Life, Art, Time, Place

Monday Morning Musings:

Life, Time, Art, Place

“It’s about how invisible things circulate within a couple.”
–Tony (Tim Roth) in “Bergman Island”

A beautiful spring day in Old City, Philadelphia, Carpenters’ Hall
A colorful doorstep we passed. LGBTQ+ !

Here, the colors are over-the-rainbow bright,
and there are choices to be made with tea—
blueberry jam or orange marmalade?

It’s a dreamworld, but real as any other
while I’m there,
a few pounds of matter
can hold imagined universes–

I walk with ghosts on Fårö
the director a presence there
even after his death,
and invisible things drift
between married couples,
like jellyfish in the ocean,
growing in the midnight sun.

Or–perhaps I am in Ukraine,
the family’s cherry orchard
soon to be auctioned off,
revolutions looming—
conflicts appeased by volleyball,
or perhaps we are the ball
endlessly lobbed over and into,
finding a place just out of bounds.

I could be at a Cape Cod cottage
swimming in the cold pond water
early in the morning,
a lifetime lived over in a day–

time, space, places
existing always or never,

Wisteria on an old wall.

a morning moon that fades in day,

Morning Moon

a bird in flight–to beyond.

Light and shadow, perhaps an orb. What is real? People say ghosts walk here on this former battlefield. . .

The truth and magic of physics
words may hang in the air,
but a bomb must fall,

and we jump once—
and over and over, remembering
a moment passed,

a split-second when everything changes,
or doesn’t.

Early morning, Driftwood beached and floating on the Delaware River.

Movies, Plays, Books, This and That:

I woke up from a dream this morning where I was in this place with such bright colors, like a Technicolor musical.

On Saturday, I participated in “There’s a Poem in this Place: Poets in the Blogosphere.” It was a wonderful experience, and I was honored to be included amongst such brilliant poets. I will share the video when it becomes available. I realized how important place is in the recent things I’ve watched and read. And how, sitting in a house in New Jersey, or in a theater in Philadelphia, we can be transported somewhere else. (Not an original thought, I know, but still . .) And artists, poets, writers of all types, musicians—all continue to create in war zones or in repressive societies, sometimes bearing witness to what is going on around them, and sometime imagining a better or different world.

I celebrated the poetry month event and the end of Passover with wine and pizza, and we watched the movie Bergman Island. It’s a Merril movie, involving a movie within a movie: “Two American filmmakers retreat to Fårö island for the summer and hope to find inspiration where Bergman shot his most celebrated films. As the days pass by, the lines between fantasy and reality begin to blur, and the couple is torn apart.” I like it more and more as I think about it. It’ one I’d like to watch again, as I was kind of tired.

We saw The Cherry Orchard at the Wilma Theater in Philadelphia, a pre-theater walk first, and wine and cheese at Tria afterward. An unusual production with slapstick humor, lines referencing contemporary pop culture, and yes, a volleyball game. A railway flipboard is a character who answers the characters’ questions. I haven’t yet decided if I liked it, but it was certainly interesting. The Russian director, Dmitry Krymov, who came here to direct the play just before the invasion of Ukraine, is now living in exile.

I read The Paper Palace: A Novel by Miranda Cowley Heller that takes place in both one day at a summer beach cottage and also through the course of a woman’s life, exploring love, secrets, and relationships. We’re also watching Picard—Season 2 is much better than Season 1, and there is time travel and Q!

If you’ve read this far: I’ve added a River Ghosts page to my Website with information and links.

Outside and Inside

Monday Morning Musings:

“but wait, Uncle Vanya, wait! We shall rest. We shall rest. We shall rest.”
–Anton Chekov, Uncle Vanya

Early Morning Delaware River at West Deptford, NJ
Whitall House at Red Bank Battlefield, Early Spring

Outside, it’s wind-swept,
then calm, heron-grey till blue
returns, and sunshine wakes the
laughing daffodils to
play. Outside all is contrary—

we know the ending, but how
will the middle go? Bombs
drop, ice-shelves crash, pandemic
freefall– isolated
branches forget their roots, yet grow.

Inside, we drive with
Uncle Vanya—hear her voice,
then his, rehearsals for life
through Hiroshima streets,
the play’s the thing– but connections

through time and people
signing with love, humor, and
song. It is language, all the
languages—words, faces,
hands. The beauty of them all—
the text, feelings, love, and sadness

buds and blooms again.
Outside birds soar and find mates,
we hear dawn choirs begin
amidst the carnage and
despair, yellow waves across blue

Forsythia

Early morning reflections, Delaware River at Red Bank Battlefield

again and again.
Inside and outside remind
us that life goes on—a dance
through time, variations
on a theme, singing with rhythm–

Vulture Aerial Ballet

signs of creation.
We are the product of stars
replicating their wonder
and extinguishing light
with big bangs—love, joy, sorrow, death

–and then we rest.

I watched this goose running and chasing after other geese. Crazy with love perhaps.

This is a wayra chain–5-7-7-6-8 syllables per stanza. March continues its craziness. The warm weather brought lots of blooming, but now it’s cold again. My husband saw snow flurries yesterday, and we might get more today. Later in the week it’s supposed to get unseasonably warm with thunderstorms. . .and still there’s war in Ukraine, Covid, and a huge ice shelf broke off in the Antarctic. Still, the birds sing and flowers grow.

Merril’s Movie Club:
We caught up with some of the movies up for Academy Awards last night. I didn’t watch the awards ceremony. We’ve seen 7 of the 10 that were nominated for best picture, plus 3 of the International Feature Films, including the winner, Drive My Car. (We may watch The Worst Person in the World next weekend.) And we’ve also seen The Lost Daughter, Parallel Mothers, and Flee–all excellent.
This week we watched:
Drive My Car, Coda, and West Side Story.

Drive My Car was my favorite. I was hooked from the beginning, and I just keep thinking about it. Like Coda, it also features signing—Korean Sign Language—as one of the actors in a multi-language production of Uncle Vanya communicates through it. The movie has so many levels—and languages. It’s about connections and language, love, and loss. Much of it takes place as an actor-director drives or is driven in his beloved red Saab listening to his wife’s voice reading Uncle Vanya with pauses for him to say his lines. The movie is three hours, which along with subtitles, will probably keep many people from seeing it. As for me, I want to see it again. Trailer here

Coda was very good—loud out loud funny in parts, sweet, sad, and poignant, even if it was a bit predictable. It’s a definite crowd-pleaser. Troy Kotsur, who plays the deaf father of a young woman who can hear and wants to follow her dream to sing, won a well-deserved Best Supporting Actor award. Coda won Best Picture. Trailer here

West Side Story—was very enjoyable, and I liked it a lot. My sister and I used to listen to the album (an actual record on a turntable), and throughout the years I’ve seen the movie many times, as well as stage productions (including the worst ever production when I was in college), so I know all the songs. I don’t know that all the changes were necessary, but I suppose if you’re going to remake a classic, then you should make it your own, as Spielberg has done. Tony Kushner updated the book, and the cinematography and the literal dancing in the streets brought a better sense of New York City and the changes it was undergoing in the 1950s. I liked that there was a native Spanish-speaking cast for the Puerto Ricans, and that they spoke without subtitles. And of course, there was no horrible make-up, as in the original. Ariana DeBose, who played Anita, was a standout for me, and she won the Best Supporting Actress Award. Rita Moreno won the same award as Anita in the original 1961 film.

First Snow

Monday Morning Musings:

“Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack, a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in.”
--Leonard Cohen, Anthem

Of spring weather with the sun low in the winter sky
It’s off-kilter, my friend remarks. Disconcerting, I say.
Like this upside-down world of lies embraced, why
I don’t know. Strength in ignorance persuades—
the authoritarian’s way.

****
Now first snow before daylight,
perfect white as dawn kisses night
the pristine blanket yet untouched--
unanswered questions, many and so much

hate and love. Fingers curled within a glove,
hands balled into fist. This is mine, some insist,
with mired minds and clouded brains—
perfect offerings, rotted remains

in nature cycles, vulture-fed, cycles birth, the dead
live within 
our hearts 
the bells we still can ring

sounding louder in the fog
we can’t know what the future brings,
it flows, a river carrying us and everything
and birds sing,


Bright glow in the fog
Afternoon light over the Delaware River
Bagpiper at Red Bank Battlefield
sensing the light
reflections of past, the infinite,
the now—
first snow, first light
for a moment, all is right,

ring in the new year
built on hope, wet with tears,
ring the cracked bell, toll with cheer,
the circling of our earth, and we are still here.


WordPress seems to be up to more tricks. It won’t let me copy and paste the way I usually do it. UGH!

We’ve had strangely warm weather here, along with fog and rain. This morning we’re getting snow. I’ve taken some poetic license, as it doesn’t seem to be snowing anymore, and it’s not really covering the ground. Meanwhile, COVID is still raging, and the deniers are still denying. This Thursday, January 6 will be the one-year anniversary of the attempted overthrow of the US government. Some people deny that, too, despite all the evidence, which I find truly terrifying. The celebration of ignorance, and the insistence on sharing and spreading lies is appalling.

Stepping down from my soapbox. We celebrated New Year’s Eve with Chinese food, as we’ve done for decades. Then, we had a family Zoom session, while we drank champagne. On New Year’s Day, we ate Cinnabons—another tradition.

I enjoyed a few days of not doing much, and I’m not looking forward to getting back to work today. 

We watched four new movies:
Don’t Look Up (Netflix)
The Lost Daughter (Netflix)
The Last Duel (Amazon Prime, rental)
Who You Think I Am (Amazon Prime)

My husband and I liked all of them, and they all have great acting, but we both thought The Lost Daughter was our overall “best picture” of the group. I think Olivia Coleman and Jessie Buckley are always excellent, and Jodie Comer, in the last duel, is also wonderful. 

Oh, it’s snowing again!

Still Soaring

Monday Morning Afternoon Musings:

 

Between the misty amethyst

and the brilliant blue—there’s a pause

in the morning’s soft pink music, a rest

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Delaware River at Red Bank Battlefield, National Park, NJ, shortly after sunrise. July 2020 ©️ Merril D. Smith 2020

 

before the restart of staccato cardinal chirps,

the flute of robin trills,

and the crescendo of crow caws

 

burst through the feathered clouds,

with the bright blue of belonging—

here and now

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Delaware River, West Deptford, NJ. ©️Merril D. Smith, 2020

 

I walk

along the day’s determined path,

yet debating

 

both path and determined,

the ifs, whens, and whys

of going further, beyond

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I found an almost hidden path.

to find something else

hidden

like words within

 

waiting to be spoken.

 

“Eat chocolate,” my sisters say,

and share the thought of our mother’s laugh

echoing from the past,

 

flowing like a river through time,

all the versions of me and you,

the world

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in both the radiance of the sun

and the silvery shimmer of the moon,
pale blue and green,

 

and when I wish upon the ghost glow

of a thousand stars

I feel the dust of dreams

 

within and without,

as feathers fly from the sky

to land at my feet in trails of white light

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silent, at rest,

here, now

bits of something larger, still soaring.

A late edition of my Monday musings. I think Jane and I challenged each other to use the Love set of tiles from the Magnetic Poetry Oracle. The Oracle and I once again collaborated, with more inspiration from my morning walks.

I’ve been baking with summer fruit, but I do indeed have a chocolate stash.

 

Merril’s Movie Club: We watched Radioactive (Amazon Prime, 2020), a new movie about Marie Curie. I wanted this to be wonderful, but it wasn’t. It was OK, but she was such a brilliant woman, and this, sadly, is not a movie that shines. We also watched Straight Up(Netflix), a sort of rom com where a young man who may be gay, but isn’t sure, finds his soul mate is a woman. It was enjoyable, but not great.

So we went back to darker stuff: we started watching Bordertown, a Finnish series on Netflix. So far, it’s very good. I like “Scandi-noir,” and shows that explore family life as well as the crimes.

 

 

 

 

 

Never Fixed, the Ever Changing Light

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Sun above and below, reflections and shadows on the Delaware River

Monday Morning Musings:

“For nothing is fixed, forever and forever and forever, it is not fixed; the earth is always shifting, the light is always changing, the sea does not cease to grind down rock. Generations do not cease to be born, and we are responsible to them because we are the only witnesses they have.

The sea rises, the light fails, lovers cling to each other, and children cling to us. The moment we cease to hold each other, the moment we break faith with one another, the sea engulfs us and the light goes out.”

–James Baldwin, “Nothing is Fixed,” quoted on Brainpickings, where you can also listen to his words set to music.

 

A constant, the sun rises and sets

to the left of my window in summer, to the right in winter

ever shifting, as we rotate and spin, never fixed

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the light changes, shining through clouds and trees

reflected on rivers and sea

and prismed in a sprinkler’s passage, never fixed

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Sprinkler rainbow and puddle reflection

 

the birds fly, the flowers bloom, fall, drop their sees, and grow again

the snapping turtle’s slow crawl, the gracile deer’s leap into the shadows

they pause, then move, live, then die, never fixed

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Maybe a snapping turtle? I saw him on the side of the road by the river during a morning walk.

 

as the moon moves through her phases,

do you hear her fiercely humming?

Reminding us in silvered streams, never fixed,

 

our stories. We choose to sit or fight

against the dying of the light

to witness gleaming through the cracks, never fixed,

 

forever light comes from stars extinguished

we see it, or we don’t.

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My shadow reflecting–light and shadows

 

This has been a difficult week for the world, though it is also been inspiring in some ways.

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A grown daughter’s childhood companion.

In whatever way you can, speak out, donate, and help others. Here is a short list of things to read, support, and follow

Merril’s Movie Club: We watched Just Mercy, which is streaming free (in the U.S) during the month of June. I was afraid it would be a sort of feel good Hollywood movie, but both my husband and I thought it was a good movie with excellent acting. There are additional facts and statistics at the end. We also watched Uncut Gems, which was good in a different way. It’s available on Netflix now.

I’ve written about the musical Ragtime before. It’s one of my favorite musicals, and it seems particularly relevant during this presidency, and right now, the song, “Make Them Hear You” resonates. Here is Ricky the Cat listening to it. (And yes, I may have made him a little bed by my computer.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Soar, Crash, Burn, Rise

Monday Morning Musings:

Once my sister and I were chicks,

we sucked honeysuckle from vines,

and danced with bees on hot summer days.

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Wild honeysuckle

Then I became many birds. . .

 

a robin, who sings in morning

a mother goose, swimming with her mate

telling stories to her children

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and teaching them to swim and fly.

 

I became a heron,

standing at the water’s edge

as the frogs jump and ripples

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Frog ripples in the upside down world.

flow in expanding circles

 

like raptors in the sky,

on a quest,

for sustenance–

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we all fly this path,

 

ignoring the owl’s night warning–

danger is coming, danger is here!

We burn

 

and hope like the phoenix, we’ll rise again.

 

So, I become the golden peacock, a light-seeker,

even as my many eyes cry for the lost,

I fly to worlds only imagined. . .

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imagine them now–

 

and listen

for my star songs

I give them to you–

 

reach high,

 

hold them near your heart,

feel them flutter

with life.

 

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Reaching

Like most people I’m heartsore and weary. Since November 2016, the majority of Americans have been in shock, but the situation in our country, and in the world, continues to deteriorate. I know I’m fortunate to have a home, a loving husband, daughters, sisters, and friends, and food to eat. I have places where I can walk without fear. But, I’m worn from taking care of my mom, worn from her dying, worn my cat dying, of so many people dying. . .while the lies and the lack of leadership here have led to more deaths. I don’t know how to express all this. There are others who can say it better, but I write in poetry. So this was today, my musing. (Some of the photos come from this week, and some are older photos.)

 

On an entirely different note because we all need escapes, Merril’s Movie Club:  The Vast of Night, a new movie on Amazon is a lot of fun. We ordered takeout Saturday night and had a movie night. It’s sort of a retro sci-fi movie that pays homage to The Twilight Zone and old sci-fi movies. One review I read said something about how you’ve seen the story lots of times before, but it’s the way it’s told. We both enjoyed it a lot.

We also watched the show Undone on Amazon, and even though I’m not normally a fan of animated shows, this is such a Merril show. I learned that this type of animation is called rotoscoping. The show is funny, profound, weird, moving, and deals with moving through time and space, mental illness, deaf culture, indigenous cultures, family. . .each episode is less than half an hour.

 

 

 

 

 

Heroes, Truth, and Lies

Monday Morning Musings:

“If we both describe the same thing at the same time, will one of our descriptions be more true than the other?”

–Rajiv Joseph, Describe the Night

IMG_6130

 

The sun rises each day

truth, whether we see it or not

light bending through air

a neon orange ball, perhaps

a tangerine on fire—

 

does the description change the fact–

a rose by any other name, and all that?

The sun, a fiery ball in our sky,

the horizon, the end of all we can see

of a world that goes on and on

 

through space and time.

Now a whisper of spring hovers–

a bit of honeyed-light

through dragon-flamed clouds,

but is winter waning

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or waiting, gathering strength to roar

with gaping mouth and jagged teeth

sending its icy breath to freeze the world,

my world, turning it white,

the sun then but a hazy memory?

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Hazy January sun through trees off of Lincoln Ave, Philadelphia.

Cycles, warm and cold,

sunshine and rain

birth to death,

to birth again

winter fades, spring comes.

 

The woman in the play foresees war,

her fortunes always predict war,

war is a constant, is it not?

War and peace and war and peace

cycling round like sun and moon.

 

My mother is almost a century old,

How many wars have there been–and death.

(Some days she longs for her own death.)

She has good days and bad days,

cycles, laughter and tears

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My mom watching the “wing bowl” at her assisted living facility.

 

Her laugh can light up a room.

I will miss that when she’s gone.

her fading away, I won’t miss that.

Once she was a child, a teen,

a vivid, energetic woman–

 

still, her laugh can light up a room

the way the sun lights up the sky.

Do you see it?

How would you describe it?

A sunrise? A laugh?

 

The days have been dreary

a slow steel sky, heavy with portent,

or dreams–waiting for spring—

there, a hawk cries from above,

there on the ground a hint of what may come

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Magic all around us lies, lies all around us.

The man in the play extols the black Magic Marker,

it erases the past, a new truth can be told–

it is a crime to be alive when the state says you are dead,

perhaps eat this leech soup, and remember, the women say.

 

Fantasy, myth, truth, lies

this is the world,

and I think we need heroes,

real heroes like Harriet Tubman,

or perhaps the children will lead us now.

 

But now,

I listen to the moon’s hum, the stars’ songs

reflect on the river’s reflections

I bake and cook

trying to stay cozy in a tilting world

And if it tilts,

how will we describe the sun rising

and setting

cycles that are constant but changeable

even if we don’t notice the change till it’s too late.

 

Is it too late?

we watch movies and plays

and drink wine

because life goes on

until it doesn’t

 

but still

but still

light bends and what of time?

Perhaps we may see ourselves

rising again with the sun.

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Garden of Delight by David Guinn, Mural Arts of Philadelphia

 

Merril’s Movie (and Theater) Club: We missed the movie Harriet when it was in the theaters, but it’s streaming now. The word hero is overused, but Harriet Tubman truly was one. The movie is sort of a standard bio-pic, good, but not great–but Cynthia Erivo is wonderful in the role. She seems to channel the spirit of Harriet Tubman. Also, for us, it was fun seeing local Philadelphia/New Jersey places and historical figures, such as William Still. We will be seeing a play about Harriet Tubman later this month.

We saw the play Describe the Night at the Wilma Theater in Philadelphia. Both of us totally enjoyed this play that combines myth and reality, historical figures in imaginary situations, and imaginary people in historical situations. One strand is about “Putin’s” rise, but the play goes back and forth in time. It gave us a lot to talk about afterwards. A real “Merril” play. And my husband was still able to see most of the Super Bowl when we got home. 🙂

And lest you think I only watch serious things–we binge-watched the second season of Sex Education on Netflix. 

Sometimes we do not control what we watch.

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Who controls the remote?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Memento Mori

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Laurel Hill Cemetery, Philadelphia, September 2017

 

Monday Morning Musings (Late Afternoon Edition):


 

Ask the wind where time goes

(away from spring’s light)

 

cycling from beautiful bloom

to cold brown earth—the sight

 

of vultures in skeleton branches, it seems

cleaning up the dead things, and dreams

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at night of when and after,

but yet I wake in laughter

 

and cat purrs, a sniff, a whiff

of coffee, and beautiful dawn breathing if,

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and always on the breeze

is life-music, birds in the trees

 

the sun behind the clouds,

the moon’s setting loud

Late afternoon January Sun

January sun glowing faintly through the clouds over ramp to Walt Whitman Bridge.

 

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with fierce humming,

another day coming

 

time circling again,

and again, and again

 

constant, traveling like light

far beyond our lives and sight.

 

***

We walk city streets in shadow and light

reflecting back the old and true

perhaps, or not—

maybe we see what we want to see,

or see not at all,

 

 

the ghosts and night creatures

walk beside us, and should we fear them,

or they us?

I learn that Mister Rogers loves graveyards

and blood is life—of course–

 

it ties families together

through generations, as we pack and unpack

stories and belongings

carting them across oceans,

over highways, in and out of rooms,

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discarding some, embellishing others

past golden suns and silver moons

to here and now—memento mori,

we all die, forgiven, or not,

still . . .

 

we all carry stardust

in our blood

through time and space,

and if we can, we find the time

to stop, drink some wine,

 

share some kindness

and remember those who came before

and those who will come after

we’re a speck in the wind

blowing into forever.

Late afternoon January Sun

January sun glowing faintly through the clouds over ramp to Walt Whitman Bridge.

 

After some very loooooong days of packing, today we moved my mom into her new facility. Today was the first day I had seen the place. It’s very nice—homey—rather than institutional, and everyone was quite friendly and pleasant. Tomorrow there will be more moving and cleaning. So, it may take me a while to catch-up with posts and comments–and actually get some work done, too!

My husband and I finally saw the movie, It’s a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, which is actually more about the journalist telling Mister Rogers’ story than it is Mister Rogers. The journalist is played by the Welsh actor, Matthew Rhys, who played Phillip in the wonderful show, The Americans.  Tom Hanks, of course, is Mister Rogers. Believe the hype. It really is a very good movie, and even my husband got a bit teary-eyed.  The movie is based on this Esquire article, Can you say. . .hero?

We also watched the new BBC version of Dracula on Netflix, which was also quite good. It puts a different spin on the story, which you may or may not appreciate, but I did really enjoy Sister Agatha.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hidden

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Look up!  Vultures just hanging out. Hidden in plain sight.  National Park, NJ.

 

Monday Morning Musings:

“. . .for the growing good of the world is partly dependent on unhistoric acts; and that things are not so ill with you and me as they might have been, is half owing to the number who lived faithfully a hidden life, and rest in unvisited tombs.”

― George Eliot, Middlemarch

“I believe a leaf of grass is no less than the journey work of the stars”

–Walt Whitman, #31 from “Song of Myself”

 

“It may diminish some our dry delight

To wonder if everything we are and do

Lies subject to some little law like that;

Hidden in nature, but not deeply so.”

–from Howard Nemerov, “Figures of Thought”

 

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The sun is hidden behind the clouds,

the images waver through a wet wall,

and the world is dark, dreary, until the charcoal clouds part

through the droplets, a ray of bright hope–

colors arc across the sky,

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and in that magic moment

my spirits lift, not forever, but enough

there, hidden behind the gloom

there is beauty, beneath the sleepy despondency,

there is hope, joy, love.

 

We walk through Old City streets,

bones beneath our feet, hidden

ghosts walk with dry leaf rustle.

We see their reflections

in the end of the year.

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Curtis Center Building, Philadelphia, December 31, 2019.

The year turns, a page reflected

(we reflect)

in the late afternoon sun-glow

as couples take their vows,

beginning a new life

 

We see a movie,

a hidden life,

but reflect upon so many hidden lives

at that time, in this time–

time flows faster

 

towards what?

We travel east,

the sun setting behind us

announcing the year is ending,

a new year about to begin.

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From a Patco train, crossing the Delaware River from Philadelphia to New Jersey. December 31, 2019.

We eat Chinese food,

watch a musical of hidden lives

danced into acceptance

in boots—

kinky boots. Well, why not?

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Why not? And why–

do leaders deny and lie?

foment hate?

The world burns

hidden beneath smoke and rage

 

are flower bulbs,

seeds of hope.

If we destroy the world

perhaps something better will come,

rising over our hidden bones

 

buried, like secrets

of family and history

in tombs sealed and forgotten

someday to be uncovered

to live again

 

perhaps in legend or song.

I find a recording of Yiddish songs

hidden in plain sight in my mother’s bookcase.

She is calmed by old, familiar melodies

as we sort and pack her belongings,

 

much of her past now hidden (treasures)

buried in time, tossed aside in many moves

“I’m reduced to one room,” she says

almost in tears,

saltwater, like the sea

 

from which we sprang,

the work of the stars,

their light and songs carrying us on

Starlight, starbright,

I wish tonight.

 

Hope buried, sometimes found, like that piece of bread that drops into the fondue pot.

Merril’s Movie Club—So many movies; so little time! We saw A Hidden Life, Terrence Malick’s latest. It was beautiful, like all of his movies—and well, you have to accept and go along with the meandering pace. It is based on a true story, and while I admire someone who sticks up for his convictions– and it is difficult not to see present-day parallels—I also was not certain what his objections actually were. At one point, he says he doesn’t know if Hitler is evil. Um, what? And though he suffers for not signing a paper giving allegiance to Hitler, the war does not really seem to touch the beautiful village in the clouds. I liked how the movie showed all the hard work the women do on their farm, but everyone seems well-fed while the war is going on. Yes, this man stood up for his undefined objections, but places were being bombed, people were sent to concentration camps, and other horrors were going on.

Last night we watched I Lost My Body.It’s a French animated film about a severed hand looking for its body. I know that sounds weird and creepy, but it’s surprisingly moving, as we learn about the young man’s life. I never thought I’d be rooting for a hand.

On New Year’s Eve, we watched a Broadway production of the musical Kinky Boots that I had recorded when PBS’s Great Performances ran a few weeks of Broadway shows in November. It’s great fun, and it was perfect for New Year’s Eve. (If you’re a Passport member you can see it.)

We’re almost finished with a Turkish show on Netflix called, The Gift. We’ve enjoyed it—an artist who draws strange symbols teams up with an archeologist to uncover family secrets and legends from the past.

And finally–a shout out to my cousin, David Lesser! His story, Bodies at Rest, was made into a Chinese movie. I don’t know how it will be distributed, but it’s an action movie, set in a morgue in Hong Kong, and it opened an Asian film festival. Trailer here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lovely Bright, The Sight

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Monday Morning Musings:

“How clear, how lovely bright,

How beautiful to sight

Those beams of morning play. . .

 

Ensanquining the skies

How heavily it dies. . .

How hopeless under ground

Falls the remorseful day.”

–from A.E. Houseman, “How Clear, How Lovely Bright”

 

 

The line, the flow

the glow

of life, scattering

 

leaves, the gathering of nuts and seeds

(the sky bleeds)

reflecting the spattering

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of wounds, the broken glass

before the gas

and rustlings

 

of war and wind

the leaves are thinned,

but hear them crunch and crackle

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as squirrels scamper and play

in the fading light of autumn day

and the birds fly—geese and grackle—

and hawks and vultures soar

before the train comes, roars

down the tracks

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taking me somewhere—

up and down, stairs

we go, into the wind,

 

the boat sails

and what tales

might it have, of rivers or sea?

Delaware River from Patco train heading to Philadelphia

Delaware River from Patco train heading to Philadelphia

And is there a lighthouse, with ghostly

glowing and horn blowing, or mostly

sunny skies?

 

Time must sail, too

and we a sometime crew

walk through history

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18th Century garden on site of Benjamin Rush’s House, Philadelphia

how can it be otherwise,

the lows and highs

of our own lives, the mystery

 

of others–we see a groom and bride

and I hope they lovingly glide

into a life of love and joy

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A wedding party taking photos at “my willow” at Dock Creek, Old City, Philadelphia

(Pause, we drink coffee and wine

stop for a time—

but time is coy)

and autumn comes cold and dark

but there is beauty, even if it’s stark—

see the moon rise over fields stripped of grain

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Moonrise over a South Jersey field, November.

glowing, humming—this autumn sky

and the clouds and time

the time before the rain, snow, the train

 

of time. The movie train that circles

through the frozen world, almost eternal

but the cost

 

a cautionary tale

of where we might sail

and is our world already lost?

 

Crow calls

the remorseful day falls

setting underground

 

in fiery ball, unheeding

the world goes on, speeding

and we spellbound.

 

But I don’t celebrate bleeding—

or ferocious gods, the leaders leading

into destruction–

 

let poetry fly

through vast haunted eternity, die

the war-fever. Find a new function

 

for our minds and hearts

in words of love, kindness, and arts

that soar with feathered wings–

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how clear, how lovely bright

the sight

of what could be, of hope that sings

 

as the walls tumble down.

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This was a week of elections, cat dental surgery, the anniversary of Kristallnaught (November 9, 1938), and the tearing down of the Berlin Wall. In the U.S. today is Veteran’s Day. It was formerly Armistice Day, but of course, war has not ended. I respect all who have served and honor all those who have given their lives in serving their country. While someone like Hitler had to be stopped, it would be better if people did not let such people gain power.

 

For Merril’s Movie Club: We watched Snowpiercer, a 2014 movie we had never seen, but since we recently saw Parasite, and it is an earlier movie by the same director, Bong Joon-ho, we decided to watch it. It’s on Netflix. This one’s in English, and it’s much more of an action movie than I would normally see. Like Parasite, the movie covers the issues of class and climate,and there was definitely much to think about. Overall, we both liked it. There is also fighting and bloody scenes though, so be forewarned. We saw Lighthouse in the theater. It’s also in English. I know, strange, right?  (Don’t worry, we’re still watching Black Spot, so reading subtitles there.).  Great acting, beautiful black and white cinematography. Very strange, surrealistic movie of two lighthouse keepers on an isolated island. Some of the dialogue is taken from Melville and lighthouse keepers’ diaries. It’s somewhat similar in style to his previous movie, The Witch.