I’m Not Yet Ready to Write an Elegy for the World: NaPoWriMo

Monday Morning Musings:

“See what you lost when you left this world, this sweet old world”

—Lucinda Williams, from the song, “Sweet Old World” (Listen here.)

“I am of certain convinced that the greatest heroes are those who do their duty in the daily grind of domestic affairs whilst the world whirls as a maddening dreidel.”

–Florence Nightingale (I could not find a source for this.)


When the fool becomes king

it’s difficult to celebrate

to know what is real and what is fake


a radio host said

it didn’t seem right

to slip in an April Fool’s story

because this year


it’s a crazy, mixed-up world

our, sweet old world


I dream about Mary Todd Lincoln,

grieving over her dead son and husband,

ghosts that walk the White House,

does the current resident see them,

feel the presence of the great and not so great?

Will he destroy our world?

(the news spins and whirls maddeningly)

I wonder if Mrs. Lincoln crazy,

or was it simply the world about her,

the nation torn apart,

brother fighting brother,

her husband a martyr,

and did she long then to leave this sweet old world?


We watch movies about strong women,

twentieth- century women,

one raising her son alone,

we eat pizza and drink some wine

because it’s a sweet old world, isn’t it?

FullSizeRender 100


the woman is confused

but she does her best,

most people do

(as I hope, as I believe)

and I guess she does a good job,

because her son wants to be a good guy

who cares about women,

she does something right,

because, after all, many years later her son will make this movie,

and Annette Benning will play her,

crazy and sweet, this world.


The other woman hid people,

(in a zoo)

she truly lived in a crazy world

where the monsters ruled,

living in plain sight,

real human monsters

scarier than fictional demons,

the zoo became a pig farm

because the animals had been killed,

people, animals,

to monsters there is little difference,

the woman’s husband fights bravely with guns,

the woman fights with her soul,

she understands that she needs to woo the monster,

as she does an animal,

though she is terrified,

they are heroes, this couple,

in a world spinning crazily like a dreidel,

will it fall on nun, their “guests” must wonder

or will a great miracle happen there?

They saved 300 people,

perhaps a great miracle did happen there.

they raised pigs on garbage from the ghetto

(the Nazi’s love the irony)

though those in the ghetto can scarcely spare their garbage,

because they are starving


And I’m reading a book about a young girl who is starving

in a small, Irish village

starving for Jesus, I suppose,

subsisting on manna from heaven, she says

her nurse, her watcher,

has been trained by Florence Nightingale,

(a nineteenth-century strong woman)

I don’t know what happens,

I haven’t finished the book,

though I hope the girl eats, hope she lives,

hope she gets to grown up in this sweet and crazy world


And we go out to lunch,

Indian food,

discuss movies and books,

and this and that,

(not starving),

we come home,

I bake a cake–

because we need sweetness

in this crazy, mixed up world,

and I’m not ready to write its elegy



Sour Cream Coffee Cake


It’s Day Three of NaPoWriMo. The prompt was elegy. I hope we do not yet need one for our sweet old world.

We saw the movies, 20th Century Women and The Zookeeper’s Wife.

I’m reading The Wonder, by Emma Donoghue

23 thoughts on “I’m Not Yet Ready to Write an Elegy for the World: NaPoWriMo

  1. It’s interesting how your thoughts and experiences can circle and spiral round a theme like this. I love your repeated line. It is a sweet and crazy world.

    I hope the cake was good.

    I am coming to the conclusion that all we can do is what is in front of us, and what seems to be right.

  2. I enjoyed this.
    I don’t bake very often, but when I do it’s a connection to simpler times – mostly free of concerns, either for that present or it’s future. If I could work that into an elegy, I would, but I’m not sure I’d want to go there.

  3. We live in interesting times, it is true. I know that’s supposed to be a form of a curse, but in reading your poem, I think well, someone has to do it…maybe the times will shape us to be fit to rise to the challenges they present.

  4. Mary Ann Shaffer wasn’t ready to write an elegy for the world either when she wrote her novel, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, the name of a book club born as an alibi after its members are discovered breaking curfew by Germans occupying their island near the end of World War II. I was sorry when the book ended: serious subject matter with a light touch. I can imagine a good screenplay with this novel.

    We must see The Zookeeper’s Wife soon.

    Like others, I enjoy your circling & spiraling around a theme. 🙂

    • Thank you, Marian. It’s good to know people enjoy my circling and spiraling about. 🙂
      I enjoyed The Guernsey Literary. . .Society book, too.
      The Zookeeper’s Wife (movie) did not great reviews. It was better than I thought it would be. It is an amazing story though. I heard an interview with the author of the book on NPR.

  5. I felt the mood was definitely bittersweet in this lovely poetic elegy. The dreidel’s spinning and whirling was the perfect image to reflect our spinning lives, world and tales.
    My grandson and my oldest daughter read the book, “Wonder.” It probably is a different book buy leaves me wondering! 😉
    I was so pleased that “The Zookeeper’s Wife” was rated PG 13 instead of R. It definitely was scary enough without any more graphic violence. I cried the most when the husband was asked to help little ones onto the red train to one of those gas chambers. The precious suitcases which had been clasped so tightly, cruelly burned. This isn’t a “spoiler” since most know the results of those who were not saved.
    The art in the hiding place was a beautiful tribute to those who passed through. Reminded me of the underground railroad to freedom. ❤
    I really want to see "20th Century Women," Merril! Your sour cream bundt cake looks scrumptious! I like donuts and cakes made with sour cream. Mmm-m!

    • Thank you, Robin. I’m not a fan of gratuitous violence either. They did a good job of indicating what happened without showing it all–like the sexual violence.
      It’s funny that you mentioned that scene about the train because it seemed so fake to me. I don’t imagine he could have just strolled down there, nor that everyone was so calm.
      The drawings were memorable, but it seemed strange to me that people in hiding would be so blatant, and I just read that it wasn’t true.
      The cake is delicious. 🙂

  6. I’d forgotten about Emma Donoghue. I read “Kissing the Witch” years ago, thought it was a great book, and meant to keep an eye out for future books. I read “The Zookeeper’s Wife” and want to see the movie.
    Your Monday Musings are like tapestries, weaving in the stories and energy of the times and your life. Beautifully done, as always. The cake looks so good I’m almost drooling over it. 🙂

    • Thank you very much, Robin.
      I don’t think I’ve read “Kissing the Witch,” but I’ve read some of her others, including “Room.” I finished The Wonder yesterday.
      The cake was delicious! 🙂

      I was thinking of you yesterday. My copy of Soup for Syria just arrived. (It was backordered.) There are recipes from several different chefs and proceeds go to a fund to feed people in Syria.

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