Universal Truths, Some Ice Doesn’t Melt

Monday Morning Musings:

“Poverty made a sound like a wet cough in the shadows of the room.”

–Ray Bradbury  (Referenced here.)

There’s ice on the river,
but it will melt,

Ice on the Delaware seen from Patco Train
not so some hearts

that stay ever frozen,

 

no warm current flows

there to thaw,

 

the cold. No way

to resuscitate the lifeless

 

zombies

feeding on the living.

 

Yet they proclaim

their love of life

 

when it’s cells

they pretend to care about–

 

but not the ones

into which people are thrown

 

not the children taken

and lost

 

and not their parents–

only the cells that might be,

 

not the violence

that affects them,

 

not the guns or poverty.

Power and money

 

their gods

though they pay lip-service

 

to a deity

twisted to defend

 

their beliefs.

It’s an age-old tale,

 

a universal truth that

the mighty can tumble,

 

but those just getting by

fall over the edge

and into a ravine

often unseen,

 

there to remain,

but it can happen

 

to almost anyone

without influence

 

or connections.

Perhaps—

 

connection

is the key,

 

if only to one

lock

 

of the many–

the librarian

 

who makes the homeless child

feel special,

 

the immigration officer,

who learns that

 

that law and morality

and not always the same thing.

 

We walk through city streets

where murals bring beauty–

 

and truth,

and a museum opens its doors

and galleries

to new works among the old–

social and economic inequality

consumption of people and goods

 

the movement of people and goods

across the globe–

 

a complex interaction

of thought, art, and words.

I amuse myself in imagining

my father and older daughter

 

walking though these rooms–

he, who wrote a dissertation

 

on Charles Willson Peale,

and she, an artist with a passion

 

for justice. What fun they would

have had here.What a discussion

they might have had—

perhaps in some alternative world,

 

but here, we are

and we go to a movie

 

immersed in a world that does exist–

It is fiction, but tells a truth

 

of poverty, chaos

that most of us cannot imagine.

 

Through it a young boy navigates

with defiance, bravery, spirit—and kindness

 

rising above it all

despite the example

 

of his parents, and many

around him blind to what is before them.

 

A story again of immigrants, too,

because this another universal truth

 

that people move and come legally and illegally

to Ethiopia, Lebanon, Iceland, the U.S.

 

to which my grandparents came.

And your ancestors were immigrants too

 

if you look back far enough.

And were they helped by someone?

 

Most likely.

 

We each walk our own paths

with tenuous connections

 

that sometimes mesh

or interact.

Late Afternoon, Washington Square, Philadelphia

 

The meteorologist says

there’s freezing fog today

IMG_1347

but the temperatures will rise,

and the ice will melt

 

But some hearts will stay cold

and some minds will remain frozen

 

screens where the cursor never moves

to write new thoughts.

 

We saw And Breath Normally. It’s on Netflix, trailer here.  It’s a quiet movie (no music, Dale!), but well done, about a immigration officer in Iceland and the African refugee who helps her. Though it’s set in Iceland, it could have taken place in many different nations. And we saw Capernaum (trailer here), which will just rip your insides outs. That little boy AND that toddler, and the horrible parents, and the surroundings. . .yeah, just see it.

We went to the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts where Rina Bannerjee’s work is on display until March  31. (Free on Sundays during the exhibition). You can see and read more about her work here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My grandmothers, both immigrants

 

 

I amuse myself by imagining my father and my older daughter walking through the gallery discussing his view of the Peales and her views on art and feminism. They would have had so much fun.

Art

 

Resistence spices peel  never imagine without inheritance  I see revealed

Sun disguises well the feather we see while home

 

Stop these storms

 

She sings of summer

While the wind urges elaborate dreams

Heaving enormous fluff

 

When

Her heart healed

He looked long

Letting it be less

Herself

Him

The perfume of need and want

Melting

In embrace

Timeless as the ocean

Exploring the night

 

 

Cold, Wars, and the Music of a Dream

Monday Morning Musings:

For a brief time, the world is shot in black and white. Silent, like an old movie, till the wind sighs.

Quiet morning snow

soft sugar sprinkles glisten—

finch flits from bare branch

img_1061

I sit at the computer. In my head, a fantasy world. On the screen, test items, following a prescribed style. Test takers will read these sentences and answer questions, never knowing that the people and places they read and promptly forget about lived a full life somewhere in my imagination.

black lines on white screen,

silhouettes in the snow,

whispered world awakes

 

The world is grey again—and again. The world seems broken and full of ignorance. I finish a project, find comfort in baking. I used to bake these cookies for my children. Sometimes I bake them for my mother. Today, I bake them for me.  Mommy cookies.

Scent of cinnamon

stirring up memories, dreams—

tastes of yesterday

Mandelbrot   Merril D. Smith, 2019

Mandelbrot

 

We walk cold city streets. Above, I hear a hawk cries, echoing. Ghosts stroll beside us, as we walk across cobblestones. Free and enslaved. Immigrants and native born. Shades of white, brown, and gold. In life, some had wealth, education, and fine homes; others died illiterate and in poverty. The promissory note has yet to be paid.

Spirits sighing

wondering when and why they died

dreams left unfulfilled

img_1130

We go to a movie that opens with a scene of a cold, Polish winter with a car traveling on snow-covered rural roads. There is a search for folk music, or something that fits the bill. They become choral tunes, resurrecting a past that never was, as one government replaces another with slogans and rules. There is still prejudice and inequality in the workers’ state. Cold War politics. Realpolitik versus ideology. A couple that can’t live together, but who can’t live apart. We see time pass and locations change—rural Poland to Warsaw, Berlin, Yugoslavia, and Paris. We see velvety black and white images, shadows and light–the woman’s blond hair haloed as she sings, cool jazz. Polish becomes French and Polish again. The soundtrack of the film is a soundtrack of their lives. The unofficial theme song, in all of its permutations, a story of lovers who cannot be together.

Caged bird sings in hope

waits for a door opening

to fly, free at last

img_1143

I stock up on spices and examine all the angles. We laugh at whimsical signs. Over coffee, we discuss the movie. My husband says he would like to have seen the costumes in color. “They were in color in my head,” I say. He replies, “of course they were.”

Imagination

seeing color in the grey—

blue eyes and red lips

 

On the radio, I hear the writer/director/producer of a new documentary, Who Will Write Our History. She discusses the film about the clandestine archive kept by residents of the Warsaw Ghetto. They know that they will probably all die, and the Nazis, who think they are the master race want to rewrite history. Even in the ghetto, they were filming propaganda. The Jews bury their records in batches, so that their true history will be known. “A time capsule of a murdered civilization,” the director calls it.

buried underground

bulb emerges in the light

truth flowers and grows

 

The world is grey and broken. Still, I laugh as our cats play and chase each other around the house, then plop–toddler-like–and fall asleep. Our path sometimes looks straight, but then circles around. It is cold, but spring will come again. The moon rises, and tomorrow, dawn will come, again. In my dreams, I hear the music of the stars.

Blood-red, frosted moon

hums tunes of what might be . . .if

dreams rise, set, and rise

 

 

Sweet Dreams  Merril D. Smith, 2019

Sweet Dreams

 

 

We saw the movie Cold War—beautifully photographed with wonderful compelling performances. Trailer here.  The main song has been playing in my head on a loop—well, perhaps I’ve listened to it a few times, too. Dale–highly recommend this one.  🙂 Music is definitely important in this film. I may have to get this soundtrack. We also enjoyed the previous film Ida, by writer/director Pawel Pawlikowski, which won the 2017 Academy Award for Best Foreign Film.

Last night was the super blood wolf moon eclipse. The eclipse occurred after I was in bed, but the moon was certainly bright last night and early this morning.

Today is Martin Luther King, J. Day here in the U.S. I’m linking this to Frank’s Haikai Challenge on equality. Here’s a link to MLK’s “I Have a Dream” speech. The current resident of the White House is not participating in any MLK activities today. Of course, it would be a bad joke if he did.

 

Trusting Love

Monday Morning Musings:

“Neither love nor terror makes one blind: indifference makes one blind.”

–James Baldwin, If Beale Street Could Talk

“If you trusted love this far, don’t panic now.”

–James Baldwin, If Beale Street Could Talk

 

In January dreariness, we sit in quiet reflection

still sated from treats of weeks before–

sweet confections—we turn in new directions

for the new year, wondering what for,

 

when the past seems ever with us

old hates reemerge, relished too much by some—

though we hope they’re few—so, we discuss

among our friends, from where does it come–

 

the evil of the past and then the current day?

Why do people flock to listen to the lies?

Though, true, some try hard to find a way

to shine the light before truth dies

img_0936

We all value real news.

 

we watch an Italian film, a fairy tale of sorts

with a man too good, timeless perhaps

as evil recurs, so too, goodness retorts

and yet, while we countdown till the collapse

 

Pizza Night!

Homemade pizza and wine–perfect to go with an Italian movie.

 

of the earth and all we love—

I have to have hope

in seeing the sun and moon above

and beauty in the ordinary, the scope

 

both small and wide, a cat,

the sky, grey clouds parting for sun to set–

and so, we chat, of this and that

of family and life, avoiding the threat—

img_0988

Happy to see some sunshine from my window after a rainy day.

not ready to face it yet–

so, we stroll through city streets

reminded again that truth doesn’t set

but tries again, and sometimes unseats

Philadelphia Murals

those who try to usurp power

and crush the weak or different-skinned,

but those who wield control from mansion or tower

lose it eventually, to vanish in the wind

 

like the one we walk in today

blowing clouds past the sun,

and with its light, some shadows play

upon the streets and walls, till done.

Shadows and Light, January in Philadelphia

Shadows and light.

We watch a movie, where love is strong

despite injustice based on racist thought–

centuries old–though it doesn’t belong,

still we’re caught, fraught, some brought

 

to realize indifference is just as wrong

even while hoping love will find a way

to stay, despite the panic, and headstrong

it can be, still love trumps hate, any day

 

so, it stays. And we walk and talk

as winter sun lowers in the sky

and in the park, the cry of a hawk

the chatter of squirrels, as we pass by

img_0999

then down to the train, and so we go–

home to where we’re blanketed and warm

where there is food and lights aglow,

a shelter in life’s storm.

 

Will love be enough?

We’ll try not to panic now–

there will be rougher stuff

and to time we’ll bow—

 

and yet

and yet

we’re here together now.

img_0982

 

We watched Happy as Lazzaro (on Netflix). Trailer here. It’s a sort of fairy tale, or perhaps an allegory. It’s a beautiful film—one to think about. We also saw If Beale Street Could Talk, based on James Baldwin’s novel. I wasn’t as mesmerized by this as the director’s Moonlight, which simply stunned me, but it was still very good, and all of the actors were excellent. So, Dale–here are two more for you! 😉

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Turkeys, Squirrels, and Magic in the Air

Monday Morning Musings:

“So dawn goes down to day.

Nothing gold can stay.”

From Robert Frost, “Nothing Gold Can Stay”

“The sky is already purple; the first few stars have appeared, suddenly, as if someone had thrown a handful of silver across the edge of the world.”

Alice Hoffman, Here on Earth

The leaves strive to stay,

pops of color dot the landscape

brightening the grey

 

but falling, flying, drifting so

as autumn grows colder,

they must go

FullSizeRender 706

Red Bank Battlefield

as does the day

soon the shadows lengthen

silently sliding their way

 

along pavement and ground

above bare branches wave

without a sound.

 

Violet turns midnight blue

and a glimmering filigree of light

dots the sky, like morning dew.

 

Twilight—this magic time

when fairy tales sprout

in the mind—and so I rhyme

 

Once– if tale be told–

my arm up a turkey,

the day frigid cold

 

I shoo away a sniffing cat

look at the bird’s freakishly long neck–

wonder what kind of dinosaur was that?*

IMG_0524

Survival and extinction

I continue the job

I won’t eat it but some

 

will, it’s the family holiday deal

a mixture of traditions and love

along with the holiday meal.

IMG_0526

Our lovely sommelier

And so, we gather together

unmold the cranberry squirrel—to cheers–

bask in weirdness, warmth in the cold weather.

On this night of full beaver moon

we eat, drink, laugh, and talk

though ever present the tune

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

of what will be and what was past,

we try to stay in the moment, mindful

that we cannot know what is cast

 

by the auger’s stones

our fate with the stars

unknown, until felt in our bones.

 

We eat leftovers for days–

and drink more wine

walk and sleep in holiday haze,

 

then we sleep and dream

of a million things

forgotten at dawn, the theme

 

who knows? I hear the birds sing

amidst November gloom–

a little winged thing

 

can achieve wonders, I think,

cat on a lap, a book, a cup of tea—

yes, back to food and drink.

 

In sunny weather, we go to see

a Swedish film, not comedy,

a fairy tale, of sorts, it seems to me

 

border can be taken in many ways

as can gender and eye of the beholder

much in the world and nature may amaze

 

a fable may hold truth—

no matter about who or what is told

shy or bold, cultured, or uncouth

 

Magic all around us

in glowing leaves and laughing speech

known and unknown worlds, ever thus–

And so, we talk

drink our coffee and catch our train,

then our shadows take a walk—

and soon we’re home again

FullSizeRender 707

to sleep under the silvered sky,

to dream of wondrous, magic things,

to ask without answers all the whys,

to hear the stars sing and to them fly.

 

Thanksgiving 2018

*I read this article on Thanksgiving.

 

We celebrated Thanksgiving with family (missing older daughter and her wife) and friends. For those who are new, our cranberry squirrel is a beloved family tradition. The unmolding of it is part of the tradition, and this year my sister made a very funny recording of the event. We saw the Swedish movie, Border. Trailer here. As the trailer says, unlike anything you’ve ever seen. It is definitely unusual, but my husband and I liked it. Coincidentally, I’m reading a book that is also a sort of fairy tale but that is set in the area of the world where my ancestors came from. Perhaps more about that in a future post.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cold and Burning

Monday Morning Musings:

 “Listen. .

With faint dry sound,

Like steps of passing ghosts,

The leaves, frost-crisp’d, break from the trees

And fall.”

Adelaide Crapsey, “November Night”

 

“In the burned house I am eating breakfast.

You understand: there is no house, there is no breakfast,

yet here I am.”

From Margaret Atwood, “Morning in the Burned House”

 

The sun sleeps

in shadow now

the ground prepares

to slumber, too

IMG_0493

covered in brown

then sprinkled with white

golden-leaved boughs

glowing bright

46302855_2212695685410349_4152611021585907712_o

in defiant display—

this they say—

remember this day–

we will return

 

when the sun burns

the frost away.

 

So, we stay inside

watch a movie of sly wit and song,

there death seems to come along,

a bit of jokester, it seems

for which we’re never prepared,

still we turn the pages in a book,

hoping for a happy ending

Movie Cat

He is fascinated, watching The Ballad of Buster Scruggs.

And in the night

I dream of petting a sloth

(in a park)

 

then accompanying a pretentious hipster

dressed all in black, dark

like the restaurant where no food is consumed

 

but I outwit him and his friends

and wake laughing at the dream’s end.

 

Score one for the old lady

there’s life here still–

and more to be penned.

 

We venture out to see another film

unfolding tension

(a few jumps in my chair)

 

metaphors and

things that are not there—

 

a tangerine,

perhaps a cat—

 

and there is burning—

of various kinds—

 

and yearning–

what is in their minds?

 

What do they feel,

 

the young woman,

the would-be writer,

and the mystery Gatsby-rich man?

 

What is real?

 

We walk and talk

buy spices

to simmer in the cold,

FullSizeRender 695

then in the chilly day

creeping into shadowed night

savor the warmth of wine

consumed in cozy light

life enjoyed despite what may

transpire, gloom kept at bay

IMG_2554

undesired here and now

and our fate unknown anyhow

 

so, we gather rosebuds—or drink

fruit of the wine, laugh and think

 

but not too long about the future

instead we nurture

 

ourselves and one another

 

cuddle with cats, dream of the moon

enjoy one snowfall, but wait for June

 

still we prepare soon

with family to gather

 

as the seasons turn

burn only candles

 

yet, seek the light

in every room.

 

We watched The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, a Western, Coen Brothers style, in theaters and on Netflix. We also saw Burning, Korean movie, a psychological thriller. We liked both movies very much. Wonderful acting in both of them.

 

Awkward Fantasy and Ghosts

Monday Morning Musings:

“We have grown to trust blindly in our senses of balance and reason, and I can see where the mind might fight wildly to preserve its own familiar stable patterns against all evidence that it was leaning sideways.”

–Shirley Jackson, The Haunting of Hill House

The weather has been erratic. Storms followed by sunshine, but always hot, only the level of humidity changes. The volatile, vacillating moods are echoed in the movie we see about a woman with an abusive husband and their custody battle. Neither child wants to see the father, but the daughter, who is almost eighteen, doesn’t have to. It’s the ten-year-old son, Julian, who must submit to visiting his father in this movie that becomes an intense thriller, rather than a legal drama. After the movie, we walk through Old City, where ghosts still walk, flitting through gates to hover over flowers, and drift over the cobblestone streets.

 

Sun-chased charcoal clouds

tumble through the evening sky

bright blooms smile hello

Summer in Old City, Philadelphia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We sip wine another night as the sky changes once again—blue turning grey. But we stay.

Wine glasses turn red,

echoes of the summer blooms

coloring the gloom

 

William Heritage Winery, NJ

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We travel to the New Jersey Fringe Festival in Hammonton, NJ—“Blueberry Capital of the World.” We see three short plays, funny, touching, strange. (It is fringe after all.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Summer festivals

walk through human emotion,

taste laughter and tears

We see a play about two fantasy worlds colliding,

sliding together

the man who lives in a porno world

meets a woman

then hurled

into her action hero world.

We thought the script could be tightened,

some excised, some enlightened,

but it was silly fun—and we’d only just begun

 

when off to the next one

about a man with two cartoon character names

and a most awkward life,

not so much filled with strife,

rather loneliness and seeking to connect

(even when his house is wrecked)

it’s whimsical, with ukulele and narration

and women who give him quite an education

in their multiple roles in his life, unlucky as it is

somehow, we see some hope at the end in his.

 

We pause to shop and eat gelato

 

NJ Fringe Festival,
Hammonton, NJ

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

walk through the flow, and then go

onto the next play

stay there in the small, hot basement room

listen to the man, the actor, speak,

we jump at every creak

we’ve seen him before

(someone opens the door

to cool the room a bit,

and still we sit).

Last year he performed here

serial murderer Jeffery Dahmer,

he is compelling, in this telling

of the ghosts and demons he has seen.

All the evidence leaning sideways,

We always

Try to make sense of what we see and fear

And here

With theater we sway a bit—wonder what is real

What did he see? What did he feel?

Is it all a metaphor for inner trauma,

Packaged as paranormal drama?

And does it matter if it is?

We take what he gives

entertainment and thoughtful reflection

we walk and talk in the direction

of our car. Then off to dinner, a day well spent

in this summer event.

The clouds fly by—

perhaps it’s my fantasy

to see ghosts and shadow figures in the sky.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I decided to play with form a bit today–Haibun and rhyme.

We saw the French movie, Custody. Trailer here. We went to the NJ Fringe Festival and saw, Wildest Fantasy, The Most Awkward Love Life of Peabody Magoo, and Ghost Stories.

We ate dinner at Mera Khana in Berlin, NJ, where I finally got my vegetable samosas. (Everything they make is delicious.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Waking Dreams

Monday Morning Musings:

“Something nameless
Hums us into sleep,
Withdraws, and leaves us in
A place that seems
Always vaguely familiar.”

–Mark Strand, “Dreams”

“All that we see or seem

Is but a dream within a dream.”

Edgar Allen Poe, “A Dream Within a Dream”

 

My daughter and I talk–

sleep paralysis

she says,

waking to plunge into the terror again

not being able to move, or scream

in the terror of the dream.

 

And I think of the young people caught in a school

and those elsewhere—the whirlpool,

the vortex of contradictions,

fight or flight,

rehearsing what to do if caught,

a nightmare over and over again

until some finally scream, “Enough! Be seen!”

we need to flee the terror of this dream.

 

I was child,

practicing the duck and cover drills

ridiculous, tilting at windmills,

but I remember being terrified,

petrified that my parents would not come for me

before whatever we had to flee–

a world ending with both bangs and whimpers—

no tears,

just fear,

and no way to wake

from the terror of the dream.

 

And so, how can anyone say these young people are tools,

they have seen the violence in their schools,

they have been forced to practice,

to dance with fear,

to hold it near,

and should their dreams die

before they’ve had a chance to fly?

 

We see a movie

about grief and guilt

from wars, built

stronger, lasting, flowing through generations,

the absurdity of life–

the solitary camel ambling to the checkpoint gate–

the soldier who dances the foxtrot with his gun

fun arising from boredom with surrealism fused-fate

that keeps us dancing and returning to the same spot—

caught–

as if in a dream.

And though the movie is set in Israel

where “the fallen” fall so often

that those who bring the news are prepared

to deal with the grieving and the scared–

they come with drugs and instructions,

attuned to this production,

the result of the war machine,

the resulting grief and tears it brings–

still what happens there,

could happen anywhere

where there is war

and where dreams are launched

with guns and bombs

prayed over with psalms,

and where they fall from the sky

to die.

 

We walk and talk

the day is still cool,

but the seasons are cycling

through the year—

and spring is near.

We see a wedding, groom and bride

attendants by their sides.

FullSizeRender 378

Though the fear is in abeyance here

the nightmare lasts,

we must lift our voices to put it past.

to see the light,

to see the sun,

the hopeful dreams, caught and spun,

FullSizeRender 380

Can we celebrate our fate,

move towards love, not to hate,

unparalyzed, with dreams awake,

wear hope like a perfume?

We arrive home–

to find some daffodils have bloomed.

FullSizeRender 379

We saw the Israeli movie Foxtrot. Trailer here.

 

 

 

Stories Beneath the Surface

Monday Morning Musings:

“I could be

In someone else’s story

In someone else’s life

And he could be in mine. . .”

–Benny Andersson, Björn Ulvaeus, Tim Rice, “Someone Else’s Story,” from the musical Chess

“People’s personalities, like buildings, have various facades, some pleasant to view, some not.”

-François, Duc De La Rochefoucauld (1613-1680) Moral Maxims and Reflections, no. 292

 

On a sunny day–

spring in February thinking of May–

we stroll through sun and shadows

façades that hint of love inside

I wonder if it is—

and who they are–

wonder about their stories

(someone else’s story)

 

All of the stories that have been lived

as the centuries turn

eighteenth to nineteenth and on

through changing façades–

those that remain–

past and present merge

modernized, expanded, reformed–

like this church–

where beneath the surface

lie the remains of those

who once lived and breathed here

Old Pine Church looking toward St. Peter’s Philadelphia

 

their breaths becoming part of the ecosystem

their steps leaving footprints,

sometimes larger in death than they were in life.

Other people’s lives,

Someone else’s story

 

When they lived,

did they wear their hearts openly—

like the cutouts on the door,

or did they keep their feelings buried

deep inside

behind a façade of smiling respectability?

I wonder how many had secret lives

yearnings that they could never admit?

Complex creatures

we divide ourselves

closing doors—saying this is not allowed

we must not live that story,

but times change

and churches, too,

and love is love is love

 

In the quiet here, there is not silence.

Do their ghosts walk by my side here?

that sound

the wind,

or their sighs

telling me their stories?

In the unquietness of this place,

filled with hundreds of stories

of birth, love, sorrow, and death

a living child with his mother screams in delight

and runs over the graves. . .

what happens at night behind the gates?

 

We wander back to the movie theater to see

someone else’s story—

there up on the screen

A Fantastic Woman

and she is

what does it matter that she was born a man

(we all have our façades)

but she was loved

and still is by her sister and friends

and a dog–

who doesn’t care about societal labels–

some do not treat this woman well

they threaten and humiliate her

but life and her story go on

because she is a fantastic woman

 

And after –

we talk and walk

to where fire recently destroyed part of a block

nineteenth-century buildings

one will have to be demolished

all but it’s first floor cast iron façade–

 

Third and Chestnut, Philadelphia February 2018

 

the stories of these places–

the people who lived there now displaced–

and while we stand there

gazing at the devastation,

I get a text from a friend,

find out about her son’s illness—

the dangers of the invisible world

within our bodies

beneath the surface,

we don’t always see or know what is there–

(thankfully, it seems he will be okay)

and though this is someone else’s story

they are my friends,

so it becomes part of my story, too.

 

The next day, it turns cold again–

February’s story–

we turn the heat back on

eat homemade pizza, drink some wine,

huddle under blankets,

watch Netflix–and our cats—

we text our daughters,

sending virtual hugs–

behind the walls of our house

this is our story,

and I don’t want someone else’s life.

 

A Fantastic Woman stars the fantastic Daniela Vega,  a trans woman (who also sings in the movie). The movie was made in Chile, and it is nominated for best foreign film. I keep thinking about it. See the trailer here.

The architecture of the fire-damaged buildings is described here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ups and Downs, Time Lost and Found

Monday Morning Musings:

“That you are here—that life exists, and identity;

That the powerful play goes on, and you will contribute a verse.”

–Walt Whitman, “Oh Me! Oh Life!”

“There is regret, almost remorse,

For Time long past.”

–Percy Bysshe Shelley, “Time Long Past”

 

 

Months ago, in summer weather,

when temperatures were up,

I walked down,

and saw a watch

left on the stairway

of the parking garage,

black band

(digital, no hands)

encircling the red railing, like a wrist.

Was it an object lost, then found?

Or a statement perhaps—we are time bound?

A metaphor, let me expound–

the passing of time

or of us passing while time stands still—

make of this what you will,

but I think of it still.

 

This has been a strange week

of ups and downs

in life and weather,

one day snow and one day spring

not knowing what the next will bring

the stock market rises and falls

the calls hidden behind the White House walls

(well, what isn’t Twittered

from a president who needs a babysitter!)

life seems so unstable

inconstant,

things I once took for granted,

now it’s arguments and views slanted.

 

On a cold morning,

I take the train into Philadelphia

the day after The Big Game

and though to me, sports are all the same

still, it’s good to see people happy

sharing, caring,

instead of being mean and snappy.

Walking in the cold

looking at the new and old

I’m anxious about a meeting,

but I feel joy in my heart,

as I suddenly notice, then stop—

to take photos of public art.

 

 

During this week of ups and downs

we look for papers to document my mother

(to prove she is not some other)

her existence in black and white upon a page

to prove—at this stage—

she is who she is.

She needs them for government services,

and we are filled with anxiety, nervousness

that we will not be able to prove she is who she is—

till we find them in a box

events dated, time stopped

on this day born

on this date married

documents of a life lived and varied,

while time is carried

through ninety-five years

of laughter and tears–

the ups and downs of joy and fears.

 

We go to a movie about verbal abuse and life,

men insulted, but they’ve lived in strife

and though one claims he does what he does

not for himself, but for his child and wife,

it is all about him

(as it always is,

women learn to live with this

the catcalls, the taunts, even physical abuse

now suddenly, in the news).

We learn that both men are more than who they seem

at first

(as are we all)

both have nursed

fears and sorrows,

have wanted better tomorrows,

and though the film takes place in Lebanon

there are universal feelings and issues that we understand

and may or may not agree upon–

house repairs, urban renewal, and immigrants—

the costs of war—

there is more,

as up and down,

the movie becomes a courtroom drama—

with family issues—and if not karma,

then resolution, of a sort.

 

From there we go to taste wine

paired with chocolate

anticipating Valentine’s

we sip, and smile, and feel fine

(understand, it’s not just the wine).

All who pour

smile, as if it’s not a chore,

a woman says her mother knows my husband

her brother is at the other table,

We leave them tips

because we’re able

and life goes up and down, unstable.

Then we buy chocolate and wine to have later,

perhaps we’ll debate, which is greater—

but only after taken, do I see the watch in the photo—

time’s message of  then or when,

And I wonder again. . .

 

In the night, I dream

of finding blue glass and paintings,

in a post-apocalyptic world,

beauty and art–

the message there,

time passes on

through ups and downs–

I take them to share–

contributing my verse.

 

We saw the movie, The Insult, which is nominated for best foreign film.

We went to William Heritage Winery.

I’m having an issue with WP. It won’t save unless I use the old format editing, so everything seems a bit off. Sigh.