In Memoriam: for the Unknown Soldier at Red Bank Battlefield

As the crow flies— over the Delaware River©️Merril D. Smith 2021

In Memoriam: for the Unknown Soldiers at Red Bank Battlefield

August,
is a broad river expanse
where time ripples and bends
under a laden, leaded sky

the morning moon, her song a sigh
floats on heron’s wings to flutter
by the gulls and geese,
who wonder what and why.

Now coal-black crows with peacock flair
and gangster elan strut across the grass,
summer is almost past they call–
but not quite yet whispers the butterfly,

the rabbits hop and turkeys trot
and deer with smooth grace retrace
past seasons. The river flows on,
an unanswered question, a memory, a lullaby

for unsettled spirits amidst brittle relics
where they once cried and died,

under an autumn sky,
they drift above ground settling bone-full and dry.

Early Morning, Red Bank Battlefield

I took a poem I had written last August and started revising it. It then demanded that I turn it into a poem to honor the remains of the Hessian soldiers found this summer at Red Bank Battlefield where I walk almost every day. The official announcement was made this past Tuesday.

I like that in the various reports I’ve read that historian Jennifer Janofsky and archeologist Wade Catts have emphasized not only that this is an exciting and unexpected discovery, but that it also emphasizes the brutality of war. They hope to be able to identify some of the soldiers from their remains, and they will be reburied. So, I have more River Ghosts.

Here’s the link to the website about the project.

I’m sharing this with dVerse Open Link Night.

At the end of May

At the end of May,

moon-breath clouds linger
as sparrows and robins awaken the sun.

Soon the furnace door will open
and the air will steam,

but now, light and shadow play tag,
and the little deer join the game.
A blue jay referees from a high tree branch

where tattered decorations for the war dead cling
like ghosts

on the river, and time tumbles in the waves
while the surface sparkles with memories.

I wrote this early this morning and shared it with @TopTweetTuesday. I can’t seem to get away from River Ghosts!

A Universe of Ghosts and Words

Monday Morning Musings:

“The world was filling with ghosts. We were a haunted country in a haunted world.”
–Louise Erdrich, The Sentence

“Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.”
–William Shakespeare, from Macbeth (spoken by Macbeth after Lady Macbeth’s death)

Ducks swim through sunrise clouds.

Apparitions slip
between worlds, linger like words–
the spoken and unsaid–each
waiting to be seen, heard,
read and remembered, infinite

combinations, in
every language, past, future
meld in the timeless sea where
yesterday’s twinkling light
haunts and comforts. Does tomorrow

on the horizon
give a straight-lined smile? Or false
the glimmer of hope? Sound and
fury—nothing or all?
Candles burn bright, yet mimic stars.

The light comes again
reverberations, colored
by space-time meandering
carrying messages
in microscopic dust missives.

Early Morning Reflections
Evening Snowfall

Now, winter’s blanket
lays etched with sharp lettering–
yet beneath, cursive tendrils
wait to write new stories
spirits and words hover, beckon

with endless stories,
whole books, unfinished chapters
brief verses, epic sagas,
chronicles and reports.
The universe shouts and whispers.

Sunrise!

I decided to try a wayra again. It forces me to think and choose words in a different way.

We’re bouncing from very cold to warm for January to cold. We had snow last night, but it’s been washed away by the rain, and there’s a wind advisory for later in the day into tomorrow.

It’s soup and blanket weather. I made clam chowder (without bacon) last night, and vegetarian onion soup earlier in the week, served with oven french fries.

Merril’s Movie, Books, TV. . .

I couldn’t quite stay up to finish Louise Erdrich’s new novel, The Sentence, last night, but it’s wonderful—words and books, tribal lore, ghosts, and social commentary.

We watched A Perfect Ending (Amazon Prime), a psychological thriller with Polish actor Tomasz Kot as an architect delayed by a young woman in an airport. It definitely kept me interested till the end. And since I forgot to cancel Apple TV, we also watched The Tragedy of Macbeth, a new adaptation by Joel Coen. Purists may not like the streamlined version, but it’s excellent, filmed in a stark black and white where shadows loom and the Weird Women become birds. The supernatural elements of the play really come through in this version. Denzel Washington plays Macbeth and Frances McDormand is Lady Macbeth. She’s so good.

The book and movies share connections of ghosts, regrets, deaths/murders, and memory.

We’ll be watching the finale of Yellow Jackets tonight, a show that I’ve really enjoyed. (I wasn’t sure I would from the opening scenes.) And I suppose there’s a connection here, too.

Wondering

“the Ghost of Cassiopeia,” officially known as IC 63, located 550 light-years away in the constellation Cassiopeia the Queen.” Image Credits: NASA, ESA and STScI; Acknowledgment: H. Arab (University of Strasbourg)

She stands at the precipice ++++++++ wondering
where time and space meet ++++++++ where and why he’ll appear
at that moment, and ++++++++++++++ again–
it seems less a question of physics– ++his blurred shape–
than an opportunity ++++++++++++++ gathering strength
in the vast eternal void +++++++++++ from unbidden hope
to find a crack, a sliver of light +++++ shining in incandescent splendor

Jane Dougherty and David (ben Alexander) got me thinking about writing a cleave poem again. I haven’t written one in a while, and WP certainly does not make them easy to format. We’re getting ready for houseguests and Thanksgiving–something we haven’t done since the pandemic began–so I may not be around too much in the next week.

Ever After, and Again

Odilon Redon, Apparition

If through the storms
you dream, over and over
of blood and ghosts that laugh
from their own universe to yours—
then watch for shadows, but wait for light
shining in morning’s pink-tinged song,
a symphony of color, of life.

It’s been an odd morning after a stormy night, but the Oracle knew what she wanted to say. This poem practically wrote itself.

The Rocky Shore

Winslow Homer, On a Lee Shore

A stone’s toss
from sea to beach,
where stoic women wait,

beseeching gods of stone-face
for their men’s grace.

Storm-tossed waves, deep-sea graves–

a stone’s toss
to stone-cut hearth, the fire dead.

Uncut threads
tie spirit-treads to stony-shore–
stone-cold hearts still yearn for more.

A quadrille for dVerse, where De asks us to use the word stone. I decided to go with the season.

Listen to Heart-songs

–Sylvia Schreiber

Listen to heart-songs–
the breath of eternity,
as ocean-kissed air dances
with brilliant sparkle-light,
and white-cat clouds pounce
with joy
at the blue-blanketed sky, wondering

~if~

ghosts hide in the shadows,
perhaps they linger to tell their secrets–
imprisoned between before and after,
they wind-whisper
in the fever-blush of morning sky,
and silent-laugh in the night—
at your smile from the window.

A late message from the Oracle today. We’ve had blue sky and sparkling water the last couple of days. As I was getting ready to post this, I looked up and saw this painting of my mom’s. It doesn’t have a title or date that I know of, but it seemed to fit.

Day 7: Special January Ekphrastic Challenge

For Day, I’ve written two poems for Paul Brookes’ Special January Ekphrastic Challenge.

I liked all three pieces of art, but I responding to Kerfe Roig’s “Clarity” and Christine O’Connor’s (CO13).

Clarity

Coming home from the ER, I felt
a sense of clarity amidst the exhaustion,
and in the over-awakened midnight hour, an owl hooted
over and over again

calling for love, not warning,
I decided. And for love, we returned to the hospital
as the sun rose over the bridge to light the shadowed city streets.

Unfinished

There are ghosts in the secret garden
drifting through the flowers’ birdwing-flutters,
she senses them, but they are masked, invisible
against the bright blooms, unfinished with this world,
outside of time, inside the walls, they wait.

Star Sailors

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They sail the vast night sky

not-men, timeless,

born of stars’ fevered joy.

They explore eternity,

laughing color

 

and poetry

 

flies into her broken heart

bringing if and blushing desire

in words so long secret. . .

 

and ghosts listen,

and smile, remembering this magic

 

Screen Shot 2019-08-03 at 7.41.49 AM

 

My message from the Oracle–an almost-puente.  She made me work for it.

Ghost Connections

Monday Morning Musings:

“Why lay yourself on the torturer’s rack

of the past and future?

The mind that tries to shape tomorrow beyond

its capacities will find no rest?

–Rumi from “That Lives in Us” 

“I’ve got the key to my castle in the air, but whether I can unlock the door remains to be seen.”

–Louisa May Alcott, Little Women

 

The moon sails through time

over and over

through the purple sky.

We sit in the dark

and watch it

together

in a universe of only

and always

dazzled

to wake from dreams . . .

feeling the ghosts

in the breezes,

lingering.

***

On the day of the storm

the sun blazed,

and animals were dazed

 

by the glare as his chariot rose

higher and higher.

But the gods conspired

 

and sent the wind

and rain to shower

the flowers, but taking our power

IMG_3578

The storm rolling in

away for a day.

So, we sat in the twilight,

then read by flashlight

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Making the best of the situation when the power went out.

 

and fortunately,

the air had cooled—

but we weren’t fooled,

 

we knew

it was only a temporary stay

from heat and humidity, but hey,

IMG_3597

Carpenter’s Hall all a-flower

we’ll enjoy it while we can

walk in the city, eat ice cream–

talk and dream.

In the movie we see

the family lies

Is it wise?

IMG_3600

Who knows?

Done to be kind

though they’re in a bind

 

about how

to carry out the hoax.

There are tears and jokes–

 

a crowd-pleasing film

of cultural clashes

and flashes

 

of tenderness

in family gatherings and meals–

and the deals

 

we make

as we scatter

world-weary, what matters

 

still are our connections,

the invisible ties,

the love and lies,

 

that bind

generating power and loss,

crisscrossing

 

synaptic bursts

through wires and minds

creating dreams and incredible finds.

 

But the loss

when there’s a faulty connection

the hesitation and misdirection.

 

In my mom’s mind

dream and reality blur—

sometimes–and I’m not sure

 

how it works at all.

Past, present, future circle round

intertwine–wiring unsound?

 

Perhaps. Or do ghosts come to visit?

That shadow almost seen?

What is it? Where has it been?

 

I don’t know tomorrow

I can’t shape the past

or make fine weather last.

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A beautiful summer night at William Heritage Winery, New Jersey

 

but I enjoy the moment

of summer fruits, the flavors

bursting, bits of sunshine savored

before the next storm. . .

and sometimes magic just appears.

 

We got free tickets to a preview of The Farewell. Trailer here. We enjoyed it very much, and it seems like the rest of the audience did, too. Lulu Wang also told the story of the movie—her real life story on an episode of This American Life

We’re watching a series on Netflix now called Typewriter. It’s marketed as a sort of Indian Stranger Things, mainly because it involves four kids. They’re middle school age. It’s not very scary (yet), but I’m enjoying it. Trailer here.

I also heard a recent episode of This American Life about a young woman held as a prisoner by her biological parents in Pakistan. She only had one book to read—that she kept hidden—and read over and over again hundreds of times.  It was Little Women.