Telling the Story

Monday Morning Musings:

“Go out and tell the story.

Let it echo far and wide.

Make them hear you.

Make them hear you.

How that justice was our battle and how justice

Was denied.

Make them hear you.

Make them hear you.”

— from Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty, “Let Them Hear You,” Ragtime

 

“Our children

See them running down the beach

Children run so fast

Toward the future

From the past”

–from Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty, “Our Children,” Ragtime

 

 

Dawn comes to tell the story

of the day,

the sun rising, a fact, or perhaps allegory

of what might be,

but at dawn we still have to wait and see

what will unfold over the hours

wait and behold, to see if it’s sweet,

or if it sours.

Will there be light and flowers,

or angry tears of raging showers?

 

We travel over the cool bridge*

Commodore Barry Bridge

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

listening to the voice we’ve named Siobhan,

she guides us to our destination

no hesitation

on her part

though we wonder as she directs

us to wander,

and ponder

at her choices—but she gets us there.

And it’s where we want to be.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s a hot day,

but fine if we stay

in the shade

and made

more pleasant

by costumed musicians playing flute

and a stringed instrument—but not a lute–

Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

so, we munch

our lunches, listening, as we crunch

and enjoy this day–

wait for more of what it has to say.

Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s a day of protests,

and I am thankful for those who brave the heat

trying to fight and unseat

the evil—so obvious–that is being done

with children in cages, rights that were won

being stripped away–

a new horror every day–

evil has become commonplace,

even while it’s made banal

(build that wall, he still says

this excrescence, the prez)

And we sway in the breezes of change

wanting to blink and look away

but hoping still

it will go our way–

this story of our days.

 

So, we see this play,

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

a musical, and I’m amazed

at the way

it’s so timely today–

full of immigrants fleeing

and wanting the American dream

though things are not always the way they seem,

as white women are awakened to life beyond their homes

and people of color

striving for rights and equality,

though there is no apology

for the discrimination, only denial

without fair trial

or justice–

And, ok, I get choked up

when Sarah runs down to meet Coalhouse

even though I knew it was coming

and it’s possible I was crying by the end

of the story—I won’t pretend—

it’s true,

I was moved by the magic of theater,

perhaps you would have been, too.

 

It might seem funny that we see

this musical, not a Shakespearean play

at a festival named for the bard,

Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

but it’s not hard

to understand

the popularity of musicals.

But he wrote of current events and history

and it’s no mystery

that his plays would have been performed with song–

perhaps the audience hummed along

to some familiar tunes.

Though all the female roles then were played by men,

well, things go around and around again

(Remember when we saw a woman play Hamlet’s role?

Gender no longer is the control.)

 

We ask Siobhan to guide us home

where we feed our cats,

(upset at being left alone)

wait for the sun to set

and the moon to rise,

wait for people to hear the babies’ cries

to set the course of things to where they should be,

where children are free,

not locked away, torn from their parents’ arms

but instead, quite naturally, kept safe from harm.

And by and by

the stars twinkle and sigh,

sing to us a lullaby.

I make a wish by candle light

for wisdom to come—perhaps tonight,

I’ll tell the stories of truth and right

and wait for some to listen,

Can I make them hear me?

I guess I’ll have to wait and see.

 

*Our children–actually their stuffed animal friends–named the Commodore Barry Bridge, “the Cool Bridge.

I’ve listened to the music of the musical Ragtime–and in fact, one summer I listened to it so often in the car that I pretty much had it memorized. But I had never before seen the show. This was a wonderful production with Broadway actors with great voices (and some fortunate DeSales students filling in some of the ensemble roles). It was very well-staged and the costumes were great, too.

Here’s Brian Stokes Mitchell singing, “Let Them Hear You.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Love is a Song: Ghazal

“Love is raw as freshly cut meat,

mean as a beetle on the track of dung”

~ Jim Harrison  from Songs of Unreason

 

It can be painful and raw, sometimes it’s wrong, but love is a song.

It’s sung both in hearts and in brains–if given free rein–because love is a song.

 

It makes lovers dance and full of romance because love is a song.

But what happens when dampened, or gone with dawn, will you still say love is a song?

 

It can make someone evil, cause great upheaval, but love is a song

with notes that can sway, make some go and some stay for the love of love is a song.

 

You can love one child or ten, again and again, because love is a song

that makes mothers sigh when parted, cry broken-hearted, because love is a song.

 

The notes can be doleful and soulful and wonderous and wise because love is a song

that grows and expands without any demands—love is love is love is love is love is a song.

 

Love of country is sung, by those with forked-tongues, because love is a song

to convince some not to think, or to look at the brink, just sing that love is a song.

 

Its music can frighten, can make our hearts tighten, but love is a song

that may protect a few or cause trouble anew, but love is a song.

 

Listen to the stars and moon, listen to the celestial tunes—high above love is a song.

Listen to the birds and bees, listen to the earthly seas, listen long and sing along, love is a song.

 

This ghazal is for Day 20 of Jilly’s 28 Days of Unreason, poetry inspired by Jim Harrion’s poetry (and other works).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Breaking Free

“We’ll know as children again all that we are
destined to know, that the water is cold
and deep, and the sun penetrates only so far”
~ Jim Harrison from Death Again

 

Torn from parents

hearts ripped apart–

how it starts–

the cycle of hate

spinning behind gates.

Business we’re told,

souls are sold

in heat or dank cold

children are taught

the rotational fear,

fraught frontiers–

till some break free

to lead us

from insanity.

 

This is a quadrille for dVerse, where Kim has asked us to use the word cycle, and a response to Day 18 of Jilly’s 28 Days of Unreason, inspired by the poetry of Jim Harrison. Last night we saw Audra McDonald in concert. One of the songs she performed was a medley of “You’ve Got to Be Carefully Taught” from South Pacific (Rodgers and Hammerstein) and “Children Will Listen” from Into the Woods (Sondheim).