Persistence Glows

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After years of archival research, chapters drafted and re-drafted, grad school extensions, and the birth of my first daughter, I finally received my Ph.D. in American History. My husband, father, and toddler daughter watched me receive my degree in a small January ceremony. I was proud of my accomplishment, but I think my father may have been prouder.

 

Seeds drift and flutter,

fields and cracks fill with flowers–

the glow of persistence

 

 

 

 

A Haibun for dVerse, where Lillian asks us to write about one shining moment.  Something I just noticed–my dad never wore ties, but he wore one for this.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Listen, Hear Them

Monday Morning Afternoon Musings: 

“Hills, the trees, sunrise and sunset — the lake the moon and the stars / summer clouds — the poets have been right in these centuries… even in its astounding imperfection this earth of ours is magnificent.”—Lorraine Hansberry, quoted in Imani Perry, Looking for Lorraine: The Radiant and Radical Life of Lorraine Hansberry

 

Listen

to mockingbirds,

and robins, crows, and jays

cacophony or harmony,

hear them

 

rustle

in verdant fields

rain-jeweled, and glistening,

a turtle in painted armor

stands still

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Turtle that I rescued from the middle of the street.

aware

that danger comes

rolling like thunder clouds,

flowing like an ancient river,

blue-hued,

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Delaware River at Red Bank Battlefield Park

constant

the earth revolves,

frost gives way to sunshine

patriots and the times that try–

but breathe

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deeply

sigh, but feel

sun-warmth, as shadows grow

light and darkness work together

always

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Lily shadows on our shed.

listen

in verdant fields

frost gives way to sunshine

flowing like an ancient river,

always

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I was having a difficult time musing about the week of that began with beautiful sunny days and went to hot, humid, thunderstorms, a week that saw our corrupt and ineffectual leader-in-title-only continue to lie, spew venom, and become ever more authoritarian. On the plus side, I was happy to see all the coverage of Juneteenth, and nature does soothe.

Yesterday was Father’s Day. One daughter sent a book of brain-teasing puzzles to my husband, and the other delivered us dinner and beer (for my husband), which we ate while visiting with them via Zoom. I baked my husband’s favorite cookies, Welsh cookies, which are actually cooked like pancakes, not baked in the oven.

 

So, I consulted the Oracle for some inspiration and came up with this garland cinquain, except that for the last stanza I reversed the order of lines 3 and 4.

Merril’s Movie/Theater Club: We watched the movie Miss Juneteenth on Juneteenth. (available for a slight rental fee on several streaming platforms, including Amazon Prime). A debut film that has excellent performances. The story involves a Juneteenth pageant, but the theme of a parent wanting a better life for her child is universal. We also watched Ann, a one-woman play about the late former governor of Texas, Ann Richards, written and performed by Holland Taylor. It was excellent! In the U.S., you may be able to still see it on Great Performances online or possibly On Demand.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Not Never, Always

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My mother sings in dreams,

not of death, but light

holding promises of if–

soar, she cries,

why whisper what you want

when your words can fly,

 

~reaching~

 

for you, I wake,

as the robins rouse the sun

to blossom in apricot splendor.

Their voices carry on the wind–

a song that makes the flowers dance,

and I watch, at peace

 

~in this moment~

 

the world searches

for hope,

sending out wishes on stars

with a laugh,

time sings through a thousand rivers,

not of never, but of always.

 

I tried several sets of tiles, and the Oracle kept giving me the same words. I hope I interpreted her message correctly. A Puente is technically two stanzas connected by a bridge stanza, but the Oracle had more to say, so this is a double Puente.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Transfixed, Transformed

In the play—that scene—

falling rain, a soft drumming on the stage,

two women in white nightgowns, dance and kiss

glorious, not indecent—

 

later, in the Lodz ghetto,

they perform again–

the drumming of jackboots looms–

 

the play’s not indecent, their reality is.

 

 

Paula Vogel’s play, Indecent, is a play about a play Sholem Asch’s 1903 drama God of Vengeance, which was performed in Yiddish in Europe, then in Yiddish theaters in the U.S. When it was translated into English and performed on Broadway it triggered an obscenity trial in 1923. The play was performed in the Lodz ghetto with a diminishing cast and audience. This sounds very depressing, but I love this play, and there is humor and joy in it, too. And that rain dance scene. (If you’re a PBS member and have Passport you may be able to see the play on Great Performances online.)

This is a quadrille for Mish’s dVerse prompt using the word, “drum,” and it also addresses Anmol’s Pride Month prompt  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wandering in and out of Light

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Light streams above and below. Rainbows and reflections. Ceres Park, June 2020, Merril D. Smith

Monday Morning Afternoon Musings:

“She liked then to wander alone into strange and unfamiliar places. She discovered many a sunny, sleepy corner, fashioned to dream in.”

― Kate Chopin, The Awakening

“Now it was only the rivers
that spoke of the rivers,
and only the wind that spoke of its bees,

while the unpausing factual buds of the fruit trees
continued to move toward their fruit.”

–from “ON THE FIFTH DAY” by Jane Hirshfield

 

 

I wander, silent–

unvoiced, rather,

a clumsy human, my footsteps

warn frogs, birds, deer—

gone in a flash

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the facts—they are dangerous—we are

shadows, looming, long-legged,

over fields and ponds.

But if fearful to raise my voice,

the wind and water are not

afraid. They whisper delicately,

or rage in thunderous tones

proclaiming the facts–

we are, they are, here.

We look for constants

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Life in the green of Earth, reflected Ceres Park, June 2020 Merril D. Smith

the rising of the sun

the humming of the moon,

the wildflowers that magically appear,

amidst the mud and weeds–

truths

not always heard, yet echoing,

waiting for cracks in foundations.

A fact, buried, as we move through time,

there is always light, somewhere,

and so, I wander, seeking it, and dream

 

of it, of you, of awakening

the songs we carry from the stars

connecting all living things,

a truth reflected a thousand times,

even as it emerges from a black hole, shining.

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Water Lilies and Reflections, West Deptford Public Library, June 2020, Merril D. Smith

 

 

A very late Musings today. I’m trying to finish projects, while feeling that I can’t focus. On Saturday night, we watched the streamed production of the Wilma Theater’s Kill Move Paradise,a play we had seen in the theater. Of course it’s not quite the experience as seeing it live, but it is a good play that gave us much to discuss. I wrote about it here.  It is available for another week for an any amount donation to BLM Philadelphia.

I’m hosting #TopTweetTuesday this week on Twitter. Get your poems ready!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And All Is

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Guillermo Gómez Gil, “Moonrise,” Public domain

 

These storms pound, over and over

the wind screams, the sea moans,

recalling what?

 

Days of blue sky,

summer friends,

a thousand ships sailing into the mists of time?

 

And then, if whispers, “please.”

 

But the moon chants from above

this is could, not always, or never,

 

they do not see or listen–

we dream of light and beauty. . .

and all is.

 

My poem from the Magnetic Poetry Oracle.

Imperturbable

 

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Edward Hopper, “Automat,” 1927

I follow the instructions exactly. At the automat I get a cup of coffee and sit at an empty table. My pulse is racing, but I appear calm. Like everyone else, I look weary; my once fashionable coat discreetly mended.

A young man in a nondescript suit sits at a nearby table. As he turns the pages of his newspaper, he mentions the rainy weather. I reply with the code phrase. We sit for a while, sipping our coffee, each of us seemingly lost in thought. Then the man puts his coat on–leaving the newspaper on the table–and starts walking toward the door. I stand up, and as I pass his table, I pick it up.

We both exit. We go in different directions down the imperturbable street. It’s difficult to believe there’s a war going on.

 

This is bit of flash fiction for my prosery prompt for dVerse. The prompt line that must be incorporated is “We go in different directions down the imperturbable street,” from Gwendolyn Brooks, An Aspect of Love, Alive in the Ice and Fire.”

Without intending to, I wrote a companion piece to another prosery piece I wrote—and also illustrated with a Hopper painting.

 

Never Fixed, the Ever Changing Light

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Sun above and below, reflections and shadows on the Delaware River

Monday Morning Musings:

“For nothing is fixed, forever and forever and forever, it is not fixed; the earth is always shifting, the light is always changing, the sea does not cease to grind down rock. Generations do not cease to be born, and we are responsible to them because we are the only witnesses they have.

The sea rises, the light fails, lovers cling to each other, and children cling to us. The moment we cease to hold each other, the moment we break faith with one another, the sea engulfs us and the light goes out.”

–James Baldwin, “Nothing is Fixed,” quoted on Brainpickings, where you can also listen to his words set to music.

 

A constant, the sun rises and sets

to the left of my window in summer, to the right in winter

ever shifting, as we rotate and spin, never fixed

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the light changes, shining through clouds and trees

reflected on rivers and sea

and prismed in a sprinkler’s passage, never fixed

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Sprinkler rainbow and puddle reflection

 

the birds fly, the flowers bloom, fall, drop their sees, and grow again

the snapping turtle’s slow crawl, the gracile deer’s leap into the shadows

they pause, then move, live, then die, never fixed

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Maybe a snapping turtle? I saw him on the side of the road by the river during a morning walk.

 

as the moon moves through her phases,

do you hear her fiercely humming?

Reminding us in silvered streams, never fixed,

 

our stories. We choose to sit or fight

against the dying of the light

to witness gleaming through the cracks, never fixed,

 

forever light comes from stars extinguished

we see it, or we don’t.

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My shadow reflecting–light and shadows

 

This has been a difficult week for the world, though it is also been inspiring in some ways.

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A grown daughter’s childhood companion.

In whatever way you can, speak out, donate, and help others. Here is a short list of things to read, support, and follow

Merril’s Movie Club: We watched Just Mercy, which is streaming free (in the U.S) during the month of June. I was afraid it would be a sort of feel good Hollywood movie, but both my husband and I thought it was a good movie with excellent acting. There are additional facts and statistics at the end. We also watched Uncut Gems, which was good in a different way. It’s available on Netflix now.

I’ve written about the musical Ragtime before. It’s one of my favorite musicals, and it seems particularly relevant during this presidency, and right now, the song, “Make Them Hear You” resonates. Here is Ricky the Cat listening to it. (And yes, I may have made him a little bed by my computer.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At Midnight

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At Midnight

 

gather

moonbeams and weave

a tapestry of light

to hang upon the wall of night,

glowing,

 

wait for

dawn’s chariot

to drive across the sky.

Collect her rays in blankets for

cold hearts.

 

Listen

for crow’s wisdom,

squirrel’s scolding, and frog’s croak.

Hear the joy in a baby’s laugh,

find peace

 

and watch

for storms on seas

of tumbling, tossing waves,

leaving you adrift. Here you find

dragons–

 

fire

streams from their mouths–

yet you must stay calm, sing

the song of sun, moon, stars, sea–

exhale

 

glowing

dawn’s chariot,

squirrels scolding, and frog’s croak,

the song, of sun, moon, stars, sea—

behold.

 

Colleen sort of challenged me to write a garland cinquain, so here it is. For her Tanka Tuesday challenge. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Waiting, Watching, Waking

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Odilon Redon, “The Muse on Pegasus”

 

Born in a dazzle of smoke and ice,

time travelers dancing to the rhythms of the universe,

 

their songs hold secrets, a symphony un-tongued,

 

but felt and heard in the wind–

of life, death,

and a longing for love—

 

the music of lust and light,

why, and if only—

 

we turn away, when we should linger,

 

waiting for the storms to end,

and watching for dawn to come,  laughing

waking the morning blooms.

 

My Saturday collaboration with the Poetry Oracle.