By the Riverside–Quadrille for dVerse

I walk by the riverside—

only the steps are steep–

few creatures stir,

do they hide–

perhaps they’re fast asleep.

I wonder what it’d be like

to soar, slither, or leap,

but my shadow and I walk

side by side–

good company, we keep.

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Red Bank Battlefield, National Park, NJ

 

Enough dark and dismal today–keeping it light for quadrille day at dVerse. Mish has asked us to use the word “steep” in some form in our 44-word poems. I wrote most of this in my head while I was walking.

 

Walls, Again and Again

Monday Morning Musings:

From a window I watch the birds flocked together to find food, to feed, fueling before the chilly winter rain begins again, following each other ground to sky and back again. I watch a couple of black birds—starlings perhaps–pecking at an old light fixture hanging below the eaves of my house. We think they don’t think or love or dream. Perhaps they think the same of us?

Species to species,

is there communication?

Walls between us all

 

I watch my cat dreaming and wonder what he sees. I wake from my own dream. It fades to mist. I remember only my sister. Her hair is styled in coils on each side of head—a 1940s hairstyle. She slowly morphs into my grandmother, my mother’s mother–

dream walls dissolving

past, present, future merging

an uncertain message

 

On a chilly day, we see a production of Romeo and Juliet. The cast wears modern street clothes, Mercutio raps. There is a band and a “Greek chorus” of local college students. There are curtains of shimmering golden strands; the actors part and walk through them. They also wheel these golden strand curtains into place to form walls on the otherwise mostly bare stage. There is another wall at the end of the play, where the singer and band sing about love being “a waste” if it is only “a wall to keep the truth away.” Some of the beauty of Shakespeare’s play has been lost, yet we enjoy this imaginative production. We talk as we walk through city streets. Then within walls, where it is warm and dry, we sip some wine, and eat some cheese.

enemies fated,

or find love notwithstanding—

what is in a name?

 

We walk past garden gates and walls to see another play. Ripped from too many headlines—the far too common killings of black people by white law enforcement officers—the play is set in the jury room where the jury is deadlocked. They decide to try to react the circumstances of the case giving all those involved a backstory, which leads to the final, surprising, and powerful conclusion. The play is not perfect and some it is a bit contrived, but it seems designed to help tear down some walls. Every performance has a talk back session. Some people say they like how the characters are made human. No one here is evil, even if we do not agree with their opinions. There are walls of human misunderstanding and conflict in both plays.

conversations help

break down walls of distrust

challenge our notions

And yet—we finish watching the third season of The Man in the High Castle. I am chilled by the vision of smiling youths tearing down monuments and burning the New York Public Library. This is a fictional world, but lately there are too many similarities to the real world. The petulant baby foments hate. We should all be behind a slogan to Make America Better, not to the one he champions that looks back to world where racism, sexism, and homophobia flourished. I see too many posts railing against “illegals,” the ignorance astounds me. And on Holocaust Remembrance Day, commemorating when Auschwitz was liberated, too many do not believe it happened, while there are some who would like it to happen again. I watch Rent, and I think of the Parkland students singing “Seasons of Love” at the Tony Awards last year.

“It’s time now to sing out,

though the story never ends”

still walls of hate here

Every family has its secrets, its walls. Every family has its tragedies and comedies, a play in several acts. We live out our stories within the walls of homes, schools, workplaces, or in confinement somewhere. My mom rarely ventures outside the walls of her building now because she can’t go out by herself. We drive her to our daughter’s house for brunch. We talk, eat, and watch the dogs play. We laugh. We love. Sometimes that is enough.

Walls can shelter us

from bad weather, and from life

but love helps us grow

The moon hums a lullaby for birds, cats, and me. Walls dissolve, and we share a dream.

 

I guess this is more prose and verse rather than a series of haibun. And also, sorry, WP won’t let me delete the video below.

 

 

 

 

 

Haunted

caspar_david_friedrich_-_blick_aus_dem_fenster_des_künstlers

Caspar David Friedrich

 

A ghost from eternity

haunted me

 

like a laugh

in rhythm with time.

 

And it dazzled,

embraced the night in perfume

 

and celebrated caramel-colored days in dance–

almost always–

 

we could

and did

 

more or less like need,

to heal.

 

Then it said go,

the window is open—

 

but listen for poetry,

it surrounds you.

 

My weekly message from the Magnetic Poetry Oracle.

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The Spy

dò_-_susana_y_los_viejos_20180922

“Luis Fernández García, “Susanna and the Elders,” [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D, from Wikimedia Commons

 

She shed her old life the day the soldiers came,

sloughed like a snakeskin. Perhaps

traces remain to be found someday

in a dusty archive, a notation in a book,

but she has grown, now

metamorphosed,

each day she wears a new persona—

school girl, maid, shy lover—

they think she’s eager to accept

their upright soldiers, ramparts breached

they thrust to claim her,

but she’s eager only for information–

spilled words that she can pass along, not their seeds

she does not want planted.

So, she listens, and they disregard her—

seeing only body, not mind.

She shed her old life when the soldiers came—

she lives in shadows,

hoping for a new life, a new skin

that need not be shredded and shed.

 

 

This is for Lillian’s “shed” prompt on dVerse,

 

The Books

Cécile_Anker_1886

 

Why

she asks

is the sky

blue and grass green?

What does it matter,

he replies, do your chores.

Eyes downcast, she complies–but

determined to find answers—there

in those books she’s forbidden to touch–

 

only boys can learn to read, and then

only those with the right skin tones

or money or connections.

Still books call—enticing!

Secretly she learns–

quietly she

plots–and then

she runs

free.

For all who have marched, protested, and struggled for freedom–a double nonet for Colleen’s Tanka Tuesday

And so, You Ask Why?

1024px-p_s_krøyer_1899_-_sommeraften_ved_skagens_strand._kunstneren_og_hans_hustru

Peder Severin Krøyer [Public domain] “Summer Evening at Skagen beach, the artist and his wife”

Through time,

there with us,

 

purple shadows—

and above,

 

the moon,

diamond cool,

 

urging, what?

 

We want beauty and music

(so, we say)

 

Summer sea-sprayed lives

and the smell of storms

 

that blow away—

as life must—

 

but still—

you ask why?

 

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I haven’t had much time to read or write poetry this week, but I didn’t want to miss my weekly consult with the Oracle. Her message seems appropriate for MLK weekend and the Women’s Marches today–and the Super Blood Moon lunar eclipse.

In the Time of Rain: Magnetic Poetry

vincent_willem_van_gogh,_dutch_-_rain_-_google_art_project

Vincent van Gogh, “Wheat field in Rain” [Public Domain]via Wikipedia Commons

After the rain

licks pink from the sky

 

and shadowed mist

cries a raw symphony of aching sighs,

 

you trudge to–

or from—

 

wanting. . .

whispering. . .

 

“There the sun rose in honeyed music,

sang of life when”

 

So our dreams together

recall time

 

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My message from the Magnetic Poetry Oracle. She’s knows it’s raining here—again.

List of 50 Poetic Forms for Poets by Robert Lee Brewer via Writer’s Digest

Some of my poet friends may be interested in seeing this list.

Trish Hopkinson

writersdigest2This list of poetic forms compiled by Robert Lee Brewer of Writer’s Digest includes links to each of his articles for each of the forms. Each article includes the requirements of the form, as well as examples, other related links, and definitions when needed. I also like Brewer’s suggestion that “It might even make a good year-long challenge to write one form each week of the year.” Check out his complete list below.

Click here for the List of 50 Poetic Forms for Poets

Writer’s Digest provides a plethora of writing resources, including some specifically for poets. Specifically, check out:

You can register for their site for free to have full access to all the content, including free downloads of writing guides, a free newsletter, tons of online content, writing forums, and more.


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Contributors Wanted for Reference Book on Sexual Harassment

Contributors Wanted

I still need contributors for this book. Authors do not have to be academics, however, the essay should be well-written and appropriate for a reference book. The book is focused on the US, but I would consider comparisons between the US and other places. I would love to have include essays from people of all genders or those who are gender-fluid, all races, and sexual orientation. As well as experiences of sexual harassment, essays can be by people who work with sexual harassment programs–such as in HR situations or academic settings. Essays can also be by activists who are working to fight sexual harassment. I would love to have a wide variety of contributors, since this is a reference book that will be read by students and the general public. Please feel free to circulate this information!

Sexual Harassment: A Reference Handbook, by Merril D. Smith. This reference book is part of ABC-CLIO’s Contemporary World Issues Series. The book is aimed at high school and undergraduate students, as well as the general public.  One chapter will include essays by people who have experienced sexual harassment, or who are activists, organizers, etc. The essay should be between 1,000 and 1,500 words, including any references and contributor bio. They should be personal, rather than academic in style, but they still must be appropriate for a reference book and for the target audience (no profanity). Essays can address controversy and/or take a stand or a definite opinion. They should not be recaps of history. Pseudonyms may be used for publication, although legal name is required for the contract. Contributors will receive a small honorarium and e-book access.

Contact me at merrildsmith@gmail.com. Please put Sexual Harassment Book in the subject line.