Exits and Entrances, NaPoWriMo, Day 23

Monday Morning Musings:

“We do on stage things that are supposed to happen off. Which is a kind of integrity, if you look on every exit as being an entrance somewhere else.”

–Tom Stoppard, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead

 “Were there words beyond which they could never touch, or did all that is possible enter their consciousness? They could not tell. .

E.M. Forster, A Passage to India

“This train doesn’t stop at City Hall”

(the conductor says)

as the world streams by

the rushing tracks,

clackety, clackety, clackety clack,

the engine hums, it’s zhhhumy zhumms,

my reflection in the window sways









I am traveling there

but does part of me stay

(a train beat away)

entering here

exiting there?


We walk–and

spring is a promise whispered over a wall.










“Please silence your cell phones and other devices.”

(the announcer says)

before the start of the play,









a somewhat dated farce,

act two and three are clever

better than the first

the play within a play from backstage, reversed

the stage rearranged, the set turned around

so, front is back

a player tumbles and falls,

and we see it all–

again, as the troupe performs months later–

each actor then has two roles,

and the timing and action is right

but as a whole,

well. . . it was OK

we both say

and the tickets were free—

something to see

with excellent seats

in America’s oldest theater,








so now it’s later

and we walk and talk

see spring a-springing,

the birds still singing,

eat a giant bowl of fries

(in a very noisy bar room)










then wander back to cats and home,

to see the daffodils still in bloom.








The next day–

another play.

(still no stops at City Hall)

“The kitchen is small,”

says one man to another,

“But the apartment looks out at the rocks, and

the water is right there.”

“Maybe Rehoboth would be better,”

The other man murmurs

he has to stay in New Jersey.

We exit, a bit early,

before finding out if they make a plan.

“A little shifty,” that man,

(my husband says)

as we walk out into the day—

where now spring is more than whispering,

and we say, yes, this weather, please stay.


We walk through Washington Square Park

I insist some roots look like feet

though they’d find it hard to tap a beat.








Trees are blooming in pink and white

Washington Square Park, Philadelphia











and people are out to see the sight

of them, feel the gentle heat,

sun on their faces,

filling the outdoor spaces

and even the walls shout of spring

Mural by David Guinn








while the birds trill and sing—

(“Phoebe Phoebe, sings the chickadee,

“Peter Peter” the tufted titmouse calls,

and the mockingbird repeats them all.)

Spring fever all around

Penn’s green country town.

Pennsylvania Hospital










Please silence your cells phones—again,

the play is about to begin,










and thought-provoking it is,

the playwright’s words are his,

but “a fantasia inspired” from Forster’s book

though people and countries are never named

other than with letters,

Country X and Country Y, could be any nation

the characters not assigned by the writer to any gender, race,

or sexual orientation,

F, R, H, M, D, Q, J, B

plus, a mosquito and a gecko–

and, of course, there are those echoes. . .

we hear them, reverberating through now, the ages,

all around us–

and on stage, thus–

F speaks of the people in the darkness,

Dr. B is arrested for a crime he did not commit,

and G breaks the fourth wall to talk to us


and yes, it’s a bit uncomfortable–

Are we supposed to answer her out loud?

I wonder, and are we different from another crowd?


Later, I say,

“I’d like to see that play all over again with another cast.”

How different would it be to see people of a different race,

or gender, play the roles we just saw?

Because, I think, we must draw

pictures in our minds—leap to conclusions—

have preconceptions that we cannot help but make,

and would it break them–


if what we saw was not,

well, exactly the same.

I imagine this part of the writer’s aim.

(I learn there is a hashtag, #ChenMindFuck)

but my mind is rather more struck

than fucked I think,

and we have much to discuss over food and drink.

Can one be friends with one’s oppressor?

The idea leads to variations and degrees of power

not only of gender and race, but

CEO and factory worker, student and professor,

Black Lives Matter and #MeToo,

seeing things from another’s view. . .

The server brings more bread,

I wonder what lies ahead.

At Tria











We walk and talk back to the train,

ideas swirling in my brain.

“This train doesn’t stop at City Hall.”

but time flows through spaces and goes to places



Every exit is an entrance somewhere else.



Today’s NaPoWriMo prompt to use sound. “The poem, for example, could incorporate overheard language. Perhaps it could incorporate a song lyric in some way, or language from something often heard spoken aloud (a prayer, a pledge, the Girl Scout motto). Or you could use a regional or local phrase from your hometown that you don’t hear elsewhere, e.g. “that boy won’t amount to a pinch.”





















34 thoughts on “Exits and Entrances, NaPoWriMo, Day 23

  1. That’s quite a lot to pack into two days. And much to ponder. I do think changing race, age, gender, nationality, religion, occupation, social class–any identity–changes how we perceive what we see and hear.(K)

    • Thank you, Kerfe. We had the theater tickets for Sunday, and then someone gave us the ones for Saturday–both matinees, so it wasn’t too much.
      Passage was really fascinating, and the writer leaves it up to the director who to cast in the roles. No one’s gender is ever mentioned within the play.

    • The plays were matinees on Saturday and Sunday, so we had down time in-between. 🙂 And the train ride only takes about 20 minutes. The days, especially Sunday, were so spring like finally. It was good to walk around, and we couldn’t get an outside table at either place.
      I’m glad you got the big bird feet. That’s exactly what I thought, but my husband was laughing at me!

  2. Lots of starts and stops, entrances and exits . . . sort of like writing memoir – ha! Sounds too: I remember riding the PRR train to Philly visiting the zoo and later attending Temple U. “clackety, clackety, clackety clack!”

    How wonderful to ride to Philly on the train for theatre and other treats.

    • Thanks, Marian. Our commuter train ride is much shorter than the one you took from Lancaster. I wish the Patco line stopped closer to our house. We would probably take it more often.

  3. Was that three plays? You might as well be a theatre critic! You gave me a great idea. A play that changes actors within the performance. Same roles, but the actors all shift! I want to write it!

    • Only two plays, Luanne–one Saturday and one Sunday. We’re subscribers to the Wilma, so we had the tickets for Sunday (Passage). Someone gave us the tickets to Noises Off for Saturday.
      But for Passage, I thought it would be cool, if the company did one performance with one cast, and then another performance with another cast–where the roles were played by people of different races and gender.
      OK. Go write that play! 🙂

      • I like your idea for the play but because as a viewer I only want to go once and I want the ability to experience that change I want it all on the same performance. Darn iPhone. Anyway thank you!

  4. An interesting way to recap you weekend. Back-to-back plays. Wow … we will see Treasure Island on stage this weekend. To your last picture, I say … Clink! … but you need some of those fries for that plate.

  5. Love your musings, as always, but was especially struck by every exit being an entrance.
    You do such interesting things throughout your weekends. 🙂

  6. Pingback: NaPoWriMo / GloPoWriMo 2018 – Day 23 – “A Person Just Like You” by David Ellis | toofulltowrite (I've started so I'll finish)

  7. I had to stop to read these musings and say I enjoyed this play within a play and your last play, too. When you added great and wise questions, Merril it gave me pause. . .
    I think showing a different culture or mixing up the cast may help us to listen differently to the words. It may change the way we “hear” their messages, too. I can think of gender and it’s impact, also making a difference.
    I like this post with the sound of rhythm of your words, with the faint sound of the railway clickety clacking, keeping the beat. . .
    Your photographs are stunning, loved the mural (David Guinn) and you have so much within this post to ponder. It could be a poetry magazine article full of thought, emotions and lovely images!
    On a whole other subject, I was happy to hear of the world changing Boy and Girl Scouts on the news today. It won’t take effect until February, 2019. I was part of Girl Scouts for 12 years, then my oldest daughter pursued and belonged for about six years. When I joined the boy-girl co-ed Mariners, a part of Explorers scouting, in the 70’s I told my Dad in 1974, “They will make this come together in the 80’s to be inclusive of both genders.” Ha ha ha! Took them 35 years. Even will “allow” people who are gays and transgender, so “revolutionary.” Sigh! ☮️

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