Connections, Past and Future: NaPoWriMo, Day 9

Monday Morning Musings

“I guess I can say that I just wasn’t connecting to everything, because I wasn’t given enough information to know that we all are connected somehow. To every living breathing thing.”

–Denis Dodson, a Maryland prisoner, in Anna Deavere Smith’s, Notes from the Field

“On Passover, among other traditions, we pass down “the spirit of roast beef” and how to make light and fluffy kneidlach instead of “sinkers.”

—from our family Haggadah








Winter turns to spring,

the week is fraught

and we are caught–

the minor annoyances and major fears

(of fate held back, now it seems, for years

coming due,

in arrears)

the morning call about my mom—

not as frightening as one late at night,

but still the toll

the stress of them all. . .


And so, we are comforted by rituals

though celebrated past the date

still cherished, even if they’re late

connecting with our ancestors,

connecting with our past

remembering absent faces

remembering all that’s passed


Passover, a celebration of freedom

but so many are still not free

we watch a filmed performance

about people caught in circumstances—

a need to redesign

the school to prison pipeline,

though many are disinclined

(after all, there are profits to be had

in the incarceration of those considered bad)

But how to address the major issues–

there will always be officious officials.

There are big problems, addressed in this drama

food desserts, racism, epigenetic trauma?

Freedom Fighters, John Lewis

the brightest, the truest—

and still problems go on—

a young girl thrown across a room,

and I wonder if we’re doomed?


We celebrate freedom

we were slaves, now we are free

but for so many that will never be.

My family picks and chooses our traditions,

most of us without true religion,

accepting each other and the love that we need
























and so, we sit at the Passover table to read

my daughter’s Passover play

(this year’s edition)

each reading our part,

with laughter, we start–

some allusions maybe going over some heads–

the Pharaoh likened to current leader who believes his lies,

(despite the facts before his eyes)

and Moses to Hamilton who’s not going to throw away his shot–

perhaps high art, it’s not,

but we laugh as we sing and say


and name the plagues,

then almost through

pour more wine

and let us dine










In the after-dinner glow

I am comforted by our rituals

and all we hold dear,

connections to the past

my niece says do you know—

grandmothers literally hold a part of their granddaughters in their bodies

in the already present eggs of their girl babies in utero?









and so, it goes–

this love of family

past, present, future—

an arch

through which we pass

somehow connecting,

in the parade of time

moving forward and back,

and we here are fortunate not to lack

nourishment of love, food, the mind.

I see the students march,

hear my daughter talk of how she teaches,

begin to hope that some glimmers of light reaches

far away,

floating through both words and deeds

following the leads

of young and old

truth and justice, never old

hoping this trend to hate recedes

hoping the light grows

hoping truth and beauty proceed

Seeking a patch of light









Here’s an article from The Atlantic on Anna Deavere Smith’s one-woman play, Notes from the Field, in which she plays many different roles. A filmed production is currently on HBO. I did some research on prisons for my forthcoming books on rape and sexual violence. Some people may not be aware that the U.S. has the highest incarceration rate in the world.

Day Nine’s Prompt for NaPoWriMo is “to write a poem in which something big and something small come together.” I feel like that is always what happens in my Monday Morning Musings.

It was a busy weekend, so I’m behind on reading, but I will try to catch up later today!






29 thoughts on “Connections, Past and Future: NaPoWriMo, Day 9

  1. I love how you take us through your rituals, the weaving of conversation (and pouring of wine, it has to be said) the family jokes and the food prepared according to tradition, how complex it all is, then you end with two cats just looking for a sunny place. The simplicity is the key.

  2. It is what happens! We were talking yesterday about how religious ritual is really more about family and community than anything else. You always seem to find/make those connections.
    As to incarceration…another black hole sucking us dry. There is no good, reason, or rhyme to it. (K)

  3. Such lovely rituals (including your Monday Musings ritual). I especially like that your rituals are about connections. The Passover play sounds like fun, and the food all looks delicious.
    I think the morning calls, even though they may not be any better than the middle of the night calls, are not as frightening because of the light of day. An illusion, maybe, but it’s something I’ve noticed, too, about the differences between the morning and late night calls.
    Prisons… 60 Minutes had a good piece on German prisons recently. Their current system is designed to reintegrate prisoners back into society, not punish. I suppose that wouldn’t work here. Prisons are the new slavery, perhaps. A way for others to make money on the backs of others.

    • Thanks so much, Robin.
      Our Passover play is always goofy fun–a part of our Seder.
      Yes, you’re right about the morning calls. Also, I’m a morning person, and awake. When you’re awakened by a call it’s always disorienting.
      The early prison system here was designed to reform–penitents–but they also isolated them, and really did not understand.

  4. Pingback: NaPoWriMo / GloPoWriMo 2018 – Day 9 – “Vantage Point” by David Ellis | toofulltowrite (I've started so I'll finish)

  5. Each family practices regular gatherings which may stem from faith, tradition and (or) sometimes, as your family does include; historical references.
    You are able to weave and show connections that anyone can relate to in one way or another, Merril. This to me is an invaluable way of writing. Each person may focus on the parts that remind them of their own family. Someone may picture your family as unique and one of a kind, in a total opposite interpretation.

  6. Pingback: NaPoWriMo Day 9: Big & Small – Toby's Big Oul Blog

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