Message in a Bottle

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I read the news—an Alaska man finds a bottle with a fifty-year-old message inside. The Russian sailor’s note conveys friendly greetings. They drift through Cold War seas, through glasnost and perestroika to shores not yet submerged by the rising seawater of melted glaciers. The man shows the message to his sons.

Past meets the future

carried on time’s tumbling waves

ebbing and flowing

lives tide-lifted and lowered

as moon-silvered sea rolls on

 

This is a Haibun tanka (because sometimes you have to break the rules) for Colleen’s tanka Tuesday photo challenge, using the photo above.

Here is the story that was in the news.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Time and Secrets

Monday Morning Musings:

“We trust that time is linear. That it proceeds eternally, uniformly. Into infinity. But the distinction between past, present and future is nothing but an illusion. Yesterday, today and tomorrow are not consecutive, they are connected in a never-ending circle. Everything is connected.”–Dark. Season 1

“Sometimes since I’ve been in the garden I’ve looked up through the trees at the sky and I have had a strange feeling of being happy as if something was pushing and drawing in my chest and making me breathe fast. Magic is always pushing and drawing and making things out of nothing. Everything is made out of magic, leaves and trees, flowers and birds, badgers and foxes and squirrels and people. So it must be all around us. In this garden – in all the places.”

― Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden

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In dawn light

the moon whispers a secret.

It hums in the air—

shimmering–

then floats through the branches,

lifted in a bird song,

dropped with an acorn,

to rise into a tree.

***

I watch the clouds ripple,

waves in a sky-sea set aglow

by morning light,

 

I wonder to what shore they’ll flow,

and if they carry sleepers’ dreams

to come again at night.

 

In a garden,

the bees dance secrets

over flowers bright

with expectation

of their visits

they invite

 

them and us

to sit and watch—

until mosquitoes bite—

 

and we go in

leaving a wedding party

to pose in the sunlight.

 

My mother tells us stories,

and time twists.

not finite

 

at all.

Not secrets,

perhaps hindsight,

 

we all reflect, no?

on our pasts,

and highlight

 

like stars

guiding us

spotlights at night,

 

but in gardens

magic happens.

delight

 

comes from simple pleasures,

wine and stories

statues in cloud-light,

or chickens pecking

squawking in a sherbet sky

magic, delight, sunsetting light.

 

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William Heritage Winery, New Jersey

Then I cook to heal

to taste

to bite

 

a bit of happiness

(and heat)

insight

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to share the love

to procrastinate

to fight

the doldrums

the fear,

and I write

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and walk

on city streets

where time might

 

circle round

cobblestones and skyscrapers

and old sites–

but in the movie

in an ancient land,

personal and political fight

 

old battles

fought again and again

love, lust, secrets ignite

 

a broader struggle

men with guns,

land, and right

 

or wrong,

they fight,

while in moonlight

 

we go our own way

and time flows

and twists, despite

 

our intentions

with secrets unknown

that drift into the light.

Boats on the Delaware River, from Patco train

We are watching the excellent German Netflix show, Dark. Trailer here.  There are a bunch of new movies out. Of course I chose one that most will not have heard of, The Reports on Sarah and Saleem. Trailer here. We both liked it. There is a lot of complexity that is skillfully handled—personal relationships and the political situation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Light Behind the Clouds

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The storm rolling in

 

Charcoal clouds

sweep across the sky–

windswept shrouds

covering

summer’s blue, a magic trick

of sun, moon, and stars

 

glimmering

with secrets of time.

Watch streaking

meteor

carrying ancient glitter

scattered on the earth.

 

I’m supposed to be working on my book, but somehow my poetry brain took over, and a poem appeared instead of a chapter. Ooops! This is a shadorma sequence for  Colleen’s Tanka Tuesday–synonyms of light and dark.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Her Voice

 

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My mother’s voice is soft now. Her words slur and drift off in a breeze. But today she laughs, and the sparrows twitter and chirp, carrying that laugh up to the sky.

Dawn rises giggling

rose-tipped clouds streak summer sky—

shadows dance on ground

 

For dVerse, where De has asked us to write a quadrille (a poem of 44 words, any style) using the word voice.

 

 

 

 

 

Reflections

Merril D. Smith, 2019, Philadelphia, William Penn and City Hall Reflected

Monday Morning Musings:

“Now I am a lake. A woman bends over me,
Searching my reaches for what she really is.”

–From Sylvia Plath, “Mirror”

“Did you ever wonder if the person in the puddle is real, and you’re just a reflection of him?”

–Bill Watterson, Calvin and Hobbes

 

In the window

the world is reflected

prismed into colors bright

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the blue of sky

and clouds of white

refracted sites

 

ripple and sway

changing as you walk

then fading away

 

unlike skyscrapers

that here still stand

monuments to technology

 

in reflections,

magic,

a slight of hand.

 

Now in the puddle

the world is upside down

in shades of beige and grey

Building in a puddle, Philadelphia

diffused light

scattered over slate

and rippling away

 

carried to the river

then onwards

to the sea

 

but here

are windows closed

as eyes asleep

 

and minds imprisoned

in worlds of fancy

and dreams

 

of children

go unheeded

unheard, unseen

 

in cages

they perish

swept away

 

by the latest news

of violence

and thoughts and prayers

 

go out

to remove the games

and images

 

but not the guns

they remain–

see, they’re not to blame

 

and cash

wills out

with slaps on the back

 

for the boys

are boys

who grow to be men

 

and abuse

again

and again.

 

And what do they see

in their reflections?

Do they stop to reflect

 

on the people

they harm?

I read of survivors

 

who try to forgive

when they

can never forget–

 

we must never forget

 

the sights refracted

in sunshine and rain,

and here we sit

 

holding time still

for a moment,

if we could with will

 

in vino veritas,

and truth there is

that there is beauty

 

and light

and days when things

are just right,

moments granted

even when

the world is slanted

 

cock-eyed, the mother

becomes the child,

but when she laughs

 

you wonder what’s real

and see your reflection

there she and you

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and she will never go

to the river again

but here a bird calls–

 

Hear it?

Listen and wonder

what does it see?

 

There its reflection

in the water

it looks at me.

 

Delaware River, Red Bank Battlefield, National Park, NJ

She Sees Home

Ghost of Cassiopeia, NASA

“Powerful gushers of energy from seething stars can sculpt eerie-looking figures with long, flowing veils of gas and dust. One striking example is “the Ghost of Cassiopeia,” officially known as IC 63, located 550 light-years away in the constellation Cassiopeia the Queen.” Image Credits: NASA, ESA and STScI; Acknowledgment: H. Arab (University of Strasbourg)

 

She sees home

in the poetry surrounding her,

listens to a laughing ghost

kissing the perfumed sky,

sails it, this smoky magic

dazzled with if.

 

How to make it linger?

Here was born dark–

yet from it

brilliant angels wake,

and smile.

 

My message from the Oracle today.

 

Transitory Structures

Building in a puddle, Philadelphia

A lightning bolt zig zags across the grey and ominous sky. I quickly slide my hand down from the metal pole to clutch the plastic handle of my umbrella. Thunder booms. I walked faster but stop to look down at the sidewalk. There I see an upside-down, ephemeral world; beautiful and transitory, a skyscraper in a puddle.

Ordinary sights

made extraordinary—

in a summer storm

 

A Haibun for Colleen’s Tanka Tuesday, Poet’s Choice of words.

 

 

On the Fringe

Monday Morning Musings:

“The fringed curtains of thine eye advance, And say what thou seest yond.”

–William Shakespeare, The Tempest

“We all move on the fringes of eternity and are sometimes granted vistas through fabric of illusion.”

–Ansel Adams, Ansel Adams: An Autobiography

Once a star devoured a universe

long haunted by dark clouds

then breathed to wake a new one

 

~with laughing kisses~

 

we awoke

though we hadn’t known we slept

or how close we’d been to the edge

 

~of time, an illusion~

 

that we cherished then

but now the blue horses prance

and caramel breezes drift from the sea

 

~carrying past and future~

 

through the window of time

and beyond. Remembering

what we forget, carrying our dreams.

***

Twenty-nine dead in thirteen hours

the headlines say, we

offer thoughts and prayers, and flowers

 

of blood bloom on streets and malls.

How tragic, we say

and go about our day

 

and the death bell tolls

again, and again

and we wonder when

 

it all will end.

When will we wake

and find a way to send

 

away the men who profit from hate–

who stoke the fear—

and say what people want to hear,

 

the lies that trip from poisoned tongues

and damage life, and old and young–

the fringe chorus becomes the loudest sung.

A macrocosm of death surrounds me,

but sheltered in my smaller world

I want to see, to flee, to be

 

What? I’m not sure,

though there is some allure

to buried heads when all around

 

is death and dying.

And we laughing, sighing, and crying

as my mother weakens

 

speaking clearly, or not–

each day different, caught

adrift, she smiles, sleeps

 

but keeps

on going. Through shallowing deeps

of ocean-mind

 

that flows in and out,

sweeping the beach to turn about

and leave treasures on the sand.

 

But fleeing this land

we visit friends,

who offer helping hands

 

and open hearts

to listen, as we talk

and we eat, then walk

 

on a summer night,

there’s music and friendship–

sometimes things are right,

sometimes there is light

in the darkness–

the stars twinkle diamond-bright

 

against the sapphire sea,

and the sun rises, and I see

promise in a day.

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We go on our way

to the fringe

and back, we see a play–

OK, perhaps we see six–

(One even had magic tricks)

in this blueberry town,

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we walk up and down

the streets, find food to eat,

and clap from our seats

 

for actors and singers

and our smiles linger

from some.

 

We avoid the tempest

from our seats inside,

on stories sail and ride.

But it’s fringe,

some need a tinge

more polish, perhaps.

 

We’ll see what happens

next year–

if, when, we’re here–

 

as time laps,

racing to the edge

of eternity, with no pledge

 

of what will be,

there on the fringe

of eternity.

 

On Saturday and Sunday we went to the New Jersey Fringe Festival in Hammonton, NJ, “The Blueberry Capital of the World.”