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.







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–


FullSizeRender 327

they soon open,


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


through another door


to drink more coffee.


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,


life, opening and closing–

sometimes we carry our hearts right through a doorway,

and keep on going.



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.




There was also this.


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.




Secrets and Shadows: Musings and Shadorma

Monday Morning Musings:

“Secrets, silent, stony sit in the dark palaces of both our hearts: secrets weary of their tyranny: tyrants willing to be dethroned.”

James Joyce, Ulysses

“It’s a triumph of art and friendship over time. And it’s also very important, I think, to hang on to the things that mean something to you. And they transcend time.”

–Judy Collins, “Love, Friendship and Music: Stephen Stills and Judy Collins Collaborate on New Album,” All Things Considered with Michele Martin, November 11, 2017

“There is regret, almost remorse,
For Time long past.
‘Tis like a child’s belovèd corse
A father watches, till at last
Beauty is like remembrance, cast
From Time long past.”

–Percy Bysshe Shelley, “Time Long Past”


Secret lives

buried deep in walls

or within

chambered hearts,

echoing the beats, flowing,

waiting for release


The garage

old, unstable, and so

down it comes

over the years

it’s housed tools and junk,

a chipmunk or two, amidst the rakes

perhaps a snake.

We were told the wall at the back

was bumped out a bit to fit

a Model T–

But honestly, I don’t know,

and it’s all so long ago.

The roof was shingled many times

and covered with leaves, pollen, and snow

beside it children have played,

and a wandering doe has grazed.

The yard is littered

adorned with its pieces–

fragments of a secret life

forlorn in autumn’s fading light,

a building built to last,

but now

shadows cast, from time long past.


The weather now has turned much colder

as the year journeys to its end,

no more harkening back, it seems to say

though time winds round again

through falling leaves and winter snow

to springtime bud and summer flowers,

and in the buildings here on city streets

there’s blending of the old and new

where cobblestones meet asphalt streets

and on concrete pavements,

shadows cast, from time long past

We see a musical about phone sex and love

set in the 1990s,

just before

(it opens a door)

the Internet really became a thing

and here a young man and woman

don golden chastity rings,

and vow to remain chaste till wed.

But now with their upcoming marriage,

they realize they do not really know each other.

They learn in song

(Well, it’s a musical, so we go along.)

we all have secrets lives and secret selves–

shadows cast, from time long past

FullSizeRender 251

It’s a funny, enjoyable show

a quirky romantic comedy

if not profound

it covers some familiar ground,

but still we talk of how it’s set

in a changing time.

a time now past

when our children were young.

And as day becomes night,

in autumn’s fading light

We see a bride and groom

and should we assume

they have lives kept private and

shadows cast, from time long past?


In the car, we listen to NPR

hear an interview with Judy Collins and Stephen Stills,

old lovers, now still friends,

hanging on to important things

and illustrated with their songs

throughout time

things that last,

shadows cast, from time long past.


I think of my mom and dad

meeting in time long before technology

of cell phones and Internet

and they connected,

once they were young and in love

then they weren’t either

keeping secrets from each other

yet still, I think the love was always there

and she to him said a final goodbye

the night before he died

shadows cast over time, long past


We take my mom to a winery–

“Cross a wine tasting off your bucket list,”

I say.


Here we can sit at a table

order our selections

of white and red



served with cheese and bread

and the atmosphere is convivial,

the conversation, mostly trivial,

but as we move to pizza and more wine,

we’re feeling pretty fine,

we talk of Thanksgiving

and of ancestry

I tell her about my poetry,

she tells me things she remembers–

sitting in her grandfather’s lap

though she doesn’t remember much about him,

and after that he died,

from an injury to his skull,

difficult times from them all

immigrants from another land

speaking a language I don’t understand,

I learned there was a baby brother born

after her mother and her aunts

he died young, seldom spoken of.

In the conversation here

ghosts of ancestors now appear–

shadow cast, of time long past


Then to home

the weekend ended,

secrets shared

journeys taken,

sunshine and shadows, blended,

cast in a circle


through time and

space our souls wander

sharing love

fearing death

casting shadows of time past

long ago and now


We saw TouchTones at the Arden Theatre. We went to Auburn Road Vineyard.

I’ve begun and ended my musing with Shadorma for my somewhat sporadic participation in Eliot of Along the Interstice’s November Shadorma Challenge.







Cabarets and Conviviality

Monday Morning Musings:

“Life is a cabaret, old chum

Come to the Cabaret!”

–John Kander and Fred Ebb, “Cabaret,” from Cabaret


“Which of all my important nothings shall I tell you first?”

–Jane Austen, Letter to her sister Cassandra, June 15, 1808


On a summery autumn day,

we left the sunlight

to enter the smoky den–

(the Cabaret, old friend)

Germany in the 1930s

but goose steppers are looming

the winds of war are moving

soon the guns will be booming

but for now, there is consuming

beer and goods,

here in the night,

the women are beautiful

the men are beautiful

they slink and glide

in barely-there wear

the Emcee, in heels and gowns

feather boa and garters,


grooming the audience

flirting and diverting

we’re there, but here

then, but now

I’m surprised–

though why–

startled at my own emotion reaction

because it’s no longer an abstraction,

“Tomorrow Belongs to Me”

and Nazi insignia–

my throat constricts,

the body knows what the mind refuses to accept

(more goose steps)

I hear “some very fine people” gather

drivel and blather

echoes of then and now

the need to fight and disavow

what do politics have to do with us

the characters ask

We’re Germans,

(We’re Americans)

that can’t happen here,

our rights will never disappear

people standing tall and proud

arms held straight in devoted salute

They worship him

(no matter what he says)

small steps with profound consequences

(build a wall and many fences)

the slippery slope

and where’s the rope to pull us back

to ring the warning bell

to tell us now that all is well

So, what would you do

My brave young friend?

Would you pay the price?

What would you do?

What should we do?

What will you do?



We walk and talk

a wonderful production

the set well-designed,

the orchestra well-tuned and engaging

the voices delightful

the direction, insightful

altogether, quite a show


(rightfully so)

a little too close to current events

(Maybe this time)

we’ll be lucky

maybe this time

he’ll go away


We wander some more

through old city streets

encounter wedding parties

one right after the other

brides, grooms, sisters, brothers

“the wedding stalker,” my husband says,

but it makes me happy to see love and joy

(where some want only to destroy)

affirmations of love and life

after the violence, hate, killing, and strife


We drink coffee

stroll across the cobblestones


where men met to create a nation

to establish here a firm foundation

(remember the ladies, Abigail said)

but no, they simply went ahead

We’ve come a long way, baby

but still and all–

life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness

flawed men with lofty ideals

feet of clay

and yet they found a way

it’s still the best we have

pledges made then and now

pledges these couples make in wedding vows

to love and cherish

to pursue life and happiness together

to do their best

we must do our best

(to join together)


After the play, we join our friends

friends of years

through love and tears

FullSizeRender 221

kindred spirits

saying farewell to one couple’s house

not their first

but one where babies were born and nursed

here a family gathered

here we’ve shared many meals

often, like tonight Chinese food


viewed one way

something we’ve done before

but there’s always something new and something old

moments to cherish and hold

close here to heart and mind

to bring out and remember

should we ever find the need to,

we say farewell to the house

but not the friendship,

remember that time, we say?

That day?

And then?

Remember when?

“What do you talk about? one friend’s daughter asked.

How do you describe the talk of old friends?

We talk of all our important nothings

and then we talk some more

of children, homes, work, and retirement

of travel, plays, movies, and books

of bats in our houses

and grandchildren in our beds

of catching mice

and stalking cats

of coffee cups and chocolate cake

of food and wine

and all the time

of then

and now

and all things fine

(and some things not so)

until finally it’s time to go.

We part with hugs effusive

despite the hour

and as the moon peeks from her cloudy bower

FullSizeRender 214


we part–

Auf Wiedersehen,

but not goodbye

À bientôt

Enjoy life’s show–

it may be a cabaret

but if so, the set changes every day

and yet love, the light, true friends remain

and all our important nothings

in turns out

are really something









Monday Morning Musings:

Tell all the truth but tell it slant — (1263)

“Tell all the truth but tell it slant —

Success in Circuit lies

Too bright for our infirm Delight

The Truth’s superb surprise

As Lightning to the Children eased

With explanation kind

The Truth must dazzle gradually

Or every man be blind —“

–Emily Dickinson



A brilliant she is born

here, there, in the past, now

she lived, flowered—perhaps

a rose with thorns—

or a pale bud that only blooms unseen,

but the fever, the desire to create

to know

to explore

is not enough,

confined by men,


(only a woman)

put in a box

(too weak)

on a shelf

(an ornament)

in a cage

(shackled and punished)

Don’t think too hard, they say to her

your insides will be twisted,

you’ll go mad,

but she rises, resists

her voice rings out

and we wake



We see a new movie about Emily Dickinson

I learn afterward that

before she confined herself to life to Amherst,

to her home, garden, and poetry

she traveled a bit,

to Boston,

and to Philadelphia

walked the streets we’ve walked

I imagine her ghost lingering still

though the streets are paved and surrounded by new buildings,


she published only a few poems during her life

though she wrote thousands

she admired the Brontës,

women who had their work published

(though first under pseudonyms )

they loved their homes and families,

neither Emily married

(wives did not have time to write)


What was her truth

and what is truth

and does it slant,

or do we slant it?

Are facts facts

or alternate facts,

difficult, didactic, diffused

gradually, dazzlingly, deliciously



We see a performance of Gypsy

I remember watching the movie on TV

with a bit of a crush on Natalie Wood–

the way girls admire older teenage girls–

we’re entertained

we let them entertain us

and make us smile.

the orchestra sweeps us along with Mama Rose,

the ultimate stage mother,

annoying, unyielding, and yet we feel sorry for her

as she seeks the American dream for her children

during the Great Depression

and watch, listen to the music and words of Laurents, Styne, and Sondheim,

the great American musical



I think the real Gypsy Rose Lee must have dazzled

but not all at once–

or rather showing only some, not all–


so that men would not be blinded,

but rather left with wanting more

as she entertained them and made them smile.


After the performance

on this Memorial Day weekend

the sky suddenly clears


dazzling gradually

delaying the delectable,

revealing the late spring night of beauty


and we sit, eat, drink


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and watch the people walk by

listen to their conversations

wonder about their plans

the young woman leaning on the car taking a selfie

the man with his children waiting for their table,

the trio at the table next to us, discussing diets,

a couple strolls by, the woman says,

“But he’s no longer addicted.”
my husband and I agree that’s good,

even if it seems unlikely.


I think about Memorial Day

the day to honor and remember the military fallen,

the long weekend celebrated with parades, barbecue grills,

and trips “down the shore”

Isn’t it strange?

though perhaps not,

to celebrate life, instead of death

and isn’t that what they fought for–

so that we could sit and eat with our families in peace

so that all can receive educations, and not just those who can afford private schools

so all will be able to sort fact from fiction

so that all men and women, all genders, all races, and religions

can live in freedom

isn’t that why they fought

so that I can write these words

and you can read them?

my truth,

slanted like the sunglow as evening falls

blinding, dazzling


revealed gradually

coming full circle

FullSizeRender 129

Today is Memorial Day here in the US. I am mindful and thankful for all the men and women who served and sacrificed their lives, even if I have not supported the wars and conflicts in which they fought.

We saw A Quiet Passion and Gypsy. We ate at Cuba Libre.

I dreamt poetry last night, but sadly I will not have much time to write it this week. As some of you know, I am reading, writing, and editing articles on rape, and my manuscript deadline is. . .um, gulp. . .this week. So. . .I may not be so active in Blogland for the next week or so. Then again, I do need to take a break occasionally. 😉






Monday Morning Musings:

“And, as imagination bodies forth
The forms of things unknown, the poet’s pen
Turns them to shapes, and gives to airy nothing
A local habitation and a name.
Such tricks hath strong imagination,
That, if it would but apprehend some joy,
It comprehends some bringer of that joy;
Or, in the night, imagining some fear,
How easy is a bush suppos’d a bear.”

–William Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Act V, Scene 1

The Past and Future Merge

She soared high

amongst the stars,


her mind everywhere,

she heard the universe sing

felt its rhythm in her soul,

it was part of her

and she of it,

had always been,

but unaware,



if there was a before and a then,

now she sang with the stars

and knew, she and they were one.

For a moment, she remembered—

a body unmoving on a bed in a white room,

beeping machines now silent,

a man with grief-streamed eyes–

now she saw,

as if looking in a mirror,

hundreds of her, stretching back and forth in time

they were her, and not her

different paths and different planes

all part of the universe,

she sang the songs of the stars and floated through space, time, dreams



we wandered through bleak city streets

more like December than March

(but without the holiday cheer),

wet sidewalks with snow piled at the curb,

tinged grey from city dirt,



we walked into the theater,

found our seats

looked down on a stage,

bare, except for players with instruments,

sitting there,

we’re transported,

through time, space, dreams,

sixteenth-century English,

but timeless ideas,

love gone wrong and right,

couples bemused and bedazzled,

parted and reunited,

magic and fairies,

Oberon and Puck smoking a hookah,

watched what they’ve set in place,

musicians played

and displayed

impressive voices and skills,

(in double roles),

we laughed in delight

puckish Puck, the comical Bottom,

and the mixed-up lovers.

We got a treat at intermission

(for being subscribers)

then hurried back to see the conclusion,

watched the moon rise and set over the stage,

the fairy spells recast,

the lovers paired and married,

and the play within the play,

we applauded and rose,

happy to have been transported for a few hours–

the magic of theater




We discussed the play over coffee,


me sniffling a bit with a cold and the cold,

and both of us waiting for spring to return,

I said that in Shakespeare’s time

the play would probably be ruder,

I thought of the playwright’s wit and wisdom,

then and now the words hold true,

“Lord, what fools these mortals be!”

words transported through time and space,

a play about love and dreams and magic



The next morning, I slept late

(late for me that is),

still befuddled by the time change and the cold

in the night I had a dream,

a musical, like Mel Brooks mixed with a touch of David Lynch

sprinkled with bits of Carole King and Toni Morison,

literary and ludicrous,

I woke briefly,

then had another dream,

my cold had kept me from a regular Saturday class at the gym,

I dreamt the same instructor had a special Thursday class,


(so it seemed)

of alternating ab work and running,

instead of mats,

we had our winter coats spread in lines,

our spots on the gym floor,

I was there with some of my gym buddies,


(a strange and slightly ominous word),

we ran,

panting and perspiring,

but there were others,

who stood about,

I noticed one man,

he wore a sweater vest,

After I woke, I laughed,

my subconscious mind makes bad puns.


and I thought about dreams and dreaming

and what a fool I might be

perhaps lacking reason,

but still able to dream,

and laugh,

thinking of mid-summer

in the winter weather,

turning shapes to fancy,

imagining creatures in the night,

giving them names

thinking of love, magical and irrational

yet somehow real,

throughout time and space

and in and out of dreams


I thought of how Chuck Berry died the other day,

but his music is traveling through the galaxy,

“Johnny B. Goode,”

the stars add rock and roll to their repertoire,

and the poet’s words have traveled through time,

read and performed in schools, jungles, prisons,

and perhaps in space,

today my words may travel across the globe

and be read in different spaces, various places,

my thoughts of dreams

traveling through space and time


The_Sounds_of_Earth_Record_Cover_-_GPN-2000-001978 (1)

By NASA/JPL (The Sounds of Earth Record Cover) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons


The first section of this was inspired by Jane Dougherty’s Sunday Strange Microfiction Challenge.    I didn’t have a chance to get the story in for the challenge. 🙂





The Past, the Future, Ghosts, and Drag in the City of Brotherly Love

Monday Morning Musings:

“The past is a foreign country: they do things differently there.”

–L.P. Hartley

“This play is so American. . .[it] shows us that transformation can only happen when we break apart our fears, our suspicions and our judgments. Because the America I know is not the one that is portrayed by only a few, isn’t the one that discriminates against its citizens for their differences. NO. The America I know and cherish and honor is one that all these characters are creating.”

— Emmanuelle Delpech, From her Director’s Notes, The Legend of Georgia McBride, Arden Theatre, Philadelphia


When was the last time the four of us had spent a day together at a museum?

We all wondered, but couldn’t remember,

somewhere amidst childhood’s ghosts

left behind with dolls and story books,

ghosts of Halloweens past

when little girls dressed in costumes

that they slept in,

a princess and a clown

(not a creepy one at all).


And so we went,

a family outing,

our girls married women now,

but still crazy sisters, having fun,

interpreting the works of art



And since the big new exhibit is on Mexican revolutionary art

and it’s close to Halloween

there are Day of the Dead displays


We eat Wawa hoagies*

(My daughter misses them in Boston.)



I score Super Momma points

by making hot fudge sauce,

totally spur of the moment

(in record time)

so we can have it with our coffee ice cream

as we watch Grey’s Anatomy

It’s another ghost from the past.


It is Halloween weekend,

my husband and I go to the theater

(which, I guess fits, when you think about it)

In the play,

a man discovers his inner femininity—

becoming a drag queen,

with the help of a real drag queen.

After a slow start,

the play picks up

struts its stuff,

so to speak,

along with the actors,

a feel good show

about finding your passion

and not giving up,

accepting those who are different from you.

A good lesson, don’t you think?


After the show, we drink coffee

sitting on a bench outside of Christ Church in Philadelphia.


a beautiful October day,

we watch the people in the present

learning about the people of the past,

as they walk in and about the beautiful eighteenth-century church

where George Washington, Benjamin Franklin and others attended services.

We walk the streets, some still cobbled,

where founding fathers, mothers, sisters, and brothers

once walked,

where free and bound lived and worked.


None of them was perfect,

neither are we.

But the past is a foreign country.

people then did not know all we know now

(perhaps we have lost some of their knowledge, too)

Progress and human rights come slowly

as babies crawl tentatively before they walk and then run eagerly

to explore the world.

So are there stages

of nations

that rise and fall.

And of discoveries that humans uncover and embrace with hesitation

or delight.

Thirteen colonies came together,

representatives walked the streets we now walk,

worked together to fight for independence,

and later, to form a more perfect union,

evolving over centuries

with greatness from the start,

along with evils,

slavery, racism, sexism, xenophobia.

We should not move backwards

to the foreign country of the past,

not regress, but rather progress,

build upon the great to make greater.


We travel to another part of Philadelphia,

Fairmount Park,

one of the largest urban parks in the world.

We are there for a Lupus Run/Walk

my younger daughter and her husband run,

my husband and I walk,

some people drag their heels,

some are in drag,

well, costumes.

There is a team of Star Wars characters,

others in purple tutus,

a sea of purple t-shirts.


We begin at Memorial Hall

(now the Please Touch Children’s Museum)

with its figure of Columbia at the top,

it was an art museum,

constructed for the Centennial Exhibition in 1876,

a huge exhibition with many buildings

and many visitors.

A Women’s Pavilion gave women a chance to display and demonstrate

the new opportunities available to them in professions and business

there were displays of dress reforms, too.

But women were segregated in their own pavilion,

and still denied the vote.

And so we run/walk through

beautiful Fairmount Park

passing statues of Civil War generals

and the Japanese Tea house

I imagine women in suffragist white,

ghosts flitting among the statues

I think they would echo

“When they go low, we go high,”

standing calm amidst storms of hate.

Women have always had to fend off and fight

the gropers and grabbers,

and some of them loved other women

though not out in the open.

I amuse myself by imaging Susan B. Anthony

reading grievances while drag queens in the audience cheer.

(This did not happen.)


But the past is a foreign country

we can’t impose our views on it.

Our own pasts, well, perhaps they change

with, in, our memories

which are imperfect.

merging and shifting,

taking on new tones and meanings.

On this Halloween

my memories of Halloween past

merge with the present.

I think about the future,

We are at the crossroads,

there are ghosts all around.

We must push back the hate and fear.

We dream.

A wise man once had a dream

of freedom for all

freedom for those of every color, of any religion.

He was killed by hate.

But still we dream.

I think about the future

with dread

with longing

with hope

with dreams.


*Hoagie is the Philadelphia name for a sandwich served on a long, tapered roll. Wawa is a convenience store chain that is much beloved in parts of Pennsylvania and southern New Jersey.

Philadelphia Museum of Art

We saw The Legend of Georgia McBride by Matthew Lopez at the Arden Theatre.

Christ Church, Philadelphia

The Please Touch Museum/Memorial Hall

On suffragists on Independence Day 1876, see this.

Martin Luther King, Jr., I Have a Dream speech.


Magic All Around Us

Monday Morning Musings:

“Magic is always pushing and drawing and making things out of nothing. Everything is made of out 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


“A church is place where people go to see something that is very difficult to see. A place where the invisible is—at least for a moment—made visible.

The theater can be that too.”

The Christians: An Essay by Lucas Hnath,” Playwrights Horizon Bulletin


It is the season of life,

spring, when flowers bloom

and birds sing and chatter from dawn till dusk,

and then some,

squirrels chase each other up and down

the tree’s umbrageous limbs,

rabbits hop, stop, and sprint across the grass

dotted with yellow flowers,

probably weeds,

but eye of the beholder and all that,

now, today

it’s rainy and gloomy, and

we commemorate the fallen.

Lights out,

All is well, safely rest, God is nigh.

Nothing dies that hasn’t first lived

and there are ghosts all around us.


At the start of this holiday weekend,

we go to see The Secret Garden,

pathos and harmonies,

glorious score, creative set,

stunningly beautiful voices.

(“Yummy,” said the woman next to me.)

There was a secret garden

once loved, but left to languish,

rediscovered, it is brought back to life

a bit of earth blooms

sorrow, not forgotten,

but eased,

a garden and a family recreated.

In the magic of theater, I’m bewitched, entranced,


I dream of ghosts and enchanted gardens

with songs floating in the air,

Come to my garden.


The next day, we see another play

about faith and changing beliefs,

about questioning and communication,

the pastor has a powerful urge to communicate

I wonder if his message resonates more powerfully

with believers?

Still, the play sparks conversation

as we sit outside at a wine café on a beautiful afternoon,

although I have to lead with

(vent about)

the person sitting next to me,

man-spreading into my personal space

(fortunately, I’m small)

fidgeting and reaching for his water

on the floor between his spread legs,

non-stop for the first ten minutes of the play,

before he abruptly gets up and leaves.

Perhaps there is a god.

But still

I dream of ghosts and enchanted gardens

with songs floating in the air,

Come to my garden


Before the first play,

(the yummy-voiced musical)

we walk in the garden of

Christ Church

People had crises of faith then, too–

and wars–

life blooms all around

in the garden

on this beautiful summer-like day,

as do reminders of death

life and death

an endless cycle.

But still

I dream of ghosts and enchanted gardens

with songs floating in the air,

Come to my garden.


That night

(after the yummy-voiced musical)

we sit outside,

enjoying, the beautiful evening

family, old and young

different generations

shared loved

love that blooms

and blooms again

like the flowers in a garden,

the magic of life, the sorrow of death

circle of life recreated and recast every second

as cells are sloughed off and created,

people and animals born and die.

Every spring, the earth awakens


in a garden

on earth

And I dream–

I dream of ghosts and enchanted gardens

with songs floating in the air,

Come to my garden.


We saw The Secret Garden at the Arden Theatre

Christ Church, Philadelphia 

We saw The Christians at the Wilma Theater 

Some history of “Taps”  







Monday Morning Musings:

“The pianokeys are black and white
but they sound like a million colors in your mind”

–Maria Cristina Mena, The Collected Stories of Maria Cristina Mena
“Pit race against race, religion against religion, prejudice against prejudice. Divide and conquer! We must not let that happen here.”

–Eleanor Roosevelt

“The marriage institution cannot exist among slaves, and one sixth of the population of democratic America is denied it’s privileges by the law of the land. What is to be thought of a nation boasting of its liberty, boasting of it’s humanity, boasting of its Christianity, boasting of its love of justice and purity, and yet having within its own borders three millions of persons denied by law the right of marriage?”

–Frederick Douglass, My Bondage and My Freedom


 The dogwood blossomed white across the city street,

green pots filled with brighter green plants adorned

the tables of an outside café

the earth is throwing off its winter grey,

awakening in shades of

pink, white, yellow, and green.

In the theater row in front of me,

sat a woman with chestnut brown curls

highlighted with a few strands of silver

flowing past her shoulders,

to her right was a woman with tight, black corkscrew curls

patches of nut brown skin visible between them,

to her left, a woman with straight, wheat blond hair

conversed with her auburn-hair friend

on stage were actors with various shades of brown skin

The play?

August Wilson’s Two Trains Running,

recreating life in a luncheonette, Pittsburgh 1969–

but it is an eerie echo of today

“Blacks Lives Matter,”

“Hands Up, Don’t Shoot,”

black men in prison


and women objectified—

well, some things never change, do they?

The set looks like a real luncheonette,

a pot of coffee, a glass diner carafe,

constantly on behind the counter,

a broken, homeless man

who can utter only one phrase,

the characters dream of a better life,

don’t we all?


The next day,

in another theater

in the same city,

the day cloudy and grey,

An Octoroon

by Branden Jacobs-Jenkins,

a black playwright

or a playwright?

It’s a head-spinning tour-de-force,

a play within a play

the nineteenth-century play,

The Octoroon by Dion Boucicault




black actors,

white actors–

just actors–

male and female,

and musicians,

there were chickens, too,

real chickens in a pen,

and Br’er Rabbit

(who, if it matters, had a white head and ears).

Colors and race,

we race to catch a bus,

we win a race,

we are members of the human race,

race, a silly word to describe–

What? What does it describe?

An octoroon was one eighth black,

(whatever that means)

unable to marry a white person

(whatever that means)

in Louisiana in 1859.

We get caught up in the 19th century


Will Zoe be sold?

Will George marry Dora?

An actor literally fights himself.

Two playwrights, different centuries

discuss the power of theater,

Boucicault was known for his

“sensation scenes,”

we are meant to feel

to be overwhelmed,

and we are.

But race?

If we go back far enough

we are all descended from the same pair,

some relative of Lucy’s in East Africa,

and some of us have Neanderthal genes, too.

Farther back still,

we are all made from star dust.

So what does that make us?

I am not naïve–OK. Perhaps I am, but

if your laws or religion tell you

to limit the rights of others

who have skin of a different color,

whose eyes are brown, when yours are blue,

whose genitalia differs from your own

who loves a person who has similar genitalia

who worships with his or head covered–

or does not believe in any god at all—

well, then, your laws and your religion

are simply wrong.

No debate.

Colors should describe flowers, the sea

the eyes of your beloved

not exclude and divide human beings.

The playwright says the point of theater is to

overload our senses

to make us feel–

and think–

And so we did

And so we do.


We saw Two Trains Running at the Arden Theatre.

We saw An Octoroon at the Wilma Theater. 


Still Life

Monday Morning Musings:

“This will be our reply to violence: to make music more intensely, more beautifully, more devotedly than ever before.”

–Leonard Bernstein

(For information on this quote. Go here. )

I had meant to write a different post,

One discussing food and family

Something new,

I know,

But then there was Paris

And Beirut,

And death everywhere.

It’s all I could think about.

But life goes on.

And there was art.

A still life by my mom.

A still life by my mom.

My husband and I went to the museum

To see an exhibition on American still life,

And when I said “still life”

To myself

There was the epiphany.

(From the Greek,

Meaning reveal.)

Art does reveal,

Of course.

But it was the words–

Still AND life

That’s what hit me.

Despite the attempts

By terrorists

To massacre

Not only people,

But to destroy

Art, music, culture,

The history, beauty, and wisdom

Of the ages

They have not won.

There is



Still life the art form

Displays what people value

Or want to present to the world

It can be a reflection of the ordinary

Or the sublime.

Often both.

Raphaelle Peale’s blackberries

Looked so luscious

I wanted to pluck them from the canvas.

A little girl ran to a Calder mobile,

A water lily,

In delight.

The guard and I smiled at each other.

“It is wonderful to see so many children here,”

I said.

And she agreed.

The next generation

Seeing beauty and creativity,

And all sorts of people were there.

A French-speaking family stood

Behind me.

A woman with gray hair

And a ready smile

In a wheelchair

Moved around the exhibition room

As though her chair was a chariot.

A tall man in a blue sweater stooped

To read a label

Supported by his cane.

From American still life,

Audubon’s birds

“Are they dead?”

The girl asked her mother

To Warhol’s Brillo Pads

We traveled to another gallery.

Rubens’ “Prometheus Bound,”

Bound again

And again

For bringing the fire of creativity to humankind.

He suffered perpetual torture

Until freed by Hercules.

His position mirroring

Michelangelo’s risen Christ.

Wrath of the gods

And resurrection.

The triumph of human spirit

And imagination

Rendered over and over.

Humans suffer for art

And for that creative spark.

And art suffers from human destructiveness.

We saw paintings

Retrieved by

The Monuments Men.

Paintings stolen

In another war.

Evil and good,

History and art,

Gods and men.

In another room

A Buddhist monk in saffron robe and black sandals

Admired Van Gogh’s “Sunflowers,”

Another still life

By a tortured soul.

But still,


We had seen a play the day before.


That was the title,

Not what we did,

At least not then,

Because after all,

Haven’t we all


The play was about Shakespeare,

And history,

And truth

And lies

And theater.

In other words,


The creation of truth

Or legends.

And don’t forget the witches.

Richard III and his hump,

A creation of the playwright,

And Agincourt,

The legend immortalized,

But after all,

The St. Crispin’s Day speech

Is grand and glorious,

We happy few

Going into battle.

Still life

A tableau

A freeze frame

Of a particular moment

In time

On stage,

But in our minds, too,

As we recall

“Where were you when it happened?”

Everyone remembers.

I was in second grade when JFK

Was assassinated.

I was on my way to the gym

When the first plane struck the twin towers.

Moments observed

And never forgotten.

We went to the movies,

My husband and I,


The name of the movie,

A noun and a verb.

A moment revealed

And highlighted.

The power of the press

Uncovering a cover-up

Exposing what had been buried

With the help of many

In the church and government.

What is the opposite

Of wrath of the gods?

The triumph of the human spirit?


Not equivocation.


And photos

Colored in red, blue, and white

In solidarity


The human impulse

To do something

In the face of evil

And who says it does no good?

As we are reminded

Time and time again

One person can bring about


Gandhi said,

“In a gentle way, you can shake the world.”



In the horror

Of Paris,


The abuse of children,

The censorship of ideas,

The destruction of art,

We mourn,


We go about life

Without equivocation

Without hesitation

Revealing truth




Not stilled.





More intensely,

More beautifully,

More devotedly

Than ever


My mom with one of her still life paintings at an exhibit.

My mom with one of her still life paintings at an exhibit.

Further Information:

Audubon to Warhol: The Art of American Still Life

The Wrath of the Gods: Masterpieces by Rubens, Michelangelo, and Titian

Equivocation at the Arden Theatre. You can read more about the play here.

Spotlight the film