All the Blues

Monday Morning Musings:

A gull seems to play in the river waves. Delaware River at Red Bank Battlefield ©️Merril D. Smith 2021

Today the gray has strayed, and sunlight deepens–
a color called cold water blue–
unfrosted are the ripples
where gulls and geese sway
and gather on the shifting sand
to sleep and talk and play.

Today there is no fog,
nothing obscured in the grayish gloom,
or hidden in ash-tipped cloud-rooms—
today is clear, the sun is bright

though not with summer heat, or spring’s promise
not even pastel frosted pink—but think
of what today may bring

joy, despair, most anything–
one day, one night, one vote, one
note of kindness can make a change, so

today I’ll take blue
water and sky. And the hour in between
dusk and night, dawn and day,
the color of jays, stones, and glass
robin’s eggs and midnight sky–ask
when the moon sings a silver lullaby
and forms a halo ‘round her face,

what is that place? And can we go?
Perhaps, in dreams. I don’t know,

But today I’ll take the blue of peace
and ripples that go on forever,
one making another, another making one,
lines merging in changing colors, sometimes grey,
but today it’s blue and sun.

I went down a rabbit hole of blue yesterday reading Brainpickings and then following the links .
And then today, the river was blue instead of the gray or tinted-pink it’s been.
I haven’t been anywhere or done anything special in weeks, so I can only muse about this. I am happy that there were no big violent mobs yesterday, though I’m still anxious. I hope all goes well on Wednesday for the inauguration.

I have cooked and baked though.

Merril’s Movie Club: We watched One Night in Miami (Amazon Prime). It’s an excellent movie based on a play by Kemp Powers, who adapted it for the screen, and directed by Regina King, in her movie directorial debut. It concerns a meeting in 1964 between Malcolm X, Cassius Clay, Sam Cooke and Jim Brown right after Clay won the heavyweight title. The main, crucial moments of the movie take place in Malcolm X’s motel room where the men discuss, argue, explain, and try to make sense of their private-public lives. It feels like a real “room where it happened” historical moment. The movie is fictional, although the meeting did take place. The movie seems particularly timely right now.

Day Twelve: Special January Ekphrastic Challenge

My poem for Day Twelve of Paul Brookes’ Special January Ekphrastic Challenge. I wrote it, and Ithought I had sent it to him, but somehow it ended up in my mail drafts folder. Yesterday was definitely one of those days! I’ve responded to two works for this one. This one seems appropriate for MLK Day.

For Visionary Leaders, First Responders, Resisters, and All the Helpers, Everywhere

We’re in the same boat—
Death swims all around us, floats

with crocodile grin in skeletal face,
glides, sometimes without a trace–

a certain-skater,
a shadow-waiter

for color to flee. Let him be–

if there’s no hope–to do what he must,
when blood flows out and cold winds gust.

Beware the fakes and winter witches
who line their pockets with others’ riches–

but—call the intermediaries, if you can
the ones who stop the flow and span

the distance between wish and despair–
the bringers of light, the helpers who care–

those who take us from frozen tombs
to whisk in spring’s incipient blooms.

Day Eleven: Ekphrastic Challenge

My poem today for Paul Brookes’ Special January Ekphrastic Challenge responds to all three works of art.

All the Strands Carried, Come Together and Dissolve

The talking heads talk, on TV screens
and from online streams, pontificate and remonstrate
elucidate, and then negate—
but flowers do not wait

for thoughts and prayers, the analysis of fools’ blares.
Unaware of blithering-blather, the slathering lather
of rabid madness—

feeling neither hope nor sadness,
they simply do

until they’re through.

And, I am born, as are you–
in their petal-dust, scattered or buried,
river-ferried or eagle-carried,
or by winds and air brought here—again,
again, again–

then on a sigh, we’re here to live until we die,
and nourish once more the flowers that grow
and glow—
with a wave to bees, a waltz for trees—

a balm we seize,
a thread connecting bodies, earth, air, sea-
from the stars reborn, hearts, heads—we.

Beyond

A foggy January morning. The Delaware River at Red Bank Battlefield. ©️Merril D. Smith 2021

Say there were shadows—there
whispering beneath the fog—and–
say there were blue-sprayed shapes
watching with silent sea-tongues
who wanted you to see

~beyond~

and after,
and if, the bitter blows come,
there is still the luscious scent of summer rain
and a dream of light,
of moon-song’s lingering silver after a storm.

Today’s message from the Magnetic Poetry Oracle. She always knows. The photo is from my walk earlier this morning.

Day Ten: Ekphrastic Challenge

For Day Ten of Paul Brookes’ Special January Ekphrastic Challenge, my poem responds to two works:

Just Over There

These fuzzy-brained days–
I’m a hand-puppet, waiting for direction,
a sense of what to do, which way to go
some sense at all
to my sensibility—magical realism it may be
when the surreal is real
in this inside-out and upside-down world—where is the key
to unlock it?

Somewhere, a butterfly flutters, and the world shudders;
Somewhere a rabbit hops, escaping a predator, or setting off a bomb.
Crow caws, and I open my eyes,
there is light, crystalline bright—
just over there. See?

Day Eight, January Ekphrastic Challenge

For Day Eight of Paul Brookes’ Special January Ekphrastic Challenge, my poem responds to all three works of art below.

The Dance

An unlikely traveler,
with no longing for adventure,
only a desire to live without fear.

Money exchanged, his life rearranged–
one suitcase and a view
of storm-chased clouds and waves like horses,
galloping toward a hazy horizon, somewhere ahead

perhaps, there’s a quiet island, a house
with windows looking out on azure sky and singing seas,
golden-downed ducks and geese
with bicycle horn honks—he laughs, it would be

a dream, he thinks, as a whale breaches–and
for a moment they are eye-to-eye,
connected, branches of the same ancestral tree–
all of us–swaying to a universal rhythm.
Shuffle, slide, snap, and with jazz hands twirl,
smile. Tilt your head, in wonder

of the world. He wants the dance to continue.

Day Six: Special January Ekphrastic Challenge

It’s Day 6 of Paul Brookes’ Special January Ekphrastic Challenge. My poem today responds to all three works of art. If you click the link, you’ll see the poems by other poets. Some have written poems for each work of art.

Does What Happened by the Lake Stay There?

There we gathered
wishing for fish,
fishing for wishes
this is—

a dream, I say.

Here by this winter lake,
three versions all of me–

each facing in a different direction,
future, past, and present

in the distance, cradling,
hills indistinct, the haze surround us,

Am I awake or asleep? I see a huge blue tail.

How can this be? A whale.

Is this omen or vision, for the sinner that is me?

I feel sharp wolf claws upon my back,
and when I wake, I see their tracks.

Dabs of Color and Light

A frosty January morning.

The January sun is slow to rise
she shakes her flaxen head,
then dabs a bit of light—

there some color, bright
against grey, wheat, white,

the silvered-lawn sparkles–behold!

What’s to come? Black crow calls—more cold–
before summer blooms in colors bold.

A quadrille for dVerse, where De asks us to use some form of the word dab.

January Ekphrastic Challenge, Day 5

This is Day 5 of Paul Brookes’s Special January Ekphrastic Challenge. I misread Kerfe’s title as Beneath Cloud Wings, but that’s what they look like to me. 😀

Beneath Cloud Wings

Some hearts shatter–
their fragile shells swift-scatter
in the wind,

where owl-scoped and scooped,
the bleeding shards
are nested and guarded beneath cloud wings

to be reformed. Then re-hatched,
they flutter and fly,
soaring—knowing they may crash and crack again.

Rising, Setting, Rising

Monday Morning Musings:

Sun rising, moonset
another day to fret

we can’t forget
ever, not yet,

the agitation in the nation–
whatever the frustrations–

instigators and insurrectionists,
racists, and white supremacists,

in armed rebellion to overthrow–
it really happened—and they must go.

They should be tried for their crimes—
spreading lies, hate, violence, and plagues—sad times

for our country, for the world, I cry
for us all, for those who’ve been lost—the wind sighs

with their ghosts. This is not who we are, some say,
yes, it is, but we can find another way.

Some will always be lost to hate,
leave them to their fate. Deflate

what is possible, build from the ashes, anew.
See there—the sun rises–golden beams reflect on blue,

in rosy haze, the geese take wing, then land—
and like them, I hope we can have and stand,

with leaders who try to serve
the many, not themselves only—preserve

out of many, one—come together, the sun rising, just begun.

Sunrise over the Delaware River, Red Bank Battlefield. ©️Merril D. Smith, 2021

I’m sure everyone knows what happened this past Wednesday—insurrectionists, incited by President 45, attempted to overthrow the U.S. government. He, the GOP lawmakers who supported him, and those who engaged in sedition should be arrested, removed from office and jobs, and tried. In addition to hate and sedition, they also most likely spread Covid. I’ve been thinking a lot about the Rising Sun chair. It’s the chair George Washington sat in while presiding over the sessions of the Constitutional convention. James Madison later wrote that Benjamin Franklin said of the chair, “I have often looked at that behind the president without being able to tell whether it was rising or setting. But now I… know that it is a rising…sun.” You can see the chair here.

I also thought of how thousands, including me, have marched in peaceful protests.

Merril’s Movie Club: Last night we watched Elizabeth is Missing, which features an outstanding performance by Glenda Jackson. It was shown in the U.S. on Masterpiece. Some may not wish to see it because Jackson portrays a woman with Alzheimer’s. It was somewhat upsetting to me in that it made me think of my mom. At the same time, the movie and her portrayal are so accurate and sympathetic, that I felt myself thinking that’s how it must have been for my mom—except that she was nearly blind and far less mobile than Jackson’s character. The story, however, is about Jackson’s character solving two mysteries. The present-day disappearance of her friend, and the decades-old disappearance of her sister.
We’re about to start Season 2 of Occupied (Netflix). Season 1 of this Norwegian series was excellent and exciting. I also finished Bridgerton (Netflix). I probably don’t have to say anything about that. Binge and swoon. (But if you don’t know anything about it, it’s a period piece and a Shonda Rhimes production. My daughter described it as Jane Austen with sex.)