A Laugh Wings

A laugh wings–
flies through memories and
dreams. Sings like a mockingbird, repeats
again, imprinted in our minds, within our genes–
well, who’s to say? We remember a
glance, words said—heart-haunted—
we grasp, hold.

For Colleen’s Tanka Tuesday, I’m trying a triquain, a form I found on Shadow Poetry. “The Triquain, created by Shelley A. Cephas, is a poem with several creative variences and can be a rhyming or non-rhyming verse. The simpliest form is a poem made up of 7 lines with 3, 6, 9, 12, 9, 6, and 3 syllables in this order.” [Misspellings in original.]

My Mom had the best laugh.

I’m also linking this to dVerse, Open Link Night, where Grace is hosting.

A Wish

Monday Morning Musings:

“None of us can change the things we’ve done. But we can all change what we do next.”

— Col. Frederick Lucius Johnson (Chad L. Coleman), The Expanse, Season 1: Critical Mass

 

A celebration not for leaders alive or dead

(and certainly not for one who hasn’t led)

a birthday lunch on Presidents’ Day

where it was light inside, though outside grey,

a changeable week of sun, rain, clouds, and snow

February going fast and slow

confusing my mind and making me too tired

to do what’s required—but in bursts, I am inspired

to work, to create, to navigate

through life—though nothing is straight

as we contemplate past, future, and our fate,

we watch sci-fi and hope there’s more

 

that people heed, not ignore, the ocean,

with its glorious waves and motion.

Here and now, the constant wars, the hate–

I wonder if it’s all too late–

 

but still, we live and love–and cook,

even as we ponder roads we took,

and where they’ve led us, where we are

still above, there, the moon, the morning star

 

So, I bake–homage to heritage, his and mine,

birthday treats–food and life intertwine

memories from childhood, I think his cookies bring,

but mine have chocolate, cinnamon, scents that sing

to me in sensory bliss of crunch, scent, taste

that also trace a path from past—and thicker waist—

but celebrations make us feel good, or so they should,

a time to laugh, love, and remember the good.

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Here’s our family in the car again

remembering journeys of long ago, the rain

tapping on windows and misting about us

as we bring up song snippets to discuss–

 

“Remember that one?” someone queries.

and we’re off discussing songs, or TV series

the things they watched when they were young,

the things they said, the words that were sung

 

by all of us in house and car

as we traveled to places both near and far

the games we played, before tablets or phone–

a different world, and a different tone.

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Over the Cool Bridge (in the rain), to grandmother’s house we go.

 

And now we gather on a February day

when we can be together, if only a short stay

to catch up with one another, share some time

over pizza and cake—this time, no wine.

 

We watch a movie about forgery

a desperate woman, unhappy, too, we see

the movie is also about creation

and discrimination

 

the AIDS crisis and writers’ lives–

as it takes money and time to visit archives—

something I’ve done first hand,

and the rush of finding something grand.

 

But it’s fine, and we’re okay,

here and now on this windy day,

as moon sets and sun rises,

I’m ready for the day’s surprises

 

wondering what fortune brings–

and hoping that without strings

good things come to us all

without deceit, without a wall

 

or barriers to conquer or climb–

a gift of peace within our time.

And so, a birthday wish for those I love,

the song of the moon, the shimmer of stars above.

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Our older daughter is visiting us, so we got together for an extended family February birthday celebration–something we haven’t done in a few years. My husband and I are caught up in the sci-fi series The Expanse. It’s on Amazon Prime now. We had seen the first two seasons before, but it’s complicated, so we’re re-watching them. It’s an excellent series. Catching up on movies–we watched Can you Ever Forgive Me? last night. Wonderful performance by Melissa McCarthy and the rest of the cast.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I Watch the Candles Light the Past and Future

Monday Morning Musings:

 

“History is all about ‘what ifs’”

“It was a long time ago now. And it was yesterday.”

Kate Atkinson, Life After Life

“And while we are playing
The candles are burning low
One for each night, they shed a sweet light
To remind us of days long ago
One for each night, they shed a sweet light
To remind us of days long ago”

From the song, “Hanukkah oh Hanukkah” Traditional

And so, again, we celebrate Hanukkah

as the nights grow longer

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the days grow colder

I make soup, bake bread,

time passes, a thread

connecting me to the past

 

I think of ancestors, steadfast

(I wonder) in determination

 

to leave the past, a cessation

of persecution, a new life.

 

We watch Mrs. Maisel, no longer wife

laugh, but still I think of the past

 

Borscht Belt and women’s rights, she and cast

moving through Paris, the Catskills, New York City

 

with dazzling designs and dialogue so witty

each episode a Hanukkah present,

 

and so it goes, we’re content

to pass the Hanukkah nights

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watching the candles burn bright

then I fry latkes again

with daughter remembering when

we grated, stirred with spoons

 

and listened to these tunes–

the maidel with the ladle—

 

I am happy we’re still able

to be together, to cook

 

to discuss friends, life, a book

and dance, sing, drink some wine,

eat some donuts, the company is fine–

as are the pets–

 

an asset to any set,

with tails wagging

they brighten moods flagging,

hers look for scraps on the floor

 

and bark at any noise at the door,

while mine watch the candles bright

and play with the dreidel in the light.

Generations, birthright, hindsight–

 

generations, frying latkes in the night

hoping for a miracle and promised lands–

 

my hands—

reach forward,

 

toward the unknown, hold present close,

but touch the past.

 

Still life goes on

as we remember days long ago,

 

time moves fast, or it goes so slow,

circling, dashing, we travel, with it flow.

 

Eighth Night of Hanukkah 2018

 

We’re watching Season Two of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel (Amazon Prime). Here’s the Season 2 Trailer. For years my daughters and I have listened to an album, A Child’s Hanukkah by the Jewish Wedding Band. Here’s the first song, which includes the phrase “kiss the maidel with the ladle.”

 

Celebration

Monday Morning Musings:

“Once upon a time, when women were birds, there was the simple understanding that to sing at dawn and to sing at dusk was to heal the world through joy. The birds still remember what we have forgotten, that the world is meant to be celebrated.”

–Terry Tempest Williams, When Women Were Birds: Fifty-Four Variations on Voice

 

Once a woman had a fourth child, my younger sister, my friend. Once she turned sixty and decided to throw a party with dancing and drag queens, with dinner, drinks, and dessert. The room sparkled with anticipation. It radiated love. What felt cold at first, grew warm with love winging high and bodies dancing, prancing, and trying to fly. We paid tribute to my sister, and we remembered that despite all the horrible things in the world, love and friendship are things to be cherished and celebrated.

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My sister with Lady E

 

Summer turns to fall

leaves of many colors dance

birds trill, tweet, and soar

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My Girls

We left full and glowing, and after many twists and turns found our way home.

 

Sleep

to dream of the moon

singing languidly above

 

and recall the language

of purple gardens—

stilled—yet not—

 

the smell a crushing ache

as time flies by

sweet with ifs–

 

And so, we sing.

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The Oracle gave me that last part.

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Sweet Inventions from Chaos Comes

Monday Morning Musings:

“Invention, it must be humbly admitted, does not consist in creating out of void, but out of chaos,”

–Mary Shelley, introduction to Frankenstein (1831)

“We should not be held back from pursuing our full talents, from contributing what we could contribute to the society, because we fit into a certain mold ― because we belong to a group that historically has been the object of discrimination.”

–Ruth Bader Ginsburg, from an interview with journalist Lynn Sherr

 

It is the night before Rosh Hashanah, but even so, we gather together at the table, old and young, to celebrate the holiday. We miss sisters and others who are not with us, but we also enjoy the extra room to spread out. And isn’t that the way life goes—filled with small moments of joy and sadness? We toast L’Chaim! We wish for a sweet year,and hope for the best, as we eat slices of the round challah and dip apples into amber pools of local honey.

Golden honey streams,

sweetness graces our table–

a wish for the year

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I’ve made enough food for the neighborhood (because what if there isn’t enough?). We have pumpkin soup, salad, brisket, turkey, and noodle kugel. Yes. more wine, please. My great niece and nephew tell us about the start of their school year. Our younger daughter talks about her new students. We discuss truckers, nursing (my son-in-law’s future career), long hours, unions, and pay. My husband and I have recently watched the documentary about Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and we all share our admiration for her, Notorious RBG. We all wish her a long, healthy life and sweet year. Please stay on the court. We pass plates around, then clear the table. I pack up food for everyone to take home. (Yes, I have more challah in the freezer. I baked six loaves.)  It is time for dessert!

 

Another year comes

harvest moon follows bright sun

green leaves change overnight

 

We walk through wet city streets. Rain and more rain. But still, I find rainbows.

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Thirteenth and Locust, Philadelphia

 

We see a play. Four black men in—where? An afterlife of some sort. The bardo, perhaps. The set is a white space with an incline. There’s a trap door from which they emerge. They need to remember. They need to help one another. They need to make this place a home, a safe space. The playwright says his “guiding principles as a writer” are to “be wild and precise.” The play is both. It is full of physical movement—demanding of the actors who run, tumble, and even dance. There is humor and despair, but this play could only be about black men. “I was eight, when I learned I was scary,” says one. “I can’t breathe,” says another. There’s a toy gun. Games reflect the truth. We watch, as though behind a police interrogation mirror. They see us, but we only watch, never do anything.

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rhythmic breaths, out, in,

times’ losses and gains balanced–

some truths heal, or not

 

It is still raining. We walk and talk. A mural depicts people of many races gathered together–eating and drinking.

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Philadephia Murals, Spruce Street

 

It is hopeful. We go inside, sip wine and beer. Discuss the play.

Our Italian cheese arrives with local honey. Somehow, that seems a fortuitous sign. There is sweetness in the world; there is sweetness sitting here. The sun will come out again. There is no void. The building blocks are all around us. We harbor stardust in our DNA. We can invent new lives and new worlds in our imaginations. We can create beauty and truth from chaos. Behind the clouds, the moon still hums. I fall asleep to the sound of soft cat snores beside me–and we both dream. Past and future merge.

L’shana tova,

a wish extended to all

more laughter than tears

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I’m linking this week’s musing to Frank Tassone’s Haikai Challenge, since he asked us to write about autumn wind, spring wind, or Rosh Hashanah.

If you like Haiku competitions, there is still time to post your haiku and comment on others on this Vita Brevis post.

Pure Haiku is also looking for submissions by September 21. More info here.

We saw Kill Move Paradise by James Ijames at the Wilma Theater.

 

Stardust and Blood

Monday Morning Musings:

 “How close people could be to us when they had gone as far away as possible, to the edges of the map. How unforgettable.”

–Paula McLain, Circling the Sun

“I have perceiv’d that to be with those I like is enough,

To stop in company with the rest at evening is enough,”

-Walt Whitman, “I Sing the Body Electric”

 

In the quiet morning breeze

I gaze at the sky, the pink-tinged frieze

of clouds, a line then brushed

by sun and wind, its blush

faded to white, in the diffusing sunlight.

I breathe in the ancient longing

belonging to us all—for affection,

to find connections

(despite an election)

After all, we’re all made of stardust,

and we’ve emerged from the sea,

to inhale the air made by our trees–

all related, far enough back, we share the same genes.

I don’t know what it means,

But we’re all people, not infestations,

no matter our color, religion, or nation.

 

My cousin comes to visit–

his father was the brother of my mother,

we share this blood-bond

but I don’t think we’ve ever talked

so much, so one-on-one

of this and that

(we pause to watch and pet the cat).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I display some family genealogy

and we try to parse a chronology

of those from our past,

discuss and compare

the connections we share,

different views of relatives we know

(bring out more photos to show),

My grandfather as a young man. The photo is undated, but taken in Philadelphia.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stories of growing up

an old joke about the Penn Fruit store,

which is no more–

residing now only in our youthful before,

part of the memory,

a moss of summer dreams

that stick, it seems

even in the frost,

when autumn leaves fall,

still they call.

 

We visit the battlefield park,

watch the geese swim in formation

the same way they fly in the sky

(all the whys)

and wonder at their destination,

Red Bank Battlefield
National Park, NJ

National Park, NJ

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

watch the planes, look at the Philadelphia skyline—

this day is more than fine—

we walk and talk

amidst the ghosts of a battle past

after the guns fired and the cannons blast,

the Hessian soldiers here that died.

But they are quiet, and if they tried

to communicate, perhaps it was too late,

we didn’t hear them today

as we walked the pathway

in and out of yesterday.

 

We go on to our daughter’s,

whose soul glows bright,

sit with family by firelight,

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

laugh and talk

and pet their dog,

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

content to be in the moment here

multi-generations, with faces dear,

and if you were perhaps to overhear

amidst the jokes and banter,

you might find fear

of the future,

but it would be mostly love, you’d hear.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Past, Future, and When

Monday Morning Musings:

“Time past and time future
What might have been and what has been
Point to one end, which is always present.”

–T.S. Eliot, “Burnt Norton,”

You can hear him read the poem here. 

“Only a free and unrestrained press can effectively expose deception in government.”

–Justice Hugo Black, New York Times Company v. United States (1971)

 

“Wouldn’t it be fun if all the castles in the air which we make could come true and we could live in them?”

–Louisa May Alcott, Little Women

 

The present passes, becomes the past

the future now, and now is then.

We ask how did this happen and when?

Too fast for us to learn,

to slow for us to train

the grasping hands

the lizard brains?

 

In May 1933, they burned the books–

but that was there and then

now here, and again,

a leader tried to censor the news

suppress the press

(What are the choices? Choose.)

“I am not a crook,” he said

before he fled

his seat of power

(looking ever more dour)

But that was then

and it is now,

though there are echoes of before

(his followers ignore)

hate and fear

always in the air

like war’s harsh glare—

sow discord, let others bleed,

while those in the lead, feed their greed.

 

Bright days turn to stormy nights

we gather inside

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

and hold our fears at bay

waiting for a stay

from thunder and lightning flashes–

the zigs and zags across the sky–

but in the morning,

the birds still sing and fly

this is the present,

the past, the future whys

converge,

the past, present, future merge

as it’s beginning to do within my mother’s head

confusing the threads of history and time

sometimes—no reason, no rhyme—

but just the way it is

a bridge to what is, or could be

if only we can see—

somehow—

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We celebrate Mother’s Day

a made-up holiday

from what was a protest against war

to one of flowers and treats—

for some, for us, it can also be sweet—

Flourless Chocolate Cake and Cannoli Dip

and we’ve done all this before,

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

but still—

my mother has a great laugh—

and it would not be so bad

if that became her epitaph–

gathering with love around a table

as long as we are able

is wonderful and something we need.

No, that is not greed

to desire love and peace.

Perhaps I sometimes long for castles in the air

wish that was here or something there,

want the best for my own little women

as my mother wished for hers

and her mother for her children

in the past, which is now, which was then—

I wonder when?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

February Changed: Tanka

This Tanka is for Colleen’s Tanka Tuesday. We were asked to use synonyms for the words destiny and challenge. Today is the beginning of birthday month in our household–both daughters and my husband.

 

Fate may have spoken

in winter’s chill, buds blossomed,

February changed

 

forever hearts call—testing–

love answers without a doubt

 

 

Passing (Strange) Along the Stage

Monday Morning Musings:

 

“All the world’s a stage,

And all the men and women merely players;

They have their exits and their entrances;

And one man in his time plays many parts,”

–William Shakespeare, As You Like It, Act Two, Scene 7

 My story being done, she gave me for my pains a world of sighs.
She swore, in faith ‘twas strange, ‘twas passing strange.”
–William Shakespeare,  Othello, Act One, Scene 3

 

“Because your mother’s love might seem insane
It’s ’cause she really knows everything
Too bad it takes so long to see what you’ve been missing…

(Love like that can’t be measured anyway)
Too bad it takes so long to see what you’ve been missing”

Stew and Heidi Rodewald, “Love Like That,” Passing Strange

 

The weekend is a many-act play

we’re immersed, we stay

(of course),

actors reacting to sudden cues

a little bruised, confused

wondering how to choose–

pratfalls on the shrinking stage,

soliloquy from the acting sage,

we spout our lines and ramble on

waiting for the denouement

 

We pass in and out

both clueless and without a doubt

stage to stage

filled with joy and filled with rage,

youth to adult

then on to elderly and frail

without fail–

we pass along

we pass in song

we pass through sunshine and shadows–

what will stay and what will follow?

It’s all a mystery,

but before too long

we’ve passed (strange) along, and then we’re gone.

 

In the midst of these farcical days

we pause to see an actual play

through city streets with rainbow flags

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swaying, zig zagging past cars and bikes, we go

wondering, but do not know

when last we three sat this way

(Love like that can’t be measured anyway)

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The play is of a young man coming of age,

there on the stage,

the narrator is the older him,

while he, the youth

tries to find life’s truth

fleeing LA,

passing through European cities

leaving before it all become too real

afraid perhaps of what he’ll feel

passing strange

passing as black,

is there any going back?

We all hide behind our chosen masks

going about our daily tasks

art can save us, or can obscure even more

(we hear this in the clever score)

It’s a wonderful play, we say,

and at the end we clap and sway

thankful to have this balm for our crazy days.

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We walk and talk and drink some wine

 

 

discuss the play, and feeling fine

we talk about my mother,

whose own mother, I find, used to sing

but stopped, when embarrassed,

and it’s strange, in passing

to suddenly hear such things, the past trespassing

in the here and now, and at this age–

yes, the world’s a stage

“Too bad it takes so long to see what you’ve been missing”

 

And so, we leave the warmth for frozen streets

the city marching to a different, syncopated beat

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and we,

well, we’re passing strange

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through our own domains

sometimes the hero, sometimes a supporting role

we see it all

sometimes fall

and fail to reach the unknown goal

(strange)

but journey on

with hope for more laughs than tears

and love to help us with the fears.

we make a wish upon a star

wonder who and where and what we are

then pause. . .

in early morning’s brightening light

the moon gently hums before she fades from sight.

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We saw the revival of the award-winning musical play, Passing Strange, book and lyrics by Stew, Music by Stew and Heidi Rodewald at the Wilma Theater, and we went to Tria Cafe, Washington West, afterward.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For My Daughters: Shadorma, Yeats Challenge, Day 27

I’ve combined prompts again–a Shadorma for Eliot’s November Shadorma Challenge and Jane’s A Month with Yeats Poetry Challenge, Day Twenty-Seven for both.

Today’s quotation:

“Once more the storm is howling, and half hid

Under this cradle-hood and coverlid

My child sleeps on.”—W.B. Yeats

 

 

I watch her

sleep, tiny body

breathes softly

in and out,

time focused

only on the here and now,

her dreams without words

 

 

did her soul

travel from the stars

I wonder,

discover

love grows exponentially

in lullabies sung