Monday Morning Musings:

“She preferred imaginary heroes to real ones, because when tired of them, the former could be shut up in the tin kitchen till called for, and the latter were less manageable.”
–Louisa May Alcott, Little Women

“I am of certain convinced that the greatest heroes are those who do their duty in the daily grind of domestic affairs whilst the world whirls as a maddening dreidel.”
–Florence Nightingale (I can’t find a source.)

I watch the veterans gather in the park,
realize the day and date of infamy—once stated–
here on a battleground site, they hold flags and remember
the dead; some were heroes, some were fools
or the desperate or despised–perhaps

if not felled in attacks, in battles,
bombed, bulleted, sabered, shattered
to die in hometowns or foreign places,
to be lost to the sea, buried in a mass grave,
shrouded for eternity—heroes–

Cold December Morning. Delaware River.©️Merril D. Smith 2020

and I think of the nurses, the caregivers,
the resisters, and deliverers of secrets,
carriers of food; those who’ve hidden the persecuted,
the arrested, the tortured, the executed
only for helping and caring, for not despairing

that a better time will come. They strive, they try
and if they wonder why, still they go on. I think of the heroism
of the everyday. The unsung, the ungloried ones,
who feed, teach, defeat addictions, live each day,
finding a way to make it through

another day to night, and again and again,
and perhaps even then to see the beauty of sun, moon, and stars,
to listen to the geese in flight, soar with them in dreams
of a better places and delight
in each small triumph. Wait for storms to pass—

to glory in the light at last.

Light through the clouds. Delaware River at Red Bank Battlefield. ©️Merril D. Smith 2020

Merril’s Movie/Theater/TV Club: We streamed Heroes of the Fourth Turning, a production of the Wilma Theater in Philadelphia. The cast and crew quarantined and worked in a bubble of rented houses in the Poconos (filling in for Wyoming) to produce this excellent filmed production. Though it certainly is not a play for everyone.
“Four Catholic conservative friends gather at a late-night backyard party in Wyoming, shortly before the 2017 eclipse. As they wait for the arrival of their mentor and newly appointed college president, secret passions and fears surface, revealing their troubled place in a divided country.”—Wilma Theater

We also are almost finished with the second season of The Umbrella Academy (Netflix). Not my usual type of show, but enjoyable, and I’m quite involved in this second season, which is surprisingly relevant. Elliott Page’s recent announcement reminded me that we hadn’t yet seen the second season of the show, and now we have only the last two episodes to watch. Today I read an op-ed by a young transgender activist saying what Page’s announcement meant to her. There are all sorts of heroes.

I’m Not Yet Ready to Write an Elegy for the World: NaPoWriMo

Monday Morning Musings:

“See what you lost when you left this world, this sweet old world”

—Lucinda Williams, from the song, “Sweet Old World” (Listen here.)

“I am of certain convinced that the greatest heroes are those who do their duty in the daily grind of domestic affairs whilst the world whirls as a maddening dreidel.”

–Florence Nightingale (I could not find a source for this.)


When the fool becomes king

it’s difficult to celebrate

to know what is real and what is fake


a radio host said

it didn’t seem right

to slip in an April Fool’s story

because this year


it’s a crazy, mixed-up world

our, sweet old world


I dream about Mary Todd Lincoln,

grieving over her dead son and husband,

ghosts that walk the White House,

does the current resident see them,

feel the presence of the great and not so great?

Will he destroy our world?

(the news spins and whirls maddeningly)

I wonder if Mrs. Lincoln crazy,

or was it simply the world about her,

the nation torn apart,

brother fighting brother,

her husband a martyr,

and did she long then to leave this sweet old world?


We watch movies about strong women,

twentieth- century women,

one raising her son alone,

we eat pizza and drink some wine

because it’s a sweet old world, isn’t it?

FullSizeRender 100


the woman is confused

but she does her best,

most people do

(as I hope, as I believe)

and I guess she does a good job,

because her son wants to be a good guy

who cares about women,

she does something right,

because, after all, many years later her son will make this movie,

and Annette Benning will play her,

crazy and sweet, this world.


The other woman hid people,

(in a zoo)

she truly lived in a crazy world

where the monsters ruled,

living in plain sight,

real human monsters

scarier than fictional demons,

the zoo became a pig farm

because the animals had been killed,

people, animals,

to monsters there is little difference,

the woman’s husband fights bravely with guns,

the woman fights with her soul,

she understands that she needs to woo the monster,

as she does an animal,

though she is terrified,

they are heroes, this couple,

in a world spinning crazily like a dreidel,

will it fall on nun, their “guests” must wonder

or will a great miracle happen there?

They saved 300 people,

perhaps a great miracle did happen there.

they raised pigs on garbage from the ghetto

(the Nazi’s love the irony)

though those in the ghetto can scarcely spare their garbage,

because they are starving


And I’m reading a book about a young girl who is starving

in a small, Irish village

starving for Jesus, I suppose,

subsisting on manna from heaven, she says

her nurse, her watcher,

has been trained by Florence Nightingale,

(a nineteenth-century strong woman)

I don’t know what happens,

I haven’t finished the book,

though I hope the girl eats, hope she lives,

hope she gets to grown up in this sweet and crazy world


And we go out to lunch,

Indian food,

discuss movies and books,

and this and that,

(not starving),

we come home,

I bake a cake–

because we need sweetness

in this crazy, mixed up world,

and I’m not ready to write its elegy



Sour Cream Coffee Cake


It’s Day Three of NaPoWriMo. The prompt was elegy. I hope we do not yet need one for our sweet old world.

We saw the movies, 20th Century Women and The Zookeeper’s Wife.

I’m reading The Wonder, by Emma Donoghue