Autumn Questions

Monday Morning Musings:

“Autumn poses the question we all have to live with: How to hold on to the things we love even though we know that we and they are dying. How to see the world as it is, yet find light within that truth.”

–Pico Iyler, Autumn Light: Season of Fire and Farewells, quoted in Brainpickings

 

 

In the transitional spaces

of this liminal season,

sun and moon both hold their places

easing in

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Morning moon over the river.

the days of swoops and shifts

where sunshine fires gold and red

and nature bewitches with magic gifts–

deer and birds, the leaves unshed

to glow in sunshine, that perfect light

too soon hidden behind the grey

of clouds, and we trudge but fight

the winter’s-coming-wind. “Stay!”

we say to sunshine and golden glow

as we struggle through “the wind tunnel of death”

in rush hour city streets, go with the flow,

see, not so bad, we catch our breath

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and onward go, sunshine, then rain

and I work, cook, bake, turn on the heat

to be certain it works, for frigid air comes again

and soon winter winds will roar, and we’ll retreat

not wanting to venture out so long or often

but yet we’ll have to carry on, do what we must

and with blankets, soup, and candles, soften

the cold (and in the dimness hide the dust).

 

But for now, we walk and celebrate

the accomplishments, good weather, and walk

through parks, a restaurant, a concert—a date

I suppose, we listen to the other couples talk

Park in Collingswood, NJ, Merril D. Smith, 2019

at other tables and speculate

about their lives. Then we move on—

the concert late into the night, but great

and soon comes another dawn

and more rain. A grey afternoon

my mom nods off to the TV

I make her laugh as I dance to a tune–

Que sera, what will be, will be,

 

not what we hear, but inevitably

transition lead to something new

leaves fall, rivers flow to the sea,

winter grey and white follows from autumn blue,

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but now we watch a French demon on our screen

drink wine and gasp at horror in a world not real

enjoy the make-believe land of the unseen

even as we long for something ideal, feel

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unmoored in this world, waiting for disaster

but finding moments of joy to savor

wanting some to slow, some to move faster—

what is the flavor

 

the scent, of time passing and flowing?

Cinnamon, nutmeg, lilacs, and rain

petrichor rising, snow falling, and fires blowing

smoke into the air—all these over and over again–

as cats play hide and seek,

and children now grown send love in photos,

and each week brings something good or bleak—

and so it goes.

 

In the liminal spaces

of this liminal season,

the moon hums, traces

her course, she has a reason

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even if we don’t know why,

(what questions to ask, the answers unknown)

but hush,  hear that sigh?

Listen closely, the moon’s lullaby.

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It’s been a crazy week with emotions blowing like the crazy winds. One deadline met, another still to go. We went to a concert at the Scottish Rite Auditorium, David Bromberg and Los Lobos. My husband joked that you had to be over 50 to get in–but wow–those musicians can play! We walked from the theater to Indiya restaurant and then back. We’re watching a horror show on Netflix called Marianne. One episode to go. It definitely made me jump a few times. It’s in French. Sorry, movie club fans, that’s the best I can do right now. I hope to get to the movies soon.

 

Sail Into the Vast Ever After

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See how time darkens her eyes,

yet her heart embraces still

this shrunken universe of

clouded color and cool breezes

 

~bringing fire from long ago~

 

the morning wakes bleeding red

but the dazzle-blue world throbs with if—

I listen to its magic,

let the ghosts sing on

 

~and fly away~

 

the champagned air dances to star rhythms

with flowering smiles–

it and we who were

sail into the vast ever after

 

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The Oracle and I collaborated on this poem, which was a puente, but then we kept going. . .I suppose that’s what a bridge to the universe would do.

The Always, the Never, the Joy, the Light

IMG_4478Monday Morning Musings:

“For, while the tale of how we suffer, and how we are delighted, and how we may triumph is never new, it always must be heard. There isn’t any other tale to tell, it’s the only light we’ve got in all this darkness.”

― James Baldwin, “Sonny’s Blues”

 

After the dark cloud dances,

a pulsing star kisses the universe—

I open the window,

letting in magic

 

~and all the ifs~

 

awaken,

breathing time, remembering ghosts–

our lives, the brilliant poetry

of always and never

***

We walk through city streets,

a thought comes, retreats

 

a fragment, not yet complete

lost in a beat

 

as I look up to see

the world around me–

 

in the windows the clouds

reflected, ignored by crowds

who pass them by,

ignore the perfect azure of the sky

 

broken with streaks of white

wind-blown, in flight

 

across the blue.

And it’s true,

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I think, that beauty is found

in county and town

 

all around us if we look for it.

rove and gaze a bit.

 

And so, time passes—

half-empty or half-filled your glasses?

 

A frantic rush to meet

deadlines, yet greet

 

each day with some joy,

though fate is coy,

 

and accidents will happen

so, we go rushing in when

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it does, to wait and stand by

her eyelid damaged, not her eye,

 

though her story makes no sense,

the consequence

 

of confusion,

of what was, delusion

 

over what she can do–

most likely I’ll be like that, too.

 

We arrive home late at night

to hear an owl, out of sight

 

he whoo whoo whoos,

and if I could choose

 

some magic, that seems right,

perfect, transfused into the night,

 

a bridge of spirits, night to day

with sorrow held at bay

Ben Franklin Bridge

Heading over the Ben Franklin Bridge into Philadelphia just before dawn.

we sway with friends

beginnings and ends

 

the power of love, beauty, light

joy and delight

Wedding at Philadelphia Horticultural Center

Wedding at Philadelphia Horticultural Center, Fairmount Park

to share such moments again

and again, to dance, feel romance

 

in the night around us,

and laugh as we discuss

 

how that speech went way too long–

isn’t it time for another song?

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So, we eat, drink, dance some more,

and yes, my feet are a little sore—

 

but look at that moon, that sky!

she hums so fiercely, why

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don’t we hear or see

enough of the beauty,

 

the light? Our tales are not new,

but they are yet so true

 

and so, told again and again,

every beginning to every end

 

circling round, like our moon

singing an ancient, eternal tune

 

poetry of stars, the always, the never

going on through time. . .forever.

 

Some of you know, I’m finishing a book on sexual harassment. It has to be completed this week, and I’m scrambling. So I apologize for being behind on reading everyone’s posts. Added to this, my mom had an accident Friday evening, and my husband and I were in the ER with her till very late at night. When we got home, there was an owl hooting from some tree in our yard. I’d never heard this before, so I’m convinced it’s one of Jane Dougherty’s owls. Or perhaps the Oracle sent it as a sign of. . .something.  (Great horned owl song here.) We went back to the ER early the next morning, where an eye surgeon glued my mom’s damaged lower eyelid back into place. We’re hoping it will hold, and that she will not need surgery. Saturday night we went to a wedding, the groom is the son of friends, and we got to be with a bunch of our very dear friends for the night.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

See All Ifs

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after peach light of day,

purple shadows spray-dress sky–

moon sings, “see all ifs,”

in falling petals of time

recall its whispered music

 

I had a crazy weekend, and I didn’t get to do a proper consultation with the Oracle yesterday. The sky was beautiful last night. She must have seen it and gave me this tanka. I forgot to take a screen shot of the tiles.

Truth and Beauty

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Moon,

fragment

of larger

star-tossed bodies,

do you ring the rings,

in rhythmic melodies,

beauty unheard by mortals?

Rocky surface a void–or not–

universal truths of the cosmos

perhaps not universal or the truth.

 

This is an etheree for Colleen’s Tanka Tuesday challenge, using synonyms for empty and space. I read that astronomers have discovered 20 new moons circling Saturn, making a total of 82.

I’m taking a quick poetry break. I’m sorry I’m so behind on reading posts. The book is almost done.

 

 

 

Hope Carried Forward

Monday Morning Musings:

“We can never go back to before.”

–Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens, “Back to Before,” Ragtime

“Go out and tell our story

Let it echo far and wide

Make them hear you

Make them hear you”

–Stephen Flaherty and Lynn Ahrens, “Make Them Hear You,” Ragtime

 

“It’s important to emphasize that hope is only a beginning; it’s not a substitute for action, only a basis for it. “

“The past is set in daylight, and it can become a torch we can carry into the night that is the future.”

—Rebecca Solnit , from Hope in the Dark, quoted in Brainpickings

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I wake from dreams

where before and after merge

the past that never was,

the future that will never be,

where old friends visit a house

that is mine

only in a dream–

and I smile when I wake

because dream-world cats

knock objects from tables, too.

Somehow that makes

everything seem right.

***

 

There are hopes so small

scarcely thoughts at all

 

wishes, feather light

almost out of sight

 

they drift

away so swift–

 

a desire for fair days,

and then we gaze,

 

see beauty in the mist,

buildings lightly kissed

 

by grey, yet they shimmer

even as they’re dimmer

a paradox, perhaps

like seeing in the gaps

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what could be.

And then behind a tree

 

a deer, or two, three,

more you see

than what is here—

hope for what could be.

 

And quiet sanctuaries

where history tarries

Garden at Christ Church, Philadelphia    Merril D. Smith, October 2019

Christ Church Garden, Philadelphia Credit: Merril D. Smith, October 2019

telling the story of before

in church steeples, and old doors

 

steps decorated for fall

historic houses call

but we can never go back to before

even if we try to restore

 

a status quo–

you know

 

there is no time machine

only dreams

where past and future blend,

but it doesn’t have to be the end—

 

we tell our stories

of past glories

 

and of little things

our hopes with wings

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for our children, to bring

the awakening of spring

 

and they will hear you

and we hear, too

 

through mist and dreams

hope beams

 

a light,

a torch in the endless night.

 

Bonus Photo: “my willow.” I think people often dream under it.

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“My” willow, October 2019 At Dock Creek, Old City Philadelphia

We saw Ragtime at the Arden Theatre. It was performed in the round with a minimal set (with the clever use of two pianos and benches), but I loved the intimate aspect, where even though I knew the story, the three groups seemed clearer, as was their desire for their children to have better lives. I think there are many people today who want to go back to an idealized past. Well, that is evident in the campaign slogan used by the current U.S. president. But though I tear up at the musical, it leaves me with a sense of hope.

And, if you’re keeping track, my manuscript for my book on sexual harassment is nearly completed. I’ll be sending in the first five chapters in just a bit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Laugh from the Sky

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A laugh from the sky–

and in a broken breath

a dazzle cloud of joy dances

into the morning

 

~like a soft ghost~

 

time flies in eternal rhythms

of almost and ifs

but we remember,

the brilliant kisses of the universe

 

I’ve written almost a thousand words this morning, so I took a very short break to consult the Oracle. I haven’t had much time to write poetry this week. We collaborated on this puente, but I’m pleased she’s in a good mood.

 

Poem Up in Wellington Street Review

Friends' Alms-House. on Walnut St. Philada. -- Erected in 1745. Taken down in 1841. [graphic].

Friends’ Alms-House. on Walnut St. Philada. — Erected in 1745. Taken down in 1841. [graphic]. Library Company of Philadelphia

Thank you to Annabel Mahoney and team for selecting my poem “The Almshouse” for the current issue of the Wellington Street Review. I am so pleased to be included in this issue.You can read the poem here. 

Dance

Monday Morning Musings:

“And may the spirit of this song

May it rise up pure and free

May it be a shield for you

A shield against the enemy”

–Leonard Cohen, “Lover, Lover, Lover”

 

“Dance me to the wedding now, dance me on and on

Dance me very tenderly and dance me very long

We’re both of us beneath our love, we’re both of us above

Dance me to the end of love

Dance me to the end of love”

–Leonard Cohen, “Dance Me to the End of Love”

 

My absent daughter

draws the golden peacock

but forgets the fallen feather

can also be a quill

to write the words that dance

upon the page of time,

and from love and grief

and longing

the phrases soar in endless flight–

to bear witness of love and loss

in song to spread the light

***

In this week

of lies and revelation

we go about our lives

without hesitation

because there are deadlines

and care

for those we love

and responsibility

to share—

but oh, the sky,

the clouds

the air

that shimmers

and glimmers

on dew drops

in the morning light

that sight–

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and the honk of geese

in victory flight

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and so,

we take a break

forget the cake

I still must bake

 

reflect

upon each passing sight

on this autumn day

the sun is bright

and summer-like

but inside cooler

as the lights dim

and the show begins

the dancers strong

and full of grace

without a trace

of doubt, fluid lines

muscle and bone

move together, alone

upon the stage

they dance

homage to poetic phrase

in each turn or raise

of arm and leg

and yes, I say

it was worth it to pay

though now

I’m even more

behind

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I see love–

coming and going

and isn’t that always the way?

spring to summer and fall

and before long

winter will come

and will we dance then at all?

Yes, I think

we will add layers

to layers

and though our hair

will turn greyer

still we’ll laugh

and dance, press

on

 

my sister-niece says

I love mom’s belly laugh,

and we all agree

a bright spot

in a gloomy sea

that seems endless–

a beacon, a buoy

we embrace,

when she and the world is screwy.

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And though there are fewer

at our holiday table

and we miss those unable

to be with us,

we laugh and talk

and drink our wine

dip apples in honey–

that boy is so funny

the way he loves my challah—

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we eat the meal

and here’s the deal—

time moves on

but our traditions remain

so, there’s brisket and kugel

for the year to be sweet, not dull–

bright gold of pumpkin soup

and before long, dessert—

 

in and endless loop

the seasons pass

and years dance on

from dusk to dawn

in saraband or waltz

sorrow, love–

with just a bit of schmaltz

 

we say our goodbyes

and sigh

(though the men roll their eyes)

we need that family compound

so we can all come around

whenever need be.

That could be

easier for all of us, you see

 

time will tell

somehow, dwell

on the here and now,

we have each other

and sleepy cats—

there is that.

 

We clean up,

put away each dish

I pause, wish

to dance to the end

of light

as it bends

refracts

and twirls

to begin again.

 

Dream–

the spirit of this song.

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Last night was the start of Rosh Hashanah. Wishing all of you a very sweet year!

One of my daughters posted her drawing of a golden peacock from Jewish tradition and a message about what it means to her. You can see her Instagram post here. 

We saw Les Ballets Jazz de Montréal perform Dance Me, “an exclusive creation inspired by the rich and profound work of Montreal-based poet, artist, and songwriter, Leonard Cohen” (from the program notes). You can see some excerpts here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Listen

512px-SN1994D--Super Nova

Hubble Space Telescope-Image of Supernova 1994D (SN1994D) in galaxy NGC 4526 (SN 1994D is the bright spot on the lower left). NASA/ESA, The Hubble Key Project Team and The High-Z Supernova Search Team

 

Twinkle, bang—a star explodes, sending its dust into space. We’re made of that dust, ephemeral and eternal. Everything connected, nothing ever truly extinct. Listen—

stars shimmer and sing

treble and bass symphony,

bestowing beauty

in bright notes of stellar light

tumbling into space

 

At dVerse, Linda has asked us to use the word “extinction” (or some form of the word) in a quadrille, a poem of 44 words. The extra challenge is not to discuss climate change.

This is a haibun tanka quadrille. Maybe a haibun tanka is not a thing, but oh well. I’ve also used synonyms for fall and give for Colleen’s Tanka Tuesday challenge. I was joking with someone about stars “singing,” but here’s an article about the sounds they make.