Listening, Watching, Hoping

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The world is sad and broken,

clouds of smoke rising

 

and the voices of trees lost.

(Say not forever.)

 

Still I listen for the secret rhythm

of stars and moon

 

and watch the sun rise

brilliant fire in the sky

 

lighting our days,

reminding us of if and when

 

the universe is born and dies,

again and again–

 

and yet, the flowers bloom in spring

(until they don’t)

 

and their perfume rises

in morning’s smile.

 

My collaboration with the magnetic poetry Oracle. She always seems to know what is and what might be.

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And You, Too, Have Come to This Still Point

November at Red Bank Battlefield, National Park, NJ

Monday Morning Musings:

“Around me the trees stir in their leaves

and call out, “Stay awhile.”

The light flows from their branches.

And they call again, “It’s simple,” they say,

“and you too have come

into the world to do this, to go easy, to be filled

with light, and to shine.”

–fromMary Oliver “When I Am Among the Trees”

“After the kingfisher’s wing

Has answered light to light, and is silent, the light is still

At the still point of the turning world.”

T.S. Eliot, “Burnt Norton”  Four Quartets

 

I walk among the trees

watch the light golden-streaming,

and feel the wind river-breezing

listen to the crows caw and go

then all is still, in the glow,

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Delaware River at Red Bank Battlefield, National Park, NJ.–November

 

though now it’s blanket season

when the wind blows, teasing

the clouds that alternate grey and bright

while I seek some warmth, some light

and find delight in sunrise pink rising high

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I look to the sky

the flocking of birds in flight.

We gather with family

hope there’s no drama

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or not too much.

Some come from lunch

to share our dinner

and so, we talk and laugh,

and most definitely eat (repeat)

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(not forgetting the sweets)

till it is time for them to go–

and you think you know

how life will be

but suddenly, you see

 

all the moments—

the traditional breaking of stuffing bread

under Capt. Janeway’s gaze, her cool head

once again guiding her crew

–and for them so much to do–

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and you, too, so much done,

all the times before—

and after–the squirrels, the sisters and daughters,

the laughter and traditions, the people come and gone—

babies grown, moving on

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we watch a movie of love and longing

of trying to find a better life, men migrating

women left behind, waiting

for escape, for weddings, for revenge—

gritty life and magic realism, avenging

 

ghosts among us

life not ending, but flowing like the sea—

what happens when we cease to be,

does love carry on through time and space?

Is there a still point, full of grace

 

and light, golden

like the emblazoned leaves

shining. . .

beauty to remember when it snows

to recall it will return

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even as the darkness grows

and the world turns, day to night

and all is still–

but beyond the clouds—

stars and moon still burn bright.

 

We celebrated Thanksgiving. Some of my sibling saw my mom that day, and we saw her the next day.

Merril’s Movie Club: We watched Atlantics on Netflix. This film from Senegal won the Grand Prix at Cannes. It moves from social realism of life in Dakar—forced marriages, laborers who don’t get paid, migration—to a sort of magic realism based on folk tales. I imagine it was a beautiful movie to see on a large screen.We both liked it very much.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Moods

August Sky over the Delaware River at Red Bank Battlefield

 

Glowering

clouds reflect my mood,

shadows cast

on river

rolling to the sea, endless

cycles streaming throughout time

 

creating

stormy skies and light

untamed and

magical

the appearance of a deer

like a gift to me,

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like nature

answering a call,

now a need,

now the light.

I walk on, heart more joyful,

the river flows on.

 

A shadorma sequence for Colleen’s Tanka Tuesday, using synonyms for character and wild. This was inspired by a walk I took yesterday.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Owl

Vignette with an Owl on a Perch From Baron O.H. von Gemmingen (translator), Milton's Allegro und Penseroso (Mannheim: Schwanischen Buchhandlung, 1782) Ferdinand Kobell, German, 1740 - 1799

Credit: Philadelphia Museum of Art The Muriel and Philip Berman Gift, acquired from the John S. Phillips bequest of 1876 to the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, with funds contributed by Muriel and Philip Berman, gifts (by exchange) of Lisa Norris Elkins, Bryant W. Langston, Samuel S. White 3rd and Vera White, with additional funds contributed by John Howard McFadden, Jr., Thomas Skelton Harrison, and the Philip H. and A.S.W. Rosenbach Foundation, 1985

 

She glides,

elegant, her

wings whisper feathered hopes,

listen. . .she hoots a warning call,

beware

 

fierce claws

grasping rabbit–

stunning, horrid nature!

Predator and prey in moonlit

death dance.

 

A Crapsey cinquain sequence for Colleen’s Tanka Tuesday. using synonyms for pretty and ugly.

 

 

 

 

The Tree

High above me, golden streaming

through its leaves unfolded

growing, teeming

with creatures,

big and smaller–leaning

climbing, flying

living, dying

in its greenery gleaming

all the wishes—seeming

there, seeds of the past

rise in the air.

And later,

under lambent moon

dreaming, beaming,

the promise of the future, greening.

 

Poem for dVerse, where Mish is hosting Open Link night.  I took these photos a few days ago in Philadelphia when we were walking around on our wedding anniversary after a very late lunch or very early dinner.

 

 

The Secret Poetry of the Stars

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Angel breath flowers the morning

and soft blush-clouds sail

in dancing rhythm

waking all the ifs–

 

let ghosts fly

in and out of time,

haunting universes of then—

and almost-when

 

I will laugh the secret poetry of stars,

their brilliant blue voices

celebrating eternity

with lingering dazzle-light

 

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From my morning consultation with the Oracle.

Listen, the Song

 

“Now I will do nothing but listen,

To accrue what I hear into this song, to let sounds contribute toward it.

I hear bravuras of birds, bustle of growing wheat, gossip of flames, clack of sticks cooking my meals. . .

From Walt Whitman, “Song of Myself,” Section 26

 

Now I will do nothing but listen—this song

in sunshine sweet,

of mockingbird and robin’s trills

the crow’s caws and hawk’s high screech–

the pulsing life in slapping beats

against the river’s flow

constant,

the trees’ arboreal sighs

(slow and steady)

we breath

together—

I sing the body electric,

we drift, grow, go

connected to, all part of

one, none, molecules ignited,

feel them

flaming

the ash of stars

streaming,

under streetlights and moonbeams–

we dream.

 

Today is the anniversary of Walt Whitman’s birth on May 31, 1819. There have been events all year, and many this week, though somehow, I’ve missed them all.

 

 

 

 

The Language of a Thousand Loves

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Above, Moon sings

of honeyed times

 

her music rose-gowned

in sweet summer winds

 

sifting shadows

over the sea.

 

And we watch—

asking why of water-pounded rocks

 

as the sun

drives mist away–

 

there still sleeping –

 

the language of

a thousand loves with you.

 

I’m not quite sure I understand what the Oracle is saying, but I like the poem she gave me.

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Our Whys

Sunrise, National Park, NJ

 

as rain pounds

the wind moans

 

a language of screams

and shadowed sky,

 

but beneath the blue-black beat

there is a moon singing

 

a dream chant of love—

 

and in time the sun will shine sweetly,

honey-tongued,

 

urging us to life

together through our whys

 

Yesterday, the sunrise was glorious. Today I woke to moaning wind and rain striking the windows. But the Oracle is wise and all-knowing.

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