Always the Clouds

JMW Turner, “Norham Castle Sunrise

 

 

Always the clouds come, drifting

colored in the hazy shades of ever-after,

yet distant stars glimmer through, sifting

light diffused from ancient gas and matter,

 

colored in the hazy shades of ever-after

time travels on, translucent or opaque

light diffused from ancient gas and matter,

and so, we ache

 

as time travels on. Translucent or opaque,

our thoughts grow dimmer to dark,

and so, we ache—

forgetting glory, gone our spark.

 

Our thoughts grow dimmer to dark

muttering and sputtering of past wrongs,

forgetting glory. Gone the spark

of former days and daisy chains and songs.

 

Muttering and sputtering of past wrongs,

we dream in owl-feathered night

of former days and daisy chains and songs–

then wait for lark-trilled light.

 

We dream in owl-feathered night,

as distant stars glimmer through, sifting

(our thoughts) as we wait for lark-trilled light,

but always the clouds come, drifting.

 

 

This is for Peter’s prompt on dVerse. He’s asked us to think about sound. Kerfe had me thinking of pantoums, and so I revised one that I wrote in April.

Moon Dreams

In their dreams, they sleep with the moon, though I don’t think they remember it– the moon. Kirsten says she does, but she was only three when we left. Still, it’s become our bedtime ritual to say good night to things, even if she and Lilly are too old for picture books. We have no telephones or red balloons–or kittens and mittens, for that matter. I hold on to my tattered copy of Good Night Moon—print books are rare and treasured, this one especially so because I remember Jonas reading it to the girls. They and I managed to escape on the last ship from Earth. We’ll never see it or the Moon again. We’ll never see you again. Good night, moon; good night, my love. I’ve become the old woman whispering, “hush,” but in my dreams, I sleep with you.

I’m hosting dVerse today for Prosery Monday. For this prompt, everyone must use the line “In their dreams they sleep with the moon.” It’s from Mary Oliver’s, “Death at Wind River.” Good Night Moon is a popular picture book. My husband and I had it memorized at one point. **Also, a reminder that Thursday’s dVerse will be a live event.

Who’s Listening

In early America, neighbors eavesdropped
from other rooms, behind the shed, from a bed.

Now, the surveillance is also electronic
from devices, lovers (or friends platonic),
scammers and crooks hear what you say—
the powers-that-be, also may—

hear all. Who knows
where conversations go?

Kim is hosting dVerse, and she has asked us to use the word eavesdrop in a quadrille. My dissertation/first book was on marital discord in eighteenth and early nineteenth-century Pennsylvania. Court papers and divorce depositions often included the testimony of neighbors or people living in or visiting the household. And yes, sometimes listening to a sexual encounter while lying in the same bed.

A Laugh Wings

A laugh wings–
flies through memories and
dreams. Sings like a mockingbird, repeats
again, imprinted in our minds, within our genes–
well, who’s to say? We remember a
glance, words said—heart-haunted—
we grasp, hold.

For Colleen’s Tanka Tuesday, I’m trying a triquain, a form I found on Shadow Poetry. “The Triquain, created by Shelley A. Cephas, is a poem with several creative variences and can be a rhyming or non-rhyming verse. The simpliest form is a poem made up of 7 lines with 3, 6, 9, 12, 9, 6, and 3 syllables in this order.” [Misspellings in original.]

My Mom had the best laugh.

I’m also linking this to dVerse, Open Link Night, where Grace is hosting.

Thoughts on Flying

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Birds on a wire

like thoughts coming together,

 

resting before flight–

 

the pause,

rhythm in a sentence

 

in the secret language of birds,

forming patterns in circles and lines,

 

gliding on wind currents,

soaring into the clouds–

 

and I watch, wondering

 

what it’s like to rise so high

without fear of falling?

 

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Crows in flight at Red Bank Battlefield, July 2020

 

For dVerse,where Laura has asked us to write about flight. I’ve reworked some old poems. . . a work in progress perhaps.

 

 

 

The Universe in Motion

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Comet Hale-Bopp Attribution: Philipp Salzgeber / CC BY-SA 2.0 AT (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/at/deed.en)

Born before our before,

traveling till after our after,

ice and dust of timeless time,

 

the molecules of cosmic gases,

atoms of our world, forever

and after

 

the comet revolves through space

around the sun–our shining star–

our light-filled center, we circle it

 

year after year, through revolutions,

revelations in art, technology, war

to peace and back to war, revolve, resolve

 

to see this ball of light,

the icy comma tail–

it comes and goes

 

and we continue, revolving

electrons within us spin,

looking to connect

 

to something,

We’re attracted, we’re repulsed–

between darkness and light,

 

revolving

revolving

revolving.

 

I’m hosting dVerse Poetics today. The prompt is revolution.Come join us!

We’ll Make Our Garden Grow

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“NASA plans to grow food on future spacecraft and on other planets as a food supplement for astronauts. Fresh food, such as vegetables, provide essential vitamins and nutrients that will help enable sustainable deep space pioneering.” NASA

 

Here, a red moon rides on the humps of the low river hills. It’s always a red moon, always low in the sky. The rivers do flow, but the water is. . .different. There’s no blue sky, fluffy white, cotton ball clouds, or golden, blushing dawn. Perhaps it’s some consolation that we can see a million stars–shimmering, sparkling jewels, in constellations that are becoming familiar to me now. I’ve started to name them—that one that looks like a dog, Dorcas for my old hound. And that one—just above? I’ve named it Peter Rabbit.

I see it from the greenhouse, rising over the salad greens. Slowly, we’re putting down roots. My baby will be born soon. I’ll name her Sylvia for my mom. We will make our garden grow, and perhaps she will plant a forest for this new Eden.

 

 

A bit of flash fiction for Prosery Monday. Lillian has selected two lines from Carl Sandburg’s “Jazz Fantasia.” I chose the line above in italics. My poem has nothing to do with his evocative poem. It’s actually a sort of sequel to an earlier prosery piece I wrote, which you can read here, if you’re so inclined. My mom’s name really was Sylvia, and she didn’t garden, but she loved gardens. For some reason, this song from Leonard Bernstein’s Candide popped into my head while I was writing. It always makes me cry.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blue

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Portrait in Blue Goose on the Delaware River at Red Bank Battlefield, July 2020 ©️Merril D. Smith

 

Blue where water meets the sky,

beyond the space where spirits fly

to dance upon a snowy crest

of waves, indigo and azure dressed–

and there the seabirds drift, serene,

and there I watch—for past has been—

strangely content to view this blue.

 

A quadrille for dVerse, where Kim asked us to use the word blue. This day started as a blue Monday with a poetry rejection in my in-box, but then I went for a walk in the beautiful morning, which cheered me up. I already wrote my Monday Morning Musings and used the same photo above. BUT–it’s just too perfect not to use again. So, I’m posting twice today, and with the same photo.

A quadrille is a dVerse form of exactly 44 words in any style. I chose to rhyme today.

Wishes

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From the sea, she walks ashore, seal-skin slips

from her body–she stands now unadorned–

shimmering hair unbound and flowing,

dulse-laced and glowing, she whips

it ‘round like armor. Girded thus, the sea foresworn

yet she lingers, soul unsure, not quite captured

by the sunlight, body gleaming, hair sheened by salt-sea blowing,

directed then by lover’s shouts, she turns, enraptured.

 

But rapture does not last, not when the sea sighs and calls

in waves that beckon with infinite ebbs and flows

with subaqueous whispers from afar–

till finally, she must flee the confining walls,

let loose her hair and shed her clothes

to rush upon the sea-kissed sand,

fur-pelt in hand, she makes one wish upon a star,

and embraces the sea, abandons land.

 

For De’s prompt at dVerse on mermaids and selkies. I rewrote a poem I did a while ago for one of Jane’s prompts and added a second stanza. I kept the rhyme scheme, but didn’t quite follow the rest for a san san poem. So, here goes—no minimalism here, this one’s unabashedly romantic.

 

 

 

 

 

Persistence Glows

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After years of archival research, chapters drafted and re-drafted, grad school extensions, and the birth of my first daughter, I finally received my Ph.D. in American History. My husband, father, and toddler daughter watched me receive my degree in a small January ceremony. I was proud of my accomplishment, but I think my father may have been prouder.

 

Seeds drift and flutter,

fields and cracks fill with flowers–

the glow of persistence

 

 

 

 

A Haibun for dVerse, where Lillian asks us to write about one shining moment.  Something I just noticed–my dad never wore ties, but he wore one for this.