Unfinished

“I took a nap and wept for no reason”

~ Jim Harrison from Songs of Unreason

 

My sisters and I

sat at my father’s deathbed

he, though unconscious, raged–

we held a vigil through the night,

waiting for the dawn,

and light

to see him released,

the raging ceased.

I napped then

for days it seemed

dreaming

I heard his voice,

crying when

I realized

it wasn’t real,

but love

disguised.

 

This poem is for Day 13 of Jilly’s 28 Days of Unreason, using Jim Harrison’s poetry for inspiration. I guess this is an early Father’s Day poem.

 

 

Read the Signs, the Truth in Love

Monday Morning Musings:

“I want to know what’s true,

Dig deep into who

And what

And why

And when

Until now gives way to then.”

–“It All Comes Back,” Fun Home (the musical, music by Jeanine Tesori, Book and lyrics by Lisa Kron, based on the graphic novel by Alison Bechdel)

“How do you measure a year in the life?. . .

How about love? . . . .

Seasons of love”

—Jonathan Larson, “Seasons of Love,” Rent

 “Nearly everything we are taught is false except how to read”

~  Jim Harrison from Songs of Unreason

 

In and out of rain,

we find ways to spend our days

in theaters, or with wine

time passes–

the summery glow

flowing like the rain

that later comes and wanes

then comes once more

driving us indoors–

but in sunshine

and feeling more than fine

we sit and dine

eat the pizza,

sip the wine

Auburn Road Winery, New Jersey

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

wanting to stay

in the moment

in this day

that seems so perfect

in a world weighed

down with suicide

and rules defied

by those should lead

but have no creed–

except desire and greed–

those who raise the false

to say it’s true

and don’t read

except in snippets–

whipping it

up for the masses who follow blindly

where he leads–

despite his misdeeds.

I wish I knew why

or what do

(Read—the facts—what is true.)

But how about love?

 

We celebrate with friends–

retirement from a job,

but not from life,

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

there will still be stresses

and strife

though lessened

with time to enjoy,

as she’s now unemployed—

hope springs

and with it, a thousand things

that might be. . . if only

we remember what’s true

and love.

how about love?

 

We see a fair

magic on the street

and in the air

divers and floating

 

PIFA Street Fair, Philadelphia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

and people emoting.

we stay for a while

then walk through the city

parts pretty, some gritty,

to see a play

we’ve seen before

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

but wonderful story,

wonderful score,

the musical version of a memoir—

of coming out and suicide

of being young and older,

still alive,

the story of a father

and a daughter

the lies he told

They discussed books

but she never noticed the looks

he gave to young men he employed

or to boys–

She later read between the lines

things were not fine. . .

time and memories open a gate

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

to see what was and what might have been.

Families are complicated

to understand the whats and whens

when we relive in our heads again—

but was there love—

how about love?

 

I watch the Tony Awards,

where the themes of diversity

and inclusion

are not an illusion

though it’s the craft of acting

to make deception real

but we feel

when the students,

witnesses to horror,

of bullets and blood

sing “Seasons of Love”

feel—

all the feelings

true and real.

(We all must feel)

How do we measure

a life and love?

Celebrate with pride

do not divide

into us and them,

stem the growth of hate

and celebrate–

bake all the cakes

for everyone.

Don’t shun

the moments

in the sun

but remember

to fight the danger

of those who do not read

and who would cede

our world

to those who should not lead. . .

but be aware–

stop–look for magic everywhere.

Magic in the Streets Old City Philadelphia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ve linked this to Jilly’s 28 Days of Unreason, using the poetry of Jim Harrison to inspire.

This is Day 11.

We saw Fun Home at the Arden Theater in Philadelphia and went to the Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts (PIFA) street fair. It’s raining again here in S. Jersey, with a flood advisory in effect.

 

Dreams of Flying

“Just beyond the bruised lips of consciousness.”

–Jim Harrison, “Birds Again”

 

I linger

for moment

just on the edge of consciousness–

why can’t we remember that moment

when we free fall

into another orbit–

that split second

we escape the mundane

to fly–

in dreams,

a secret world revealed,

opened,

I taste the stars on my lips

and wake to find the world glittering.

 

This is for Day 10 of Jilly’s 28 Days of Unreason—poems inspired by Jim Harrison’s Poetry.

 

 

The World Awakens Anew

“I’m hoping to be astonished tomorrow

by I don’t know what

–Jim Harrison, “Tomorrow,” In Search of Small Gods

 

Every day the world awakens anew. I wake to the sound of birdsong–twitters, chirps, the laugh of the woodpecker. I laugh, too. It’s a beautiful June morning. I drink coffee while a cat purrs on my lap. I stand in sunshine, and later I smell petrichor rising from the damp grass as the world—or my little part of it—is washed clean. I’m hoping to be astonished tomorrow by what I don’t know—more people who appreciate the earth, who believe in truth and value what is good.  Our cups can never be too full. There is always room in this world for more beauty, more love.

 

peonies open,

a fleeting gift of beauty

given to the world

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m catching up on prompts! This Haibun is for Jilly’s Day 9 of 28 Days of Unreason, inspired by the poetry of Jim Harrison. I’m also linking to Colleen’s Tanka Tuesday, using synonyms for care and share. Frank’s Haikai challenge this week the 2018 FIFA World Cup. I have zero interest in sports, and I know nothing about the FIFA world cup. So, totally cheating here, but I did get world and cup into this, along with a nod to last week’s prompt on peonies, which I missed.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On the Edge of the Abyss

“So I sit on the edge, wagging my feet above the abyss”

–Jim Harrison, “Bridge,” Dead Man’s Float

 

The sun doesn’t have to shine

nor the moon to glow and hum

her shimmery tunes

at night when all the world

seems dark and full of despair–

and there

on the edge of the abyss,

he, she, they—perhaps I—

sit

wondering is this it?

Yet,

do not the stars twinkle

and the rivers flow to the sea

where life emerges to be

part of an endless cycle—

like despair from wishes

caught like fishes—

unable to be freed.

So, sometimes unperceived

a life not filled with joy,

but strife,

tragic when it ends

in midnight pain,

a sudden downpour,

a heavy rain.

Still, the stars twinkle

and sprinkle

hope

with sparkling light

what may be or might

like the sun

once again come

 

This is another poem for Jilly’s 28 Days of Unreason, where we are writing poetry based on Jim Harrison’s poetry. This is Day 8.

I’ve also linked this to Björn’s prompt at dVerse. He asked us to write using negation. I’m not sure if this is it. . .

There are have been two recent celebrity suicides—Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain—but we all know of more–people who are not so famous.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hear the Light: Ghazal

“What beauty in this the darkest music
over which you can hear the lightest music of human
behavior, the tender connection between men and galaxies.”

–Jim Harrison from “Warbler,” in Dead Man’s Float

 

When all is dark and without cheer, can you hear the stars sing the light?

In music that glistens–shhh—stop and listen—you’ll hear the stars sing the light.

 

The baby at breast, suckling at rest, gurgles to hear the stars sing the light.

The mother, fraught, pauses in thought, smiles as she hears the stars sing the light.

 

When war brings the music of anger and tears, can you hear the stars sing the light?

When you march to the pipes for conflicts and strife—do you fear to hear the stars sing the light?

 

Tell children separated and lives negated—look up–hear the stars sing the light.

Though your life is horrid and rough, and it’s not enough–yet hear the stars sing the light.

 

From the cracks in the darkness, beyond the hard-hearted, do you hear the stars sing the light?

In delicate streams, when all is as seems, do you dream to hear the stars sing the light?

 

In tender connection, we strive for direction, seeking to hear the stars sing the light.

Thus, Merril-y I strive and away my fears drive–to hear the stars sing the light.

 

 

Yesterday was darkness, so today is light. This ghazal is for Day 7 of Jilly’s 28 Days of Unreason–poems influenced by Jim Harrison’s poetry. Anyone can join in the fun!

 

 

 

 

Red Teeth of Death

“Her nights are full of the red teeth of death”

–Jim Harrison, “Life,” Dead Men’s Float

 

Blue is the color of sky and sea,

green are the blades of grass in spring

when the world is born again, and new

shoots raise their heads to the golden sun

whose chariot flies till day is done.

But no less vital is the color red

that drips at birth and stops when we’re dead.

The color that men fear to see

afraid of its power—or destiny.

For though Death may arrive gentle and pale,

her teeth are like spikes, or the sharpest nails.

When she comes for you in the dark of night

she’ll smile–as if to say it’s all right,

but her teeth are scarlet within her grin,

and life is soon gone—after she slowly leans in.

 

 

Apparently, Death is a vampire. Who knew? Mysterious messages and some truths come from Jilly’s 28 Days of Unreason, based on the poetry of Jim Harrison. This is Day 6.

It is also the anniversary of D Day, June 6, 1944, and the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy on June 6, 1968. I suppose blood and death is on my mind.

 

 

Tithonus

“It is the burden of life to be many ages

without seeing the end of time.”

–Jim Harrison, From “Seven in the Woods,” in Dead Man’s Float

 

Dawn pursues him–

Play me a song on your lyre.

Look at me! Over here,

I’m a goddess,

be with me, my dear.

I’ll be your wife

and you’ll be granted eternal life.

It will be grand–

we’ll promenade upon the strands

of space and time–

always in our prime,

oh, it’s wonderful to be a god.

Oh, no.

Oops.

Sorry, my mistake.

I was so taken by your beauty–

(remember that time at the lake?)

I forgot to ask that you

be given eternal youth.

A sad truth, I’m afraid,

you’ll have to be brave

to see many ages

without seeing the end of time.

I’m not sure I can bear it—

but I’ll see that you have some care

when I have to lock you up away somewhere. . .

Ah, how we gods suffer

the curse of the divine.

 

A bit of fun this time for Jilly’s 28 Days of Unreason based on Jim Harrison’s poetry. Today is Day 5.

 

 

Breathe a Cloud

Monday Morning Musings:

 

“Fear makes for good servants

and bravery is fraudulent”

       –Jim Harrison from “Vows”

 

The timeless lies

of dictators grappling for power

smiling for the crowds

insisting they are making things better

demagogues feeding the fears

firing them into fury

so that they erupt

like a volcano

spewing lava into the air

to flow over

those people–

criminals

rapists

bad hombres–

them,

those people who take your jobs,

and ravish your women,

animals

not fully human.

We’ve seen this before

but that doesn’t happen here

that’s all in the past

in countries far away.

We thought we were safe,

more enlightened now

(to separate parents and children)

we’re not

paralyzed by fear and indecision

numbed by the normalization

of Twitter rants

but evil has only been buried

in a shallow grave

waiting to crawl out

like zombies

eating brains

and souls.

 

But when to fight

and when to escape in flight?

Do we leave at the first sparks

from the volcano,

or wait till it erupts?

My daughter’s friend goes out for bread

finds herself wind-whipped with ash–

falling from the sky.

Sudden changes–

like the storm clouds that break

for sunshine

and for a night

when we can sit outside with friends

to enjoy a concert

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

watching children dance in the green grass

in innocence and joy

but

the storm clouds return

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

and we sit inside

procrastibake

and watch TV

Mixed-berry Crumble

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

we go to a wine festival

sampling wine

until the wind kicks up

and it is too cold and blustery to sit outside

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

so, we come home

to sip

inside again

 

watch an old movie about war

and bravery and morality

where the coward becomes the war hero,

but when is fighting necessary

how do we stop evil

without glorifying war?

I have no answers–

but know that questioning must continue–

the press, the poets, the artists

truth and artistic vision

The Post and Guernica–

the light in the darkness,

that is bravery, too

 

and when

 

the rain falls,

hard rain

forming puddles

where little girls see rainbows

not guns

stop

look up

sigh

 

breathe a cloud

blush a breeze with joy

over our universe

and use soft rhythm

to time the thing—

eternity

it sails

a vast cool ocean

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’ve linked this to Jilly’s Day  4 of  her 28 Days of Unreason using the poetry of Jim Harrison. And the Oracle added the message at the end.

Don’t forget to vote! One person and one vote can make a difference.

 

 

 

 

 

It Was Something But Not Enough

“I feel my failure intensely
as if it were a vital organ”

–Jim Harrison, “Vows”

 

I couldn’t save them

all the children,

but I did what I could

hiding them under blankets,

sneaking them away in coffins

beneath the dead

who didn’t complain,

perhaps grateful for companionship.

I couldn’t save them–

all the children–

and those who lived,

but without parents,

family history erased

save for the ghosts

and the dirge they sing–

survivor’s guilt

they say now,

this feeling

that part of my heart is gone forever.

 

 

This is for Jilly’s 28 Days of Unreason, Day 3, basing poetry on quotations from Jim Harrison’s poetry.