Circles, Cycles, and Loops: Monday Morning Musings

Monday Morning Musings:

In the movie

the men go back

to where they were boys

 

in a cult, a camp

where birds fly strangely

as they tramp

 

through the woods

and things are the same,

or perhaps they’re not,

 

fraught with pain

answers to questions

gained, or unknowable–

 

lives lived in loops,

moving in phases like

the moon—

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Morning Moon

or moons–

one, two, three–

watch and see.

 

Circles and cycles

nature, each life,

day following night

 

light of summer

dimming in fall

all the seasons

 

and the years

painted over,

scraped away

 

traces left, secrets

uncovered in time,

pentimento of Earth.

 

Once giant creatures

roamed here

a shallow sea

Delaware River from Red Bank Battlefield

leaving traces in the sand

a mosasaur

and ancient clams,

 

but now the geese fly

from humming moon

to dawn’s fog-scumbled river

the little deer grows older,

has children of her own

the cycle continues–

 

and we cycle through the city

once a place of forests and rivers

where indigenous people hunted,

 

fished, and gathered,

following the seasons

migrating with the wildlife

 

until newcomers came

with diseases, death to old

and a new nation created

 

And now—

another cycle,

we wait to see if all

 

will fall,

calendars and lies

those willing to abide

 

with corruption

and destruction of truth

when all could gain.

 

And so, we pedal

endlessly in a loop

looking for a break

 

finding joy

with loved ones

food and drink

hoping we haven’t

reached the brink

 

But that we can circle

back,

begin again–

 

this time

better.

 

As summer blossoms fade

and autumn’s golden leaves fall,

we’ll soon brace for winter’s chill

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Part of the scarecrow display outside of the West Deptford Public Library

and wait

for the promise of spring

awakening again.

Dock Creek, Philadelphia Merril D. Smith 2018

Dock Creek with Carpenter’s Hall in the background.

 

We watch the movie The Endless on Netflix. Trailer here.  It’s a quirky, indie film. We liked it–lots to talk about afterwards.

And we went on a Big Red Pedal Tour in Philadelphia.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Seeking the Words

I seek the words

to have them drop,

tumble, and

from a jumble

on the page,

rearrange, engage

the reader

with their wit,

flit and sway

to lay

and fall in time

(perfect metered rhyme?).

But. . .I don’t know,

the words come,

and then they go,

in a trickle or a flow,

like geese taking off in flight

no hesitation, wings spread, sail

toward the light,

one and then the next

absent of any pretext

(subtext?).

I seek the words–

and sometimes they come—not flying, but

slithering and sliding from a dream,

onto a scrap of paper or my computer screen.

 

This is for the dVerse Open Link night–or in my case, open link morning after. I woke with a poem in my head, but I couldn’t quite recapture it. I did manage to get in a line with geese. 🙂

Cooper River Park, NJ

 

 

Writing on a Page: Haibun

This is a Haibun for dVerse. Kim asked us to write about handwriting.

 

In the time before laptops, I sit in archives making notes in pencil on index cards—sometimes printing neatly, sometimes writing in a scrawl, which I will later regret when I can’t read an important word or date. In the old Philadelphia City Archives, I unwrap the brown paper from books tossed haphazardly on the table in front of me. In other archives, documents are treated with more care, even if we do occasionally pass some of the more ribald ones around. I read the flowing copperplate of professional clerks, as well as less legible handwriting. I learn to decipher superscripts and abbreviations no longer used. I read the words, ponder—ideas flow, and I write.

 

geese rise heading north

chaos becomes organized

writing on a page

 

 

My published work on history, gender, and sexuality can be found here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Awakening: Haibun

This poem is for dVerse’s Haibun Monday. Frank asked us to write about being pleasantly surprised.

I wake to the pleasant surprise that Doug Jones has won the Senate race in Alabama. The win gives me a tiny bit of hope that people have been awakened, though I am still disheartened by the closeness of the race. Like Daedalus, we could create; like Icarus, we could rise and soar, and we could rescue those who dare to dream but fall, so that they can try again. Instead, we sink into the muck, believing lies and embracing bigotry, ignorance, and greed. My husband and I light the Hanukkah candles. I watch their flickering glow and think of miracles. Later, as I turn out the bedside lamp. I hear geese honking in the winter night. Do they beat their wings to the songs of the shimmering stars? Do they dream of soaring higher? I wonder and think again of miracles.

 

wait for the sea change–

the winds shift and the waves roll

awakening spring

 

Lucílio_de_Albuquerque_-_Despertar_de_Ícaro

Lucílio de Albuquerque, “The Awakening of Icarus,” [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

 

 

 

 

An Autumn Haiku

diffused gold light wait

shadows on fall’s azure skies

birds in chevrons soar

 

Embed from Getty Images

 

This haiku is for Colleen Chesebro’s Weekly poetry challenge. The prompt words were soar and wait.

 

 

Stars and Spring: NaPoWriMo

Spring meander,

goose and gander

sit on their nest

take turns then rest,

lilac scents the air

children play, feet bare

without a care,

each laughing cry

floats to the sky

twinkling bright

in the night,

the goosey pair

now aware

honk and stare,

look with delight

at sparkling light

dancing, giggling in the night

 

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Canada Geese by the Delaware River, Red Bank Battlefield, National Park, NJ

 

This is Day 28, NaPoWriMo. We’re asked to write a poem in Skeltonic verse. The form is named for English poet John Skelton (c. 1463 – 21 June 1529). It is also called Tumbling verse.

Beginnings and Endings

 

 

 

Monday Morning Musings:

“But now I’m not so sure I believe in beginnings and endings. There are days that define your story beyond your life.”

–Dr. Louise Banks in the movie, Arrival (2016)

“Time is what stops history happening at once; time is the speed at which the past disappears.”

–David Mitchell, Cloud Atlas

 

Beginnings and endings,

I hear the mockingbird sing.

 

A spring day in February,

we changed plans,

instead of a movie,

we went to lunch,

where we could sit outside,

 

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Valley Green Inn, February 2017

 

and take a long walk.

our server did Sesame Street character voices

(for the children at a nearby table),

he carried our dishes to us

announced them with a song,

kind of strange,

but so is spring in February.

 

We sat at our table watching people walk dogs,

and dogs walk people,

(dogs pulled leashes,

noses up, sniffing,

pulling toward the porch-

This way! There is food.)

we watched bicyclists,

and one unicyclist,

and I watched the geese

beginning and ending flights,

over and over

the same patch of the Wissahickon Creek,

a gaggle of honks and feathers in short, graceful flights.

Were they the same geese?

Was it a game?

Teenage geese in race?

I watched

wondering when they began

and when they will end this game,

their journey.

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We walked,

we talked,

spring fever,

people smiled

said hi as they passed,

everyone enjoying this glorious February day,

We strolled along the Wissahickon,

 

 

we could have veered off to another path—

(two roads and all that)

I think about other walks we’ve taken

and other times we’ve walked,

and other people who have walked where we walk,

will walk there after us,

wonder if they walk with us, unseen,

I think about paths and time and connections

and music that is triggered in my head

by a word,

a thought,

and the way that books take people through time and space.

I see scenes in my head as I read,

(do you?)

and sometimes I feel that I am there

in that moment,

in that place,

and sometimes I’m not certain if I’ve read a book

or seen the movie

because the scenes are so vivid

and when I write,

the characters become real,

they have always existed,

no beginning

no end

on a timeless path.

 

Days later,

I think about how I love books, shows, and movies with complicated storylines—

stories that move through time,

or are told from different characters’ points of view,

I realize

(of course, you will say)

it’s connected to my fascination with time and timelines,

different paths our lives could/might/may have taken,

the protagonist of our own lives,

a minor character in someone else’s,

a movie extra without lines.

 

I wonder if time passes the same way for everyone,

does the mockingbird singing before dawn

know the sun will come up soon,

that it’s a new day?

I wish I could ask him,

I wish I could understand his answer,

instead, I listen to his song,

and in that song

in the predawn darkness

he does communicate,

an announcement,

I am here. Listen!

Perhaps that is enough,

I relive the moment in my head

a moment past,

but present,

no beginning,

no end

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The River’s Song

Monday Morning Musings:

 “Go forth, and the whores cackle!

Where women are, are many words;

Let them go hopping with their hackle [finery]!

Where geese sit, are many turds.

The Castle of Perseverance, 15th Century morality play

 

“The river sings and sings on.

 

There is a true yearning to respond to

The singing river and the wise rock.”

–Maya Angelou, “On the Pulse of Morning”

Full text  here.

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What is the song of the river?

though I listen,

noisy are the thoughts unbidden

that flow within my brain,

meandering tributaries, bearing gifts

some chaff, some worthy

But hush, listen.

 

What is the song of the river

as it gently laps against the rocks?

A song of history

from its birth in Ice Age glaciers

to its passage to the sea?

A song of fish, of shad,

of Lenni Lenape

then European settlers,

migration of fish, migration of people

cycles repeated through time.

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What is the song of the river?

A song of birds in flight?

of cargo ships and Huck Finn rafts

Commerce and recreation,

the bustling colonial port,

capital of the early nation

still thrives,

though not as before

when cargo came by ship—

tea, rum, wine, tobacco, and people–

and passage to and from New Jersey was by ferry.

Now there are highways, bridges, and planes.

What is the song of the river?

A song of history

of battles fought

of soldiers dead

of memorials, reenactments, remembering

of fossils and relics.

Generations and regeneration,

children squealing with joy at butterflies

of gardens resurrected

of couples talking

of men and women jogging steps

of people seeking Pokemon,

yes, that here, too.

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And what of the geese?

And what of their turds?

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Yes, they’re underfoot,

chased by children and men in carts

And what of my words?

Do they cackle and crackle

like old whores?

Or do they stream like the river,

my song of musings?

I’m reminded of the history of women

who wrote,

long ago,

poetry, history, and letters,

Milcah Martha Moore, Hannah Griffits, Susanna Wright,

and others

who shared their work with other women

and some men, too.

It’s a song that carries to this day,

along both sides of this river, the Delaware.

 

What is the song of the river?

The sound of people celebrating

though we cannot see the water

from the festival site whose name pays tribute to it.

But we sit with friends

and we talk and we sample wine

Our words flow like the river

singing a song of friendship

and joy to be alive on a summer day.

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Further Information:

Red Bank Battlefield

Merril D. Smith, The World of the American Revolution: A Daily Life Encyclopedia 

New Jersey Wine Events

Stone of Peace

 

 

I wished upon a stone so blue

I whispered love, return to me

Then I threw it, and it flew

Across the waves, down to the sea

 

I whispered love, return to me

When geese fly south in feathered Vs

Across the waves, down to the sea

Soft winds sigh with my pleas

 

When geese fly south in feathered Vs

Then might war end and cease to be

Soft winds sigh with my pleas

Why can’t we learn how to agree?

 

Then war might end and cease to be

More guns, more hate is not the way

Why can’t we learn how to agree?

Why must we blame them and they?

 

More guns, more hate is not the way

No need for thundering cannons’ rattle

Why must we blame them and they?

In sorrow, I watched you leave for battle

 

On that bright, smooth shore, I stood awhile

Then I threw it, and it flew,

I thought reflected there I saw your smile

As I wished upon a stone so blue

 

This poem is a Pantoum in response to Jane Dougherty’s poetry challenge using the photo above and these words: Bright, smooth, shore, blue, reflecting. A Pantoum is a series of quatrains with the second and fourth lines becoming the first and third lines in the next quatrain. The first line of the poem becomes the final line, and the third line of the poem becomes the second line of the final quatrain. First and third lines rhyme, and second and fourth lines rhyme. Got it?  Here is a better description.

 

 

 

 

Serenity

Good morning, whispers the sun

open to promise, come

enjoy this June day, and swoon

(just a bit)

from the scent, the flowers’ perfume.

 

Listen to the water chuckle

over the rocks it gambols,

and there a flotilla of geese,

proud sailors off to conquer

the mighty creek, their ocean.

 

Body still, mind wandering,

waiting for what?

Inspire me, I say,

I can sit here all day near the water.

(Perhaps not)

 

Good morning, whispers the sun, again

the day is full of promise

enjoy it,

lunch and fresh air,

birdsong and laughter

 

Bring respite from sorrow,

rest now, worry tomorrow.

Sweet slumbers, the moon murmurs

as night falls, and sleep brushes me

like a gentle kiss.

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Schooners on Wissahickon Creek 

This is in response to the Secret Keeper’s Writing Prompt. The words this week are:

Inspire/Night/Mind/Near/Wait

We took my mom to lunch yesterday at Valley Green Inn. Then we sat on a bench by the side of Wissahickon Creek.  It was sunny and clear with a breeze, a perfect June day. We didn’t mention the shootings in Orlando, or check our phones. It was very peaceful.