Connections, Past and Future: NaPoWriMo, Day 9

Monday Morning Musings

“I guess I can say that I just wasn’t connecting to everything, because I wasn’t given enough information to know that we all are connected somehow. To every living breathing thing.”

–Denis Dodson, a Maryland prisoner, in Anna Deavere Smith’s, Notes from the Field

“On Passover, among other traditions, we pass down “the spirit of roast beef” and how to make light and fluffy kneidlach instead of “sinkers.”

—from our family Haggadah

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Winter turns to spring,

the week is fraught

and we are caught–

the minor annoyances and major fears

(of fate held back, now it seems, for years

coming due,

in arrears)

the morning call about my mom—

not as frightening as one late at night,

but still the toll

the stress of them all. . .

 

And so, we are comforted by rituals

though celebrated past the date

still cherished, even if they’re late

connecting with our ancestors,

connecting with our past

remembering absent faces

remembering all that’s passed

 

Passover, a celebration of freedom

but so many are still not free

we watch a filmed performance

about people caught in circumstances—

a need to redesign

the school to prison pipeline,

though many are disinclined

(after all, there are profits to be had

in the incarceration of those considered bad)

But how to address the major issues–

there will always be officious officials.

There are big problems, addressed in this drama

food desserts, racism, epigenetic trauma?

Freedom Fighters, John Lewis

the brightest, the truest—

and still problems go on—

a young girl thrown across a room,

and I wonder if we’re doomed?

 

We celebrate freedom

we were slaves, now we are free

but for so many that will never be.

My family picks and chooses our traditions,

most of us without true religion,

accepting each other and the love that we need

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

and so, we sit at the Passover table to read

my daughter’s Passover play

(this year’s edition)

each reading our part,

with laughter, we start–

some allusions maybe going over some heads–

the Pharaoh likened to current leader who believes his lies,

(despite the facts before his eyes)

and Moses to Hamilton who’s not going to throw away his shot–

perhaps high art, it’s not,

but we laugh as we sing and say

Dayenu

and name the plagues,

then almost through

pour more wine

and let us dine

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the after-dinner glow

I am comforted by our rituals

and all we hold dear,

connections to the past

my niece says do you know—

grandmothers literally hold a part of their granddaughters in their bodies

in the already present eggs of their girl babies in utero?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

and so, it goes–

this love of family

past, present, future—

an arch

through which we pass

somehow connecting,

in the parade of time

moving forward and back,

and we here are fortunate not to lack

nourishment of love, food, the mind.

I see the students march,

hear my daughter talk of how she teaches,

begin to hope that some glimmers of light reaches

far away,

floating through both words and deeds

following the leads

of young and old

truth and justice, never old

hoping this trend to hate recedes

hoping the light grows

hoping truth and beauty proceed

Seeking a patch of light

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here’s an article from The Atlantic on Anna Deavere Smith’s one-woman play, Notes from the Field, in which she plays many different roles. A filmed production is currently on HBO. I did some research on prisons for my forthcoming books on rape and sexual violence. Some people may not be aware that the U.S. has the highest incarceration rate in the world.

Day Nine’s Prompt for NaPoWriMo is “to write a poem in which something big and something small come together.” I feel like that is always what happens in my Monday Morning Musings.

It was a busy weekend, so I’m behind on reading, but I will try to catch up later today!

 

 

 

 

 

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Hope Rises and Falls, Like Us All: NaPoWriMo, Day 2

Monday Morning Musings:

“Remember only that I was innocent
and, just like you, mortal on that day,
I, too, had a face marked by rage, by pity and joy,
quite simply, a human face!”

From “Exodus,” by Benjamin Fondane, murdered at Auschwitz in 1944

“But where there’s hope, there’s life. It fills us with fresh courage and makes us strong again.”

Anne Frank, The Diary of a Young Girl, June 6, 1944, written after Anne hears the news about D Day.

“I see the world being slowly transformed into a wilderness, I hear the approaching thunder that, one day, will destroy us too, I feel the suffering of millions. And yet, when I look up at the sky, I somehow feel that everything will change for the better, that this cruelty will end, that peace and tranquility will return once more.”

Anne Frank, The Diary of a Young Girl, July 15, 1944

 

This Passover—at least at the start,

my husband and I dine alone–

we’re on our own

for this Seder

(apart from the cats,

who join us later).

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It’s been a strange week of that and this

things not quite right, a bit amiss–

the whole afternoon at the doctor for my mother’s hand

in a city office

(the building still grand)

 

I look at my hands

starting to look like my mom’s

when did this change begin of fingers and palms–

these strange hands turned from mine to others

how did they become so much like my mother’s?

 

The weather turns from cool to warm

but still I feel the coming thunder, the storm—

I read about a French woman who survived hate and the camps,

stabbed by her neighbor to whom she showed only kindness–

but he was caught up in blindness

(of the soul)

if that is how we can characterize it all—

this hatred or fear,

we should remember her

not him,

Mireille Knoll,

for whom the bell finally tolled.

 

This climate of fear

seems to grow daily

the president goes on another Twitter rant

and I just can’t–

listen to him (sniff sniff) speak or chant

transplant

fiction in his supporters’ brains

(enough of them still remain)–

where and when does it end,

will it ever stop,

the firing of the latest shot,

the hate, the finding of scapegoats to label

the fear of the intelligent and able?

There’s fear in the air,

but does fear rise above hope?

Which is denser, which one floats?

 

We see a performance, a play

people forced together, every day

having to live in close quarters

annoying each other, parents, strangers, daughters,

dependent upon friends for food—

for everything

never permitted to go out

or glance through a window—or shout–

forced to be silent all day—

even chatterbox Anne must sit still and stay,

but she finds a way,

observing and recording

in her diary she writes,

somehow hope rising above despair

as if she’s gathered it from the air

“Think of beauty,” she writes,

and

“I still believe that people are really good at heart.”

Her writing, an art,

though she’s doing her own part

for the war effort, for after, for when life re-starts,

revising her words for the novel she hopes will one day be—

when the war is over—when they’re all free—

We know watching, that it is not to be,

and yet, still, I hope for a different ending,

one that ends without sending

them off in cattle cars to the East

to be treated worse than beasts

to die hungry, filthy, covered with lice,

wonder why she and others had to pay such a price—

would she then have written what she did–

as she slid

as if down a well

from hiding into Hell?

 

We celebrate miracles, the Exodus,

I’m not religious, but the history of us

of pogroms and hate at this time—

the crimes—

make me honor those who came before me

and who were not free

to celebrate or see—

here now–

a day of sun and clouds,

voices talking out loud,

the daffodils in bloom,

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I hope they don’t disappear too soon.

Then a rainbow appears way up high

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It seems magical, and though I’m cynical,

perhaps it is a Passover miracle,

whatever, it’s beautiful, I think,

and so, we eat matzah and drink

(more wine)

IMG_8467

Passover Walnut Cake

and before desert, the full moon appears to hum in the sky–

filling me with wonder and whys

 

The human face,

if we could only see it

instead of looking at a space

feel—seek out!– the pity and the joy

but instead, we destroy.

Fifty years ago, this week, a man was killed

perhaps from him, some hope was spilled

“I have a dream,” he said,

but before long, he was dead.

He urged others onward in the fight

for justice, for light.

Anne Frank, a young girl, also died

her family, too, only her father survived.

she wanted to be remembered, a famous writer

and so, she is, with life gone and so much missed.

I don’t know that our future looks any brighter,

(Do you hear it? The wind carries their cries.)

and yet. . .when I look up at the sky

I still see the stars and moon, and then I sigh,

hoping their dreams will never die.

 

We saw, The Diary of Anne Frank at People’s Light in Malvern, PA. 

This is Na/GloPoWriMo, Day 2.  The prompt was to play with voice, but well, these are my musings.  🙂

 

 

Waking Dreams

Monday Morning Musings:

“Something nameless
Hums us into sleep,
Withdraws, and leaves us in
A place that seems
Always vaguely familiar.”

–Mark Strand, “Dreams”

“All that we see or seem

Is but a dream within a dream.”

Edgar Allen Poe, “A Dream Within a Dream”

 

My daughter and I talk–

sleep paralysis

she says,

waking to plunge into the terror again

not being able to move, or scream

in the terror of the dream.

 

And I think of the young people caught in a school

and those elsewhere—the whirlpool,

the vortex of contradictions,

fight or flight,

rehearsing what to do if caught,

a nightmare over and over again

until some finally scream, “Enough! Be seen!”

we need to flee the terror of this dream.

 

I was child,

practicing the duck and cover drills

ridiculous, tilting at windmills,

but I remember being terrified,

petrified that my parents would not come for me

before whatever we had to flee–

a world ending with both bangs and whimpers—

no tears,

just fear,

and no way to wake

from the terror of the dream.

 

And so, how can anyone say these young people are tools,

they have seen the violence in their schools,

they have been forced to practice,

to dance with fear,

to hold it near,

and should their dreams die

before they’ve had a chance to fly?

 

We see a movie

about grief and guilt

from wars, built

stronger, lasting, flowing through generations,

the absurdity of life–

the solitary camel ambling to the checkpoint gate–

the soldier who dances the foxtrot with his gun

fun arising from boredom with surrealism fused-fate

that keeps us dancing and returning to the same spot—

caught–

as if in a dream.

And though the movie is set in Israel

where “the fallen” fall so often

that those who bring the news are prepared

to deal with the grieving and the scared–

they come with drugs and instructions,

attuned to this production,

the result of the war machine,

the resulting grief and tears it brings–

still what happens there,

could happen anywhere

where there is war

and where dreams are launched

with guns and bombs

prayed over with psalms,

and where they fall from the sky

to die.

 

We walk and talk

the day is still cool,

but the seasons are cycling

through the year—

and spring is near.

We see a wedding, groom and bride

attendants by their sides.

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Though the fear is in abeyance here

the nightmare lasts,

we must lift our voices to put it past.

to see the light,

to see the sun,

the hopeful dreams, caught and spun,

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Can we celebrate our fate,

move towards love, not to hate,

unparalyzed, with dreams awake,

wear hope like a perfume?

We arrive home–

to find some daffodils have bloomed.

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We saw the Israeli movie Foxtrot. Trailer here.

 

 

 

Soul Dance

My soul aches and almost breaks

the news of guns, the murderous fun–

what does it take

to awaken them

the ones who kill

the ones who rape?

 

In dreams at night, my soul flies light

across the seas, across the sky–

What does it take

to keep awake

for hopes to soar

for dreams to roar?

 

A flower blooms, the morning sky,

my soul enchanted, I might cry–

there is love and beauty—and so why?

what does it take

for them to awake

before we’re gone, before too late?

 

So, dance me Soul

from here to there

from sun to moon

to stellar tunes–

and as I prance,

maybe they’ll dance

and then—perhaps–we’ll have a chance.

 

National Park, NJ
March 21, 2018

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This is for dVerse. Paul asked us to write “a soulful poem, a soul gazing haibun, a soul-filled sonnet. . .”

It is also World Poetry Day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Robin Searches Here: Tanka

Robin searches here

beneath the snow-covered grass

new life is sprouting

in renewed light seeding hope

replenishing Earth again

 

 

This is a tanka for Colleen’s Tanka Tuesday.  Colleen asked us to write a poem using synonyms for “renew” and “fresh.” I was walking by this window that looks out at our back yard, just as the snowstorm on Wednesday was starting to pick up. This robin by the oak tree caught my eye, and I quickly took a photo through the window.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Barely Spring–Haibun

The weather seems more unpredictable than usual–open windows one day and heat on the next. I wake listening to rain. It is dark and dreary. Then I hear the birds begin to greet the day. Each morning, the sun rises a bit earlier and sets a bit later. I know we could still have a blizzard, but hope is in the air, rising with the crocuses. Spring is coming.

February sun

hides light under grey covers—

yet mockingbird sings

 

Watching for birds in the rain.

 

This is for Frank’s latest Haikai Challenge.

Catch a Star

This was inspired by a poem Jane posted and our comments.

 

In the darkness, catch the stars

keep them, hold them, in a jar

with memories of long ago. . .

then on the nights when thoughts are bleakest,

let one go and watch it seek its

dream-mist companions of the light–

watch them floating, soaring high—

to the rhythm of your heartbeats, fly

on intangible wings to empyrean heights

follow fly, and do not stop or wonder why,

but in the darkness, grasp the jar

catch, hold fast, a glimmering star.

 

Anything But Black

ESO’s various observatory sites in Chile — Paranal, La Silla, Chajnantor — boast enviably low levels of light pollution. However, the skies overhead are rarely pitch-black! As shown in this image of Paranal Observatory, the skies regularly display a myriad of colours and astronomical sights, from the plane of the Milky Way shining brightly overhead to the orange-hued speck of Mars (left), the starry constellations of Scorpius and Orion, and the magenta splash of the Carina Nebula (upper middle). Despite the remote location there are also occasional signs of human activity, for example the sequence of lamps seen in the centre of the frame. These faint lights illuminate the route from the Very Large Telescope (VLT) to the Visible and Infrared Survey Telescope for Astronomy (VISTA) where this image was taken. Due to the highly sensitive camera this photograph also showcases a mysterious phenomenon called airglow. The night sky is ablaze with deep red and eerie green hues, caused by the faint glow of Earth’s atmosphere. Because of airglow, no observatory site on Earth could ever be absolutely, completely dark — although ESO’s do come pretty close. This image was taken by talented astronomer and photographer Yuri Beletsky, a member of the 2016 ESO Fulldome Expedition team. This team visited Chile to gather spectacular images for use in the ESO Supernova Planetarium & Visitor Centre.

 

 

Grace in the Moon

This is for the dVerse prompt, “Grace.” Things were off for my New Year’s Eve and New Year’s, but I was struck by the brilliant moon. I felt there was a message there, if only I could hear it.

 

The moon hums with a fierce light

glowing

throwing

pale white heat

we do not hear or feel it,

the insistent beat

on rural roads or city streets,

though she hums aloud

we’re lost in darkness

lost, frozen, under this

tenebrous cloud

 

but if we stop,

listen for a space

(pause)

here in this unknown place

look upon a well-loved face

find here, see, a bit of grace

in love constant, shining like the moon

like her humming tune,

hear the whisper in the wind,

hope is coming, listen, soon