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.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Telling the Story

Monday Morning Musings:

“Go out and tell the story.

Let it echo far and wide.

Make them hear you.

Make them hear you.

How that justice was our battle and how justice

Was denied.

Make them hear you.

Make them hear you.”

— from Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty, “Let Them Hear You,” Ragtime

 

“Our children

See them running down the beach

Children run so fast

Toward the future

From the past”

–from Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty, “Our Children,” Ragtime

 

 

Dawn comes to tell the story

of the day,

the sun rising, a fact, or perhaps allegory

of what might be,

but at dawn we still have to wait and see

what will unfold over the hours

wait and behold, to see if it’s sweet,

or if it sours.

Will there be light and flowers,

or angry tears of raging showers?

 

We travel over the cool bridge*

Commodore Barry Bridge

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

listening to the voice we’ve named Siobhan,

she guides us to our destination

no hesitation

on her part

though we wonder as she directs

us to wander,

and ponder

at her choices—but she gets us there.

And it’s where we want to be.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s a hot day,

but fine if we stay

in the shade

and made

more pleasant

by costumed musicians playing flute

and a stringed instrument—but not a lute–

Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

so, we munch

our lunches, listening, as we crunch

and enjoy this day–

wait for more of what it has to say.

Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s a day of protests,

and I am thankful for those who brave the heat

trying to fight and unseat

the evil—so obvious–that is being done

with children in cages, rights that were won

being stripped away–

a new horror every day–

evil has become commonplace,

even while it’s made banal

(build that wall, he still says

this excrescence, the prez)

And we sway in the breezes of change

wanting to blink and look away

but hoping still

it will go our way–

this story of our days.

 

So, we see this play,

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

a musical, and I’m amazed

at the way

it’s so timely today–

full of immigrants fleeing

and wanting the American dream

though things are not always the way they seem,

as white women are awakened to life beyond their homes

and people of color

striving for rights and equality,

though there is no apology

for the discrimination, only denial

without fair trial

or justice–

And, ok, I get choked up

when Sarah runs down to meet Coalhouse

even though I knew it was coming

and it’s possible I was crying by the end

of the story—I won’t pretend—

it’s true,

I was moved by the magic of theater,

perhaps you would have been, too.

 

It might seem funny that we see

this musical, not a Shakespearean play

at a festival named for the bard,

Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

but it’s not hard

to understand

the popularity of musicals.

But he wrote of current events and history

and it’s no mystery

that his plays would have been performed with song–

perhaps the audience hummed along

to some familiar tunes.

Though all the female roles then were played by men,

well, things go around and around again

(Remember when we saw a woman play Hamlet’s role?

Gender no longer is the control.)

 

We ask Siobhan to guide us home

where we feed our cats,

(upset at being left alone)

wait for the sun to set

and the moon to rise,

wait for people to hear the babies’ cries

to set the course of things to where they should be,

where children are free,

not locked away, torn from their parents’ arms

but instead, quite naturally, kept safe from harm.

And by and by

the stars twinkle and sigh,

sing to us a lullaby.

I make a wish by candle light

for wisdom to come—perhaps tonight,

I’ll tell the stories of truth and right

and wait for some to listen,

Can I make them hear me?

I guess I’ll have to wait and see.

 

*Our children–actually their stuffed animal friends–named the Commodore Barry Bridge, “the Cool Bridge.

I’ve listened to the music of the musical Ragtime–and in fact, one summer I listened to it so often in the car that I pretty much had it memorized. But I had never before seen the show. This was a wonderful production with Broadway actors with great voices (and some fortunate DeSales students filling in some of the ensemble roles). It was very well-staged and the costumes were great, too.

Here’s Brian Stokes Mitchell singing, “Let Them Hear You.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Read the Signs, the Truth in Love

Monday Morning Musings:

“I want to know what’s true,

Dig deep into who

And what

And why

And when

Until now gives way to then.”

–“It All Comes Back,” Fun Home (the musical, music by Jeanine Tesori, Book and lyrics by Lisa Kron, based on the graphic novel by Alison Bechdel)

“How do you measure a year in the life?. . .

How about love? . . . .

Seasons of love”

—Jonathan Larson, “Seasons of Love,” Rent

 “Nearly everything we are taught is false except how to read”

~  Jim Harrison from Songs of Unreason

 

In and out of rain,

we find ways to spend our days

in theaters, or with wine

time passes–

the summery glow

flowing like the rain

that later comes and wanes

then comes once more

driving us indoors–

but in sunshine

and feeling more than fine

we sit and dine

eat the pizza,

sip the wine

Auburn Road Winery, New Jersey

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

wanting to stay

in the moment

in this day

that seems so perfect

in a world weighed

down with suicide

and rules defied

by those should lead

but have no creed–

except desire and greed–

those who raise the false

to say it’s true

and don’t read

except in snippets–

whipping it

up for the masses who follow blindly

where he leads–

despite his misdeeds.

I wish I knew why

or what do

(Read—the facts—what is true.)

But how about love?

 

We celebrate with friends–

retirement from a job,

but not from life,

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

there will still be stresses

and strife

though lessened

with time to enjoy,

as she’s now unemployed—

hope springs

and with it, a thousand things

that might be. . . if only

we remember what’s true

and love.

how about love?

 

We see a fair

magic on the street

and in the air

divers and floating

 

PIFA Street Fair, Philadelphia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

and people emoting.

we stay for a while

then walk through the city

parts pretty, some gritty,

to see a play

we’ve seen before

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

but wonderful story,

wonderful score,

the musical version of a memoir—

of coming out and suicide

of being young and older,

still alive,

the story of a father

and a daughter

the lies he told

They discussed books

but she never noticed the looks

he gave to young men he employed

or to boys–

She later read between the lines

things were not fine. . .

time and memories open a gate

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

to see what was and what might have been.

Families are complicated

to understand the whats and whens

when we relive in our heads again—

but was there love—

how about love?

 

I watch the Tony Awards,

where the themes of diversity

and inclusion

are not an illusion

though it’s the craft of acting

to make deception real

but we feel

when the students,

witnesses to horror,

of bullets and blood

sing “Seasons of Love”

feel—

all the feelings

true and real.

(We all must feel)

How do we measure

a life and love?

Celebrate with pride

do not divide

into us and them,

stem the growth of hate

and celebrate–

bake all the cakes

for everyone.

Don’t shun

the moments

in the sun

but remember

to fight the danger

of those who do not read

and who would cede

our world

to those who should not lead. . .

but be aware–

stop–look for magic everywhere.

Magic in the Streets Old City Philadelphia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ve linked this to Jilly’s 28 Days of Unreason, using the poetry of Jim Harrison to inspire.

This is Day 11.

We saw Fun Home at the Arden Theater in Philadelphia and went to the Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts (PIFA) street fair. It’s raining again here in S. Jersey, with a flood advisory in effect.

 

Fair and Foul and Fair

Monday Morning Musings:

“So fair and foul a day I have not seen.”

–William Shakespeare, Macbeth, Act I, Scene 3

“To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.”

–William Shakespeare, Macbeth, Act V, Scene 5

“A library is infinity under a roof.”

—Gail Carson Levine

 

I lust for language–

a thousand symphonies play in my head

like light on water, ripples tripling

the glowing

flowing,

sending words, like spindrift into the sky

never lies,

but truth amplified.

I see the storms of summer spring

and hear the mockingbird sing

in night and day

he stays–

wanting love and standing guard

his tiny body working hard.

I feel

(ever present)

the ghosts around me sighing

and do they fear

from year to year

what was and what will be?

The circling of time

and life beating

(so fleeting),

but renewed again and again.

 

We walk through galleries

and by the river

(life giver)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

flowing through a city that has grown

built with wood, and bricks, and stone,

a nation conceived, and ideas flown

(now people find them on their phones).

But still—here they are gathered

scattered on grass

biking, running,

or rowing, sun-glimmered,

forward and back

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

like time

(the Muse says)–

they’re in their prime

now

in this clime

the moment frozen in a thought

or captured in a rhyme

but before long

they will be gone.

 

Museums and libraries

I celebrate–

spread my books out on a table

enabling those who pass to see them better

West Deptford Public Library Book Festival

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

to read the letters and titles

though mine don’t sell

people stop by to wish me well

and support the work I do—

telling the truth

when some others seldom do.

 

We go out later to drink some wine

and dine in the open air

Sharrott Winery, Hammonton, NJ

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

the day turns fair, then foul, then fair

where birds flutter and fly

and children cry

with delight

running in fields in the fading light.

 

We see the Scottish play

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

on a cooler day–

then again it moves from foul to fair

threatening skies to a more spring-like air.

But inside this grand library

Free Library of Philadelphia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

something wicked this way comes

though there are only two witches instead of three

(something in this version that bothered me).

Yet the acting is good, and the Macbeths

both powerful and vulnerable

to fate

that they help to make.

As the drum beats. and the swords fly

time in the theater passes by,

and tales from another age verify

the universals truths of humankind

(though this production streamlined),

all the tomorrows,

and the yesterdays,

the sound and the fury,

our vision often blurry

during our brief stay—

and yet we find a way

with stories and art

to share our hearts.

 

Once we had leaders who valued art

and learning,

understood the yearning to know

truth and beauty.

It is our duty

then to spread such ideas,

no matter what he says

and they believe

the false faces and words

that constantly deceive.

Yes, the storm is coming

and let it blow

away the discordant tunes

and the starless nights

for bright humming moons

and radiant light.

 

Sister Cities Fountain

 

 

 

 

Exits and Entrances, NaPoWriMo, Day 23

Monday Morning Musings:

“We do on stage things that are supposed to happen off. Which is a kind of integrity, if you look on every exit as being an entrance somewhere else.”

–Tom Stoppard, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead

 “Were there words beyond which they could never touch, or did all that is possible enter their consciousness? They could not tell. .

E.M. Forster, A Passage to India

“This train doesn’t stop at City Hall”

(the conductor says)

as the world streams by

the rushing tracks,

clackety, clackety, clackety clack,

the engine hums, it’s zhhhumy zhumms,

my reflection in the window sways

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I am traveling there

but does part of me stay

(a train beat away)

entering here

exiting there?

 

We walk–and

spring is a promise whispered over a wall.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Please silence your cell phones and other devices.”

(the announcer says)

before the start of the play,

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

a somewhat dated farce,

act two and three are clever

better than the first

the play within a play from backstage, reversed

the stage rearranged, the set turned around

so, front is back

a player tumbles and falls,

and we see it all–

again, as the troupe performs months later–

each actor then has two roles,

and the timing and action is right

but as a whole,

well. . . it was OK

we both say

and the tickets were free—

something to see

with excellent seats

in America’s oldest theater,

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

so now it’s later

and we walk and talk

see spring a-springing,

the birds still singing,

eat a giant bowl of fries

(in a very noisy bar room)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

then wander back to cats and home,

to see the daffodils still in bloom.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The next day–

another play.

(still no stops at City Hall)

“The kitchen is small,”

says one man to another,

“But the apartment looks out at the rocks, and

the water is right there.”

“Maybe Rehoboth would be better,”

The other man murmurs

he has to stay in New Jersey.

We exit, a bit early,

before finding out if they make a plan.

“A little shifty,” that man,

(my husband says)

as we walk out into the day—

where now spring is more than whispering,

and we say, yes, this weather, please stay.

 

We walk through Washington Square Park

I insist some roots look like feet

though they’d find it hard to tap a beat.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Trees are blooming in pink and white

Washington Square Park, Philadelphia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

and people are out to see the sight

of them, feel the gentle heat,

sun on their faces,

filling the outdoor spaces

and even the walls shout of spring

Mural by David Guinn

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

while the birds trill and sing—

(“Phoebe Phoebe, sings the chickadee,

“Peter Peter” the tufted titmouse calls,

and the mockingbird repeats them all.)

Spring fever all around

Penn’s green country town.

Pennsylvania Hospital

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Please silence your cells phones—again,

the play is about to begin,

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

and thought-provoking it is,

the playwright’s words are his,

but “a fantasia inspired” from Forster’s book

though people and countries are never named

other than with letters,

Country X and Country Y, could be any nation

the characters not assigned by the writer to any gender, race,

or sexual orientation,

F, R, H, M, D, Q, J, B

plus, a mosquito and a gecko–

and, of course, there are those echoes. . .

we hear them, reverberating through now, the ages,

all around us–

and on stage, thus–

F speaks of the people in the darkness,

Dr. B is arrested for a crime he did not commit,

and G breaks the fourth wall to talk to us

questioning,

and yes, it’s a bit uncomfortable–

Are we supposed to answer her out loud?

I wonder, and are we different from another crowd?

 

Later, I say,

“I’d like to see that play all over again with another cast.”

How different would it be to see people of a different race,

or gender, play the roles we just saw?

Because, I think, we must draw

pictures in our minds—leap to conclusions—

have preconceptions that we cannot help but make,

and would it break them–

somewhat–

if what we saw was not,

well, exactly the same.

I imagine this part of the writer’s aim.

(I learn there is a hashtag, #ChenMindFuck)

but my mind is rather more struck

than fucked I think,

and we have much to discuss over food and drink.

Can one be friends with one’s oppressor?

The idea leads to variations and degrees of power

not only of gender and race, but

CEO and factory worker, student and professor,

Black Lives Matter and #MeToo,

seeing things from another’s view. . .

The server brings more bread,

I wonder what lies ahead.

At Tria

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We walk and talk back to the train,

ideas swirling in my brain.

“This train doesn’t stop at City Hall.”

but time flows through spaces and goes to places

unknown,

calls–

Every exit is an entrance somewhere else.

 

 

Today’s NaPoWriMo prompt to use sound. “The poem, for example, could incorporate overheard language. Perhaps it could incorporate a song lyric in some way, or language from something often heard spoken aloud (a prayer, a pledge, the Girl Scout motto). Or you could use a regional or local phrase from your hometown that you don’t hear elsewhere, e.g. “that boy won’t amount to a pinch.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.  🙂

 

 

Between the Storms

Monday Morning Musings:

“But to find out the truth about how dreams die, one should never take the word of the dreamer.”

–Toni Morrison, The Bluest Eye

“Each night, without fail, she prayed for blue eyes. Fervently, for a year she had prayed. Although somewhat discouraged, she was not without hope. To have something as wonderful as that would take a long, long time.”

–Toni Morrison, The Bluest Eye

 

Between the storms of rain and snow

as chilly winds still come and go,

cleaning the air of winter’s skies

in days yet cold, but with lengthening tries

the sun extends its warming rays–

even though it doesn’t stay.

 

During this week, as awakening spring

flitters and flutters, young people bring

hope with their rising, taking charge

urging others–politicians, the public at large–

to fight to make the world better and safer,

not just hopes and prayers, or words on paper,

but action, something that will stay,

through winter cold and summer days.

 

Between the storms of rain and snow,

more are fired, they come and go,

falling like dominos, one after another

a White House in chaos, one like no other,

the swamp grows larger, it hasn’t gone away

monsters of winter–hopes for spring to slay.

 

During this week, of awakening spring

as blooms arrive, and songbirds sing,

we walk a bit through city streets

where gardens stir amidst urban beats.

We see a play of dreams, though planted,

are wishes that cannot, can never, be granted

even as regret sighs to end the play,

still innocence is lost, but madness stays.

Arden Theatre
Pre-performance subscriber refreshments

Between the storms of rain and snow,

as icy fingers tap shoulders, then go—

(winter ghosts that haunt and taunt)

what matters if skin is black or white

brown eyes, or green, as well as blue delight–

how does orange hair and white skin filled with hate

bring peace or joy–or make anything great?

 

 

As we ponder the play, and color and race,

all around us are Irish, no matter their hair or face,

St. Patrick’s Day revelers in Old City, Philadelphia

standing in streets, wandering through this space,

we walk around them for coffee and quiet

(hoping there is no drunken riot)

though an ambulance struggles by

and we see a young man on the sidewalk, he cries

in pain with cuts on his brow

and we think perhaps we’ll go home now. . .

 

Looking studious over post-theater coffee

to dream of spring, to dream of space

and time without a hate of race

or children who are killed or raped,

of people who by hate are no longer shaped–

we call to sun and warmth, come here, this way,

then hope that dreams will come to stay. . .

 

at dawn I hear the robin’s warbling song

and know that spring will come before too long.

 

 

We’re expecting another nor’easter tomorrow with rain and snow.

We saw The Bluest Eye, based on Toni Morrison’s novel, at the Arden Theatre.  

On Wednesday, students throughout the U.S. walked out of their classroom for seventeen minutes—a memorial to the victims of the most recent school shooting and a protest against the current do-nothing gun policies. I got so angry this week seeing Facebook posts by ignorant people who likened the protesting students to sheep—as if seeing classmates killed or facing threats of violence isn’t enough to make them have their own opinions!  Some of you know that I’ve been working on two reference books on rape and rape culture. They will be out in May and August. Yesterday, I heard an investigative report on the radio about children who are bullied and raped in school–even in elementary school and on military bases.

 

 

 

 

 

Ghosts and Questions

Monday Morning Musings:

“Some questions remain long after their owners have died. Lingering like ghosts. Looking for the answers they never found in life.”

–Michael Frayn, Copenhagen

 Bohr: “A curious sort of diary memory is.”

Heisenberg: “You open the pages, and all the neat headings and tidy jottings dissolve around you.”

Bohr: “You step through the pages into the months and days themselves.”

Margrethe: “The past becomes the present inside your head.”

—Michael Frayn, Copenhagen

 

We go to bed with snow on the ground and wake to spring. We step through the door, and into the day.

 

Winter’s ghostly forms

banished by the golden light—

one bloom has opened

We walk down city streets. Here, as we approach Chinatown, sound travels faster than sight, if not light.

We hear the drums and firecrackers, long before we see the lion. We step into the crowd. The lion dance, a centuries-old tradition. The noise of the firecrackers, the constant beating of the drum, and the lion itself will scare away evil spirits. Perhaps the ancestors smile.

 

Lion’s head and tail

sweeps away year’s bad fortune

brings longevity

 

We stop for coffee, and walk and talk, passing nineteenth-century buildings that co-exist with their newer neighbors. I feel the ghosts around us.

 

We step into the theater. We step into time and space. We are in Copenhagen. No, we are sharing the memories of these three: German physicist Werner Heisenberg, his Danish mentor Niels Bohr, and Bohr’s wife, Margrethe with whom he shares everything. We are in some sort of limbo.

 

They are ghosts, perhaps–

well, no longer living–

in this place,

this space

where they try to remember

what was said

and by whom,

recreating a meeting

when Heisenberg, who worked in Nazi Germany

visited Bohrs in occupied Denmark.

Late September, Copenhagen, 1941.

 

We learn about quantum mechanics,

Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle,

Bohr’s Complimentary,

nuclear fission,

calculations made and not made,

the Jewish scientists who flee the Nazis,

taking their knowledge to England and the U.S.

(those who are not murdered.

The characters move around the stage,

like electrons,

but who is the nucleus?

That depends on who is telling the story.

Are we each the center of our universe?

But then why can’t we see what others see?

Going through several “drafts” trying to remember

realizing that every moment becomes the past,

looking for answers

to questions that they never asked when they were alive.

 

It is a play about science.

It is a play about morality.

It is a play that asks what is truth?

It is a play that I wish the abomination in the White House

could actually understand.

 

Like Bohrs and Heisenberg, we step outside,

walk and talk,

try to make some sense of the play,

if not the world around us–

 

We drink wine and beer—

celebrate my husband’s birthday—

We discuss the play

We laugh.

We’ve been together a long time.

Sometimes our memories are different.

“I’m afraid you’re wrong, dear.”

“The seasons, they go round and round”

But are we captives of time,

or did we create it?

 

Winter turns to spring,

time travels with light and sound

Do ghosts know the answers?

 

Perhaps. Perhaps not.

Maybe they reframe their stories.

living them over,

trying to find the right questions to ask,

but as for us,

we live now–

seeing the beauty in a single bloom,

even as it becomes the past,

and our diaries pages jumble and fade,

it lives on in our memories—somewhere—

perhaps twisting and turning like a Lion Dance–

in time and space.

 

I played around with this, and I suppose it is a sort of Merril Musings Extended Haibun. 🙂  We saw the Lantern Theater Company’s production of Copenhagen. I highly recommend it, but since it was the last performance, you won’t be able to see it.

 

 

 

 

Dollhouses and Doors

Monday Morning Musings:

“We do on stage things that supposed to happen off. Which is a kind of integrity, if you look on every exit as being an entrance somewhere else.”

–Tom Stoppard, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead

 “The Heart

has many Doors.”

–Emily Dickinson

Full poem here.

“our home has been nothing but a playroom. I have been your doll-wife, just as at home I was father’s doll-child; and her the children have been my dolls.”

–Henrik Ibsen, A Doll’s House

 

 

The heart I’m told has four chambers,

but every chamber must have a door

and so,

blood flows,

love comes, it goes,

the doors of the heart beat open, then close. . .

 

We go to the theater,

drink coffee before closed doors–

IMG_8064

FullSizeRender 327

they soon open,

IMG_8065

A Doll’s House, Arden Theatre, Philadelphia

taking us to a nineteenth-century

that seems contemporary–

how shocking the play must have been then,

it’s hints of sexuality, as well as the dissolution of a marriage.

We are caught up in others’ lives,

the doorbell rings,

people enter and exit,

the audience gasps at Torvald’s remarks,

feels Nora’s awakening

pauses, then exhales

with “the door slam heard round the world.”

We applaud, then exit, too,

down the stairs

and out into the cold.

Winter folds its icy heart around the city.

 

We walk and talk

past the ghosts of Christ Church

IMG_8067

through another door

IMG_8070

to drink more coffee.

IMG_8068

I think of doll houses and dolls. . .

 

Our daughters used to play with dolls and doll houses,

tip-tapping the small figures round tiny chairs and tables

and in and out of rooms

without real doors to open or shut–

but who’s to say it wasn’t real,

a man-doll named John,

a piece of a wooden chair named Pumpernickel,

(we never knew why)

the mini American Girl dolls

they were all real,

weren’t they? At least for a time?

A door opened, unfastened hearts and minds,

as I remember . . .

 

a doll has no heart,

except for that which is given by love,

or perhaps they create their own hearts

and perhaps they make ours grow

as they enter our lives and exit,

leaving the door ajar for others find their way in.

 

We open doors,

we close doors

sometimes we perch upon them

never noticing how precarious it can be,

IMG_0289

life, opening and closing–

sometimes we carry our hearts right through a doorway,

and keep on going.

17448_107805979232674_1474053_n

 

I’m told that people can die from broken hearts,

like Debbie Reynolds after Carrie Fisher died,

the heart no longer beats,

the four chambers, silent.

The doors of the heart open and close—

until they open and close no more—

Exits and entrances.

Another dollhouse.

Another doll.

IMG_8073

 

 

There was also this.

IMG_8074

For those outside of the U.S., yesterday was Super Bowl Sunday. My local team, the Philadelphia Eagles won. It was a big deal, and even family members and friends who are not particular sports fans were excited. I made my husband goodies to eat, and sat with him for about half an hour, but I then went upstairs to watch other shows and read.

 

 

 

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

IMG_7934

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)

IMG_7935

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.

IMG_7945

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

IMG_7942

 

 

and we,

well, we’re passing strange

IMG_7943

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.

FullSizeRender 313

 

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.