Measuring

Monday Morning Musings:

Early Morning, Delaware River at Red Bank Battlefield ©️Merril D. Smith, 2021

Measure by measure—

in hope and despair
from winter bare to sun-charged air

we smile through tears
with spirits brightened, but still the fears

of what comes next?
Another crisis, another text

of sorrow or disaster.
Can we master

moving from the passing of this year?
Too many lost, but we’re still here–

and so, we live as we’re able,
finally meet across a table

to eat and laugh, while those who’ve passed
remain within our memories, clasped

in synapsed snapshots, held fast,
until all is faded, at last,

everything balanced, a measure
of sadness, a finding of treasure

in the remembrance of what she said,
those words, like a thread

linking us, a connection
a form of resurrection

in “do you remember?” Phrases bright—
like the promise, with shadows, there’s light.

Ripples. One Year. ©️Merril D. Smith, 2021

April is a strange month all over, it seems—one day cold, one day warm, full of storms, and also flowers. A bunch of tulips that we didn’t plant have popped up in our garden.

Yesterday was the first anniversary of my mother’s death. Now that we’ve all been vaccinated, we went to our younger daughter and son-in-law’s house—and for the first time in over a year, hugged and ate inside. She made us a tapas feast, and I baked a chocolate cake in my mom’s memory.

My husband and I both got haircuts for the first time in over a year, too. Woo hoo! We celebrated with a date night at home and streamed the excellent production of the Lantern Theater’s production of Measure for Measure. It was a filmed production from a few years ago. The play is very timely. We watched the movie, Promising Young Woman, (rental from Amazon), which my husband and I both enjoyed and thought was very good—great acting, direction, and soundtrack. Both play and movie will inspire discussion.

Burning Bright: Ekphrastic Challenge, Day 19

Burning bright, each season’s swift turning,
she comes named and nameless, always here
assuaging aches and calming yearning,
giver of life and light—see her,

she comes named and nameless, always here
reaching the apples, making fungi sprout,
giver of life and light, in darkness, see her
circling–a serpent, in and out

reddening the apples, making fungi sprout,
not angel nor demon, she is desire
circling. A serpent in and out,
beyond time–she’s earth, air, and fire–

not angel nor demon, she is desire,
assuaging aches and calming yearning.
Beyond time, she’s earth, air, and fire-
burning. Bright, each season’s swift turning.

A pantoum for Paul Brooke’s Ekphrastic Challenge, Day 19. My poem didn’t make it into the post, but you can read the rest of them here.

Distances: Ekphrastic Challenge, Day 18

How do we measure distance?

Between yesterday and tomorrow,
the light of long-dead stars echo

like a voice, a song, a laugh
lingering in memory, and dreams

that bridge the distance
between imaginary and real,

to tumble over and over like waves–

but where does a wave go? And does it roll,
or unroll onto the shore as it picks up and deposits the sand,

each grain a part of something larger—
a rock, a meteor, a star—

the distance between before and now
a footprint on the beach, gone.

For Paul Brookes’ Ekphrastic Challenge. You can see all the art and read the poems here.

When the Moon Sings, NaPoWriMo, Day 17

Guillermo_Gómez_Gil_-_Salida_de_la_luna

When the moon sings,
time stills, and
after-aches sleep in the purple-shadowed night
while diamond ships sail,

~spraying if in silver light~

love comes, seafoam-born,
ephemeral and eternal
crushing worlds and driving dreams—
listen to the sky– a symphony of roses rises at dawn.

A collaboration with the Magnetic Poetry Oracle that also works for today’s NaPoWriMo prompt. She loves the moon–and the puente form.

Beneath the Surface: Ekphrastic Challenge, Day 17

Inspired by John Law, “Back from Shopping” and Kerfe Roig, “Badger”

Sturdy women coated and scarved,
against the cold, damp English day. Tight-clad legs step
clop clop on water-pooled streets. The little one’s hand grasped—
everywhere unseen dangers lurk.

There will be no jumping now. Come along, her mother says,
and goes on talking about Bess’s too-soon baby, Tom’s gout,
and Will who lost his job—again.

Beneath the surface of their words, stories swim,
fish waiting to be caught,
the meanings elusive, not quite hooked.

The woolen hats and packages move with the women, yellow, red, and green
contrasts with the grey all around.
In the fine drizzle of the fretting sea,
the shops are nearly invisible,
like the badger in their garden, a fog-creature of the night.

The girl wonders if he lives beneath
the surface of the puddles. She jumps, despite her mother’s hand,

and laughs. Then a laugh bursts from her mother’s surprised O mouth.
They continue walking. It’s almost time for tea.

She will save some scraps for the badger. See if he surfaces, like love.

For Paul Brookes’s Ekphrastic Challenge. You can see all the art and read all the poems here.

She Is: Ekphrastic Challenge, Day 16

In the spindrift of stars,
she’s felled, stayed by strands
silvered in the night

she circles in cycles of moon phases,
phrases repeat in her mind, bridging seen
and unseen worlds,

the doors that might open—if—
in the tides of sea and blood—there is life
flowering,

in her womb, in the earth,
the repeating petalled patterns,
the roundness of berry and belly,

the strength of limbs, rooted
to the earth, while reaching for the sky,
seeking light

she howls as it fills her. God, human,
something in-between? This is the truth—
she is what she is, and what she has always been.

She circles in cycles. Repeats.
Ever and always. She waits.

For Paul Brooke’s Ekphrastic Challenge, Day 16. I was inspired by all three works. You can read all the poems here.

Too Late: Ekphrastic Challenge, Day 15

Cosmic after-
glow, echoes of light,
energy
and matter
through time, before time
before our time–eons

of coursing
color no one sees–
from the sky
to the sea
repeating cycles, fractals
and Fibonacci

on the beach,
a nautilus shell—
you hold it,
marveling
at its spiral curves, ancient
sailor, now moored here

amidst stones
and gull laughs, soaring
as Gaia
cups the world.
This is how life unfolds, in
circles and seasons

without hate.
Too late for her, or
him, or them—
the Other—
though filled with stardust, too. See
how cycles repeat?

A shadorma sequence for Paul Brooke’s Ekphrastic Challenge, Day 15. We’re halfway through! You can read the other poems here. My work is inspired by all three works of art. I am behind on replying to comments and visiting other posts because I’ve had to finish paying work this week, but I will catch up in the next couple of days. This will be my NaPoWriMo poem for today because I know I won’t have time to get to the prompt.

The Shadow People: Ekphrastic Challenge, Day14

It began—after The Before. You remember?
When the world was colored with optimism,
primary colors and pastels, sun-spackled roofs, rose gardens,
blue skies? Even the winter ice sparkled with trapped starlight.
We went to work and school and shows,
traveling on buses and trains through the city.

I used to make up stories about the people we saw in the windows—
the little girl with the dandelion, the woman
who danced in a red dress? All those windows dark now.
Please say you remember.

Then cough by cough, the world turned greyer.
The flowers lost their brilliant hues, fragrances disappeared.
And the shadow people came.

They walked out of my dreams
to gather around the TV set–strangely drawn to it.
They follow me now, almost eagerly, like ghost puppies.

They have no faces, but they look like me. Haunted.

For Paul Brookes’ Ekphrastic Challenge, Day 14, I was inspired by all three works of art. You can read all the poems here.

Once: Ekphrastic Challenge, Day 13

Once the harbor was a bustling place
of summer light, with salty tang– the sky a vivid blue,
all day and night, we gathered and chattered–of clouds no trace.
Once the harbor was a bustling place,
full of hope and sweet mysteries–our love was new,
but star-crossed by autumn storms–gone ship, captain, crew, you.
Once–the harbor was a bustling place
of summer light, with salty tang, the sky a vivid blue.

For Paul Brookes’ Ekphrastic Challenge, Day 13, I wrote a triolet based on all three works of art. You can read all the poems here. I haven’t written a triolet in ages, and I forgot how difficult it is to get so much in eight lines with the repeated lines and rhymes. But here it is. This will be my NaPoWriMo poem for the day, too.

We Named the Sky: NaPoWriMo, Day 12

Monday Morning Afternoon Musings:

“The dead don’t go anywhere. They’re all here. Each man is a cemetery. An actual cemetery, in which lie all our grandmothers and grandfathers, the father and mother, the wife, the child. Everyone is here all the time.”
-Isaac Bashevis Singer (quoted in Shtisel), Season3)

Sunrise Cloud Reflections over the Delaware River at Red Bank Battlefield ©️Merril D. Smith

In ancient times, we named the sky—
saw Apollo in his flaming chariot fly
as his sister Diana of the woods and moon
bounded with deer and hound, and soon
the stars were storied, and tunes gloried
creation, emotion, and the cessation of
wind and tides, the slide

of seasons from one to next,
as the gods are first jolly, then are vexed.
But Persephone comes and goes–
snow falls, then flower flows,
and we cry and sigh as people die–
but the seeds remain, though not the same,
each generation evolves, and solves

Spring, Red Bank Battlefield ©️Merril D. Smith, 2021

new problems, and old ones we revive.
But if we could fly in hyperdrive
to other worlds, or visit holodecks
to greet and meet dear loved ones in an annex
to another world, an alternate timeline,
future, past, present combined—we’d drink wine
with family and heroes, toast the divine

in fantasy. And yet—we recall,
in memories of sight, scent, sound—however small–
within us all the time, sharing space
with those who came before—the interface
of body and mind. Stardust to genes, renamed things
in seasons reborn on hopeful wings
Cycles, seasons, the stories again–real or imaginings?

Clouds and cool weather
Beautiful blue skies, April Morning. Delaware River at Red Bank Battlefield. ©️Merril D. Smith, 2021

I’ve combined my Monday Morning Musings with the NaPoWriMo Day 12 prompt: “This prompt challenges you to write a poem using at least one word/concept/idea from each of two specialty dictionaries: Lempriere’s Classical Dictionary and the Historical Dictionary of Science Fiction.”


Merril’s Movie/TV Club: We finished Season 3 (most likely the final season) of Shtisel (Netflix). I highly recommend it. My husband and I both got so caught up in this show.
We had Chinese food over the weekend, and so watch two Chinese movies.
Us and Them (Netflix)—a romance of a young man and woman meeting on a train and trying to become successful in Beijing. I liked it, but I’m not sure if I loved it. I think I would have enjoyed it more in the theater. We had some phone calls and other distractions.
Better Days (Amazon Prime rental)—is Hong Kong’s entry for the Academy Awards. It’s about school bullying, and also the high stakes competition/pressure of getting into a good college in China. My husband and I both enjoyed this one more—despite the subject matter of school bullying. There is also a romance. The actress Dongyu Zhou is the female lead in both movies. Watch the end credits for both movies.