Barely Spring–Haibun

The weather seems more unpredictable than usual–open windows one day and heat on the next. I wake listening to rain. It is dark and dreary. Then I hear the birds begin to greet the day. Each morning, the sun rises a bit earlier and sets a bit later. I know we could still have a blizzard, but hope is in the air, rising with the crocuses. Spring is coming.

February sun

hides light under grey covers—

yet mockingbird sings


Watching for birds in the rain.


This is for Frank’s latest Haikai Challenge.


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.




Journey in Place: Beginning and End

Monday Morning Musings:

“It is good to have an end to journey towards; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.”
—Ursula K. LeGuin, The Left Hand of Darkness, 1969. Often misattributed to Hemingway.

 “To light a candle is to cast a shadow.”

–Ursula K. LeGuin, A Wizard of Earthsea

 “What we call the beginning is often the end
And to make an end is to make a beginning.
The end is where we start from. . .

Every phrase and every sentence is an end and a beginning,
Every poem an epitaph.”

–T.S. Eliot, “Little Gidding”


It’s a stressful week, we burrow in—

hunker down

in restful verbs and tasty nouns,

lighting candles in the night,

casting shadows against the bright

light and darkness


without one, is the other missed?

FullSizeRender 324

I journey in place

keeping pace

(I hope with grace)

flowing, risking with rhyme and meter,

thinking of a double feature–

perhaps tonight–

traveling without moving

wondering if I’m improving

no matter,

if it’s soothing. . .


to stay in my pajamas

listening to public radio,

interviews with Nathan Lane and Laura Marling,

unsnarling the day’s news with Michel Martin–

mostly disheartening–

I make dough and bake pizzas

enough for us and the shadow figures, too—

of course, wouldn’t you?

I mean, if they should they care to join us,

we’d have enough

and so, we dine,

drink some wine

watch a movie of two families, white and black

see, there’s no going back,

when time moves forward

we go onward,

even while people are wandering

out of place

lost in space–

well, you can take the boy from Mississippi,

but what happens when he returns a man?

People don’t understand

the legacy of poverty and hate,

and racists don’t want to debate

truth seen in a black and white–

it’s easier to fight.


So much to consider,

and some of it makes me bitter,

I think about the six million dead,

those who never got a chance, never fled

wonder if my family’s genes were among them—

hemmed in

forced to live in shadows, in nightmares

or rather, left in there

suffering and forced to die

their cries reverberate

(never abate)

we light a candle in their memory


(never forget)

the sorrow of their journeys,

(remember me)

their souls shout out

but what do my words create–


and what good is an epitaph for them or us—

is what time was forever thus?

Perhaps to foist a new beginning,

or to change the end

when life circles round,

we can start again.



Not watching the movie.


Holocaust Remembrance Day was on Saturday, January 27. We watched the movie, Mudbound, on Netflix.






Let Sleeping Cats Lie: Haibun Quadrille

This is a Haibun of 44 words for Colleen’s Tanka Tuesday, using synonyms for play and guess, and for dVerse’s Quadrille Monday, where De Jackson asked us to use the word bounce.


It’s been a stressful couple weeks. Thoughts bounce about in my brain, as I try to sleep. My cat is nestled beside me, and his soft snores echo in my dreams. Time and space now speculative.


ideas frolic

gamboling animals romp

visions of wonder


Franz Marc [Public domain ], via Wikimedia Commons

Winter Solstice Dreams: Haibun

Here’s another winter solstice poem. This Haibun is for Colleen’s Tanka Tuesday. She asked us to use synonyms for the words cover and precipitation.


I’m tucked under the blankets. My big-eyed, grey-striped cat is cuddled against me. Our white cat has closed both his blue eye and his yellow eye on the pillow beside me. My husband, wrapped in a green-bordered patchwork quilt, has fallen asleep downstairs in his recliner. We all dream. Our dreams are shape-shifting creatures that fly high to dance together amongst the stars. I dream of winter snow melting in spring sunshine.  In my dream, there are green fields and blue horses in a silver mist. There is a building, where inside a dark room a woman slowly chews and swallows some strips of paper. She smiles because now she holds all the secrets–buried inside her like a seed. But someday they will sprout in light, blooming flowers of truth and beauty.


Dreams reign solstice night

soothed by moon’s lullabies,

slowly, the sun wakes



Franz Marc, “The Dream,” [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Songs of Squirrels, Beauty, and Tradition

Monday Morning Musings:

“I hear America singing, the varied carols I hear,. . .”

Walt Whitman, “I Hear America Singing”


“The human soul can always use a new tradition. Sometimes we require them.”

–Pat Conroy, The Lords of Discipline


“Perhaps this piece of evolution makes no sense—our hunger for everyday sorts of visual pleasure—but I don’t think so, I think we have survived because we love beauty and because we find each other beautiful. I think it may be our strongest quality.”

–Louise Erdrich, Future Home of the Living God


The long holiday weekend is filled with family, food, love, and traditions

my younger daughter and I break bread for stuffing


it’s a calling, a mission, with certain conditions

some fluid, others unchanging

though life does some rearranging

through time and space

and so, I flashback in my mind  to my sister and me

watching Thanksgiving parades and tearing pieces from loaves

while our mother is at the stove

producing the magic of holiday meals

(then not appreciated, but now, oh the feels)

Now daughter and I, we break the bread

and watch The Gilmore Girls instead

done the day before,

crossing off this chore,

from the to-do list

and while the old, might be missed

a new holiday tradition it seems is born

taking place while the bread is torn

because sometimes we require them

even when the holiday is filled with so many.


On the big day—what to do

when our designated squirrel un-molder is not here?*

Another one is drafted and a crowd gathers

Offering advice on this and sundry matters

as the cranberry sauce does not want to leave the mold:

more hot water

use a spatula

A compliment:

Not only is she smooth on the dance floor,

she’s smooth on the squirrel, too.


She can’t bang it, it’s a hundred-year old thing.

There will be no banging!


Come on little squirrel we love you.

do it do it do it

Oh my gosh I think it’s happening

The crowd goes wild:


Another year with the squirrel!

and so, we talk and laugh and eat and drink

discuss scuba diving and money laundering

the possibility of my mom having off-shore accounts

(she doesn’t, but the thought produces much laughter).

We discover how many people it takes to get

a ninety-five-year-old woman up the stairs to the bathroom

wonder if we’re doomed,

but at least three, it seems,

still, we enjoy the holiday and dreams

watched by the spirits of those no longer with us

it is ever thus,

the ghosts of holidays past,

“remember when,” the common refrain

joining in a train

the days from before

to what will come hence

past and future tense

blended together,

a holiday casserole of memories and dreams,

like the dish of leftovers my sister tells me she made

layers laid atop one another,

savory, tart, and just a little sweet

the art of distinct layers that together seep

to form when mixed through

something entirely new.


The next day, we take our older daughter and her wife

on a journey to see visual pleasures

in nature and art, such treasures

a visit with the boating party

scream at monsters

FullSizeRender 265

or just scream

dine by the water

and dance in the woods

we hear America sing

its varied songs

and glory in Impressionistic delight


Later, we eat leftovers

and watch The Blair Witch Project–

because nothing says family coziness like horror movies–

with food

America singing its varied carols


We do a holiday wine tasting in the barrel room

Scott, assists us, keeping up a lively patter

as he describes the wine and other matters

it is a beautiful fall day

and so, we decide to stay

to sit outside

while we imbibe

watching the soaring hawks

and listening to others talk

looking at the daytime moon

enjoying this weather, thinking winter will be here soon.

We eat Pakistani food

and meet out daughter and son-in-law’s neighbors

who have become friends–the kind of whom you can ask favors,

we discuss how our daughters sound alike,

one tells how she used to sneak about at night,

and we counter with embarrassing childhood stories

(the glory of parental territory)

perhaps the start of a new tradition,

of perhaps it is sufficient

to see and relish the present and the everyday.


Now, it’s four o’clock Monday morning,

we’re awake for the sake

of our daughter and her wife

who have to catch their flight

though it seems the middle of the night,

yet I’m strangely alert

I hear America singing, the varied carols I hear

of parents and children saying goodbye

of politicians trying to tear apart, like stuffing bread,

when they could be constructing something good instead

of children going off to school

hoping they will learn some tools

to navigate this brave new world

that has such people in’t

both good and bad

some sad, hungering for traditions, or new conditions,

for truth and beauty to negate the hate

I see a squirrel scamper from a tree,

and over us, the moon hums her tune

I watch for the sun to rise in autumn beauty–soon

FullSizeRender 269


We visited Grounds for Sculpture again and did a Holiday Wine Trails tasting in the barrel room at Sharrott Winery.


*I explained the tradition of the cranberry squirrel in this post.


Blood and Fate

Monday Morning Musings:

“They were deceiving themselves, but the blood couldn’t be denied.”

–Federico Garcia Lorca, Blood Wedding

 “The duende is a momentary burst of inspiration, the blush of all this is truly alive. . .it manifests itself principally among musicians and poets of the spoken word. . .for it needs the trembling of the moment and then a long silence.”

Federico Garcia Lorca, “Play and Theory of Duende,” quoted by Blood Wedding dramaturg, Walter Bilderback


On this weekend before Halloween

we watch Stranger Things

cocooned in our living room

food on the table


cats besides us

FullSizeRender 241

we become immersed–

the Upside Down and the Shadow Monster–

we tremble in the moment,

the deliciousness of a scary story,

this is the new normal in their town

but it echoes the world around us

where monsters climb from the shadows.

Perhaps we need to listen the children

before we face a long, perhaps forever, silence


The skies have turned dark and dreary

and we walk through damp streets to see a play.


Transported to a society that is bound by strict rules,

and though all try to abide by them,

they cannot escape fate

and the blood that can’t be denied,

flowing through generations,

blood and fate,

knives, like Macbeth’s dagger

foreshadowing what’s to come

inevitable, despite all they do

the actors tell the story with percussive rhythms

of feet, hands, and voices

Hungarian folk dances and flamenco.

The characters sing

with and without instruments,

an actor portrays the horse,

that he is always racing,

the players climb on each other

pull up the floor mats to form barriers–

and shrouds–

The Bride and Groom are dressed in red

the color of passion, desire, and blood,

she wears the crown of orange blossoms

he gives her

the flowers of purity, chastity, and fertility

but they are made of wax, not real

and their marriage will not result in children,

no blood of deflowering or childbirth

but a blood wedding all the same,

we tremble in the moment

as the figures on the stage end in silence


FullSizeRender 237

We walk again through wet city streetsIMG_7263

discuss the play over wine, beer, and cheese


I think of the idea of blood throughout history

“bad blood” running through families and generations

the ideas slave owners and white supremacists

one drop of black blood, one drop of Jewish blood

dooms you in their minds

when we know—that blood is blood

and all who are pricked will bleed

despite the beliefs of the shadow monsters

we all tremble before the long silence


I am called for jury duty.

I wonder if it is my fate to serve

and whether the fate of someone accused is already predetermined

I don’t believe this,

not really

. . .and yet. . .

the sky is dark

I wait for the dawn

the branches tremble in the wind

that breaks the silence with a moan.




Storm Music

I’m awakened by the rain hitting the window, the barker for the upcoming show. Step right up, folks! This one’s a dazzler of light and sound. The lightning takes center stage as it illuminates the sky, followed by the chorus of thundering kettle drums. One cat leaps off the bed; the other snuggles closer to my side. My husband sleeps, but I’m held captive, an unwitting, unwilling audience for this production. Do hours pass, or does it just seem that way? The endless percussion, the strobing encores? The fortissimo storm music finally ends, drifting off, pianissimo, until it’s gone. I dream then of shadows and golden light, of distant seas and far off worlds, until at last, the sun rises, waking me again, with a gentle song.

whirling midnight storms

shadows flit through worlds and minds

in dawn’s light, vanish




Embed from Getty Images


This Haibun is for Colleen Chesebro’s Weekly Poetry Challenge.

The prompt words were shadow and light.

I’m also linking to dVerse, where Gayle is hosting an open link night.



Work, Wine, and Wonder

Monday Morning Musings:

“Seven to eleven is a huge chunk of life, full of dulling and forgetting. It is fabled that we slowly lose the gift of speech with animals, that birds no longer visit our windowsills to converse. As our eyes grow accustomed to sight they armor themselves against wonder.”

–Leonard Cohen, The Favorite Game (1963)


“Wine comes in at the mouth

And love comes in at the eye;

That’s all we shall know for truth

Before we grow old and die.

I lift the glass to my mouth

I look at you, and I sigh.”

William Butler Yeats, “A Drinking Song”


I spend days writing,

then sighting and fighting

others’ dreadful prose,

I dream then,

want again,

wonder and poetry–

a moonship sleeps through time

dreaming of a glowing goddess

cool, with diamond eyes,

from her starry throne,

she lets a storm moan

and I,

seeing lights from the sky.

watch as mist sprays

plays melodies on garden stones

dances in the light,

a thousand fairies



I spend days writing,

then sighting and fighting

more dreadful prose,

I watch a morning sparkle and gleam

and dream of conversing with the birds,

how it would be to sing their songs,

flowing thoughts and soaring words?

I wonder of what my slumbering cats dream

(perhaps nothing is what it seems).

Do cats and dogs, do cows

as they graze under the boughs

understand the birds’ songs

moo in harmony, sing along?


FullSizeRender 132

I spend days writing,

then sighting and fighting–

again, that dreadful prose!

And I wonder

why is there such hate

that negates

joy, hope, and reason

that seasons

life with tears and fears?

Why men would rape out of boredom


and why a woman,

or a man,

need to be taught a lesson



What lesson has been taught?

That someone has been caught or bought?

that life is fraught,

so do not dream of what you could be, or brought

about with books and words and second thoughts?

I wonder who could hurt a child,

can their minds ever be reconciled—

the dreadful deeds and daily doings,

the demons in their souls?

no controls, no goals

lives brutal and bleak

do, die, never speak.

Do they never dream of a goddess glowing

her tresses silver and flowing,

or wonder how to converse with a bird?

heard their songs in morning air

happy to be alive, aware?

Where does the wonder go?

Does anybody know?


I spend days writing,

then sighting and fighting–

yes, more of that dreadful prose,

correct the errors, insert a phrase

(my eyes glaze)

then I wonder—

isn’t it time for some wine?

so we go, sit near grapes in the sunshine,

enjoy the beauty of the day


as chatter and music play

in waves around us.

We drink wine,

red and luscious

(no, don’t rush this)

loving it,

loving you

I lift the glass to my mouth

I look at you, and I sigh.

wonder how and why we found each other

created two astonishing daughters

enjoyed days of blues skies and laughing waters,

realize I have found the music and the poetry

in life, in you, in birds, and trees

And though I cannot sing with birds,

I can wonder, dream, and write these words.



June Magic

daybreak comes early

yet still the moon shines

waning from its strawberry fullness,

(smiling, humming)

greeting me as I pick up the newspaper from the sidewalk,

the heat is already simmering there

but not yet at full boil–

June, almost summer–

a spider has spun a web

sparkling in the streaming sunlight,

birds sing from their green-leafed perches

the cats watch from windows,

then turn to say hello to me

before going back to guard duty,

(we all have our jobs)

even as summer sighs,

slow down

and so, I do,

and watch the birds, too.