Bread and Roses

Monday Morning Musings:

Early morning in December, Red Bank Battlefield. ©️Merril D. Smith, 2021

Scarlet, russet, orange, green—
the colors bright against the sky
pewter, lead, as clouds fly

Color against the grey river and sky. Delaware River, Red Bank Battlefield. ©️Merril D. Smith 2021

one day bluster, one day calm
gulls and geese mind the storm
of swirling wind, cold and warm

opposites attract,
or do they simply fight
in thunderous rumbles, a response to flight.

In darkness, we seek light,
in longest night, the dawn
apricot and pink, shy sparkle then gone

but where do we go
when hate comes again
cycles of not if, but when

in endless journeys,
ships in the night, dreams
of a future— streams

of thought from the past,
ancestral visions caught or checked?
What happened, what comes next?

We need both bread and roses
to survive, to thrive
beyond existence, life and alive

to hope and beauty–
to plants seeds, then wait
for others to germinate

tender buds, well-nourished—
bread and roses, not
blood and lies, a nation fraught

with dangerous thoughts
bread and roses, not mobs and guns—
the ones

who shout loudest attract a crowd,
but circles and seasons, round and round
the sun rises, beams from sky to ground,

even if we’re not here, even if no one is around,
the star-birds twinkle and sing, wing light
into the future, red and blue shifts bright beyond our sight—

and perhaps—

some travelers in some time hence
may see not only relics of destruction and fear,
but traces of love sown and grown, still echoing here.

I found a heart.

The weather has been strange, and the news has been frightening.
We took a trip to Longwood Gardens last week just to get out of the house. We wore masks indoors, though some did not. We had a recent COVID scare, but fortunately my husband and I both tested negative. Yet some people still refuse to wear masks or get vaccines and believe the pseudo-science they hear.

My theme was also inspired by this Marginalian post about Rebecca Solnit on George Orwell’s Roses. Bread and Roses was a poem set to music and used as a union marching song.

Last night we watched an interactive streaming play called Witness by the Arlekin’s Zero Gravity (zero-G) Virtual Theater Lab. It shares the experiences of the Jewish refugees on the St. Louis, which left Germany in 1939, only to be turned away in Cuba, and then other countries, and combines them with stories from more recent Jewish immigrants from Russian and Ukraine, along with discussions of recent acts of anti-Semitism. It was interesting and thought provoking. My grandparents came from what is now Belarus and Ukraine.

This morning I saw so many vultures just down the street from where I live. I could hear their wings flapping. It was thrilling.

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).

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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


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,


“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,

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I hope they don’t disappear too soon.

Then a rainbow appears way up high


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)


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.  🙂