Cranberries and Blue

Clouds and Blue Sky, First Day of Autumn at Red Bank Battlefield

And now, the sky is clearest blue,
gone summer’s haze, the color true
where eagles, herons, geese fly through

into tomorrow. Now the air
is crisp—soon crisper—and see there
the leaves are turning gold? Prepare
as now’s the time for harvests, too.

Grapes for wine, apples for the pies
and sauce, tossed in a pot—time flies—
between sun and moon, lows and highs.
Taste the tart and bittersweet, chew,

swallow, wallowed grief–holidays
she’ll never see. Cranberries stay
on my mind, and Thanksgiving Day
with the blue-squirrel mold—it’s hard to

say, the family tradition—
how she held it, the condition
of it unsure—no prediction
what cranberries will do. And you

cry, but it’s not the fruit. Life goes
on. Leaves turn, and the river flows
with secrets and ghosts undisclosed—
cranberries sauced, but you are blue.

Our precious squirrel mold for Thanksgiving cranberry sauce

This is Zéjel for Grace’s Meet the Bar prompt on dVerse, and also for Mish’s fruit prompt on Tuesday. I was thinking about Thanksgiving and our family’s cranberry squirrel the other day. We haven’t all been together since before my mom died.

Linger–Quadrille

Almost autumn with an Egret. the Delaware River at Red Bank Battlefield

Linger here—wait, hereafter–
listen to the gulls call in laughter.
Rest awhile in this in-between
the sky so blue, the trees still green—

soon, the russet-leaves will fall,
and we’ll recall–

memories dim–rose-scent and sun-kissed skin
as icy fingers stroke your chin.

A quadrille for dVerse. Linda has asked us to use the word linger. We’re just about at the autumnal equinox, and the weather seems perfectly balanced. I wish it would linger like this for awhile.

November Clouds

Nearly every day I find something in the natural world that astounds me with its beauty– a single wildflower, a shy, graceful deer, or a stunning cloudscape over the Delaware River. When I walk, usually early in the morning, I’m often filled with wonder—a sensation of body and mind. This morning, I almost didn’t walk because of the rain and thunder, but it stopped, and I went out to see the most incredible sky.

golden leaves glow
against charcoal clouds they dance,
fall in nature’s rhythm

Delaware River at Red Bank Battlefield. November Sky. ©️Merril D. Smith, 2020

This is for Kim’s prompt at dVerse, to write a haibun “about a time when you last watched stars, a storm, the sea, an animal, or something else in nature that left you with a sense of wonder or awe.”

There Might Be Ghosts

Monday Morning Musings:

There might be ghosts in this story–
a tale of family secrets, a haunted house,
nightmares and night terrors

(what if they came for you?)
the spirits, specters, demons, and devils–
a frisson of fear, a shiver and a quiver

as you hear the tale,
it’s not real (you tell yourself)
these things don’t exist

(unless they come for you)
the secret police, the armed agents
to detain, to torture, to turn your life

upside-down, the world we live in now,
where we see the light reflected and wonder how
it is here and there, and wanders

Puddle Reflection, Upside-down World. ©️Merril D. Smith, October 2020

from shore to distant horizon
between what we see
and what we think we see

Autumn refracted and reflected through the mist. Red Bank Battlefield,.©️Merril D. Smith October 2020

in the fog, all is a blur,
sound is distorted, it echoes,
a soft purr of distant cars, the honk of a goose

Heron in the misty ripples of the Delaware River. Red Bank Battlefield. ©️Merril D. Smith, 2020

here birds stop, then soar,
but I stand, rooted like the trees,
in the midst of autumn splendor

(I like to think)
still rising, still growing,
knowing that roots connect underground–

so be it. And healthy cells grow, too,
though the malignant tumors stand out,
they are not the entire body (politic),

Still, I sigh, watch the birds fly,
read the horror tales, feel the feels,
they’re not as scary as what is real–

the ghosts of 215,000, rising, plus,
and thus, what’s to come with the scary clown,
while the Constitution is whittled down

we ache, body and soul,
as the fluff-headed victors sound the death knell
to tell of democracy’s demise—yet the story to tell

is that the moon still hums, the stars still sing,
and scatter the light brightening
all, it radiates, falls

in ripples, like the stone I cast
into the river, watch the ripples pass
flowing on, the present an illusion, it doesn’t last,

past to future, goes, in ridges and waves
like light, with colors we won’t ever see,
an essence remaining, like a ghost of ancestors, or you, or me,

the whispers of earth, the songs of the sea.

Delaware River at Red Bank Battlefield. Autumn Splendor. ©️Merril D. Smith, October 2020

Merril’s Movie/Theater/Book Club:
We watched a live-streamed production this week, STATE VS. NATASHA BENINA, which you probably won’t be able to access, but if you do get a chance, it’s well-worth it. I wondered how a production done live on Zoom would be (the audience was muted, and I turned off my camera, as I didn’t want people to see me in pjs in our living room). The actress was so good, portraying a Russian teen, who was raised in an orphanage, and now is accused of a crime. The audience is judge and jury, and votes at the end, but that serves more as a lead-in to discussion.

We were going to go out to a winery in the late afternoon yesterday, but the weather was not very nice, so we cancelled. I made a dinner, similar to one we might have had after Philadelphia theater dates, and we watched a filmed play, which is now on Amazon Prime. What the Constitution Means to Me is Heidi Schreck’s award-winning play, and it is excellent. I have heard pieces of it on the radio, as she discussed how she paid for her college education by giving speeches as a teen on the Constitution, but the entire play is really wonderful, as she weaves her personal history, her family’s history of domestic violence, women’s rights, and other issues into the narrative.

We also watched the new version of Rebecca on Netflix. We both enjoyed it. I like Lily James, though she seems rather more attractive and charming than the book character, and Kristin Scott Thomas is very good as Mrs. Danvers. From what I remember, this version does not have the overall menacing, Gothic feel of the Hitchcock movie or the book. I think it’s better to take it as it is, and not compare it to either.

We’re also started watching Borgen on Netflix, a Danish political drama. I like it, though it took a couple of episodes for me to get into it (and to understand the Danish political system).

And I finished The Year of Witching, and I’m almost finished with Home Before Dark. Horror reading—not nearly as scary as reality.

Lovely Bright, The Sight

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Monday Morning Musings:

“How clear, how lovely bright,

How beautiful to sight

Those beams of morning play. . .

 

Ensanquining the skies

How heavily it dies. . .

How hopeless under ground

Falls the remorseful day.”

–from A.E. Houseman, “How Clear, How Lovely Bright”

 

 

The line, the flow

the glow

of life, scattering

 

leaves, the gathering of nuts and seeds

(the sky bleeds)

reflecting the spattering

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of wounds, the broken glass

before the gas

and rustlings

 

of war and wind

the leaves are thinned,

but hear them crunch and crackle

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as squirrels scamper and play

in the fading light of autumn day

and the birds fly—geese and grackle—

and hawks and vultures soar

before the train comes, roars

down the tracks

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taking me somewhere—

up and down, stairs

we go, into the wind,

 

the boat sails

and what tales

might it have, of rivers or sea?

Delaware River from Patco train heading to Philadelphia

Delaware River from Patco train heading to Philadelphia

And is there a lighthouse, with ghostly

glowing and horn blowing, or mostly

sunny skies?

 

Time must sail, too

and we a sometime crew

walk through history

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18th Century garden on site of Benjamin Rush’s House, Philadelphia

how can it be otherwise,

the lows and highs

of our own lives, the mystery

 

of others–we see a groom and bride

and I hope they lovingly glide

into a life of love and joy

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A wedding party taking photos at “my willow” at Dock Creek, Old City, Philadelphia

(Pause, we drink coffee and wine

stop for a time—

but time is coy)

and autumn comes cold and dark

but there is beauty, even if it’s stark—

see the moon rise over fields stripped of grain

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Moonrise over a South Jersey field, November.

glowing, humming—this autumn sky

and the clouds and time

the time before the rain, snow, the train

 

of time. The movie train that circles

through the frozen world, almost eternal

but the cost

 

a cautionary tale

of where we might sail

and is our world already lost?

 

Crow calls

the remorseful day falls

setting underground

 

in fiery ball, unheeding

the world goes on, speeding

and we spellbound.

 

But I don’t celebrate bleeding—

or ferocious gods, the leaders leading

into destruction–

 

let poetry fly

through vast haunted eternity, die

the war-fever. Find a new function

 

for our minds and hearts

in words of love, kindness, and arts

that soar with feathered wings–

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how clear, how lovely bright

the sight

of what could be, of hope that sings

 

as the walls tumble down.

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This was a week of elections, cat dental surgery, the anniversary of Kristallnaught (November 9, 1938), and the tearing down of the Berlin Wall. In the U.S. today is Veteran’s Day. It was formerly Armistice Day, but of course, war has not ended. I respect all who have served and honor all those who have given their lives in serving their country. While someone like Hitler had to be stopped, it would be better if people did not let such people gain power.

 

For Merril’s Movie Club: We watched Snowpiercer, a 2014 movie we had never seen, but since we recently saw Parasite, and it is an earlier movie by the same director, Bong Joon-ho, we decided to watch it. It’s on Netflix. This one’s in English, and it’s much more of an action movie than I would normally see. Like Parasite, the movie covers the issues of class and climate,and there was definitely much to think about. Overall, we both liked it. There is also fighting and bloody scenes though, so be forewarned. We saw Lighthouse in the theater. It’s also in English. I know, strange, right?  (Don’t worry, we’re still watching Black Spot, so reading subtitles there.).  Great acting, beautiful black and white cinematography. Very strange, surrealistic movie of two lighthouse keepers on an isolated island. Some of the dialogue is taken from Melville and lighthouse keepers’ diaries. It’s somewhat similar in style to his previous movie, The Witch.

 

 

 

A Bit of Healing

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I’ve been feeling stressed for months—deadlines, caring for my mom, trying to fit everything in, waiting for the next disaster. I take a morning walk in the riverside park before the predicted downpour arrives. There I find a bit of magic, a bit of healing. Life goes on.

 

russet-gold shower

leaves fall on a silent world—

time pauses, deer leaps

 

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I’m linking this Haibun to dVerse’s Open Link Night. Lillian asked for some treats. Seeing deer is a treat for me (as long as they’re not in the road).

 

Cold and Burning

Monday Morning Musings:

 “Listen. .

With faint dry sound,

Like steps of passing ghosts,

The leaves, frost-crisp’d, break from the trees

And fall.”

Adelaide Crapsey, “November Night”

 

“In the burned house I am eating breakfast.

You understand: there is no house, there is no breakfast,

yet here I am.”

From Margaret Atwood, “Morning in the Burned House”

 

The sun sleeps

in shadow now

the ground prepares

to slumber, too

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covered in brown

then sprinkled with white

golden-leaved boughs

glowing bright

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in defiant display—

this they say—

remember this day–

we will return

 

when the sun burns

the frost away.

 

So, we stay inside

watch a movie of sly wit and song,

there death seems to come along,

a bit of jokester, it seems

for which we’re never prepared,

still we turn the pages in a book,

hoping for a happy ending

Movie Cat

He is fascinated, watching The Ballad of Buster Scruggs.

And in the night

I dream of petting a sloth

(in a park)

 

then accompanying a pretentious hipster

dressed all in black, dark

like the restaurant where no food is consumed

 

but I outwit him and his friends

and wake laughing at the dream’s end.

 

Score one for the old lady

there’s life here still–

and more to be penned.

 

We venture out to see another film

unfolding tension

(a few jumps in my chair)

 

metaphors and

things that are not there—

 

a tangerine,

perhaps a cat—

 

and there is burning—

of various kinds—

 

and yearning–

what is in their minds?

 

What do they feel,

 

the young woman,

the would-be writer,

and the mystery Gatsby-rich man?

 

What is real?

 

We walk and talk

buy spices

to simmer in the cold,

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then in the chilly day

creeping into shadowed night

savor the warmth of wine

consumed in cozy light

life enjoyed despite what may

transpire, gloom kept at bay

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undesired here and now

and our fate unknown anyhow

 

so, we gather rosebuds—or drink

fruit of the wine, laugh and think

 

but not too long about the future

instead we nurture

 

ourselves and one another

 

cuddle with cats, dream of the moon

enjoy one snowfall, but wait for June

 

still we prepare soon

with family to gather

 

as the seasons turn

burn only candles

 

yet, seek the light

in every room.

 

We watched The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, a Western, Coen Brothers style, in theaters and on Netflix. We also saw Burning, Korean movie, a psychological thriller. We liked both movies very much. Wonderful acting in both of them.

 

Once

Monday Morning Musings:

“Falling slowly, sing your melody

I’ll sing it loud”

From “Falling Slowly,” Once,

Music and lyrics by Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová

Once. . . I woke in darkness. Then the sun rose golden through rose-tinged clouds. The air was cool but clear. The world shifted and tilted. Dreams rose from the misted woods.

morning moon whispered

softly, praise touched red-gold leaves

geese honked overhead

Morning Moon

If you look carefully, there’s the morning moon.

chevron rises up

earth cycles, river to land,

the tide ebbs and flows

Geese at Red Bank Battlefield Park, NJ

We take a train into the city. We walk over sun-bright cobblestones, passing tourists who stroll and chat in a variety of languages. We wait on corners as wide city buses try to turn onto narrow streets. We enter a theater. Seats surround a center stage area covered with Oriental rugs. Musicians are playing Irish songs of the past and present. I bop in my seat to “Brown Eyed Girl” and tap my feet to a jig. Last call for the bar. The lights go down, and magic begins.

man meets a woman

music flows, drifts from their souls,

they’re falling slowly

 

together in tune

Dublin days strummed in rhythm–

piano echoes

 

musicians rebound

music from aisles and walkways

crowd smiles and applauds

We walk and talk. Watch the lowering sun shine through cloud-dappled sky. Red bricks glow. In Washington Square, a young girl whispers her secrets to a tree. Does it answer?

music of nature

city sounds form the chorus

we dine al fresco

Again. . .

We dine al fresco

wine and pizza in sunshine

a dog rests in joy

Nightfall comes too soon,

moon rises to hum goodnight—

cats slumber and dream

 

Sleeping Cat

Once. . .September was full of rain. The world was full of anger and sorrow and lies. But once, September ended in a perfect weekend of sunny days and cooler nights–falling slowly into October.

 

We saw the  musical Once at the Arden Theatre Company in Philadelphia. It was a performance full of warmth and spirit, wonderfully staged. Here they are rehearsing “Falling Slowly.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Grounded, but Ready to Soar

We lie on our backs on the wide green expanse between dorms. Soon we’ll be starting classes here–a future scary, uncertain, and suffused with what ifs. We’re filled with the ardor and fire of youth. But in this moment, we’re still and content, bodies grounded, yet spirits soaring as we watch the feathered clouds fly across the late summer sky. They’re blown by a wild wind miles above us. My boyfriend points out some constellations–the Big Dipper, Orion. I make a wish and send it sailing into the night.

River of heaven,

flowing light in ink-blue sea

carries dreams onward

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This Haibun is for Frank’s Haikai challenge, using Milky Way (amanogawa), which he notes is an early autumn kigo. He says “the literal translation of amanogawa is ‘river of heaven.’”

And for Colleen’s Weekly Tanka Tuesday, using synonyms for vigor and energy.

And for dVerse’s Open Link night, where Mish is hosting.