At Night Ghosts Fly


Francisco Goya, “The Sleep of Reason Brings Forth Monsters,” Capricho 45, [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Monday Morning Musings:

“Fantasy abandoned by reason produces impossible monsters: united with her (reason), she (fantasy) is the mother of the arts and the origin of their marvels.”

–Francisco Goya, full epigraph on Capricho No. 43


At night ghosts fly,

breezes like ice over ocean

can eyes not see this,

our hearts devoured and haunted?

And peace,

a secret perfume

This time,

wake and remember.

–A poem constructed from what I remembered of a magnetic poem before The Oracle ate it.



An oracle gave me a poem of dreams,

then she swallowed the words

leaving me to wonder about both prophecies

and dreams–

wispy, frangible ghosts,

they vanish,

leaving a trace of perfume in the air.


And so, I think of dreams—

there was that one from a few nights ago,

Lin-Manuel Miranda told an interviewer*

that someone had “a curvy name.”

What did that mean,

I thought about it when I woke,

I think he meant the name sounded curvy


pleasing and delicious,

on the tongue,

a sort of mouth-feel,

an umami sound.

And I wondered who it was he spoke of?

And I will probably never know.

nor why I dreamt it.


That is fine.

At night, our minds try to sort and explain the mysteries of the day,

at dawn, we don’t know what dusk will bring,

though we trust the sun will rise and set,

every day is an adventure,

mysteries delightful or terrible may unfold.

But I would not want to know my future, would you?

And who believes the prophets anyway,

treated like Cassandra

mocked and ignored.


But in this new year,

How should we feel?

Peace seems ever elusive,

just beyond an ever-changing horizon.

Reality and truth are meaningless,

Lie-laden Tweets

(the lines neither warm nor curvy)

the thoughts of a man who wants to be a king

or a god,

revered and adored,

But he is a little man,

a bully,

with a handheld bully pulpit,

and so, we must resist,

holding fast against the fetid swamp waters

where the monsters live

and where their dreams thrive and grow,

emerging like demons in the night,

like a vampire, tapping on the window,

do not invite them in

to suck your blood

and still your beating heart.

People like to think the monsters are not real,

but oh, they are,

and they are ready to grab you in the night.

(Quickly, pull the blanket up over your head.)

Yet the evil beasts can be stopped–

because there are heroes,

and there is still good in the world,

and there are still truth-tellers

and truth-seekers,

and we can make a choice,

light or darkness.


It was a cold, snowy weekend,


we ate homemade pizza and binge-watched a Netflix show,

an ordinary day,

frozen and white outside

inside, the warmth of wine,

the scent of bread dough baked at high heat,

we watch,

the young woman, who has died more than once,

she may be an angel,

or maybe not.

And is human life and its mysteries explained?


Or perhaps not.

But she has chosen to remain on earth

to fight, to rescue the people she loves,

people who have become a family.

And there is light and darkness,

and things seen and not seen,

movements that curve,

like a name maybe,

(she has more than one)

to express words that do not exist.

She needs helpers.

and like her,

we must always look for helpers,

and we must strive to be heroes when we can

to wake from our dreams and remember,

to fight the ghosts and monsters of the night,

to scent the air with the perfume of peace,



Jane Dougherty named the magnetic poetry site, “the Oracle.”

*I heard Lin-Manuel Miranda interviewed on Fresh Air. I don’t think he mentioned any curvy names, but let me know if he did.

We watched OA on Netflix, a series starring Brit Marling. She is also the co-creator with Zal Batmangli. Here is the trailer.




33 thoughts on “At Night Ghosts Fly

  1. Great bit about the “curvy name” and “umami sound”. Words are like that. I remember as a kid thinking that some words, like ” please”, for instance, have a smile in them. They all have personalities.

  2. Beautiful work Merril. I’m very lucky i that I never remember the demons who occupy my sleep time and are never there in the cold light of dawn.Perhaps I don’t sleep long enough for them to get a proper grip.
    xxx Massive Hugs xxx

  3. It’s easy to lose both words and images…I like your reconstructed poem. Perhaps the oracle was tired, and needed to do its own dreaming.
    I think people are ready to fight back. I hope so anyway. (K)

  4. There is fear, beauty, and magnetism in your work today. Here are my random thoughts: You are the only person I know who can use the word umami to proper effect.

    I listened to a Lin-Manuel Miranda interview a few days ago, but not the one you refer to. I am magnetized by his joie de vivre. His name is sort of curvy; mine is not. At least I don’t think so.

    This Goya painting is scary, but not as scary as Saturn Devouring His Children. O Vey! Your reconstructed poem is wonderful. I enjoy the comments too!

    • Thank you very much for your kind words, Marian. I laughed at your remark about umami, but thank you for the compliment. 🙂
      You are right that Lin-Manuel Miranda’s name is kind of curvy. I liked this interview because it touched on so much–both his background and the mechanics of writing and singing, too. I agree that Saturn Devouring his Son is frightening. The image I used is apparently a social satire, which seemed to fit.

  5. A curvy name… I like that. I’d forgotten about Fresh Air. Our NPR station doesn’t carry it (or much of anything but a local jazz show). I’ll have to look for the podcasts online. I used to listen to it nearly every day during the week when I was coming home from work (during those days that I worked). You poetry and prose are beautiful and haunting, and would be a little scary except for the hope and light shining through.

    • Thank you for your lovely comment, Robin! I love NPR (as you might have noticed). I don’t listen to Fresh Air every day, but I usually listen to All Things Considered while I make dinner (as well as other shows throughout the day).

  6. This poem was haunting and lovely. I dislike when I start to comment and somehow it disappears. I can imagine your writing a special post, then somehow losing it to the Oracle. ( 😦 )
    Your phrase in the poem, “breezes like ice over an ocean,” gave me the chills, Merril.
    I like when “words roll off a tongue” and I think a “curvy name” would be a very pleasant one to have! 🙂 Mary Tyler Moore always reminded me of the other way to spell it, “merry” and a carrousel or merry-go-round.
    The real life world IS scarier than most of our dreams! I was happy that Merril Streep “took on Trump” at the Golden Globe awards last night in her lifetime achievement speech. Particularly as Trump then responded by tweeting to renounce her fine credits, awards and superior acting which reflected badly on himself! Who actually respects him, how do they still like him?
    Ironically, Trump apparently answered a question only a few years ago about “Who do you like as an actress?” and he mentioned Merril Streep’s name.
    Although the painting is haunting, it shows (to my eyes) owls and bats, neither are particularly mean, except to eat mice (owls) or nibble on fruit, (most bats don’t bite people.) There are far more scarier paintings of nightmares. This one gives us pause to imagine. . .

    • Thank you, Robin. The curvy name/words seems to have resonated with many. 🙂
      Meryl Streep’s words were eloquent and heartfelt. I think we all need to use the platforms we are given. (Obviously more people are going to listen to Meryl Streep than they will to Merril Smith!) I think this needed to be said–and by someone who could say it so well. DT’s comments were, of course, predictably stupid. And since he has no qualifications for office, I don’t think he has any grounds to complain. What other president-elect would even both commenting, except Chief Twitter Thumbs?
      About the painting, I think the owls and bats are meant to be symbolic, although I don’t know exactly what they represent. This is a part of a series in which Goya is doing some social commentary, although it seems scholars don’t necessarily agree on what his message was. 🙂

      • Isn’t it funny, Merril? It wasn’t until you wrote out Meryl Streep’s name that I realized that I had misspelled hers. 🙂 Just much more used to your spelling, now at least!
        So, instead of elephants and donkeys, these owls and bats stand for something more than vegetarian versus carnivores?
        I cannot look this up since I am checking blogs on my phone and already on my internet connection, rather than the quirky WordPress. This poem, thoughts included, was really interesting!

  7. Merril, you made me think of my own dreams. A few nights ago, I dreamed Barack Obama and I had a great conversation, but I couldn’t remember an ounce of its content when I woke up.

    And your use of the phrase “bully pulpit” stopped me in my tracks. Teddy Roosevelt could never have imagined that the presidency would some day be held by a robber baron not content to be rich but having to bully others into making him the center of the universe,

    • Thanks so much, Shirley. I would like to have heard your conversation with our wonderful outgoing president. I don’t think anyone could have imagined DT as president. I can’t believe it either.

  8. What is a horror story without the orange hobgoblin; it certainly wouldn’t be complete! Haha. Ah, you are so entertaining, dear Merril! I shall weather the DT storm better knowing you’re here at WP. 🙂

    I’ll look forward to Haiku-ing with you! No rush at all. Take your time. Have a marvelous week!!

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