Passing (Strange) Along the Stage

Monday Morning Musings:

 

“All the world’s a stage,

And all the men and women merely players;

They have their exits and their entrances;

And one man in his time plays many parts,”

–William Shakespeare, As You Like It, Act Two, Scene 7

 My story being done, she gave me for my pains a world of sighs.
She swore, in faith ‘twas strange, ‘twas passing strange.”
–William Shakespeare,  Othello, Act One, Scene 3

 

“Because your mother’s love might seem insane
It’s ’cause she really knows everything
Too bad it takes so long to see what you’ve been missing…

(Love like that can’t be measured anyway)
Too bad it takes so long to see what you’ve been missing”

Stew and Heidi Rodewald, “Love Like That,” Passing Strange

 

The weekend is a many-act play

we’re immersed, we stay

(of course),

actors reacting to sudden cues

a little bruised, confused

wondering how to choose–

pratfalls on the shrinking stage,

soliloquy from the acting sage,

we spout our lines and ramble on

waiting for the denouement

 

We pass in and out

both clueless and without a doubt

stage to stage

filled with joy and filled with rage,

youth to adult

then on to elderly and frail

without fail–

we pass along

we pass in song

we pass through sunshine and shadows–

what will stay and what will follow?

It’s all a mystery,

but before too long

we’ve passed (strange) along, and then we’re gone.

 

In the midst of these farcical days

we pause to see an actual play

through city streets with rainbow flags

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swaying, zig zagging past cars and bikes, we go

wondering, but do not know

when last we three sat this way

(Love like that can’t be measured anyway)

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The play is of a young man coming of age,

there on the stage,

the narrator is the older him,

while he, the youth

tries to find life’s truth

fleeing LA,

passing through European cities

leaving before it all become too real

afraid perhaps of what he’ll feel

passing strange

passing as black,

is there any going back?

We all hide behind our chosen masks

going about our daily tasks

art can save us, or can obscure even more

(we hear this in the clever score)

It’s a wonderful play, we say,

and at the end we clap and sway

thankful to have this balm for our crazy days.

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We walk and talk and drink some wine

 

 

discuss the play, and feeling fine

we talk about my mother,

whose own mother, I find, used to sing

but stopped, when embarrassed,

and it’s strange, in passing

to suddenly hear such things, the past trespassing

in the here and now, and at this age–

yes, the world’s a stage

“Too bad it takes so long to see what you’ve been missing”

 

And so, we leave the warmth for frozen streets

the city marching to a different, syncopated beat

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and we,

well, we’re passing strange

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through our own domains

sometimes the hero, sometimes a supporting role

we see it all

sometimes fall

and fail to reach the unknown goal

(strange)

but journey on

with hope for more laughs than tears

and love to help us with the fears.

we make a wish upon a star

wonder who and where and what we are

then pause. . .

in early morning’s brightening light

the moon gently hums before she fades from sight.

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We saw the revival of the award-winning musical play, Passing Strange, book and lyrics by Stew, Music by Stew and Heidi Rodewald at the Wilma Theater, and we went to Tria Cafe, Washington West, afterward.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Hope Soars and Sings: Yeats Challenge, Day 30

This is for the final day of Jane’s wonderful A Month with Yeats Poetry Challenge. It has been glorious. Thank you, Jane! I wanted to end the month on a hopeful note–a bit different from my last couple.

I’m also linking this to the dVerse Open Link Night. 

 Today’s quotation from Yeats:

 “And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,” —W.B. Yeats

 

In my dream, I soar with the gulls

adding my laughter to their own,

as I fly higher and higher away from home,

riding the waves of the infinite sea

floating weightless, drifting far, content to be

just there, a speck, a spot within the shimmer

lightly gliding amongst stellar glimmer

as the stars sing their songs and the moon hums along.

Then dropping slow, I wake at peace upon my bed,

(bits of stardust still glint softly on my head),

at home with you, now earthbound me,

and I rejoice to hear a sound, the robin’s voice

greeting the rosy sun, the light of day now just begun

hope sings and floats with feathered wings

and rises strong at dawn from the maple tree.

 

 

 

 

Resting Before Flight: Shadorma Challenge

This is for  the November Shadorma Challenge that Eliot of Along the Interstice is doing. This is Day 18. I am participating sporadically.

 

Birds on a wire

like clouds gathering

for a storm,

or perhaps

like thoughts coming together

resting before flight

 

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I missed the murmuration, but got this quick shot while stopped at a traffic light the other day.

 

Every time I see a bird on a wire, I think of Leonard Cohen’s song. Here’s a live version.

The Lovers: Yeats Challenge, Day Fifteen

This poem is for Jane’s A Month with Yeats, Day Fifteen.

Today’s quotation:

“You, too, have come where the dim tides are hurled
Upon the wharves of sorrow, and heard ring
The bell that calls us on; the sweet far thing.” —W.B. Yeats

 

And so, he came to where the dim tides flow

here upon the wharves of sorrow, dared to go,

listened now for Charon’s boat, the slapping sound of weathered pole

the echoing cries of distant weary souls.

 

But entered he without a fear, played sweetly then upon his lyre

the music that filled the air was warm with sighs and filled with fire

because here within this shadowed world, his love did dwell

playing sweetly then, he cast a spell.

 

The underworld king, his captured queen looked from their gilded thrones,

agreeing that he should not be left bereft of love, nor kept lonely and alone

for such love and devotion, such tumult of emotion he had displayed

crossing over the ocean of darkness, from lighted world to constant shade.

 

They thus agreed, from the underworld she could go,

but promises he must willingly keep to make it happen so–

she would follow him from this hidden world, behind him there she’d be

not once though could he stop to look or see

 

Once round the cavernous steps went he

believing that there behind him, his love would be,

twice round and then up they went, closer to the world of light

when he, not believing she was there, turned to catch a sight

 

Instantly, from Hades he was then thrust out

for not trusting the gods, for having his doubts,

but Aphrodite prevailed to place the lovers’ souls amidst the stars,

traveling the sky as shimmering silvered cars

where like a bell their love now rings,

in music of the stars, the sweet far thing.

 

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Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot, “Orpheus Leading Eurydice from the Underworld,” [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

 

 

 

 

 

 

Silvered Dust of Time and Space: Quadrille and Yeats Challenge, Day 7

I’ve combined a quadrille for dVerse (using some form of the word kick), and a poem for Jane Dougherty’s A Month with Yeats Challenge, Day 7. Today’s quotation:

 ‘…stars, grown old

In dancing silver-sandalled on the sea,

Sing in their high and lonely melody.’

 

In the nighttime sea,

the stars sing–

ringing bells in the sky,

they fly,

ensorcelling with their melodies.

Kicking and dancing in twinkling splendor,

they blaze, then die.

Yet their light,

not erased

shimmers faintly in the night,

silvered dust of time and space.

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Józef Marian Chełmoński [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

 

 

Tanka Tuesday–Quiet and Space

unquiet, space sings

music in silvered slipstreams

songs cast from the stars

 

if unheard, they still exist

drifting from eternity

 

Embed from Getty Images

 

 

This Tanka is for Colleen Chesebro’s Poetry Tuesday. The prompt words were quiet and space. The words seemed timely to me, with the recent news about gravitational waves and colliding neutron stars.

Earth and Stars, Music: Haibun

I wake to news of carnage. I wonder, fraught at what is wrought by men and guns and crazed ideas. My spirit feels wounded, unable to summon the joy. Yet I know it is there, buried in my heart, waiting to soar. I know that above me, the stars still sing, and the moon hums her changing melody, calling the tides. Come play, she croons, come roll and prance.  Music of the universe, music of Earth. Listen–there the mockingbird, and there the robin, and there up at the top of the oak tree, the blue jay squawking. The gift of song, it’s all around us.

Joyful spirits sing

the sound of a summer breeze

laughs through a window

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Frank Bramley, “When the Blue Evening Slowly Falls,” [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

This Haibun is a for Colleen’s Poetry Challenge. The prompt words were spirit and joy. Since I didn’t participate last week, I also used that week’s words, gift and song.

 

 

 

 

Storm Music

I’m awakened by the rain hitting the window, the barker for the upcoming show. Step right up, folks! This one’s a dazzler of light and sound. The lightning takes center stage as it illuminates the sky, followed by the chorus of thundering kettle drums. One cat leaps off the bed; the other snuggles closer to my side. My husband sleeps, but I’m held captive, an unwitting, unwilling audience for this production. Do hours pass, or does it just seem that way? The endless percussion, the strobing encores? The fortissimo storm music finally ends, drifting off, pianissimo, until it’s gone. I dream then of shadows and golden light, of distant seas and far off worlds, until at last, the sun rises, waking me again, with a gentle song.

whirling midnight storms

shadows flit through worlds and minds

in dawn’s light, vanish

 

 

 

Embed from Getty Images

 

This Haibun is for Colleen Chesebro’s Weekly Poetry Challenge.

The prompt words were shadow and light.

I’m also linking to dVerse, where Gayle is hosting an open link night.

 

 

The Maiden and the Dragon

From a tower, a maiden weeps

lost in grief, broken-hearted,

by her hand, a dragon sleeps,

before them both, a land uncharted.

 

She needs to rally and raise her voice,

to be a leader, to trump the hate

with love and light, it is her choice

she hopes that now it’s not too late.

 

Across a field, she sees them gather

the dragon rises, ready then with fire to slay

“Steady, she says, “let them blather,”

“let’s try to provide an alternative today.”

 

And so, as the haters hate some more

they sing together the dragon song

of beauty, kindness, not of war,

and the haters know that they are wrong

 

to judge a dragon by how he appears,

the maiden spins light, it opens a door

(slowly their minds are shifting gears)

as through the door goes hate and fears,

and life resumes, much better than before.

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If only. . .

This is for Secret Keeper’s Weekly Prompt.

The prompt words were: Dragon/Provide/Heart/Field/Hand

 

 

 

 

 

 

Garden Shadows

Monday Morning Musings:

“’I am half sick of shadows,’ said

The Lady of Shalott”

Alfred, Lord Tennyson, “The Lady of Shalott”

 

“We’re neither pure, nor wise, nor good

We’ll do the best we know,

We’ll build our house and chop our wood

And make our garden grow. . .

And our garden grow.”

From Leonard Bernstein, “Make Our Garden Grow,” Candide

 

 

All week the sun plays hide and seek

perhaps preparing for the eclipse

my soul also wanders

in and out of shadows

I think about life

blooming in the late summer plants about me

at a make-your-own-terrarium night,

 

 

we each make one,

the open kind—succulents–

though the closed kind would be more interesting to me–

and less so to the cats–

I think,

as we drink wine

and visit with our friends’ daughter who had also showed up

(Surprise!)

I wonder how long our plants will live,

we, who are good at bringing up children and cats,

are not so adept at raising plants,

though the weeds seem to thrive,

still we put them in the sun

(but where there is sun, there are shadows)

and try to make our garden grow

 

As the sun plays in the August sky,

we go to the movies

(shadows turn to light and life upon a screen)

the film is about life and death

and making choices

telling the truth

confronting traditions

rejecting what does not work for you

embracing differences

seeing people as people,

not as members of different groups,

it’s kind of a comedy

and a romance

the comedy of life

the tragedies

funny family dinners

love

and a coma,

existence in a shadow world,

while life goes on about you

 

Afterwards, we sit upstairs

in an open-air part of a restaurant

flowers planted, blooming in boxes outside the railing

and street performers serenade us from below

it’s noisy,

but, hey, summer in the city

a beautiful evening

we watch buses and tourists below us

and pedicycle drinking groups,

laughing and singing

we eat tater tots and pizza

because it’s that kind of night

summertime

and we’re not at war yet,

we walk around

Do these creatures protect the house?

 

just a bit

because there’s work to be done

and an early day tomorrow

the shadows deepen

 

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The sun dances through clouds

casting shadows large and small

on the eighth, Barbara Cook and Glen Campbell both die

glorious soprano and beautiful tenor

perhaps they sing duets in some other world

(do gardens grow there?)

the next day is the anniversary of my father’s birth

he would have been ninety-eight this week

and I think of my mother,

who will soon turn ninety-five

the seasons turning, sun and shadows

Auburn Road Vineyard

The sun comes and goes

hiding

seeking

gone for a woman in Charlottesville

gone for her family

gone for people killed in mosques and churches

gone for women taken as spoils of war

call evil by its name

the darkness of the soul

never brightened by the sun

hidden beneath shadows

 

I watch the sun rise and set

watch the shadows lengthen

as summer turns to fall

I hold on

seeking light

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giving it to the terrarium plants

because they are still holding on, too

despite all odds

we’ve made our gardens grow

 

I wrote about my father here.

We went to Plant Nite at Auburn Road Vineyards.

We saw The Big Sick, official trailer here. We ate at Revolution House.

You can hear Barbara Cook in “Make Our Garden Grow” the original Broadway cast recording of Candide.