Baskets

Monday Morning Musings:

“Poetry isn’t a profession, it’s a way of life. It’s an empty basket; you put your life into it and make something out of that.”
–Mary Oliver, Georgia Review (Winter 1981), 733.

“There is nothing stronger than a broken woman who has rebuilt herself.”

“I have a right to be angry, but not to spread it.”

–Hannah Gadsby’s, “Nanette”

 

Ask why an ancient wind

rose beneath a hot sun–

they never will

see souls rustle in soft shade.

So,

murmur harmony

to nature’s song

and feel life bloom

 

 

 

 

 

 

***

We listen to the woman, a masterful storyteller,

skilled at creating tension—and

relieving it with a punchline,

but in this set,

she lets the tension linger–

at least for a while

noting both her anger

and its reasons—

reasons that should anger us all.

I think of that,

as neo-Nazis gather in our nation’s capital.

Neo-Nazi? Why should there be new ones

after the defeat of the old ones?

I ponder the other labels–

shouldn’t we all be anti-fascist

and united against hate?

It should be the default mode, shouldn’t it?

 

The novel I’m reading is set in

the early 1930s in Berlin,

the female protagonist had a gay brother

who was murdered.

While they were growing up, she tried

to teach him what she called

“A Code of Masculinity,”

so, he could pass,

but he didn’t.

Hannah Gadsby

in the 1990s in Australia

was assaulted for not being

feminine enough,

she couldn’t pass either. But growing up,

in a culture where she was reviled, left its

legacy on her. She talks about the shame

she felt for being a lesbian, for being different.

 

I think about trying to explain

these weird and artificial binaries

to a visitor from another world,

But how could I,

when they make no sense to me?

You must be this color,

you must love this person,

you must be this religion. Why?

 

And where do I go with this? I seem to have

gone off on a tangent–because

I wanted to tell you about baskets.

Picture the basket itself,

woven together from strands of straw, reeds, or

even wire,

each one different.

And my life, also woven of many different strands.

I weave my basket, and sometimes I take it apart

and start over.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So, let me tell you how

we celebrated the anniversary of my father’s birth—

He would have been ninety-nine. He’s been dead for twenty years,

and I still miss him.

We toasted him with wine–

and ate ice cream afterward,

because he loved ice cream.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We eat Pakistani food with our younger daughter and her husband,

enjoying samosas and other delights

as their dog and cat circle the table,

where there were no scraps tossed,

but love drips,

like melting ice cream,

because it can be messy,

but there is plenty to go around.

 

I could tell you about being with

dear friends over the weekend,

how we eat pizza,

and discuss that new normal, how

it is difficult not to discuss politics

but at the same time,

conversations are fraught

with hesitation—or anger.

How can one be friends with someone

who supports a racist?

 

The saying goes, “Don’t put all your eggs

in one basket.”

We should welcome those who think

differently or look different.

And isn’t part of the joy of having

a full basket

come in examining its contents?

 

There is so much we do not see.

We toss everything

in the basket of life, and pull out what we need

or what we want. But maybe sometimes

we need to look at the basket itself.

 

There is no punchline here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We watched “Nanette” on Netflix. Trailer here.

I’m reading the novel A Trace of Smoke by Rebecca Cantrell.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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After the Blood Moon

After blood moon’s

shadow rose, misted

and rust-still

with music,

a symphony urging you,

Love, to soar away.

 

But time screams

a luscious pink sky,

here in day–

asks, sweet-tongued–

must and if–and so, I moan—

we trudge together

 

 

 

 

 

The Oracle must have been sky gazing last night and gave me this double Shadorma.

It was cloudy and rainy here last night.

That House on Oxford: Haibun

Not a ghost, but the emanation of some past emotion. That’s what I feel in that house in Havertown—the one my mother rented after my parents divorced. Have you noticed that some houses have their own emotional atmosphere? Well, that’s my theory, and if you’ve never felt a house reeking of love, terror, or despair, then it must sound weird to you. But this whole house makes me feel welcomed; my bedroom in particular—it’s as if someone has felt joy there in the past, and the feeling now lingers. . .forever. This room, painted a golden yellow, seems to glow all the time. Every molecule in its walls, floors—even the air—releases joy and serenity—at least for me. Here I also experience first love. I wonder if my feelings will join the room’s aura, biding there for future inhabitants.

thrush sings amid buds,

trees flower, and then leaves fall—

echoes hang in air

Dock Street Creek once flowed here.

 

 

This Haibun is for dVerse, where Lillian has asked us to write a traditional Haibun—that is, a tight paragraph or two, which is a true account, not fiction, followed by a traditional haiku. The haiku should be nature-based but allude to the prose. It should have a seasonal word, and “a haiku must have two parts including a shift, an added insight. Japanese poets include a KIREJI (cutting word). BUT there’s no linguistic equivalent in the English language therefore punctuation creates the cut: a dash, comma, an ellipsis, an exclamation point. Sometimes it’s simply felt in the pacing or reading.”

Lillian has asked us to write about one of the first houses we lived in. This was not the first, but it was the first one we lived in after we moved from Dallas to Havertown, PA, when I was in 7th Grade.

 

This is also for Colleen’s Tuesday Tanka, using synonyms for the words beliefs and strange. I’ve used theory and weird in my prose. Colleen notes that a Haibun should be written as though it is happening now.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stardust and Blood

Monday Morning Musings:

 “How close people could be to us when they had gone as far away as possible, to the edges of the map. How unforgettable.”

–Paula McLain, Circling the Sun

“I have perceiv’d that to be with those I like is enough,

To stop in company with the rest at evening is enough,”

-Walt Whitman, “I Sing the Body Electric”

 

In the quiet morning breeze

I gaze at the sky, the pink-tinged frieze

of clouds, a line then brushed

by sun and wind, its blush

faded to white, in the diffusing sunlight.

I breathe in the ancient longing

belonging to us all—for affection,

to find connections

(despite an election)

After all, we’re all made of stardust,

and we’ve emerged from the sea,

to inhale the air made by our trees–

all related, far enough back, we share the same genes.

I don’t know what it means,

But we’re all people, not infestations,

no matter our color, religion, or nation.

 

My cousin comes to visit–

his father was the brother of my mother,

we share this blood-bond

but I don’t think we’ve ever talked

so much, so one-on-one

of this and that

(we pause to watch and pet the cat).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I display some family genealogy

and we try to parse a chronology

of those from our past,

discuss and compare

the connections we share,

different views of relatives we know

(bring out more photos to show),

My grandfather as a young man. The photo is undated, but taken in Philadelphia.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stories of growing up

an old joke about the Penn Fruit store,

which is no more–

residing now only in our youthful before,

part of the memory,

a moss of summer dreams

that stick, it seems

even in the frost,

when autumn leaves fall,

still they call.

 

We visit the battlefield park,

watch the geese swim in formation

the same way they fly in the sky

(all the whys)

and wonder at their destination,

Red Bank Battlefield
National Park, NJ

National Park, NJ

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

watch the planes, look at the Philadelphia skyline—

this day is more than fine—

we walk and talk

amidst the ghosts of a battle past

after the guns fired and the cannons blast,

the Hessian soldiers here that died.

But they are quiet, and if they tried

to communicate, perhaps it was too late,

we didn’t hear them today

as we walked the pathway

in and out of yesterday.

 

We go on to our daughter’s,

whose soul glows bright,

sit with family by firelight,

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

laugh and talk

and pet their dog,

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

content to be in the moment here

multi-generations, with faces dear,

and if you were perhaps to overhear

amidst the jokes and banter,

you might find fear

of the future,

but it would be mostly love, you’d hear.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wonder

Monday Morning Musings:

24:  “Saw a poem float by just beneath the surface, ”  from Jim Harrison, Songs of Unreason

25:  “A violent windstorm the night before the solstice,” from Jim Harrison, Solstice Litany

 

Words ebbed and flowed through my dreams

unanchored by reason, more emotion, it seemed

till thrown a line, anchored, moored a bit by thought

upon awaking, they shimmered briefly, caught

then released, to float beneath the surface—at peace.

 

William Heritage Winery

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I saw them again, set sail by the wind

before the solstice, against the clouds, pinned

then caught by a breeze, they flew through the sky

I drank some wine, and wondered how and why

they come and go—and all the things we do not know—

 

why time can move both fast and slow

and when waves tumble, where do they go,

and how love can vanish, or it lasts

from youth to grow through challenges, steadfast

through dreams that ebb and flow,

like the sea, eternal, like the stars’ shimmering glow–

beacons of light in the night, ever thus, saving us.

 

Summer Solstice
William Heritage Winery

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A bit different for my Monday Morning Musings because today is our 40th wedding anniversary.

I’m linking this to Jilly’s Day 24 and Day 25 of her 28 Days of Unreason, poetry inspired by the work of poet Jim Harrison. I will catch up on reading tomorrow.

We saw waves of flowers yesterday, and a couple just beginning married life. Light, shadows, bending time and space.

Waves of Flowers and Love
in Philadelphia

 

 

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).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Someone to Love is the Answer

Monday Morning Musings:

“Then we’ll break the moments. We’ll split them over and over and we’ll have all the time in the world.”

–I.G. Zelazny (On a sign at Grounds for Sculpture)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Make someone happy

Make just one someone happy

Make just one heart the heart you sing to

One smile that cheers you. . .”

–from Jule Styne, “Make Someone Happy”

 

Almost forty years wed

together pretty much

from that ninth-grade dance

(sideways glance)

when you stood whispering to your friend

before approaching to say–

Would you like to go to the dance with me?

Certainly,

we’ve trod on toes

and missed some steps,

I’ll concede,

but mostly we’ve agreed

and danced

knowing where to place hands

there

and there

(hold my heart).

Laurita Inn

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Inn at Laurita

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When did it start–

moving from shuffle to waltz

and tango in the night–

mostly delight–

of course, there’ve been fights,

but then an embrace,

a dance,

not a race,

with time to

pause–

look at art

Grounds for Sculpture

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

stroll hand and hand,

understand

the need to

rejuvenate

feel the sun

relive, rewind–

Remember that time?

Lovely, yes–

Let’s have some wine,

Laurita Winery

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

and dance together,

waltz in a circle,

not in a line,

because the path curves and wanders

Longwood Gardens

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

so, we can ponder–

how old is that tree?

Longwood Gardens

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

and listen to nature

and a voice that soars

Audra McDonald at Longwood Gardens

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

here outdoors

Longwood Gardens

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

complimenting

the music of the heart

(ready, start)

we continue the dance

you and me

one, two, three–

See?

There we go,

fumbling

gliding

sometimes slipping and sliding

onward the show,

(more years)

more things to know.

 

 

Our 40th wedding anniversary is later this month. Our VERY wonderful daughters gave us an overnight getaway to the Inn at Laurita, where we stayed in the “Shall We Dance?” room. We also had a wine tasting at the Laurita Winery and a massage at the spa. Thank you, thank you, girls!  The next day we visited Grounds for Sculpture. We were fortunate to have absolutely perfect weather. Last night, on Father’s Day, we saw Audra McDonald at Longwood Gardens. She said she was going to sing selections from the great American songbook. Well, I could listen to her sing anything. She said that “Make Someone Happy” serves as a sort of mantra for her. I loved the mashup arrangement of “You’ve Got to Be Carefully Taught” (Rogers and Hammerstein, South Pacific) with “Children Will Listen” (Stephen Sondheim, Into the Woods). And she sent us off with the reminder to think of all the wonderful children and to “remember your humanity.”

Here’s Audra McDonald singing “Make Someone Happy.”

 

 

 

 

 

Unfinished 2

I told the poet,

I think

I think

of my dad more now,

of love not really disguised

but not quite recognized,

now the way broken

and the words unspoken.

Those days

trips to places,

open spaces,

drives to historical sites,

we always stopped

to eat,

no outing ever complete

without food,

and those restaurants,

the lingering traces,

scents and memories mined,

and entwined

with all the things

we never said–

too late regret

for what was,

remembered,

perhaps imperfectly.

Seeking to flee

our parents

and love—

the things as children

we never see

but now–

so much of them

(unfinished)

in me.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This goes with my Unfinished from a few days ago. Robert Okaji’s “Empty Cup,” got me started.  I realize it also fits Jilly’s Day 16 (yesterday’s) quotation for her 28 Days of Unreason, poetry inspired by Jim Harrison’s poetry.

 

“You can’t write the clear biography
of the aches and pains inside your skull”

~ Harrison from Skull /  Songs of Unreason

 

 

 

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.