From the Stars

NASA Goddard Space Flight Center from Greenbelt, MD, USA [Public domain]

After the bang, burning
sound and light from indefinite drift
expanding red and blueshifts

now blanketed, we sit
I shiver
at your touch, burning

heat and cold, turning
sound and light

the stardust trapped within
our cells, a microcosm—

Yes! I see it now.

A quadrille for my dVerse prompt today. The prompt word is shiver. Join us!

The Time Before: Prosery

It’s difficult now to remember the time before. Before war, before I knew the evil that humans can inflict–when my worries consisted merely of studying and passing exams. I was determined to prove that I was as brilliant as any man, smarter, in fact. But that day, the dandelion sun glowed, white seed clouds drifted in the azure sky, and reflections floated languidly on the river. Laura begged me to join the rest of the group for a picnic, and I’d agreed, even as she threatened me with the admonition, “and bring no book, for this one day, we’ll give to idleness.” How young and carefree we were, lolling on the grass like the figures in an Impressionist painting, but all clothed. Or mostly.

Laura, Keith, John—all of them gone, victims of war. And I’m left, still searching for answers.

And revenge.

A flash fiction piece for dVerse, Monday where Ingrid asks us to use the lines:

“And bring no book, for this one day
We’ll give to idleness”
— William Wordsworth, “Lines Written at a Small Distance from my House”

My spy series doesn’t seem to follow any order, but we’ll just say this is a part of it.

I couldn’t resist adding these photos from Grounds for Sculpture that recreate Edouard Manet’s “Le Dejeuner sur l’herbe” (1863).

In Paris and Beyond

In Paris, we walked–through Montmartre, perhaps–
where people carried baguettes under their arms,
like my mother’s purse. Look, my parents said,
there, the Seine, the Mona Lisa, the Eiffel Tower—

and they glanced through guidebooks and at maps
for lost love, and Paris’s hidden charms
rekindled their passion for only a moment instead.
As the bells tolled the new year, the passing hours

my older sister read, and fed us scraps–
the story of the Danish prince; no harm
in telling this story of ghosts, the dead
return, my mom still sits amongst the flowers.

For dVerse, an attempt at Rimas Dissolutas.

We Celebrate: Haibun

Foggy New Year

New Year’s Eve Day is foggy and warm. My husband and I eat Chinese food for dinner, our decades-old tradition. We drink champagne while we talk to our children and their spouses on Zoom. Our son-in-law’s parents join us, and it’s good to see them, too, after so long. We light the Shabbos candles and speak of what we’re grateful for—that we’re together, healthy, and that our pets are with us, too. This is what we celebrate—life going on, light in the darkness. Later, we say goodbye to 2021. Though 2022 seems scarcely better, who know what the future brings? The sun and moon still rise and set.
And there is champagne.

river a mystery—

For dVerse. Earlier today, I couldn’t get WP to work, and now there’s no problem. Oh, there are definitely WP gremlins!

The Lovers

Ain Sakhri Lovers (Image from Wikimedia Commons) c. 9,000 BCE

Hold me through the ages, time-stopped
in stone; cave-captured crystal born of stars,
like us, soulmates,
eternal, entwined, encircled, encased,
encompassing the miracle of love
and survival.

If we are found after a thousand tomorrows,
in our calcified connection, in our everlasting embrace,
they will see–despite surface cracks—
our bond has held beyond life
into the hereafter.

This poem is for my prompt at dVerse today. I’ve asked everyone to write a poem on artifacts. (I’m not making a distinction between art and artifacts.) I didn’t have anything particular in mind, but I discovered the Ain Sakhri Lovers. You can read more about this ancient sculpture here.

Also, a reminder. This Thursday, 9 December, will be Open Link Night on dVerse. The first hour, 3-4 PM, EST, will be live for anyone who wants to participate. You can post a link without participating in the live event. Link one poem as usual.

I see them

Edward Hopper, “Automat,” 1927

I see them at night.

You may say they’re not real, but in the dark hours when you’re not sure if dawn will truly come, they’re as real as anything else. Wraiths, spirits, ghosts? Or the manifestation of a troubled mind? Survivor’s guilt the psychiatrist called it. I have witnessed true evil, and now I carry it with me, always ticking, like a pocket watch that never needs winding. It counts the minutes and hours till I see those tortured souls. Yet, they’re with me always. I dress in their stories patterned and purple as night. I wear them like a second skin.

I’ll never know if I might have saved more people–only that I was betrayed, and that I was fortunate enough to escape. Finding my betrayer has become my purpose for living. In the meantime, I see the dead. Every night.

(144 words)

A continuation of my disjointed, non-linear spy series for Prosery where Lisa is hosting. The line she selected is:

“I dress in their stories patterned and purple as night.”
–Kimberly Blaeser, “When We Sing of Might”

River Fragments

Driftwood. The Delaware River at Red Bank Battlefield. ©️Merril D. Smith,2021

The sleepy December sun struggles
to raise his head above the drifting dreams
that cloud the sky, but breathes a delicate gold filigree,
to hold them till the wind breaks the clasp—

scarlet leaves flutter to the ground
in a fiery pile, they glow with their dying breaths,
the smell of cinnamon, ginger, and ash in the air,

reflecting the morning light, the gulls sparkle
as they wing back and forth,
gathering food and intelligence,
spying for the flock—here are fish, there are eagles,
watch for the woman–

she gazes at the lone duck,
and her face crumbles, remembering,
I’m sorry she says,
my husband died two years ago today—

a blink in the life of the river, grey or blue,
mirroring clouds, sky, sun, and moon,
it whispers to the massive tree trunks and branches
resting on the beach, bleached bone-white,
they’ve traveled a long time together, what stories
they might tell.

An attempt at a fragment poem for dVerse.


Odilon Redon, “Béatrice”

she’s crownedxxxxxxxxxresplendent
in golden light, xxxxxxxxthe sun is gowned,
halo-headed xxxxxxxxxxand the warmth of her smile
shimmering, xxxxxxxxxxthaws heart-frost–and ground,
she is the bright future xwhere a seed planted now sprouts–
and there is hopexxxxxx knowledge will grow, star-dusted
again xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxand glowing

A cleave quadrille for dVerse. De has asked us to use the word crown. A quadrille is a dVerse poetry form. It’s a poem of 44 words.

Reflections in Icy Blue

“Floating Seaweed” by Fay Collins

Blue all around, as sky bends
to kiss the water–
there is this—and us,

sleek-bodied and finned-footed, with whiskered face, I
taste air-sea, swept by Arctic winds, tern-carried,
mint-crisp, and briny-salted,

But–there is here–
at world’s end and world’s beginning,

turning each to each, endless
as gulls fly across the sun
a bobbing line, waving in reflection,

at the surface of blue-on-blue,
our faces meet, our bodies touch
glowing in the light from above and below.

Good morning! I’m sneaking this in amidst the cooking and cleaning. It’s Thanksgiving morning, and unlike last year, we will actually have people here in our house. We’re all vaccinated, some of us have had boosters, and we’re all taking Covid rapid tests, too. I suppose this is the new normal. Happy Thanksgiving to my US friends, and Happy Thursday to all!

For dVerse ,where Sarah has asked us to write revisit her very first dVerse prompt, which was to write an ekphrastic poem based on the art of Fay Collins. Sadly, Fay died in September, but Sarah writes, “Please write your poems with joy – Fay’s art is so full of joy.”