Past and Future, Touched

“Remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet. Try to make sense of what you see and wonder about what makes the universe exist. Be curious.”

–Stephen Hawking

she once had

a mortal body

long ago–

or was it?

Unbound by time, she’s unsure

drifting in moonlight. . .


and starlight

and in brightest sun–

it is all

part of her

and she of it. Wandering,

she touches your heart–


you feel it,

a shock, fear–and awe,

but also


for knowledge. Look at the stars–

time and space folding


Embed from Getty Images


This is for dVerse. We were asked to write a shadorma with the prompt “phantom.” I’ve done a series of connecting shadorma stanzas.










Sighing for Spring: Haibun

In between nor’easters, we take a spur-of-the-moment day trip. We look at paintings of people now gone and places that no longer exist except in memories. We see landscapes of lush verdant woods that contrast with western desert landscapes featuring windmills, swimming pools, and ranch hands. Outside the museum, we walk around the patches of snow. Suddenly I notice the glowing forsythia bushes vibrant and defiant, rising from the white blanket at their roots to greet the sun. Though it’s fighting to remain, winter will soon be gone. We only need to wait a bit longer.


Golden yellow sighs,

whispers of a spring time song—

flowers in the snow


Grounds of the Mercer Museum, Doylestown, PA


I wrote more about the exhibit we saw at the Michener Museum on Monday. This haibun is for Frank’s haikai challenge, using the kigo, or season word, snow. This is also for Colleen’s Tanka Tuesday Challenge, where the prompt was to use synonyms for patience and green.

It has been a busy week with work and news. Now it’s time for poetry. Watch out for sharp objects today!  🙂




Icarus 2–Quadrille

He rises–

filled with wonder,

on wax wings he flies

high and higher

closer to the flaming fire

spurred towards the sun

(heart’s desire)

too late, stunned,

aware of his blunder

he cries–

no longer inspired–

“Father, forgive me.”

and falls to the sea


Peter Paul Rubens [Public domain], “Fall of Icarus,” via Wikimedia Commons

This is a Quadrille for dVerse. De “Whimsygizmo” has asked us to use the word “fire.”

Everything is Made of Magic

Monday Morning Musings:

“The universe is full of magical things patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper.”

–Eden Phillpotts (often incorrectly attributed to W.B. Yeats, according to Quote Investigator)

“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


In dreams I flit through walls,

through time and space

dream worlds,

where things are and are not what they seem

full of wonders taken as ordinary

magical and real


We go on an outing to see an exhibition,

wander through a gallery on Pennsylvania Impressionism

then on to see Magical and Real.

Henriette Wyeth painted family and flowers,

She survived polio that weakened her right arm,

learned to draw with her left hand,

and paint with her right.

She lied about her age to enter the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts

before she was sixteen.

A self-portrait hangs on the wall between two paintings

the main men of her life–

N.C.Wyeth, her father, posed before one of his landscapes

her husband, Peter Hurd,

in front of one of his western landscapes–

father, husband

east and west,

conflicts and tensions in her life and art.

Before marriage the couple had separated–

she feared that marriage would be the end of her artistic career,

he assured it would not,

she also feared being separated from her family.

During their separation,

she turned to fantasy

painting ghostly figures,

a dead girl,

and three women picnicking under the moon.

(And the story of how that painting was rediscovered

and restored is a bit of magic, too.)

The couple reunited and married,

and eventually, unexpectedly,

Wyeth found beauty in the stark landscapes of the west

and in the people who lived and worked there

She paints a final portrait of her husband,

before his mind succumbs to Alzheimer’s

he  is still ruggedly handsome, distinguished,

He had painted pilots, western landscapes,

advertisements, magazine covers, and presidential portraits

and was better-known that she was,

as her Chaddsford studio went to her brother Andrew

who became the better known Wyeth.

Yet she may have been more talented than brother or husband,

she was an artist,

magical and real


Over time,

a jail becomes a museum

Michener Museum jail doors looking out to Fonthill Castle


beside it, a public library

Do the ghosts of the inmates wander there,

through galleries where once there were cells?

A place where bodies were imprisoned

becomes a place where minds are freed

to imagine and express themselves,

another man builds a castle filled with tiles,

crazy whimsy?

glorious fantasy?



It all flows together like time and space,

sometimes crashing

birthing stars,

ending worlds

But in this world,

we create magic

in art, music, poetry, literature, theater–

real buildings

filled with magic


Artists come and go,

but their works live on

feelings put on canvas

carved in bronze, marble, plastic, steel

brush strokes that echo–

Can’t you feel the wind?

Hear the child laugh?

Feel the sea and taste the salt in the air?


magical and real


And our shadows

real and magical

stand side by side

us, but not us,

I see flowers blooming in the snow–

time flowing, circling–

everything is made of magic,

magical and real



We went to the Michener Art Museum, in Doylestown, PA.

The exhibition was Magical and Real: Henriette Wyeth and Peter Hurd, A Retrospective.

I took some photos, but then I wasn’t certain I was allowed to, so I’m not posting them.

There are also some photos of the paintings in this article.


Monthly Poetry Contest Winners!

I’m excited and honored to have won this Vita Brevis monthly poetry contest.

Vita Brevis

The results are in! We had fantastic (and wonderfully novel) submissions this time around. It was a tough choice, but here are the winners of our monthly poetry competition.

*On the Next Competition: As of right now, we can’t afford to host competition next month–donations have slowed down over past few weeks. But don’t worry, we’ll get one going soon! Thanks for your patience and support!*

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Robin Searches Here: Tanka

Robin searches here

beneath the snow-covered grass

new life is sprouting

in renewed light seeding hope

replenishing Earth again



This is a tanka for Colleen’s Tanka Tuesday.  Colleen asked us to write a poem using synonyms for “renew” and “fresh.” I was walking by this window that looks out at our back yard, just as the snowstorm on Wednesday was starting to pick up. This robin by the oak tree caught my eye, and I quickly took a photo through the window.







Love Token

My husband leaves in the snow,

it’s light at first, but then it flows



in thick heavy flakes

without breaks

it covers the ground

like a great white lake,

or. . .perhaps, I think,  like thick frosting on a cake.

And so, I decide to bake him a treat,

his favorite cookies, not too sweet–

a love token from me to him—

not exactly a whim. . .

but ephemeral as tokens go–

not unlike this springtime snow.


Welsh Cookies


Grace asked us to write on love tokens for dVerse. 







Gusts and Buds: Haibun

On the day of the nor’easter, I finish reviewing the page proofs of my book. The sun comes out. I ponder new projects, while watching birds perch and peck at the feeder hanging at our kitchen window—finches with their red feather patches demonstrate the feeder’s pecking order. A tufted titmouse, nuthatches, and even a woodpecker fly in for a snack. Robins congregate in the street, discussing the weather and current events before flying up to a tree to chatter at the squirrels. The days grow longer, and despite the wind and snow, the daffodils are rising from the ground. They are not deterred by icy gusts. Momentary setbacks. They know spring is coming. So do I. I simply have to get through the next snowstorm—it’s coming, too.


March’s lion roars,

frost-breath lays a filigree—

budding branches bide



We’re supposed to get another nor’easter tonight into tomorrow with several inches of snow expected.

I was writing this for

Frank’s Haikai Challenge #23—Spring Gust

But then I saw Victoria’s  prompt for Haibun Monday: tree buds.








She flies among the stars

burning with incandescent fire,

unbound by time or space.

She is and was and will be always–

made of what—of blazing rays,

of tomorrows and todays?

You may see her in the night–

perhaps. . . that streak of light.



Embed from Getty Images



This is a quadrille for dVerse. Victoria asked us to use the word burn.



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.