Spikes and Shackles

Slave_shackles_(30393496593)

Slave Shackles JvL- from Netherlands [CC BY 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D Wikipedia Commons

I see the spiked collar and the shackles. These may have been meant for a child, the exhibit label states. They would fit my wrist, I think. Ghosts hover; my heart aches.

mothers’ cries echo

soar across Atlantic sea—

gale winds thrash the sails

 

This is a quadrille for dVerse. De asked us to use the word spike. A quadrille is a poem of 44 words. Mine is in the form of a haibun, though perhaps not totally traditional.

 

 

Connections

Monday Morning Musings:

“In a poem, one line may hide another line,

As at a crossing, one train may hide another train.”

–From Kenneth Koch (1925-2002), “One Train May Hide Another”

Full poem here

“Two girls discover

the secret of life

in a sudden line of

poetry.”

From Denise Levertov (1923-1997), “The Secret”

Full poem here.

IMG_1500

Ask if–

and in the language of cool whispers

she sings,

urging us

to what we want—

to soar

Everything is connected. . .

***

The days are cold, then warm,

next comes a storm

of snow, ice, rain,

till the sun shines again

as off to Florida he goes

no emergency, everybody knows

is this the beginning or the end—

only time will tell, my friend

 

if the country lives through this mess

this miasma of awfulness

and where will we go from here–

everything connected, but not so clear

 

why birds appear, everywhere

on the water, and in the clouds

I laugh aloud to see them there

and sigh to catch one unaware

IMG_1450

of how his beauty brightens my day

the dreariness, the gloom, held at bay

one tree branch may hide another—

and behind that, some other–

IMG_1434

a bit of beauty, once unseen

now there it is, what does it mean?

“Beauty is truth, truth beauty”

I wonder–is it something in-between

 

the lines of time, of place

the love that flutters in the space

between two lines—

sometimes it shines

 

in words, in deeds, or touches in time

OK, so, I didn’t make him a Valentine–

but I prepared some fondue

and we enjoyed it—well, wouldn’t you?–

along with the dipping and drinking

wine, and laughing

just enjoying without asking

as stomachs swelling, sinking

 

with all that bread and cheese

(just a bit more, please)

then chocolate to follow–

and if I walk with a bit of a waddle

 

well, more to love,

just give me a shove,

and next day to the gym

I’ll go for me, and not for him

***

We walk through the city

cold, but in sunshine, pretty

we watch a movie about art

and connection, in nature, and the part

 

between humans in ways known and not

perhaps the person you meet, was someone caught

somehow in your life, the whys unknown, and the when

as rain falls, to nourish fields, then evaporates again

 

part of a cycle, through history and time–

love and hate, poverty, wars, crime–

and how we express these things in art,

how do we share our passion and heart?

 

The movie is about art and history,

of the artist, and the mystery

of inspiration and creation,

and of repression and degradation

 

of people by those who are supposed to serve,

but instead they swerve

to serve hate with cool efficiency–

its own mental deficiency

 

as I see it, but not the one they wished to eliminate

with a path that looked so pat and straight

sterilization and cremation,

all to build their master race and nation.

 

And yet, art remains,

strains our brains

unchains with its power

though they censor and glower

 

at artists who speak the truth

and don’t look away, (not just the youth)

or any gender or race, but there is a trace

in all of us, a creative spark, a grace–

 

well, that is what I think about,

perhaps a shout out

to how we’re connected through the ages

In different paths, and through different stages,

but for now—I’ll stop and drink some wine

pretend or find that all is fine,

connect the dots, from below to above

with my musing thoughts to ask if. . .love

 

I wasn’t certain how to begin this Monday musing, so I went to the Oracle, who gave me the opening—which fit so well– of course–and another connection.

 

We saw the movie, Never Look Away. I love that my husband, whose birthday is today, will readily go with me to see a three-hour German movie. (Dale may be the only other person I know who might see it), but we both really liked it. And it honestly did not seem that long. It’s about an artist, Kurt Barnert, based, perhaps loosely, on the life of German artist Gerhard Richter. Barnert grows up during the rise of the Nazis and WWII and then lives in East Germany. When he is a child, his beautiful and beloved aunt Elisabeth tells him to “never look away.” Through her, he is connected to art, history, and to choices— both random and those he makes in his own life. Trailer here.

We also went to a wine and chocolate tasting event at William Heritage Winery. I appear to have really enjoyed that wine. 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sojourner

SojournerTruth_1850_OliveGilbert

Portrait of Sojourner Truth. From: Olive Gilbert. Narrative of Sojourner Truth: A Northern slave, Emancipated from Bodily Servitude by the State of New York, in 1828. Boston: Printed for the author, 1850. Artist unknown [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

She

labored

one of many

enslaved humans.

“Ain’t I a woman?”

she asked later, challenging

stagnant thoughts about gender

as well as race, believing she

deserved the same rights as any man.

Infused with holy spirit, awakened,

she sojourned, orating and proclaiming.

She had been beaten and abused, but

she escaped, then helped others flee.

Change soars like a bird in flight,

falls like an autumn leaf.

Yet once a woman

stood tall, speaking

of justice,

telling

truth.

 

Today’s Google Doodle, by Philadelphia-based artist Loveis Wise, honors Sojourner Truth (1797-1883).

This is a double etheree for Colleen’s Tanka Tuesday, using synonyms for work and slow.

 

Salem, 1692

Salem_witch2

By Baker, Joseph E., ca. 1837-1914, artist. “The Witch, No.1” Lithograph, [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Salem, 1692

I

wait, crushed

by despair,

disturbances

in the air. Demons,

or human frailty, now

exposed? Light and darkness bound

together we must fight evil–

the duty of magistrates is clear

and so, we sentence the witches to death

 

the affliction has spread through the region,

so many blackened with devils’ marks

though they bleed red as anyone

(their master teaches them tricks).

They will suffer justice

crushed by rocks and rope–

but at night I

wonder, what

if we’re

wrong?

 

A double Etheree (syllable count: 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10 and then 10,9,8,7,6,5,4,3,2,1) for Colleen’s Tanka Tuesday. I think she was looking for Halloween themed, but I went to history.  We were asked to use synonyms for color and creepy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Before and Now

Monday Morning Musings:

“It may be the luckiest and purest thing of all to see time sharpen to a single point. To feel the world rise up and shake you hard, insisting that you rise up, too somehow. Some way.”

–Paula McClain, Love and Ruin

“We can never go back to before”

Lynn Ahrens and Steve Flaherty, “Back to Before,” Ragtime

 Once we had two maple trees in front of our house. They provided shade for our house and shelter for wildlife. But they were diseased and had to be cut down. The birds and squirrels have moved on. We will plant daffodils around the stumps, and life will continue, though we can never go back to before.

green leaves turn golden,

sun sings grey skies blue again,

flowers smile hello

IMG_9216 2

Once people saw tyranny and began to rebel with acts of resistance against their government and king. Time sharpened to a single point for some then. They felt the need to rise up. They launched a revolution that was bloody and horrible, as all wars are, that divided families and friends.

sweethearts say goodbye

leaves sigh and fall from the trees–

red blood on white snow

IMG_9923

Old Pine Street Church Graveyard, Philadelphia

 

But it was also a revolution of words and actions that created a new nation, the first written constitutions, and gave some hope for freedom and equality to all—though that did not come about till after another war and new laws. We harken back to before, but we can never go back.

And why would we want to?

demagogue appeals

blames “The Other” for problems–

false hopes and false words

IMG_9886

Wishing on the wood of the last Liberty Tree.  Museum of the American Revolution, Philadelphia

Azure skies send us

outdoors to eat–a plus

seated where we gaze

at history and listen

to the foreign phrase

of people who pass by

and wonder why

they’re here, but know

they come and go–

in this city of hope and despair

filled with travelers

and immigrants,

rising like the nation and the sun

on the famous chair.

 

 

We watch a movie,

the wife behind the great man,

though she’s really greater than

he is,

she says she is “a kingmaker,”

but more than that—

this is

a nuanced performance

that show the complexity

of relationships—

which is

the basis of government, too,

and I think of the before

when we had a king

and bid him adieu

and now the one

who longs to be king

daily sings

(so unbirdlike he tweets

never soft and never sweet)

Will we let the kingmakers

let it happen?

Well, as the foot-tapping

musical notes, “history has its

eyes on you.”

It is complex,

and perhaps what we need

is a nuanced performance.

Though the choice seems simple—

do what you need to do.

Do not believe the lies.

Do not support the liars.

Let’s not go back to before

when I did not have a voice,

when women did not have a choice,

when people I love could not love,

when people I admire could not vote—

keep this sinking ship afloat.

I feel time sharpening and shadows gather.

 

 

But ask the star

how it dazzles and

kisses air with joy—

We are prisoners of time,

embrace its rhythm

and smile.

 

Once there were two maple trees, but now they are gone. . .

yet life goes on.

 

Screen Shot 2018-09-16 at 7.43.52 PM

We visited the Museum of the American Revolution. Saw the movie, The Wife. Trailer here.

Here is Marin Mazzie, who died last week, singing, “Back to Before.”

 

Ghosts of Guilt, NaPoWriMo, Day 30

Monday Morning Musings:

“Not only are selves conditional but they die. Each day, we wake slightly altered, and the person we were yesterday is dead.”

–John Updike, quoted here.

“Monsters are real. Ghosts are too. They live inside of us, and sometimes, they win.”

–Stephen King, The Shining

 

There are ghosts we see—or don’t

invoke, as though if left uncalled for

we’ll not provoke

those of the past,

who vanish–or won’t

go gentle into that good night,

the ghosts of guilt,

may waft or wilt

drift silently,

(seen just from the corner of your eye,

fly by)

but whether unexplainable

or declaimed

they are us

and soon, we’ll be them.

 

We see two movies,

walk in between,

to see the vibrant glow of spring.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The first film set in Hungary in 1945,

a small town that seems not war-torn,

some have even thrived.

The town clerk owns a well-stocked drugstore,

more–he lives with his family in a large town house.

Others have also gained homes and wealth

obtained by stealth,

though it’s all legal, they explain

(show the papers,

for goods and property

no one left to claim).

But they are haunted by their complicity

no joy at an upcoming wedding,

where there should be felicity

secrets begin to seep—

they’re all around–

Look! Two Jews in town.

What do they want, these nearly silent men?

As they walk behind the cart,

like mourners to a grave site.

Dark, somber,

(the film shot in black and white)

Here, it’s always “God Bless,”

and the brandy seems ever handy.

There’s a Hungarian saying about this brandy–

“Palinka in small amounts is a medicine,

in large amounts a remedy.”

But there’s no remedy for what they’ve done.

What have they lost, and what have they won?

The Germans are out, the Russians are in–

A new dawn

when the Jews are gone?

But these two, why are they here,

and what is it the town folk fear?

Dark smoke billows from the train,

sun-filled day fills with thunder and rain.

The monsters are real. The ghosts are too.

They are us, and we are them.

 

We walk and chat

about the movie, this and that–

the susurration of sparrows,

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

the murmurings of spring

though the ghost of winter, touches

with icy fingers clings

as we turn from sun to shadow

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

whispers–

you can’t flee me forever,

I’ll return in November or December,

when seeds then huddle underground,

sharing the cold comfort of the dead.

But now is for the living instead,

in blooms of green and pink and yellow and white

glowing, vibrant in the light.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We walk, seeing weddings and brides in white

smiling groups, life in color and in light.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We see a second film,

this one with ghosts up front

that an investigator will confront.

He’s a skeptic, he doesn’t believe,

but perhaps there are events he also grieves

There are scenes that makes us jump–

doors that rattle, and things that bump,

demons that are locked away,

but are released,

perhaps, to stay.

Three cases become woven together–

Will there be a happily ever after?

(Cue the nervous laughter).

 

We walk some more,

The Signer stands tall

The Signer,
Philadelphia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

through many seasons–

he’s seen them all—

and thus,

though he represents freedom

he’s surrounded by ghosts

who flit over cobblestones,

manning their posts,

due diligence, remember the past—

remember us.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My cat wakes me from a dream—

a ghost tells a character in a play

(stories within stories within my dream, it seems)

“we mourn the dead, but we move on.”

They are us,

and we are them.

Life moves on–

we begin again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The final NaPoWriMo prompt asks us to “write a poem that engages with a strange and fascinating fact.” Well, I included some facts. They may or may not be strange or fascinating. For more on “odd facts” about Hungary, see here. And here is more on the Holocaust in Hungary  The Signer statue is in Philadelphia’s Old City.

We saw the movies 1945 and Ghost Stories.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hope Rises and Falls, Like Us All: NaPoWriMo, Day 2

Monday Morning Musings:

“Remember only that I was innocent
and, just like you, mortal on that day,
I, too, had a face marked by rage, by pity and joy,
quite simply, a human face!”

From “Exodus,” by Benjamin Fondane, murdered at Auschwitz in 1944

“But where there’s hope, there’s life. It fills us with fresh courage and makes us strong again.”

Anne Frank, The Diary of a Young Girl, June 6, 1944, written after Anne hears the news about D Day.

“I see the world being slowly transformed into a wilderness, I hear the approaching thunder that, one day, will destroy us too, I feel the suffering of millions. And yet, when I look up at the sky, I somehow feel that everything will change for the better, that this cruelty will end, that peace and tranquility will return once more.”

Anne Frank, The Diary of a Young Girl, July 15, 1944

 

This Passover—at least at the start,

my husband and I dine alone–

we’re on our own

for this Seder

(apart from the cats,

who join us later).

IMG_8460 2

It’s been a strange week of that and this

things not quite right, a bit amiss–

the whole afternoon at the doctor for my mother’s hand

in a city office

(the building still grand)

 

I look at my hands

starting to look like my mom’s

when did this change begin of fingers and palms–

these strange hands turned from mine to others

how did they become so much like my mother’s?

 

The weather turns from cool to warm

but still I feel the coming thunder, the storm—

I read about a French woman who survived hate and the camps,

stabbed by her neighbor to whom she showed only kindness–

but he was caught up in blindness

(of the soul)

if that is how we can characterize it all—

this hatred or fear,

we should remember her

not him,

Mireille Knoll,

for whom the bell finally tolled.

 

This climate of fear

seems to grow daily

the president goes on another Twitter rant

and I just can’t–

listen to him (sniff sniff) speak or chant

transplant

fiction in his supporters’ brains

(enough of them still remain)–

where and when does it end,

will it ever stop,

the firing of the latest shot,

the hate, the finding of scapegoats to label

the fear of the intelligent and able?

There’s fear in the air,

but does fear rise above hope?

Which is denser, which one floats?

 

We see a performance, a play

people forced together, every day

having to live in close quarters

annoying each other, parents, strangers, daughters,

dependent upon friends for food—

for everything

never permitted to go out

or glance through a window—or shout–

forced to be silent all day—

even chatterbox Anne must sit still and stay,

but she finds a way,

observing and recording

in her diary she writes,

somehow hope rising above despair

as if she’s gathered it from the air

“Think of beauty,” she writes,

and

“I still believe that people are really good at heart.”

Her writing, an art,

though she’s doing her own part

for the war effort, for after, for when life re-starts,

revising her words for the novel she hopes will one day be—

when the war is over—when they’re all free—

We know watching, that it is not to be,

and yet, still, I hope for a different ending,

one that ends without sending

them off in cattle cars to the East

to be treated worse than beasts

to die hungry, filthy, covered with lice,

wonder why she and others had to pay such a price—

would she then have written what she did–

as she slid

as if down a well

from hiding into Hell?

 

We celebrate miracles, the Exodus,

I’m not religious, but the history of us

of pogroms and hate at this time—

the crimes—

make me honor those who came before me

and who were not free

to celebrate or see—

here now–

a day of sun and clouds,

voices talking out loud,

the daffodils in bloom,

IMG_8456 2

I hope they don’t disappear too soon.

Then a rainbow appears way up high

IMG_8465

It seems magical, and though I’m cynical,

perhaps it is a Passover miracle,

whatever, it’s beautiful, I think,

and so, we eat matzah and drink

(more wine)

IMG_8467

Passover Walnut Cake

and before desert, the full moon appears to hum in the sky–

filling me with wonder and whys

 

The human face,

if we could only see it

instead of looking at a space

feel—seek out!– the pity and the joy

but instead, we destroy.

Fifty years ago, this week, a man was killed

perhaps from him, some hope was spilled

“I have a dream,” he said,

but before long, he was dead.

He urged others onward in the fight

for justice, for light.

Anne Frank, a young girl, also died

her family, too, only her father survived.

she wanted to be remembered, a famous writer

and so, she is, with life gone and so much missed.

I don’t know that our future looks any brighter,

(Do you hear it? The wind carries their cries.)

and yet. . .when I look up at the sky

I still see the stars and moon, and then I sigh,

hoping their dreams will never die.

 

We saw, The Diary of Anne Frank at People’s Light in Malvern, PA. 

This is Na/GloPoWriMo, Day 2.  The prompt was to play with voice, but well, these are my musings.  🙂

 

 

Journey in Place: Beginning and End

Monday Morning Musings:

“It is good to have an end to journey towards; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.”
—Ursula K. LeGuin, The Left Hand of Darkness, 1969. Often misattributed to Hemingway.

 “To light a candle is to cast a shadow.”

–Ursula K. LeGuin, A Wizard of Earthsea

 “What we call the beginning is often the end
And to make an end is to make a beginning.
The end is where we start from. . .

Every phrase and every sentence is an end and a beginning,
Every poem an epitaph.”

–T.S. Eliot, “Little Gidding”

 

It’s a stressful week, we burrow in—

hunker down

in restful verbs and tasty nouns,

lighting candles in the night,

casting shadows against the bright

light and darkness

co-exist,

without one, is the other missed?

FullSizeRender 324

I journey in place

keeping pace

(I hope with grace)

flowing, risking with rhyme and meter,

thinking of a double feature–

perhaps tonight–

traveling without moving

wondering if I’m improving

no matter,

if it’s soothing. . .

 

to stay in my pajamas

listening to public radio,

interviews with Nathan Lane and Laura Marling,

unsnarling the day’s news with Michel Martin–

mostly disheartening–

I make dough and bake pizzas

enough for us and the shadow figures, too—

of course, wouldn’t you?

I mean, if they should they care to join us,

we’d have enough

and so, we dine,

drink some wine

watch a movie of two families, white and black

see, there’s no going back,

when time moves forward

we go onward,

even while people are wandering

out of place

lost in space–

well, you can take the boy from Mississippi,

but what happens when he returns a man?

People don’t understand

the legacy of poverty and hate,

and racists don’t want to debate

truth seen in a black and white–

it’s easier to fight.

 

So much to consider,

and some of it makes me bitter,

I think about the six million dead,

those who never got a chance, never fled

wonder if my family’s genes were among them—

hemmed in

forced to live in shadows, in nightmares

or rather, left in there

suffering and forced to die

their cries reverberate

(never abate)

we light a candle in their memory

holocaust_memorial_center_memorial_wall_of_victims_005-1

(never forget)

the sorrow of their journeys,

(remember me)

their souls shout out

but what do my words create–

 

and what good is an epitaph for them or us—

is what time was forever thus?

Perhaps to foist a new beginning,

or to change the end

when life circles round,

we can start again.

 

IMG_8045

Not watching the movie.

 

Holocaust Remembrance Day was on Saturday, January 27. We watched the movie, Mudbound, on Netflix.

 

 

 

 

 

Indifference

Today is International Holocaust Remembrance Day, as designated by the UN General Assembly to commemorate the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau.

“The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference.”

Elie Wiesel

 

Did the moon still hum

behind the clouds in leaden skies

where ashy tears fell amid the cries,

a nightmare world, devised

to centralize

the horrors

we now criticize–

(though some continue to idolize)

but then—

did we fully work to neutralize–

were we energized,

or did we fail to empathize,

because they were not us–

we were not the demonized—

and so, we did not see what would await,

did not mobilize against the hate,

for six million dead, it was too late

 

 

Writing on a Page: Haibun

This is a Haibun for dVerse. Kim asked us to write about handwriting.

 

In the time before laptops, I sit in archives making notes in pencil on index cards—sometimes printing neatly, sometimes writing in a scrawl, which I will later regret when I can’t read an important word or date. In the old Philadelphia City Archives, I unwrap the brown paper from books tossed haphazardly on the table in front of me. In other archives, documents are treated with more care, even if we do occasionally pass some of the more ribald ones around. I read the flowing copperplate of professional clerks, as well as less legible handwriting. I learn to decipher superscripts and abbreviations no longer used. I read the words, ponder—ideas flow, and I write.

 

geese rise heading north

chaos becomes organized

writing on a page

 

 

My published work on history, gender, and sexuality can be found here.