who was shot in the head in January 2011 in a mass shooting that killed six people and injured others. She and her husband have become outspoken advocates for gun control.

Early morning brain-starter using Jane’s Random Words. This is perhaps not imagist enough to be a cadralor? I’m never certain.

For My Parents

Odilon Redon, Orpheus

For My Parents

Light,
red, hot pink, and cool blue
reflected, refracted
from then to beyond

where casting shadows
like parents on children, larger than life
neither existing without the other,

at least not as they were.

I think if
my father
if my mother—

all the questions I never asked.

If they are light–never gone,
the breath of stars, infinitesimal and infinite
a never-ending melody of dream colors, heard
and almost remembered.

Both of my parents were born in August. I’ve been thinking about them, and of course, the Oracle knows. And extra ifs for Derrick.

In Memoriam: for the Unknown Soldier at Red Bank Battlefield

As the crow flies— over the Delaware River©️Merril D. Smith 2021

In Memoriam: for the Unknown Soldiers at Red Bank Battlefield

August,
is a broad river expanse
where time ripples and bends
under a laden, leaded sky

the morning moon, her song a sigh
floats on heron’s wings to flutter
by the gulls and geese,
who wonder what and why.

Now coal-black crows with peacock flair
and gangster elan strut across the grass,
summer is almost past they call–
but not quite yet whispers the butterfly,

the rabbits hop and turkeys trot
and deer with smooth grace retrace
past seasons. The river flows on,
an unanswered question, a memory, a lullaby

for unsettled spirits amidst brittle relics
where they once cried and died,

under an autumn sky,
they drift above ground settling bone-full and dry.

Early Morning, Red Bank Battlefield

I took a poem I had written last August and started revising it. It then demanded that I turn it into a poem to honor the remains of the Hessian soldiers found this summer at Red Bank Battlefield where I walk almost every day. The official announcement was made this past Tuesday.

I like that in the various reports I’ve read that historian Jennifer Janofsky and archeologist Wade Catts have emphasized not only that this is an exciting and unexpected discovery, but that it also emphasizes the brutality of war. They hope to be able to identify some of the soldiers from their remains, and they will be reburied. So, I have more River Ghosts.

Here’s the link to the website about the project.

I’m sharing this with dVerse Open Link Night.

Summer Night: Haibun

Odilon Redon, Flower Clouds

Summer Night

We lay on the grassy expanse between the college dormitories. We’re firm-skinned and flat-bellied, our hearts are full of passion, our heads full of dreams. We gaze up at the clouds sailing across the moonlit sky like the days, months, and years of a time-lapsed nature film. I’ve never seen anything like it.

Almost fifty years later, I still remember that wonder.

make a wish
on moonflower clouds–
remember

Valley Forge, summer of 1974

I’m hosting Haibun Monday with the prompt “Look Up!” Join us.

Well, Here We Are–it’s August Again

Monday Morning Musings:

Well, Here We Are, It’s August Again

Every day opens with possibility,
every story flows from what if,
each second is a mysterious connection
from what was to what is

Sunrise Clouds

next passes, too, in a stream like
the luscious light of the sun,
outside of time,
both ancient and new

Sunrise Reflections— worlds collide in light and color , Merril D. Smith, 2022

like memories,
the past remembered is reborn,

perhaps re-written, or embroidered upon,
added stitches to a tapestry, patches placed
over the tears in the fabric,

until we can’t tell what was the original
and what was added,

and so, we guess, living between shadows,

and walking down paths
we imagine, we ask, “what if?”
and “what happened next?”

This is fiction and science,
this is every story ever told,
our fates and faults, “not in our stars,”*
and we, not star-crossed—yet,
dependent on them for our existence,

each of us carrying traces of stardust,
holding an infinitesimal speck of before time–
and each of us an answer to what happened next.

Ceres Park
Ceres Park

This past week we had high heat and humidity and normal summer heat with less humidity. Elsewhere there have been huge wildfires and floods. We got a little bit of rain, but not enough.
While we wait to see if our nation is destroyed by authoritarian rule and our Earth dies, we go on living.
My daughter and I visited Kennedy Cellars in Hammonton, NJ for some mother-daughter bonding time. My husband kindly served as DD while we sampled wine flights and nibbled at the delicious cheese board. It was a very hot day, but bearable in the shade, as we really didn’t want to sit inside in the small space with rising Covid numbers.

Kennedy Cellars

On Saturday with the lower humidity my husband and I took a morning walk in Ceres Park in Mantua/Pitman, NJ. It was very quiet and peaceful, except one section of the trail goes under an overpass, but even there the light was beautiful. Then later in the afternoon, we visited Auburn Road Winery for wine and pizza.

Ceres Park

One night this week, we watched a play from our video backlog. It was The Merry Wives, performed last August when plays in Central Park in NYC were permitted again and televised this past spring. Perhaps Shakespeare purists would not approve, but I think it was just what we needed. It was a streamlined version of The Merry Wives of Windsor set in Harlem. Shakespeare’s plays were of the moment and appealed to common people as well as the educated and aristocracy, so I think of this as sort of the same thing. Here’s how it looked. If you have PBS Passport you may still be able to stream it.

We’re also watching For All Mankind (Apple TV), a series based around what if the Soviet Union landed on the Moon first? In this series, it changes history, and each change changes something else.

These two shows gave me the idea for my musings. Also, both of my parents, now gone, were born in August, which has me thinking of August, what was, what is, what might have been. . .

I’m hosting dVerse Haibun Monday today, so I will be back later.

*”The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars,
But in ourselves, that we are underlings.”
–William Shakespeare, Julius Caesar