September Rain

Heron at dawn. Delaware River at Red Bank Battlefield.

September Rain

Early morning is heron-still,
the grey wing-brushed sky waits
for feathered clouds to part,

or sprinkle diamond drops
around sunflowers’ throats,
who smile and tilt their heads,

offer tiny mirrors to bees,
to see a world worked in threads reflected blue,
invisible to us.

A quadrille for dVerse. We’re getting much-needed rain today.

Good Poetry News!

I have good poetry news to share!

Jen Feroze wrote a lovely review of my poetry collection, River Ghosts in the East Ridge Review. Many thanks to her for her kind words. Also, thank you to editor Andrew Williams who selected my book for the review.

My poem, “Late September,” was just published in the lovely journal Humana Obscura. Thank you very much to editor Bri Bruce for selecting it for publication in the Fall/Winter Issue. It’s available in print or free digital versions. My poem is on p.44.

Finally, though I did not make the shortlist, my poem was longlisted for the Dai Fry Award for Mystical Poetry. This was a very special competition in memory of Swansea poet Dai Fry. Both shortlisted and longlisted poems will be included in a forthcoming anthology. I also have a poem coming out in Black Bough’s special summer anthology. Black Bough’s Top Tweet Tuesday will return next Tuesday, September 6.

Review: Ingrid Wilson, 40 Poems At 40

Ingrid Wilson, 40 Poems At 40

Cat approved!

I follow Ingrid Wilson’s Experiments in Fiction, and I looked forward to reading her book of poetry, 40 Poems at 40. I was not disappointed. Her “voyage of self-discovery,” is personal, but there is a universal appeal. Many readers will be able to relate to her first poem in the collection, “Unexpected Things” (A Villanelle), and the hope it conveys.

“Life is full of unexpected things:
the clouds part to reveal a golden sky
as I breathe in the hope each new day brings.”

In “One Poem at A Time,” Wilson explains,

“this is not a polemical poem.

I’ve changed my life, one poem at a time”

She goes on to write how poetry has healed her, “restoring inner light and harmony.” Her evocative poetry is written in several forms—I particularly liked the Cadralor. In her poems, Wilson travels through time and space—and takes readers with her to and from England, to the sea, to Venice, and elsewhere, sharing moments of love, joy, understanding, and grief.

Wilson has launched her own publishing business, Experiments in Fiction. Recently she published the highly rated Wounds I Healed: The Poetry of Strong Women, an anthology edited by Gabriela Marie Milton.

@TopTweetTuesday is doing a lovely thing today–sharing poetry book reviews. If you’re on Twitter, check it out.

Hearts and Moons

Monday Morning Musings:

Morning Moon, Snow Moon

We wrap our hearts in fleecy blankets,
Valentine red, while the cold Snow Moon
sings her song, in silver notes falling,
falling, falling—

we don’t feel the movement
only the argent pull—magnetic attraction,
the flow of tides and blood
creating life, rising, and falling, falling

in revolutions around the sun,
in tilted rotations, come
the ebb and flow of existence
from star explosion, falling, falling, falling

and gravity caught and kept,
swept aside, buried to thrive,
the fruits of our earth consumed and reborn,
as falling, falling, falling

species die, yet birds survive.
Now the crows are calling
from trees deep-rooted,
but falling, falling, falling

leaves and seeds fly
as squirrels scamper and scold,
waving their tails, yet never
falling, falling, falling

only climbing higher to see
the deep ancient course
of water as it finds its way
the sea, rising, and falling, falling,

now rain and snow on
withered gardens that grow sun-bright–
and bee breath threaded gold
with pollen, falling, falling, falling

on flowers as they dance–
but even our simple eyes
can see the ghosts around us
falling, falling, falling

all around–
their memories
held in mind and heart, released
to join the stars, rising, falling, rising.

Sunrise

February was birthday month for us—children earlier in the month, and my husband and his mother’s this past week. We splurged and did a virtual Valentine wine and cheese tasting with wine and cheese we picked up at Tria in Philadelphia. It was so much fun—all French wine and cheese, except for one Vermont cheese. We saved the crémant to have with Indian food on my husband’s birthday.

This week we finished watching Inventing Anna (Netflix)—which I mentioned last week, and which definitely held our interest—and watched the first two episodes of the new season of Mrs. Maisel (Amazon Prime).

We wait to see if there will be war abroad and if our democracy will be toppled by right-wing authoritarians. But still, the moon shines, the days are getting longer, birds are beginning to sing, and spring is coming.

Crocus

Ask

John William Waterhouse, The Sorceress

Know if lives in nature’s song—
thick on spring’s rustle

between every breath that comes
verdant and sublime, there was
an almost,
never rooted,
a moon-rose, eggshell fragile—

but ask, ask, ask, she says–
for dreams,
a dance on a long bee-path,
soft blooms of dusk,
a shadow-fiddle
like a lullaby as night’s blanket rests.

Watch, as frost-lichens bloom,
and then color, stone to berry-warm

reflections in ancient rivers–
a murmur, a laugh,
the embrace of sky,

rippling secrets, there and gone.

The Oracle really wanted me to ask today. Every set I looked at gave me that word. Then these lines came, and the poem fell into place.

Overdue Book Review #1: Elizabeth Gauffreau, Grief Songs

Grief Songs: Poems of Love & Remembrance

Elizabeth Gauffeau’s Grief Songs is a short book that leaves a long, lingering presence. The book is a collection of personal photographs paired with mostly tanka poems. (A tanka is a 5-line poem typically written as syllabic lines of 5-7-5-7-7). This means that each poem is a sharp distillation of a moment, an event, or even the history of a relationship between parents, between her and her parents, or between her and her brother.

Because the poems are brief, the book can be read very quickly. However, a reader who lingers over words and photos will be rewarded. The poems and the feelings behind them grow with repeated readings. I must say that sometimes I was left wondering what happened. This is not a criticism of the poems, but rather, my own curiosity about people. “Youth Group Picnic,” for example, gives us a glimpse of the day—two children waiting in the car, giggling and honking the horn. Liz fills in the rest of the story here on her blog.

“For a Crooked Smile,” however, needs no additional context.

“He was my little brother.”

That poem brought me to tears (as did several others):

Grief Song III

I held her hand
as she lay dying
death rattle
in my throat.

This is a book of poetry that is highly accessible, but with poems that resonate. It is a memoir in bite-size pieces. Each poem is a snapshot, a memory experienced in the way we are all hit by a sudden remembrance of a time, a place, or a person.

In “Sixty Years of Katherine,” Liz writes:


“minutes tucked into envelopes
decades left in dresser drawers”

These lines feel both personal and universal. Those of us who have helped a parent move or who have cleared a home after they’ve passed, understand the complex emotions behind these beautiful, succinct phrases.

Elizabeth Gauffreau is wonderfully supportive friend of other writers. I follow her blog and follow her on social media, and you may want to, as well. But– this review is unsolicited. I did not tell her I was writing or posting it. She may respond to comments here though.

Congratulations, Liz, on this lovely, poignant book!

From her website:
Elizabeth Gauffreau writes fiction and poetry with a strong connection to family and place. She holds a BA in English/Writing from Old Dominion University and an MA in English/Fiction Writing from the University of New Hampshire. Her fiction publications include short stories in Woven Tale Press, The Long Story, Soundings East, Ad Hoc Monadnock, Rio Grande Review, Blueline, Slow Trains, Hospital Drive, and Serving House Journal, among others. Her poetry has appeared in North of Oxford, The Writing On The Wall, The Larcom Review, and Natural Bridge. Her debut novel Telling Sonny was published by Adelaide Books, New York in 2018.

Find Grief Songs here on Amazon.

You can find Liz here:
WEBSITE: https://lizgauffreau.com
FACEBOOK: https://www.Facebook.com/ElizabethGauffreau
LINKEDIN: https://www.linkedin.com/in/liz-gauffreau
TWITTER: https://twitter.com/LGauffreau
GOODREADS: https://www.goodreads.com/egauffreau

This book is cat approved!

We Find the Light Again and Again

Monday Morning Musings:

“and you too have come
into the world to do this, to go easy, to be filled
with light, and to shine.”
Mary Oliver, “When I am Among the Trees”

Sunrise in December

And now—the winter darkness comes,
the sun a sleepy golden cat, who rises on arthritic limbs
to sight the birds on leafless boughs
and make the holly berries gleam,
before he settles back to nap
in grey blankets glimmered-glowed.

The sun already low in the sky at 3:30 in the afternoon. The Delaware River at Red Bank Battlefield

And now—we see the nests above,
the treasures hidden by summer’s green,
and birds chitter-chat, and squirrels flitter past
gathering nuts for their cold repast,
while vultures soar, then bide their time
in silent committees in meetings of time

that flows like the river, light to darkness
to light again,
we touch match to candles, watch them burn–
the miracle is, we’ve endured,
we drink and eat and love, let out a sigh, a cry–
the shadows gather—

Early morning geese, Delaware River

December Sunrise

but so does the light. Bird-chased,
we follow after. There, the trees in cinnamon gowns,
and the glitter of snow on evergreen—there, a flame
brightens, while the sleepy cat says goodnight—
knowing he will wake to love,
while in the darkness we toast, “to life!”

Last night was the last night of Hanukkah. We bought another wine tasting kit, and we tasted a white (German Riesling) and a red (Australian Pinot Noir) while watching the candles burn.

The winter solstice approaches, and there is a lot of darkness in the world–and it’s growing. Don’t let it. Don’t let the anti-democratic forces or the anti-science crazies win. Shine the light wherever you can.

A Rainbow Future After the Storm (Revised with Audio)

First the clouds gather, a bevy of soft doves,
transformed, reborn as wolves, who black and roaring

pounce with boom and crash, then with a flash,
the shrouded sky shines with strands of woven light,

a tapestry,
a multitude of shape, color, hues. Here, a strand of azure,
there, emerald-green, glistening with diamond sparkle, threaded
over, under–and again

embroidered with the vibrant wishes of children—blue horses, red deer,
twinkling golden stars, a spotted purple dog, a striped-orange cat—

all that—

a collection, a connection of
smiling faces brighter than the sun,
with dreams of a rainbow future–
after the storm is spent and done.

A Sunrise Rainbow ©️Merril D. Smith, 2021

For dVerse Open Link—Live.

I’ve revised this poem written for Paul Brooks’ January Ekphrastic Challenge last year. Here’s the link to the first version. You can see Kerfe Roig’s art, which inspired the poem. A couple of weeks ago, I saw rainbows on two different days. Here’s