Always the Clouds

JMW Turner, “Norham Castle Sunrise

 

 

Always the clouds come, drifting

colored in the hazy shades of ever-after,

yet distant stars glimmer through, sifting

light diffused from ancient gas and matter,

 

colored in the hazy shades of ever-after

time travels on, translucent or opaque

light diffused from ancient gas and matter,

and so, we ache

 

as time travels on. Translucent or opaque,

our thoughts grow dimmer to dark,

and so, we ache—

forgetting glory, gone our spark.

 

Our thoughts grow dimmer to dark

muttering and sputtering of past wrongs,

forgetting glory. Gone the spark

of former days and daisy chains and songs.

 

Muttering and sputtering of past wrongs,

we dream in owl-feathered night

of former days and daisy chains and songs–

then wait for lark-trilled light.

 

We dream in owl-feathered night,

as distant stars glimmer through, sifting

(our thoughts) as we wait for lark-trilled light,

but always the clouds come, drifting.

 

 

This is for Peter’s prompt on dVerse. He’s asked us to think about sound. Kerfe had me thinking of pantoums, and so I revised one that I wrote in April.

And Now for Something Completely Different: An Interview with Frank

Here’s Frank–you guessed it, at the beach!

I’m doing something different today! Here’s my interview with Frank.

Aren’t you Frank of “A Frank Angle?” Can you tell us why you decided to end that blog, and why you’re now beginning a new one?
Hi Merril. Yes, it’s me, and thanks for the interview.

A Frank Angle had a wonderful 11+ years with 2,304 posts. Stepping away from it was a long, difficult, through-out decision. I designed the ending to give closure to myself and my loyal readers. In retrospect, I’m very happy I did it that way. In my last post (February 2020), I announced the possibility of a new blog with a fresh look, but only focusing on the beach walks series that I started on the old blog. Besides, I miss my WordPress encounters with the many good people in the world.

How does your new blog differ from your old blog?
Even though I had a pattern, A Frank Angle covered a variety of topics. Beach Walk Reflections will feature thoughts from thinking while walking on the beach. Each walk focuses on a single topic, but topics are random. I’m amazed at how the mind can go deeper than expected when given the chance. I hope that readers find them relaxing with a touch of philosophy.

I’ve heard you’re a ballroom dancer. Can you tell us more about that? How did you get started?
We started watching Dancing With The Stars in season 2 (2006). I’m guessing several years later I purchased an introductory package from a dance studio as a birthday present for my wife, and we didn’t stop. Ballroom is a social activity for us, so we don’t compete or perform at any studio event. It’s also good exercise, it keeps the brain active, and we have met many wonderful people. However, COVID has halted our ballroom. We miss both dancing and our dance friends!

I know traveling is something you enjoy, as well. Has that always been something you’ve enjoyed? Do you have an all-time special trip, or a place you’d like to return to? Is there someplace that you’ve always wanted to see but haven’t yet had a chance to visit?
We love traveling, so canceling 2020 trips of Seattle to Glacier National Park to Seattle and cruising Norway were disappointments. We enjoy going to different places, both in the US and in Europe. We hope to visit as many US states and European countries as possible. With hopes of travel returning, we are planning 2021 trips. I can’t get enough of Italy, but I’m biased about the land of my heritage.

What time of day do you like to write? And where do you like to write?
This one makes me chuckle. I admire the many disciplined writers setting aside a dedicated time and place for writing. Given the eclectic nature of my writing topics, I write when the urge or need arises. Besides, I don’t take my writing as seriously as others. For me, summer is a busy time – so I write less. Sometimes topics stew in my mind, so I record notes of thoughts. On the other hand, there are times when I immerse myself in writing. As you know, some of my topics on the old blog required research, and I find that exciting. With Beach Walk Reflections, I already have 130 walks at some of the development and a long list of potential topics. Most of the time I write on my laptop while sitting in a chair. Sometimes I even start with pen and paper.

Is there anything else you’d like to share? How can we find you?
My life is like my old blog – wide-ranging. Whether it’s golfing, walking, playing pickleball, dancing, playing handbells, traveling, or attending plays, events, festivals, or movies, we stay reasonably busy. I also have a very focused side, and Beach Walk Reflections will show that. I invite your readers to visit and learn about ways to follow the new blog. The first actual walk went up yesterday–“Introducing.” By the way, you first commented on A Frank Angle on January 15th, 2015 on a post about the movie Selma, so I hope you return to Beach Walk Reflections.

Of course, I will, Frank!

And one thing more– I wrote a poem inspired by a line from one of Frank’s previous beach walk posts.You can read it here.

The beach at Ocean City, NJ–a beach walk we took on our anniversary in June this year. ©️Merril D. Smith 2020

Spinning

Jeremy Harbeck, North Star Bay, Greenland, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Inconstant,
the magnetic north roams

to Siberia
under rocky plates it riffs, shifts, reverses course

in search of answers
we all seek–

but encompass me in moonlight,
(not) polar opposites,

we spin, sing, bodies electric,
attracted, charged,

surging, urging—so, star-dusted cling–
luminosity bring.

A quadrille for dVerse, where De asks us to use some form of the word magnet.

A Garden Stroll

Longwood Gardens

Monday Morning Musings:

“After you have exhausted what there is in business, politics, conviviality, love, and so on — have found that none of these finally satisfy, or permanently wear — what remains? Nature remains; to bring out from their torpid recesses, the affinities of a man or woman with the open air, the trees, fields, the changes of seasons — the sun by day and the stars of heaven by night.” –Walt Whitman, quoted in Brainpickings

We used to go away, now we don’t go, we stay
where we are, in stasis, mourn
what was, embrace what is, forlorn–

but then comes a day, when we go
not to stay, but to glory in the glow
of autumn, amber light, and honeyed hues

well, wouldn’t you? If given a chance,
bears from hibernation spring, if only temporarily–
because I fear what winter will bring.

So, we drive over the bridge, as in days before,
then masked, and with some hesitation,
and trepidation, that gives way to elation—

Commodore Barry Bridge

because we’re seeing something new, a perfect day
to stroll through seasonal gardens where flowers still bloom
and bees buzz and butterflies flutter, birds chirp, squirrels stutter

in indignation, as we walk through Peirce’s Woods
and in the meadow golden-bright to the manmade lake
where we reflect in reflected light

Longwood Gardens

on all the beauty we’re fortunate to see
a special outing, a few hours to forget
hate and plague, and all the vague anxiety

that hovers in the air, for once unaware, we laugh
relax, eat, find a retreat–a poetic conceit
perhaps, but for a time, we’re OK, and all is fine.

We went to Longwood Gardens, in Kennett Square, PA–about an hour away from our house in south Jersey. (You have to buy tickets in advance for a particular day and time.) We haven’t really gone anywhere, except for a few local wineries, where we can sit outdoors and far apart from others. Before we went, we got our flu shots at our local CVS, and that was the first time I had been inside the store since March. I felt a bit of panic. And at Longwood Gardens, it was strange to be among so many people—though mostly at a safe distance and masked. It was so good to see something different, and we picked a perfect autumn day. Of course, the mood was spoiled a bit because of the Supreme Court confirmation hearings. I turned off NPR for awhile.

I’m linking this to Robin of “Breezes at Dawn”’s Walktober.
For those who don’t follow my blog, my usual, almost daily walk, is at Red Bank Battlefield, usually early in the morning. Below see some of the beauty that I experience there. Before the Covid Crisis hit, we went into Philadelphia almost every week, often taking public transportation. I think we last did that in February.

Delaware River at Red Bank Battlefield, Misty Morning Sunrise ©️Merril D. Smith 2020

And a PS–Merril’s Movie Club: We watched The Trial of the Chicago 7. It’s on Netflix, and it’s enjoyable and timely. Fans of The West Wing, Sorkin even manages to get in a few walk and talks. 😏

If I Ask

Winslow Homer, “Watching the Breakers” 1891

Moonlight’s sea-spray songs
lather, pound, and lick the rocks,
in dream whispers they shape-shift
through purple mist, bear away time-aches,
turning black to blue

~as I watch~

the sky blushes pink–
and is it enough
to wing away the dark-shadowed night?
And if I ask what love is,
will the white-feathered wind answer hope?

Today’s message from the Magnetic Poetry Oracle.

Field, Memory, Magic: The Traitors’ Gate

Traitors’ Gate, Andrew Wood, Wikipedia Commons



They sail, a slow journey from glory to despair,
above them, vacant-eyed heads grin
in recognition of what was and what shall be–memories

carried as if by magic through the green English fields
where the ghosts wander,

waiting for history to be rewritten in each new reign–
queen to traitor, rebel to hero, recusant to saint.

This is a poem for Sarah’s dVerse prompt. She asks us to choose a set of three words from a list that she has posted. The words correspond to a site in London. I chose “field memory magic,” which if I understand correctly corresponds to the Traitors’ Gate at the Tower of London. The three words are part of larger project, which you can read about on the dVerse page.

Waiting for Next to Normal

Monday Morning Musings:

“But something next to normal would be okay
Yeah, something next to normal
That’s the thing I’d like to try
Close enough to normal to get by”
–“Maybe (Next to Normal)” from Next to Normal (2008)
book and lyrics by Brian Yorkey and music by Tom Kitt.

After the storm–a world in a puddle–the world upside down

The world is upside down,
but still the morning sky sings,
brings comfort to my soul, wings

Early morning. The Delaware River at Red Bank Battlefield ©️Merril D. Smith 2020

away the swirling thoughts from me,
a body in motion is not stopped, so free
of notions,

and anger, emotions
may fly away,
but beauty, makes me stop and stay

a body at rest, (breathe)
for a while, recharged,
hopes expanded, vision enlarged

to see this is but one piece
as time flows on, history is past,
and will we learn, we’re often asked—

Past, Present, Future. The 18th Century Whitall House, Red Bank Battlefield. ©️Merril D. Smith, 2020

perhaps, or not,
the world goes on, the sun still shines
the geese still fly in V-shaped lines

and deer graze and gambol
whether I’m there to amble
by the riverside, the river bides (with me, I see)

though its course may change,
it carries still, cargo and dreams,
while over it the heron soars—

Heron flying into the light. Sunrise on the Delaware River. ©️Merril D. Smith, 2020

not mine or yours, it endures
sensing how the wind blows,
but what does it think, who knows?

Not to oversimply,
I wonder what it’s like to fly,
but their survival is also fraught

but uncaught, I understand.
Yet as the woman sang,
something next to normal, would be grand,

as I listen to insanity,
the bizarre upheld,
I long for those in power to be felled

Uprooted and adrift. A visual metaphor for our times. Delaware River at Red Bank Battlefield. ©️Merril D. Smith, 2020

and for the robot followers to waken
to be shaken
by the horror they uphold.

It won’t happen, they’ll deny,
believe the lies
again and again,

but someday, I don’t know when
I have to believe, things will change again–
and meanwhile,

I’ll walk by the river in hope
that nature’s cure will ease my soul
to bring me peace, one thing I can control

Coming in for a landing. Red Bank Battlefield. ©️Merril D. Smith 2020

a tiny piece in this crazy world,
where lunacy is the new normal, unfurled
like a banner—well, I see those flags waved,

and crowds like those with arms in straight salute
the past reborn, without jackboots,
at least not yet, but you can’t refute

the similarities. Despots are all the same,
and fanatics, too. What’s in a name?
They’ve lived through the ages on history’s pages
.
I hope this time, they are soon confined,
I won’t give up hope, nor bind
myself to evil,

but listen for a laugh that echoes still
in my heart, it always will,
speaking of survival–and until

and if we meet again,
perhaps the world will be next to normal then.

We didn’t go anywhere this week, but we had an at home theater night. We ate nachos and watched the Tony Award-winning musical Next to Normal on Saturday night– which appropriately for the theme of the show was World Mental Health Day. It was a production done a few years ago by the Arden Theater in Philadelphia, and because we’re subscribers, we were given a free link to stream a video of the production. It’s a moving story, as a woman grapples with her mental illness and her family also tries to cope, but there are also some laugh out loud moments. Here are the nachos and dinner from the night before, homemade naan and channa masala.

We watched the Netflix show Away. We renamed it, “This is Us in Space.” I was sobbing at episode five. It was enjoyable, in the way of a beach book. 😏
We also started the Netflix series, Haunting of Bly Manor. I liked the first two episodes, though the lead-in seemed a bit contrived. It’s the kind of horror I like, not splatter gore, but subtle. It’s based on the Henry James novella, The Turn of the Screw. But if you ever get to see the 1961 film, The Innocents, also based on that story, it’s excellent. It doesn’t seem to be available to stream in the U.S. right now.

The Story of Flowers

Odilon Redon, “Ophelia Among the Flowers”

If I go with an ache—
honeyed dreams I recall,
the blood moon urging love,
soaring pink over the forest.
We watched its cool beauty
as rusted leaves fell,

~whispering of summer~

a thousand times, the moon sings–
and broken ghost-hearts listen
with almost breaths, embrace
the dark sky’s light poetry
to wake, lingering as flowers,
at peace

Another puente. The Oracle gave me this myth, and perhaps it’s also appropriate for World Mental Health Day.

The Lovers

T.C. Hart, “Storm at Sea”

Her love had sailed to far away
on a merchant ship of middling size,
she watched from shore through ocean spray
and the day turned gloomy with greying skies.

She heard the wind sigh, “beware, beware,”
the sun glowed weakly on the rocks,
the strands of seaweed looked like hair,
and no ships sailed up to the docks.

The news came later of storm and wreck,
of her love and others thrown in the waves,
though the captain shouted from the deck
the sea often gives, but seldom saves

a ransom to the gods below.
She wept and cried, “instead take me,”
piteously, she was lost to woe,
she swore bride she’d be under the sea.

No grave, no grave to put her in
for she’s gone to join him, all agree.
No mourners there, or other kin
but come midnight, there the lovers be.

They walk upon the rocky sand
as the stars sparkle like wedding gems,
and you might see them hand in hand
but the moonlight shines right through them.

An old-style ghostly ballad for Lucy, who is guest-hosting at dVerse. We recently watched a live-streamed Richard Thompson concert, where he did a lot of the old Fairport Convention songs. I borrowed, the repeated word grave (though with opposite meaning) from “Matty Groves.”