Art and Craft

Monday Morning Musings:

“It will be as if we never existed if our history cannot be read.”

― Minette Walters, The Last Hours

Ask about time–

or the night–

the woman of then

the woman of now

listen and remember

the voice of the universe calls.

***

 

In the book,

many people die.

They wonder why–

what they’ve done,

so many gone

from this new plague.

They question

their narrow existence,

wonder about resistance

and the distance

between people

and place.

And then the rats–

so many, except

where there are cats.

 

It’s a new world,

the crash of the feudal,

for rebuilding, crucial

to have the art and craft

survival skills and more–

and even serfs may leave

the manor, to soar

 

like the clouds that come

with thunder and rain

then blow away again

to reveal blue skies

and days that surprise

one with their beauty.

We visit the fountain,

the water spouting

in wind-blown sprays,

and children laughing

in all the ways

they can,

making sculptures

and eating free ice cream

(like a dream!).

A man tells me

about the turtle

he holds

over fifty years old,

he says,

points to her shell

and what it tells

of her age.

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Not as old as the fountain,

dedicated nearly one hundred years ago,

public art and public show,

the craft and skill creating

a place for people

for waiting, hesitating,

lingering, as the water gleams

over allegories of history and streams,

and water showers,

but we walk on

admire the colorful bowers

of flowers.

 

We visit my mother

sit outside, the air

is pleasant with a breeze

and birds sing in bushes

and trees.

We go inside to see some art

a show and reception–

she has some connection

to the club, if not the artists,

and she can’t see their art

but still she charts

a course around the room.

Later we talk about the paintings

she’s painted

the work she’s created,

and when she and my father dated,

the clothes she wore

in that time before.

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Painting by Sylvia Schreiber

One of my mom’s paintings

 

We leave her before dinner

to walk some more

this glorious day

stop to say

hello to Rodin, and stay

for a drink in the statue garden,

the view a delight,

and we linger

but leave before night.

I see my daughters and their friend

almost like when they spent

all their time together

–birds of a feather—

all creative,

two artists, two who also write,

all who see the darkness and the light.

Soon all will be married

with husbands and wife.

These three—I wish them all

a happy life.

We binge on Netflix

eat nachos, and dream

of what the world might bring,

and I delight

to hear the birds sing

in morning chorus and in the night.

Sweet Potato Nachos with Mango Salsa

Sleepy cats lie

in peace, as I wish we could all–

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the art and craft of living

and dying,

history told in statues and stories

past, present, future fold

the moon hums and sighs

while time flies by.

Morning Moon, June 2019, Merril D. Smith

Here is some history on the Swann Memorial Fountain.

I read  The Last Hours by Minette Walters. She is known for her crime fiction. This is her first historical novel. It’s set during the “Black Death” plague of the fourteenth-century. The lady of the manor seems somewhat too enlightened, but nevertheless, I enjoyed it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Color of Dreams

Monday Morning Musings:

“All that we see or seem

Is but a dream within a dream.”

–Edgar Allan Poe, “A Dream Within a Dream”

“Time present and time past
Are both perhaps present in time future
And time future contained in time past.”

–T.S. Eliot, “Burnt Norton” (No. 1, of “Four Quartets”)

 

 

What is the color of eternity?

All the fires of star bursts

and rainbows

in shades of never-seen, a sheen

scented with petriochor

caramel, and wisps of ozone—more–

perhaps a dream.

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Summer Color at Whitall House, National Park, NJ

I am bemused, delighted

by the brilliant colors of the sky sighted

between storms,

the verdant green of almost-summer

and trees that call,

“Look at me now!”

and I’m enthralled,

with leafy boughs

that wave and wow,

Dock Creek, Philadelphia

Dock Creek, Old City, Philadelphia

but time is flowing in syncopated rhythms

with unexpected accents,

changing in split seconds

ascent, descend–dissent–

confused

from waltz to unsquare dance,

and I’m bemused,

how do grey storm clouds change to blue sky,

how does asleep move to wide awake,

so quickly

and we cannot stay still–

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Ominous sky over Ben Franklin Bridge

over the hill

we go–

my mother goes from weak and incoherent

to mobile and lucid overnight

and back again, delight and fright,

I scarcely think of my dead father

on Father’s Day

 

when I see baby fawns,

twins napping in the sun,

their mother gone

somewhere,

Seeing them is nature’s gift to me.

I accept it gratefully.

 

I dream my mother’s apartment

has been turned into a hospital

I wake up annoyed

(Okay, Dr. Freud)

that I was not informed

of how it was transformed.

My mother tells me she has

another apartment upstairs—

it’s much nicer she says.

Perhaps it is, I think. I can’t compare.

I wonder about time,

and is it ever lost or gone?

The past exists in our memories—

like a rhyme

heard long ago–

the child me, my alive father,

my young mother

I think all still exist somewhere

like love

never gone,

but stretching back

like an endless series of mirror reflections

colors into black.

Reflections

 

I watch the baby geese grow,

a new generation shows

walking by the river–

no music like its symphony

whispering of birth and earth,

singing of life, joy and strife,

keening at death in the currents

that flow to the sea

to be

again and again.

I watch past and future

flow and merge

like that river to the sea

dreaming of time,

dreams within dreams.  . .and then

still the sun sets and rises again.

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We haven’t gone to any movies, shows, or events recently—life and work have been a bit crazy–but we did watch Everybody Knows on Netflix (good but not as good as his previous films), and we’ve been enjoying Good Omens on Amazon Prime.  It’s a lot of fun. And here’s Dave Brubeck’s Unsquare Dance. I have no idea why I thought of this today, but you’re welcome. We’ve had some beautiful days, but also a tornado warning on Thursday night, with tornados that touched down in nearby towns, and now stormy weather forecast for the next several days. I hope that’s not a life-metaphor.

 

 

 

 

The Show Goes On

Monday Morning Musings:

“Life is a theatre set in which there are but few practicable entrances.”

― Victor Hugo, Les Misérables

“We do on stage things that are supposed to happen off. Which is a kind of integrity, if you look on every exit as being an entrance somewhere else.”

― Tom Stoppard, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead

 “Some birds sing when the sun is bright/my praise is not for them/but the one who sings in the dead of night/I raise my cup to him.” (“I Raise My Cup”).

–Anaïs Mitchell, Hadestown

Linger here,

in the never-always

remembering

one thing,

two,

three–

remembering

only this,

who, if not when,

the sunshine dazzling,

as laughter

the bluest sky,

and dreams rising

to dance in the clouds.

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***

Long days

in the approach of summer solstice

long weeks of dread

and anticipation,

of entrances and exits,

of missed cues

and dropped lines.

 

We cherish intermissions

to drink wine in the golden glow

sunsets all the backdrop needed

a show in itself

A Girl and Her Puppy, William Heritage Winery

as the show goes on

as daughters comfort me,

and I try to comfort my mother,

life circles around and around

and around and around–

We talk of pets

and medicine and Pride,

and love is love is love is love is love–

walls come up,

walls are torn down,

sometimes Mother is wrong,

sometimes Mother is right. . .

 

The mockingbird sings

in the dead of night,

a solo turn

in nature’s theater,

I raise my glass to him,

the show goes on.

 

 

It has been a long week. My mom is out of rehab and back in her apartment, but she needs a lot of care. There have been visits, and endless phone calls, texts, and emails. We had glorious weather this past weekend–cool nights, sunshine-filled days. It’s raining today.

We haven’t been to the movies lately, but I take my Merril’s movie club seriously, so I can recommend  I Am Mother on Netflix.  My husband and I both liked it, and it kept me interested after a long, exhausting day with my mom. It’s set in a post-apocalyptic world where Mother, a robot, is raising her human Daughter. I watched the Tony awards last night. (To be honest, I watched most of it, but I couldn’t stay awake to the end.) Hadestown—which looks like such a Merril play—won best musical and seven other awards. Here’s the Broadway trailer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Remembering

Monday Morning Musings:

“The purpose of theatre is to bring into public that which is kept offstage. . .”

Paula Vogel, The New Yorker, May 12, 2017.

“We have a story we want to tell you . . .About a play. A play that changed my life. Every night we tell this story—but somehow I can never remember the end. … No matter. I can remember how it begins. It all starts with this moment—”

From Paula Vogel, Indecent

 

About that breeze

carrying the scent of flowers

in the rain—

now rust-tinged with blood–

does it haunt you?

Listen–

the sound of ghosts walking

through ashes, whispering, whispering

the sound of pain

the sound of love and desire

carried through time

***

 

We walk

(through, around, over

ghosts)

steps echoing

a city filled

with art and history

there a bridge

named for a poet

(who lived in Camden)

who celebrated history

and nature

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human bodies and love

(he spoke of that

which was not spoken)

indecent, some said

unnamed the fear

of love

is love is love is love is love

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Celebrating Walt Whitman’s 200th with homemade pizza and Auburn Road’s Eidolon wine

 

We walk after

seeing my mother

her body dimmed,

no longer so electric

but still pulsing light

 

generates the warmth

the air, the sky

on a beautiful spring

we eat outside

where souls once gathered

celebrating god and man

and new beginnings

(blinks of time)

 

the ghosts gather

telling the story

over and over

knowing how it begins,

never knowing how it ends

 

the play begins with ashes

that later return

but remember the rain scene

(that rain scene!)

that glorious love

passionate and innocent

that shocked—

indecent they said,

that play, and this play

about it–

this love song to Yiddish theater,

to theater,

to the light within us

to memory

to time

 

so relevant the themes again

immigrants demonized,

and we more polarized

and there is fear

all around

(like ghosts)

 

twelve more dead,

we shake our heads,

go on with life

(with thoughts and prayers)

but the dead stay dead

and the ghosts whisper,

remember. . .

 

Yet, we create

and generate

(our bodies electric)

music,

art, and poetry

channeling muses

and spirits

remembering

(the rain scene)

the scent of rain

the light through the trees

Sylvia Schreiber, Giverny Sketches

and love–

there is love

all around

 

and friendships

that stay true

through births and deaths

generating

regenerating

remembering

this moment

to the next

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always how it begins,

but never how it ends–

the lights go down,

the lights come again,

the ashes fall,

the ghosts whisper,

remember this moment,

remember this

 

It was a busy weekend: another mass shooting, a celebration, visiting my mom, seeing Indecent at the Arden (I love this play), walks, a bridal shower. We also saw Book of Mormon, the Broadway touring company, but I couldn’t fit that in. We’ve seen it before, and it enjoyed seeing it again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Meanders

 

 

The sky is sunny, the sky is grey

thoughts fall like rain within my brain

but fan into a rainbow bright

and dance in dreams later at night.

 

I walk past statues, I see stories,

in shadows and art, love and hearts

rise, fall with martyrs. I hold books,

(sacred) as nymphs slide into brooks

 

rippling pools and startling robins

that rise in song, and before long

my thoughts come ‘round, circle in flight

from darkness swayed to soar in light.

 

Anmol’s prompt on dVerse asks us to walk and observe. Those who follow my blog know that I do this often. There has been a lot on my mind lately–and there has also been a lot of rain– and this poem combines a few walks in Philadelphia and in S. Jersey.

WP seems to be possessed again. I hope the photos show up.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reflections: Shadows and Light

Billy Penn Reflecting on Philadelphia--Merril D. Smith, May 2019

Monday Morning Musings:

“But it is only in epic tragedies that gloom is unrelieved. In real life tragedy and comedy are so intermingled that when one is most wretched ridiculous things happen to make one laugh in spite of oneself.”

–Georgette Heyer,  Civil Contract

“Here in the moving shadows

I catch my breath and sing–

My heart is fresh and fearless

And over-brimmed with spring.”
–from Sara Teasdale, “May Night”

 

Here the ghost eyes eternity

looking through a window

from the after

flying through fires of if

laughing at when

they embraced,

in heartbeats

measured time

****

My heart is over-brimmed

as my mother’s eyes fill

and weak are her limbs.

 

Days move from freezing rain

to summer heat

and I reel from pain

 

of seeing her so.

 

But nature and comedy

make me smile and laugh

and provide a remedy

both constant and temporary–

because life is full of

tragedy and joy, the extraordinary

 

and ordinary

of illness, broken cars, and trains delayed

–and the first strawberries

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of the season

the scent alone

a reason

 

to celebrate life

and being here

friends, family, husband, wife—

 

we go through shadows

seek light,

and who knows

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what will be, and if anything will be right

(the world sighs)

but there, the light

 

comes through the trees

and we drink coffee

savor moments, these

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small joys, please–

the walks and shadow shows

pizza, wine, dogs—these

 

simple pleasures bring

to our hearts even in winter

feelings of spring

 

(briefly in my mother’s eyes)

and comedy and tragedy both fly

dancing to the tune

of the moon’s lullaby.

Full Moon over Woodcrest Station

 

Thank you for all the good wishes for my mom. She has improved some from her stroke, and we were able to take her outside yesterday for a little while. We saw our son-in-law perform a stand-up routine at Helium Comedy Club in Philadelphia, and we saw Manual Cinema’s Ada/Ava at the Kimmel Center in Philadelphia. This is the second time we’ve seen one of their shows.  They’re hard to describe–but combine shadow puppets, actors, and live music to create something unique. If you get a chance, see them perform. There’s a video on this Kimmel Center link.

 

 

 

Flowers and Bombs, NaPoWriMo

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Monday Morning Musings:

“Forever—is composed of Nows—”

–Emily Dickinson,  Full Poem here. 

“N. A. Sumanapala, a shopkeeper near St. Anthony’s Shrine who said he had run inside to help, said: “It was a river of blood. Ash was falling like snow.” New York Times, April 21, 2019.

A week of explosions

flowers, storms, shots, and lies

bombs belie the façade

of Easter calm and Passover why

(is this night different from all other nights?)

 

Rivers of blood

with no miracle to part

falling of ash

unresurrected, fighting stops, starts–

A plague upon both your houses

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Of indecision and more lies

as the First Citizen cries

in confusion,

“No collusion!”

 

His followers cheer

not caring, or unclear

that he would destroy

all that they hold dear,

so they support and worship

their false idol. Rejoice

in the new normal, hate

the latest whipping boy.

 

I cook, wrapping myself

in almonds, dates, and honey.

The house is sunny,

scented with cinnamon

like the cat, who slumbers sun-sided

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Passover Almond Cake

The pink moon rises

we drink the first glass of wine, recline.

We are free, but refugees detained

chained, their children abused–

and we all lose–

Let all who are hungry come

 

We watch movies of

women hiding secrets

sometimes in plain sight

in poetry and stories,

sometimes driving in the night

to obligations, demands

and longing

for uncharted territories.

 

Certain women

holding together

waiting, still in a man’s world.

often unrecognized–

we place

an orange on the Seder plate,

to recognize, no longer erased.

 

We talk,

walk through city streets,

footsteps, heartbeats,

statues and stories,

petrichor replaced

with the scent of blooms

filling the air with their perfume, a trace

lingers in my mind.

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A week of explosions

flowers, storms, shots, and lies—

all the endless ifs and whys–

and yet, my heart thrills

at the sight of the spring tide

with waves of flowers,

creating bowers

while the robin’s trills—

and we remember

forever is composed of nows.

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Red Bank Battlefield Park, April 2019

 

Day 22, NaPoWriMo  challenges us “to write a poem that engages with another art form.” My Monday musings always engage with the world around me through photos, and often movies or shows we’ve seen–so to an extent–I’ve met the challenge.

We watched the movie Certain Women on Netflix. We watched Becoming Astrid (about Swedish author Astrid Lindgren, the author of Pippi Longstocking and other books) on Amazon Prime, once I figured out how to turn on the subtitles. We saw the new movie, Wild Nights with Emily about Emily Dickinson in the theater. I liked all three movies.

 

 

 

 

Sun and Storms, NaPoWriMo

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Monday Morning Musings:

“Presentiment – is that long Shadow – on the Lawn –
Indicative that Suns go down –

The Notice to the startled Grass

That Darkness – is about to pass –“

–Emily Dickinson A brief analysis here.

“Oh, how this spring of love resembleth, The uncertain glory of an April day,

Which now shows all beauty of the Sun, And by and by a cloud takes all away”

–William Shakespeare, The Two Gentlemen of Verona, Act I Scene 3

 

Startled? Yes, I’ll say.

Startled awake as the cell phone plays

keening beeps, an alert. I’m dazed

read, “Tornado Warning, Take Shelter.”

 

Did you see them?

The words on the screen?

Not a drill, no they mean

hurry now, no time to grab all the things,

no time for caffeine, keys, or rings

 

I’m roused,

my body tired, but fired

 

I wake my husband, carry phone and one cat

down to the basement, there we sat

on a blanket by the stairs,

litter boxes nearby, but no chairs,

with bare feet, in PJs and tank shirt

waiting, (while the cats pee) but unhurt

 

by the storm. The radio announcer says,

this system’s killed people, he acknowledges

in the south, and I’m glad I heard this after

the all-clear, or my fear would have been greater.

 

(Were my clogged ears, a presentiment

of pressure dropping,

hmmm. . .are they’re popping?)

 

I think the rain is stopping

(at least for now).

and the birds are singing sweet and strong

glorious in their morning songs

telling the world that they are here,

announcing for now that all is clear.

 

***

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Looking out after the early morning storm

I think of this past week in April

uncertain glory, each day

it seems, from bright to grey

shadows, sun, storms, each give way.

We went with friends into the city

We go on the train

(the forecast rain)

But when we arrived, the sky was bright

and the sun shone with April light

on flowers pink, white, yellow–

and mellow the temperature and breeze

softly stirring trees.

 

We sat outside, drank wine, ate cheese

feeling fine, and at ease,

wanting to hold this moment—please—

but we went

as the sky changed then–

and April rain fell again.

 

In more shadows and light,

we played with puppies, such a sight,

doggy kisses and wrestling moves

hard to resist, and it just proves

the bonds between animals,

the bonds between us and them

Once again

we’re home

more sun, more clouds,

watching movies of zombies and spies,

surprises and lies,

in both we see people pretending to be some other

and we see others seeing what they want to see.

 

And I see presentiment—the long shadow–

but hope the clouds will pass,

we’ll come to our senses

before we suffer the consequences—

But for now, coffee, cats,

and later wine,

to sleep later,

perchance to dream—

of a beginning, not an end,

of love and caring and sharing

hope of this world—to mend.

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Today’s prompt, Day 15, is “to write your own dramatic monologue.”  I’m not sure that I’ve done that, but my Monday Musings are always sort of an internal monologue. . . The best I can do, since I’ve been awake since the tornado alert went off around 3:20 this morning.

Sorry, we haven’t been out to the movies in a few weeks, but we did watch two movies on Netflix. The Angel, trailer here, an Israeli-American film based on a true story of a spy. It was an interesting story,good, but not great.  And we saw Cargo, (trailer here)  an Australian zombie film–but wait, it’s not all that gory. It has a message about family, community, cross-cultural awareness, taking care of the earth, AND it has Martin Freeman.  Again, not the greatest movie ever, but enjoyable, and I liked it.

I also read a spy book, American Spy by Lauren Wilkinson. Excellent. Here’s a review.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spring Show: NaPoWriMo

Spring, University of Pennsylvania

Monday Morning Musings:

“Dance is the hidden language of the soul, of the body. And it’s partly the language that we don’t want to show.”

–“Martha Graham Reflects on Her Art and a Life in Dance” (31 March 1985); republished in The New York Times Guide to the Arts of the 20th Century (2002), p. 2734.

“A study in scarlet, eh? Why shouldn’t we use a little art jargon? There’s the scarlet thread of murder running through the colourless skein of life, and our duty is to unravel it, and isolate it, and expose every inch of it.”

–Arthur Conan Doyles, “A Study in Scarlet”

 

 

From a garden

nature sings

dressed for spring

she puts on a show.

Can we,

do we

should we know

the answers?

They blow to the sky

in pastel petals—

Why?

***

We board the train

(no more rain)

So, notice the patterns

of shadows and light

the people shedding jackets,

the delight

of sunlight on the skin,

the day begins.

 

We walk—

a limited edition

cityscape

in an oeuvre that is vast

at last

feeling spring is here.

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Oh, look at the river view,

and how the artist expresses

something both old and new

Schuylkill River from Walnut Street

See the trees?

A work of impressionist art

Combined with naturalism,

Realism,

And there a bit of abstract expressionism.

A study in pink,

I think.

(Love in the air.)

Notice the light.

in this installation,

and the palette of hues

the vivid blues,

the pink, the white,

yellow added to this site.

Now inside,

the dancers dance

bodies tango

they go

this way,

slide from couple to trio

fusion of moves

cues

(she’s in high heels)

catch, swerve

in gender-fluid dives

into each other,

what divides us–

the sensual steps,

the turns,

we yearn

for what?

“No exit,” Sartre says

(ideas compressed)

from seeing ourselves

as others do,

and how do we hold on to

me or you?

We wander back

outside where spring

dances, prances, and glides.

An aside–

we converse with Ben

once again.

And the next day,

I’m once again outside

spring fever,

I decide

No cure,

but to immerse myself

once more.

See, there–

we drink some wine

our thoughts aligned

with others

of similar mind

the winery is crowded.

But this April day—

I wish it’d stay.

Then it’s gone—

another painting on the wall

but yet, not banal.

Don’t you adore

the artist’s shading?

Watch how–

there now–

see the bright light of day

slowly fading

to darkness,

come the night.

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Day Eight of NaPoWriMo challenges us “to think about the argot of a particular job or profession, and see how you can incorporate it into a metaphor that governs or drives your poem.”  I used some jargon of the art world.

On Saturday, we saw Union Tanguera + Kate Weare Company, “Sin Salida,” at the Annenberg Center. Here’s a short video from the company.

 

 

 

 

 

How to Step into Spring: NaPoWriMo

Monday Morning Musings:

“Let the rain kiss you.

Let the rain beat upon your head with silver liquid drops.

Let the rain sing you a lullaby.”

–from Langston Hughes, “April Rain Song”

 

Ah, happy, happy boughs! that cannot shed

Your leaves, nor ever bid the Spring adieu;

—John Keats, Ode on a Grecian Urn

 

She sings from an ache,

raw winds blow, shake

the bare-branched trees,

and the seas weep

till they are silenced by ice–

but on her daughter’s return

the snow melts,

and the sun burns

brightly, birds flitter and coo

and flowers wake with smiles

–and you?

You, smile, too–because

too soon we bid Spring adieu.

***

In the last days of March,

we walk through woods

find shadows and light

breathe air fresh and bright,

with a hint of chill–still

then comes the rain–again

In the last days of March

birds twitter and tweet

at the mornings sweet

with promise of days fair

then the air turns again

and we learn that spring

is here. . . then there

 

In the last days of March,

we walk down city streets

see a show

and have our treats

of wine, beer, cheese

(yes, a bit more please)

and come home at night

to find daffodils have bloomed

shining golden beacons of light

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In the last days of March,

we make candles

sitting in a room full of scent

invent clever names–

imagine a small burning flame

bringing light,

a small delight,

and we drink wine and talk

then walk

and talk some more

 

of stories and poetry

Langston Hughes, Keats,

Shelley, and Persephone, too.

We talk of teachers we knew

of stories completed in dreams

of how the world seems

sometimes horrid, and

sometimes reborn,

fresh and new.

On the last day of March

it rains—

again—

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we gather to eat—

bagels and cream cheese

my mother is pleased

to be out and about in another place,

but it’s a dog who steals the show—

of course, you know

how it is, and so,

we talk about this and that

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then we go home to feed our cats. . .

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and wake upon a cold April first

(isn’t that the worst?)

Well, I suppose it could be snow,

and so. . .we go forward to the spring

(let the rain kiss you)

and that’s how it’s done, we bring

our past to the future

spring forward, looking back,

we stop, step lightly—

breathe

here, this moment of

yellow flowers, pink blooms

and birdsong–

now, spring looms

and I pause

to listen

to its tune.

 

Today is the first day of April, and the first day of National/Global Poetry Writing Month! Today’s prompt is “how to do something.” I’ve played on it a bit for today’s Monday Morning Musings.

My younger daughter and I went to Wax and Wine in Philadelphia. (It was her belated birthday present.)  And because we’re both nerds, we were actually discussing writing and poetry while drinking wine and eating gorgonzola-fig bruschetta at Vintage Wine Bar.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NaPoWriMo