I seldom write haiku, so I’m honored to have had this one chosen by Freya for her Leaf series.


Turn the page gently
Peruse the words of my heart
I call across time
Merril D. Smith 2016
Merril studies history, writes poetry, and dances with her cats—sometimes at the same time. Read more of her work at Yesterday and Today: Merril’s Historical Musings.
I liked the tender feelings and the nostalgia that came through this haiku; a letter? a diary?
This haiku is part of my LEAF series.


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Those Left Behind


Viktar Smataŭ , “Farewell,” [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons


He was gone /  She watched his ship vanish, incandescent

No trace left/ gone, an unmarked path to undiscovered territory

A journey of miles / a journey of years

Across indigo seas, uncharted  / amidst radiant spheres, unknown

Would she ever see his smile? / would she hear his voice again?

She felt no sense of wonder for his voyage/  she felt only fear and regret

As she bid him farewell / as she watched the trail of light in the sky disappear


This is a cleave poem (the left side is one poem, the right side is another, and both parts form a third poem. This is for Secret Keeper’s Weekly Writing Challenge. The prompt words were:



By NASA, Space Shuttle Atlantis [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons






The Here and Now; the Future, the Past


User: (WT-shared) 耕太郎 at wts wikivoyage [CC BY-SA 4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0-3.0-2.5-2.0-1.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Monday Morning Musings:


Henry: “If you look across the desert, the earth takes on the appearance of the sea. You think you’re standing upon a rock that rises from solid ground only to discover that you’re standing on an island in the middle of the ocean. And you don’t know if you’re looking back into the past or into the future. Water covered this earth and water will cover it again and the days that man walked here will prove just a moment in time.”

–Andrew Bovell, When the Rain Stops Falling


The here and now,

the future

from the past

all intertwined.

Back and forth,

each moment lost

before it registers.

This moment,

here, now

is already gone.


The play begins with rain falling on the stage,

a fish falls from the sky

and a man picks it up.

It will be his lunch,

lunch with the son he has not seen in many years.

The man had heard rumors that fish still existed

not totally extinct,

but still,

fish do not normally drop from the sky

Then again,

life is full of unusual moments

and strange coincidences.


Patterns are repeated

throughout nature,

fractals, the Fibonacci numbers, golden spirals,

tessellations, waves, and ripples,

ripples through,

ripples of time

carrying patterns

the shape, the color of an eye

You look just like your grandfather,

your mother, your sister—


fathers leaving sons

And so might words also be repeated,

particular phrases also carry through time?


In the play,

they eat fish soup

in different times and places.

I think of the fish soup

I made for my husband, for me.

Mine, unlike the one in the play,

was made without heads,

but with plenty of vegetables.

More of a stew, actually,

but still.

It was a few weeks ago,

do you remember?

It was delicious,

and we ate it for a couple of days,

enjoying each spoonful

till it was gone,

in the past,

a memory.

Yet there is a photograph,

posted on social media sites–

the moment frozen in time

lasting through eternity.


Fish Stew


I have a dream.

In it

my mother is younger

her hair still dark brown,

and she is going to work.

She leaves through a front door,

and my cat,

a cat who is my constant companion now,

in the here and now,

goes out the door, too.

I panic,

but he does not run away.

I scoop him back into the house,

where I play the piano,


I tell my sister,

or is it one of my daughters,

(the generations mix and blur)

it’s the theme song I remember,

but it is a Bach minuet.


I can’t actually remember when my mother was a young girl.

I wasn’t born.

Does she remember it,

youth, I mean?

I see her in a photograph–

that moment frozen.

That moment then

what was

is here now for me to see.

But as I look, my thoughts move on

to the future,

even as I regard the past.


My parents. I have no idea where they were or what they were celebrating.

When we watch a play,

or a movie,

when we read a book,

we are there,

while being here.

Is this a paradox of human existence?

The here and now,

the past, present, future

time and place co-existing in our minds?


And in the play

it is raining,

raining for days,

weeks perhaps,

and sometimes it seems,

it seems as though the rain will never stop falling.

But it does,

and we walk out of the theater

and the clouds are gone.

The sun is shining

splendid, glowing

as it has through the past

and will continue to do

for some time, I hope.

The future,

when I am no longer here.

But now,

here and now,

it is shining brightly

illuminating the darkness,

chasing the shadows away.



Post theater consideration of the menu at Tria.


We saw When the Rain Stops Falling by Andrew Bovell

At the Wilma Theatre in Philadelphia. I enjoyed it very much, an intriguing play with characters from periods of time between 1959 and 2039, in London and Australia, sometimes on the stage at the same time. The all share a connection.

There is relationship between the family saga and the Anthropocene. It’s possible that I said to my husband, “I love plays that come with further reading.” And that he laughed and said, “I know you do.” There is an interview with the playwright on the Wilma Theater’s web site.




Freya Pickard is launching her e-book today. It is a book of poetry that explores her “journey through cancer, surgery, and chemotherapy.” She wants to bring hope through her personal journey.

Dragonscale Clippings

Today is a very emotional day for me…
Today I am launching my first poetry collection!
Insides is my journey through cancer, surgery and chemotherapy.
The process of writing it was initially a therapy for myself but I also wanted to comfort other cancer sufferers as well as trying to convey to those who have no experience of the disease, what it means to have cancer.
From darkness into light, from the depths of exhaustion through a slow rise to recovery; this is a very personal journey.
Will you join me?
In this collection I’m not hiding behind any of my fictional characters such as Dracomagan or Parsley. This is me on a journey I will never, ever forget.
It is available at Amazon UK and Amazon US.
At the moment, it’s only available as an e-book – the paperback will be released in 2017.
And I’ve also produced…

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The Lake: Microfiction


Olav Johan Andreassen, via Wikimedia Commons



Stefan Danielsen prided himself on his investigative skills and objectivity, and those skills had won him acclaim as a journalist. So here he was, huddled behind a rock– because he had been intrigued by the rumors he’d heard about this remote Norwegian lake. Now he wondered why he was wasting his time. Of course, there was nothing here.

God, it was cold. Winter came early this far north. He wondered if he could risk lighting a cigarette.

An icy touch on the back of his neck. Get a grip, Danielsen, he thought to himself. It’s the wind.

He thought he heard music, a tune in a minor key. It seemed both familiar and unknown. Don’t be ridiculous, he told himself. It’s just the wind.

Wait till I tell Ove about this. He imagined how Ove, his little brother, would tease him for being frightened by shadows and wind.

It was close to midnight. He rubbed his eyes, blinked, as silhouetted figures appeared on the shore; men and women dancing slowly to that minor tune. Yes, the same music he thought he had heard earlier.

Who were they? He fumbled for his camera, as the tempo of the music increased, and the dancers twirled faster and faster. They called to him, their siren voices somehow inside his head, drawing him in.

Spellbound, powerless, his body floated toward the circle. The Cimmerian figures held him, crooning, as they gyrated for seconds, minutes, hours. Time no longer had any meaning. His body was an empty shell. It would be found on the beach in the morning. His spirit, however, it would dance on that shore every night, in a circle, forever.


This story is for Jane Dougherty’s Writing Challenge.  The prompt was the painting above.

Jeanne: Magnetic Poetry

*Image of ”’Joan of Arc”’ *Painted between 1450 and 1500 *Centre Historique des Archives Nationales, Paris,  [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons




She was set

battle never easy

dungeon & hard space

for her

a girl

light and joy completed

by fire


This is for Magnetic Poetry Saturday Challenge

Hosted by Elusive Trope at Specks and Fragments


Walk and Talk

“but before I can live with other folks I’ve got to live with myself. The one thing that doesn’t abide by majority rule is a person’s conscience.”

–Atticus Finch in Harper Lee’s To Kill A Mockingbird


No harm was done

(just talk).

Walk and talk,

Tic Tac talk

(and looming walk),

no deep thought,

(just locker room talk),

boys will be boys talk,

(that’s what they say),

but they might stare,

and grab,

so best beware,

take some care,

(though it’s just talk).

Hate-filled words

(incite some action).

Obscene gestures

(from small hands)

Obscene thoughts

(from small minds),

Dog whistles and gas lighting,

talk’s just talk

(even if it’s frightening).

But if it prevails

(the repulsive talk,

the racist squawks

the bully stalk)

It’s all our loss,

(It’s not just talk.)


This poem is for Secret Keeper’s Writing Challenge.

The prompt words are: Harm/Deep/Act/Stare/Loss

And here’s the kind of “walk and talk” I like. With a president I like.  Vote!


The Sale: Microfiction


Antoš Frolka [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons


Gerda clutched the bill-of-sale in her hand, glancing with smug satisfaction at Rose Zukerman’s amethyst ring that now sat tightly on her own fleshy finger.  Franz had purchased it for her, along with the Zuckerman’s house. Gerda had always coveted that elegant townhouse with the piano (that she couldn’t play), the many books (that she would never read), and the china (that would end up broken).

They had gone to the Zuckerman’s early this morning, even though it was a Sunday. Gerda was afraid that some well-connected Party official would get the house first. They’d offered Dr. Zuckerman a fair price. Better than being thrown out, she had sniffed, when the doctor had hesitated at the offer, a sum that was far below what the house and its contents were worth.

Dr. Zuckerman was no longer allowed to treat Aryans, and most of his Jewish patients could not pay him. He could not afford to live in this splendid house, even if he was permitted to stay in it. Gerda chose to forget Dr. Zukerman’s gentle kindness. She chose to forget how he had traveled in a blizzard to treat Franz for pneumonia. Gerda brushed aside the thought that now their medical care would come from Dr. Höss with his trembling fingers and schnapps-scented breath.

I’m not a monster, Gerda thought. We’re giving them the day to pack up some personal items and food. The image of the two little Zuckerman girls with their honey-colored curls who had clung to their mother’s skirt stayed in her mind; she wondered where the family would go. Well, it’s not my concern. They’ll be with their own kind.

She understood that the hook-nosed caricatures of street posters bore no resemblance to the educated, cultured Zuckermans. But still she thought with pride that now true Germans would get their due. The Führer would make Germany great again.

She urged Franz along. She didn’t want to be late to church. She wanted to pray to God for their continued good fortune.


This is for Jane Dougherty’s Microfiction Challenge , but I’ve gone over the word limit. The prompt was the painting above by Antoš Frolka of a couple going to church.


Voices and Memories

Monday Morning Musings


“I’ve never had a way with women, but the hills of Iowa make me wish that I could”

Dar Williams, “Iowa”

“We are not lost in the mortal city.”

–Dar Williams, “Mortal City”

“We both know what memories can bring

They bring diamonds and rust.”

–Joan Baez, “Diamonds and Rust”

“This shirt is just an old faded piece of cotton

Shining like the memories

Inside those silver buttons.”

–Mary Chapin Carpenter, “This Shirt”


I don’t go to concerts very often,

but this weekend, there were two.

strong women, with beautiful voices

their voices shined and stirred memories,

diamonds and rust.


My daughter and I went to see Dar Williams,

her husband drove us through the puddled night,

the city lights glowed through the mist,

reflected on the streets of the mortal city,

but we were not lost.


And we ordered food and wine

sharing platters and talking

of friends, family

(her sister would have loved to have been with us)

of TV shows, of her house-to-be

a special momma-daughter night



I remember when I first heard Dar Williams,

I was driving home from teaching a night class,

listening to Philadelphia station, WXPN,

hearing “When I Was a Boy,”

and I thought,

Who is this woman?

I have to find this album

And I did

sharing with daughters

(young voices of strong girls)

who sang along, even not quite understanding the words

until they grew older,

And now here we are, one of them with me at a concert

in this mortal city

It is a wonderful concert

And she is generous to others

Sharing the time with local author, Liz Moore

Who reads from her latest novel, The Unseen World

And joins Dar on the chorus of “Iowa”

And for several hours we

forget about the candidate who never had a way with women

(Voices of women will be heard.)


In between concerts

my husband and I get a visit from our daughters’ friend,

our older daughter’s friend since kindergarten,

younger daughter was the little sister she never had.

I watched them all grow up together.

(Diamond memories, comfortable like an old shirt)


She had messaged me,

she was coming home and had been dreaming of my cookies,

the cookies we call “Mommy Cookies” in my house,

she wondered if there might be some this weekend,

And I said I could make it happen.

How could I not?

So she stopped by and picked up the cookies,

enough for her boyfriend to try one.

She says she likes where they live,

a people’s republic in Maryland

the town will take in refugees

(voice of the people).

She’s a strong woman,

like my daughters

all working to make this world a better place.


So then that night

(Sunday, if you’re keeping track)

my husband and I drive back into the mortal city

we see the rainbow flags and signs

of the Outfest celebration in the Gayborhood

(Voices of love, is love, is love, is love is love is love

is love is love)

And though the rain has finally stopped

it is cool and windy,

We eat at a bar–

my husband laughs when I say,

“It is a good night to eat in a dark bar.”

He picks a beer to drink

I order wine

We both have the Belgian frites


And we sit and talk before walking to the Academy of Music

(I’ve never sung in such a beautiful hall before,” Mary Chapin Carpenter says.)

and it is beautiful

and she sings,

and her voice is beautiful and strong.

(I remember, diamond memories, of my daughters

singing along to “Passionate Kisses”)

She reveals a bit of hero worship for both Lucinda Williams

and Joan Baez

who then comes out on the stage,

elegant and strong at 75,

with that voice

that distinctive soprano vibrato

(Who doesn’t worship her?)

She begins with a folk song

“Pretty Peggy-O,”

alone on the stage

the way she probably sang at the start of her career,

and she sings her way through the years

(memories of diamonds and rust)

and she sings alone

and she sing with others

all strong, beautiful voices,

and despite claiming she is tired and her feet hurt,

she sings several encore songs

including “Imagine”

because we need this song,

and “The Boxer,”

another song of another mortal city

still timely,

as we hear what we want to hear

and disregard the rest.

She ends with “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot”

wanting it to carry us all home,

she sings with a laugh and says “Good night.”


In the car

(traveling home from the mortal city)

I read the texts from my daughter

(a strong woman with the voice of an angel)

She has filled me in on the debate.

I turn on NPR,

I hear a strong woman

and I hear the other voice

that I hope will fade like rust

leaving only a slight orange stain

We know what memories can bring,

diamonds and rust.












Sweet Water Song and Look Out They’re Here: Magnetic Poetry Saturday Challenge


The oracle first gave me this poem, a contemplation of life and love. The bottom seems to be cut off in the screen shot. I copied it first, just in case. Perhaps the oracle thought that was a better ending.

Sweet Water Song


Ask an ancient river

whither come love

between moss or spring bloom

a color bright

& moon over rock

it is here

I know

follow sweet water song

and gentle breezes

making poetry

to ask why

this life



Then this one came from the leftover words.

Look Out! They’re Here


though vivid

never watch

as cold brown blanket

rose above him


Life who were

Some say


Wander this world nightly



Both poems are for Elusive Trope’s Magnetic Poetry Saturday Challenge.  I think they illustrate our dual natures. I watch Masterpiece Theatre and The Walking Dead.

Everyone is welcome to play along on Magnetic Poetry Saturday. See the links on Mr. Trope’s page on his blog, Specks and Fragments.