The Unimaginable Magic

 

Monday Morning Musings:

“There are moments that the words don’t reach

There is suffering too terrible to name

You hold your child as tight as you can

And push away the unimaginable. . .

 

There are moments that the words don’t reach

There is a grace too powerful to name. . .

 

It’s quiet uptown”

-Lin Manuel Miranda, “It’s Quiet Uptown,” Hamilton

 

“The atoms that huddled for a cosmic blink around the shadow of a self will return to the seas that made us.

What will survive of us are shoreless seeds and stardust.”

–from Maria Popova, Figuring.

 

 

 No human voices break the silence,

but robins and mockingbirds sing, a woodpecker pecks,

crows caw wise warnings, geese honk greetings

I hear a whoosh above and a shadow flits before me, gone

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my own shadow remains, long-legged, invincible goddess–

if only,

she could push away the unimaginable,

the suffering, the families who will never hear a familiar voice.

She can’t. I can only I look for beauty and share

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the way sunbeams sift through early morning clouds,

the astounding variety of flowers in a multiplicity of hues,

rainbows revealed in sprinkler sprays, the sight of a deer family

the charcoal splendor of thunderclouds, the intense blue of the cloudless sky,

color and light, physics and magic, charm and fury—

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life itself, cycling love and loss,

we never imagine, don’t expect

plagues, freak accidents, revolutions—

we push away these thoughts

because to do otherwise, we could not go on

 

and on, we go,

craving life, survival

seeds of hope sprouting in unlikely conditions

growing, reaching for light,

for grace

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The tenacity of plants. Delaware River at Red Bank Battlefield, July 2020. ©️Merril D. Smith 2020

perhaps unimagined,

silence can be comfortable;

it can be lonely, too–

equal and opposite reactions,

we’re pushed and pulled

 

from the womb to ashes and dust

we ebb and flow

like the tides of river and sea

and yet traces of us survive forever

in shoreless seeds and stardust—

 

this is the unimaginable magic of the universe—

that in the sparkle of light on water

the past and future exist together,

holding love, loss

and hope.

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Delaware River

 

Merril’s Movie/Theater Club: We watched the Taiwanese movie A Sun (2019, Netflix). I don’t know if it’s the same in Mandarin, but in English, the title plays on the words sun and son. The movie is about family dysfunction and tragedy; the favored golden son who is working towards entering medical school and the younger son who predictably ends up in juvenile detention. But each member of the family has secrets and depths. After a tragedy, the family dynamics change. Though this movie is perhaps a bit too long, the acting is excellent, and the cinematography is beautiful.

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Whitall House with a tree decorated for the Fourth of July. Red Bank Battlefield ©️Merril D. Smith, 2020

We celebrated Independence Day, the Fourth of July by watching Hamilton (Disney+). I don’t know if this is available outside the U.S. I subscribed to Disney+  for a month just for this, which was a bit annoying, but I don’t plan to keep it, since there’s not much else I’m interested in on that platform. Still, at $7 and change, it’s worth it. We’d pay more for a movie ticket at a theater. This film is compiled from two performances of the original Broadway cast production, but it includes camera angles that you would never see from sitting in the theater. I’ve discussed Hamilton before. Believe all the hype, it really is a wonderful show, and most likely I’ll watch it again while I can.

The excerpted lyrics above are about after Alexander Hamilton and his wife Eliza’s son Philip is killed in a duel. Alexander and Eliza have been estranged, but in this aftermath of their personal tragedy, they grow close again. Life goes on in the midst of revolutions and tragedies—people fall in love, babies are born, children die. History is never simply about battles and elections.

We ate and drank a glass to freedom (that’s a glass of sangria, banana chocolate chip cake with cream cheese frosting) Ricky was not interested in the first act, but enjoyed the second half. 😏

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shifted Sands

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Ocean City, NJ June 2020

 

Great women

often forgotten,

and their marks

tide-shifted

till their footprints are erased–

still their ghosts whisper

 

murmuring

with knowledge we’ve lost,

unseen and

swept away,

their hidden figures buried

in the sands of time.

 

A double shadorma  for Colleen’s tanka Tuesday challenge. Pat R.’s theme asked us to consider Longfellow’s “Psalm of Life” poem and/or use it as a source of found poetry. Well, you can see what that poem does to me. 😏

Listen, Hear Them

Monday Morning Afternoon Musings: 

“Hills, the trees, sunrise and sunset — the lake the moon and the stars / summer clouds — the poets have been right in these centuries… even in its astounding imperfection this earth of ours is magnificent.”—Lorraine Hansberry, quoted in Imani Perry, Looking for Lorraine: The Radiant and Radical Life of Lorraine Hansberry

 

Listen

to mockingbirds,

and robins, crows, and jays

cacophony or harmony,

hear them

 

rustle

in verdant fields

rain-jeweled, and glistening,

a turtle in painted armor

stands still

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Turtle that I rescued from the middle of the street.

aware

that danger comes

rolling like thunder clouds,

flowing like an ancient river,

blue-hued,

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Delaware River at Red Bank Battlefield Park

constant

the earth revolves,

frost gives way to sunshine

patriots and the times that try–

but breathe

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deeply

sigh, but feel

sun-warmth, as shadows grow

light and darkness work together

always

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Lily shadows on our shed.

listen

in verdant fields

frost gives way to sunshine

flowing like an ancient river,

always

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I was having a difficult time musing about the week of that began with beautiful sunny days and went to hot, humid, thunderstorms, a week that saw our corrupt and ineffectual leader-in-title-only continue to lie, spew venom, and become ever more authoritarian. On the plus side, I was happy to see all the coverage of Juneteenth, and nature does soothe.

Yesterday was Father’s Day. One daughter sent a book of brain-teasing puzzles to my husband, and the other delivered us dinner and beer (for my husband), which we ate while visiting with them via Zoom. I baked my husband’s favorite cookies, Welsh cookies, which are actually cooked like pancakes, not baked in the oven.

 

So, I consulted the Oracle for some inspiration and came up with this garland cinquain, except that for the last stanza I reversed the order of lines 3 and 4.

Merril’s Movie/Theater Club: We watched the movie Miss Juneteenth on Juneteenth. (available for a slight rental fee on several streaming platforms, including Amazon Prime). A debut film that has excellent performances. The story involves a Juneteenth pageant, but the theme of a parent wanting a better life for her child is universal. We also watched Ann, a one-woman play about the late former governor of Texas, Ann Richards, written and performed by Holland Taylor. It was excellent! In the U.S., you may be able to still see it on Great Performances online or possibly On Demand.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Not Never, Always

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My mother sings in dreams,

not of death, but light

holding promises of if–

soar, she cries,

why whisper what you want

when your words can fly,

 

~reaching~

 

for you, I wake,

as the robins rouse the sun

to blossom in apricot splendor.

Their voices carry on the wind–

a song that makes the flowers dance,

and I watch, at peace

 

~in this moment~

 

the world searches

for hope,

sending out wishes on stars

with a laugh,

time sings through a thousand rivers,

not of never, but of always.

 

I tried several sets of tiles, and the Oracle kept giving me the same words. I hope I interpreted her message correctly. A Puente is technically two stanzas connected by a bridge stanza, but the Oracle had more to say, so this is a double Puente.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wandering in and out of Light

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Light streams above and below. Rainbows and reflections. Ceres Park, June 2020, Merril D. Smith

Monday Morning Afternoon Musings:

“She liked then to wander alone into strange and unfamiliar places. She discovered many a sunny, sleepy corner, fashioned to dream in.”

― Kate Chopin, The Awakening

“Now it was only the rivers
that spoke of the rivers,
and only the wind that spoke of its bees,

while the unpausing factual buds of the fruit trees
continued to move toward their fruit.”

–from “ON THE FIFTH DAY” by Jane Hirshfield

 

 

I wander, silent–

unvoiced, rather,

a clumsy human, my footsteps

warn frogs, birds, deer—

gone in a flash

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the facts—they are dangerous—we are

shadows, looming, long-legged,

over fields and ponds.

But if fearful to raise my voice,

the wind and water are not

afraid. They whisper delicately,

or rage in thunderous tones

proclaiming the facts–

we are, they are, here.

We look for constants

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Life in the green of Earth, reflected Ceres Park, June 2020 Merril D. Smith

the rising of the sun

the humming of the moon,

the wildflowers that magically appear,

amidst the mud and weeds–

truths

not always heard, yet echoing,

waiting for cracks in foundations.

A fact, buried, as we move through time,

there is always light, somewhere,

and so, I wander, seeking it, and dream

 

of it, of you, of awakening

the songs we carry from the stars

connecting all living things,

a truth reflected a thousand times,

even as it emerges from a black hole, shining.

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Water Lilies and Reflections, West Deptford Public Library, June 2020, Merril D. Smith

 

 

A very late Musings today. I’m trying to finish projects, while feeling that I can’t focus. On Saturday night, we watched the streamed production of the Wilma Theater’s Kill Move Paradise,a play we had seen in the theater. Of course it’s not quite the experience as seeing it live, but it is a good play that gave us much to discuss. I wrote about it here.  It is available for another week for an any amount donation to BLM Philadelphia.

I’m hosting #TopTweetTuesday this week on Twitter. Get your poems ready!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And All Is

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Guillermo Gómez Gil, “Moonrise,” Public domain

 

These storms pound, over and over

the wind screams, the sea moans,

recalling what?

 

Days of blue sky,

summer friends,

a thousand ships sailing into the mists of time?

 

And then, if whispers, “please.”

 

But the moon chants from above

this is could, not always, or never,

 

they do not see or listen–

we dream of light and beauty. . .

and all is.

 

My poem from the Magnetic Poetry Oracle.

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.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At Midnight

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At Midnight

 

gather

moonbeams and weave

a tapestry of light

to hang upon the wall of night,

glowing,

 

wait for

dawn’s chariot

to drive across the sky.

Collect her rays in blankets for

cold hearts.

 

Listen

for crow’s wisdom,

squirrel’s scolding, and frog’s croak.

Hear the joy in a baby’s laugh,

find peace

 

and watch

for storms on seas

of tumbling, tossing waves,

leaving you adrift. Here you find

dragons–

 

fire

streams from their mouths–

yet you must stay calm, sing

the song of sun, moon, stars, sea–

exhale

 

glowing

dawn’s chariot,

squirrels scolding, and frog’s croak,

the song, of sun, moon, stars, sea—

behold.

 

Colleen sort of challenged me to write a garland cinquain, so here it is. For her Tanka Tuesday challenge. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Read and Join the Poetic Collaboration: fws: a journal of literature & art

 

“The spring issue of fws is an experiment in “evolutionary-lit . . .Unlike a formal Renga, however, in which poets write only a few lines to add to previous lines/stanzas, which then, all together, become the whole poem, we will be writing an entire issue of whole poems together, so it is an improvisational collection becoming!”

Charlotte Hamrick and I have had our poems added to this beautiful ongoing poetic collaboration. You can read more about it, and find out how to submit your own verses here.

 

 

 

Spring Rains and Summer Storms

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Birds sing from leafy trees

and verdant banks beside the streams–

from gentle rain in spring a droplet gleams

 

on iris and rose, and petrichor rises in the air

washed clean, carried on a crisp, fresh breeze

(with pollen that makes us cough and wheeze)

 

but beautiful the shades of green

in days that lengthen, until the sun’s heat

bakes ground and street.

 

Summery steam rises in air that’s sticky and thick,

and the sky darkens, the clouds turn black,

as the stormy wind enters, blows pages from their stack,

 

I close the window when the rain comes—plothering, not pitter-pat,

there’s thunder and lightning, and gusts that sway the trees about–

then the power goes out—

 

the temperature falls and rises again, the rain clouds part,

and through them, the sun casts a glow

across the sky–look, a double rainbow.

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Rainbow at Pitman Golf Club, Pitman, NJ June 2020

 

For Sarah’s rain prompt on dVerse. Earlier this morning, my husband saw this rainbow at the golf course where he’s working. Later, we got a severe thunderstorm, and our power went out, but it’s been restored. So, I reversed the order for the poem.