Eidolon

Old Pine Street Church Graveyard, Philadelphia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There

she is,

haunting me

wearing her face

stepping silently

over the cobblestones,

to fill a void in the air

with an electrical charge—a

gleam, a shiver, that slight susurrus

of swirling air–sojourning spirit, stay

 

that I may look upon her face once more,

see her clothed in her favorite gown,

pretend that what is lost, was not.

But she moves into the mist,

dissolves and fades away.

My dreams vanish, too,

forevermore

light is dimmed,

she is

gone.

 

 

I’ve channeled my inner nineteenth-century Gothic writer for this double etheree for Colleen’s Tanka Tuesday! We were to use synonyms for ghost and hollow.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Horror, Storms, Pass the Wine, and Look for Grace—Monday Morning Musings

Monday Morning Musings:

“No live organism can continue for long to exist sanely under conditions of absolute reality; even larks and katydids are supposed, by some, to dream. Hill House, not sane, stood by itself against its hills, holding darkness within; it had stood so for eighty years and might stand for eighty more. Within, walls continued upright, bricks met neatly, floors were firm, and doors were sensibly shut; silence lay steadily against the wood and stone of Hill House, and whatever walked there, walked alone.”

–Shirley Jackson, The Haunting of Hill House

“(“Do not equate nationalism with patriotism,” Perry warned Juliet. “Nationalism is the first step on the road to Fascism.”)”

–Kate Atkinson, Transcription

A storm comes and roars,

in waves upon the shores

and tears through towns

with rains and winds—the sounds

of climate wars

where there were homes

there’s now a void–

so much destroyed.

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Here we have only some rain and wind

nothing unmoored, nothing unpinned

from where it should be

the only horror we see

comes on TV,

where things go bumping in the night–

though not as scary as reality

yet we wish and keep hope afloat

that we’ll live to see things be all right.

 

Once we had a president who sang “Amazing Grace,”*

now we have one without a trace

of empathy or wisdom,

separating families,

putting them in prisons

behind barbed wire—

and who does he admire?

Dictators!

(and those who feed his ego—

please all of you, just go!)

 

So, as the days get dreary

I try to be cheery,

find color in pumpkins and leaves

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that fall on ground and eaves.

I cook and bake

hope to shake—

if not the world—

then wake a few,

hope and wish,

the good and true

will outlast, outshine

redefine the new.

 

On a chilly day,

we brighten our spirits

with family, a dog, and wine

spend time conversing

about this and that

we chat about birth

(with a bit of mirth)

as my son-in-law is studying

to be a nurse–

(quite a path he’s traversed

to get there)

and we sit as children ask

to pet their cute pup—

until at last the time is up

and we must go

our separate ways—

well, it’s getting too chilly to stay.

 

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Clouds over William Heritage Winery

I wake to morning mist–and sigh

think, today, I’ll take my apples

and bake a pie.

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We’ll eat it as evening

darkens the room

perhaps to brighten

fall’s impending gloom.

The cats will sleep on cushions nearby,

and we will bid the day goodbye.

 

 

*I was reminded of this when I heard Joan Baez on the New Yorker Radio Hour. Here the song is illustrated in a lovely, moving short animated film.

We watched the first episode of Netflix’s sort of adaptation of the Haunting of Hill House.  The original movie terrified me. I thought the first episode of this version (if you can get over that it’s not actually an adaptation of the story) was OK, but not great. But we will watch the next episode.

But we also watched the movie Eighth Grade–which really was wonderful–even though we all know that age has its own horrors.

I’m reading Transcription by Kate Atkinson. It’s wonderful.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Salem, 1692

Salem_witch2

By Baker, Joseph E., ca. 1837-1914, artist. “The Witch, No.1” Lithograph, [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Salem, 1692

I

wait, crushed

by despair,

disturbances

in the air. Demons,

or human frailty, now

exposed? Light and darkness bound

together we must fight evil–

the duty of magistrates is clear

and so, we sentence the witches to death

 

the affliction has spread through the region,

so many blackened with devils’ marks

though they bleed red as anyone

(their master teaches them tricks).

They will suffer justice

crushed by rocks and rope–

but at night I

wonder, what

if we’re

wrong?

 

A double Etheree (syllable count: 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10 and then 10,9,8,7,6,5,4,3,2,1) for Colleen’s Tanka Tuesday. I think she was looking for Halloween themed, but I went to history.  We were asked to use synonyms for color and creepy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Time and Timeless

Monday Morning Musings:

“There is a certain part of all of us that lives outside of time. Perhaps we become aware of our age only at exceptional moments and most of the time we are ageless.”

–Milan Kundera

Art and music travel through our genes, stopping at some destinations longer than at others, like the train our older daughter takes from Washington, D.C. after visiting archives at the Smithsonian. She takes hundreds of photos of sketch books, correspondence, diaries, and newspaper clippings of our artist ancestor, Abraham Hankins. She shows me newspaper articles—how his mapmaking skills saved his life in France during WWI because he was left behind to draw maps when the rest of his unit was sent into battle and killed. He also trained as a singer, until gassed during the war, and apparently, he wrote some poetry, too. But my daughter becomes even more fascinated by his French wife Estelle, called Esther by my family. After Abe’s death, Estelle makes it her mission to get her late husband’s work into major museums. There is still much to learn, and most of the people who lived then are gone. It is my mom’s ninety-sixth birthday.

 

skipping stones hit pond

concentric circles ripple

spring turns to summer

Abraham P. Hankins,
Pocket Full of Dreams,
Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Bequest of Mrs. Abraham Peter Hankins

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We celebrate my mom’s birthday in sunshine with shades

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

munch on snacks, laughter cascades

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

as we discuss pets and art and politics

with eyes rolling—intermixed–

as my niece describes her “other family,” with their alternate truth—

if only we could blame it on the folly of youth—

but salacious tales about the Clinton’s gleaned from right-wing memes,

treasure troves of garbage carried by the false fact streams

they insist it’s true,

what does one do?

We move on to sandwiches and cake

blow out the candles, make

each moment count, and we laugh, dance, and sing—

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

it’s in our genes, so let’s bring

it on in celebration of familial love

rock the ghosts from rafters above

and around, perhaps they watch from some place–

that shadow there, across your face.

 

The weekend is full with movies, puppies, and wine

we dance, laugh, eat, drink—feeling fine

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My mom tells us that Abe asked her mother to sing with him at a family gathering. She says her mother had a beautiful voice, but that my uncle, my mom’s baby brother, cried when their mother sang, so she stopped singing. I had forgotten, she says, but now I remember some of those songs she taught me. Songs of the shtetl that crossed the ocean. We, the grandchildren never learned the songs. I like to think though that no song is ever lost. Each note rises. Birds carry some, and others float high into the sky filling the clouds. I think that is why I hear music in the rain, and why rainbows sing, and the moon hums. We are filled with star music, and it returns again and again to us. Music flits like spindrift from the waves of time.

 

Stars sail ink-black seas,

cat against me softly snores,

dreams dance to moon song

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Dream Message: Magnetic Poetry

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Look,” the woman said,

“from a window, day dazzles.

Explore!

See that brilliant blue ocean

vast, ferocious, and old?

Sail it with joy,

let in magic—

perfumed mornings’ colored fire,

embrace its poetry.

Listen. It’s time.

Wake.”

(Her ghost lingers.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A message from the Oracle.

Journey in Place: Beginning and End

Monday Morning Musings:

“It is good to have an end to journey towards; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.”
—Ursula K. LeGuin, The Left Hand of Darkness, 1969. Often misattributed to Hemingway.

 “To light a candle is to cast a shadow.”

–Ursula K. LeGuin, A Wizard of Earthsea

 “What we call the beginning is often the end
And to make an end is to make a beginning.
The end is where we start from. . .

Every phrase and every sentence is an end and a beginning,
Every poem an epitaph.”

–T.S. Eliot, “Little Gidding”

 

It’s a stressful week, we burrow in—

hunker down

in restful verbs and tasty nouns,

lighting candles in the night,

casting shadows against the bright

light and darkness

co-exist,

without one, is the other missed?

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I journey in place

keeping pace

(I hope with grace)

flowing, risking with rhyme and meter,

thinking of a double feature–

perhaps tonight–

traveling without moving

wondering if I’m improving

no matter,

if it’s soothing. . .

 

to stay in my pajamas

listening to public radio,

interviews with Nathan Lane and Laura Marling,

unsnarling the day’s news with Michel Martin–

mostly disheartening–

I make dough and bake pizzas

enough for us and the shadow figures, too—

of course, wouldn’t you?

I mean, if they should they care to join us,

we’d have enough

and so, we dine,

drink some wine

watch a movie of two families, white and black

see, there’s no going back,

when time moves forward

we go onward,

even while people are wandering

out of place

lost in space–

well, you can take the boy from Mississippi,

but what happens when he returns a man?

People don’t understand

the legacy of poverty and hate,

and racists don’t want to debate

truth seen in a black and white–

it’s easier to fight.

 

So much to consider,

and some of it makes me bitter,

I think about the six million dead,

those who never got a chance, never fled

wonder if my family’s genes were among them—

hemmed in

forced to live in shadows, in nightmares

or rather, left in there

suffering and forced to die

their cries reverberate

(never abate)

we light a candle in their memory

holocaust_memorial_center_memorial_wall_of_victims_005-1

(never forget)

the sorrow of their journeys,

(remember me)

their souls shout out

but what do my words create–

 

and what good is an epitaph for them or us—

is what time was forever thus?

Perhaps to foist a new beginning,

or to change the end

when life circles round,

we can start again.

 

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Not watching the movie.

 

Holocaust Remembrance Day was on Saturday, January 27. We watched the movie, Mudbound, on Netflix.

 

 

 

 

 

Indifference

Today is International Holocaust Remembrance Day, as designated by the UN General Assembly to commemorate the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau.

“The opposite of love is not hate, it’s indifference.”

Elie Wiesel

 

Did the moon still hum

behind the clouds in leaden skies

where ashy tears fell amid the cries,

a nightmare world, devised

to centralize

the horrors

we now criticize–

(though some continue to idolize)

but then—

did we fully work to neutralize–

were we energized,

or did we fail to empathize,

because they were not us–

we were not the demonized—

and so, we did not see what would await,

did not mobilize against the hate,

for six million dead, it was too late

 

 

The Owl: Haibun

It is my birthday. Now in the middle of December, it is cold outside, and darkness descends earlier each day. But the house is filled with light, warm and scented with the aroma of holiday baking. My husband, our two young daughters, and I are to meet my father at a restaurant north of us, in the Philadelphia suburbs to celebrate. It will be a highway trip through rush hour traffic, but the reward will be an excellent meal and the company of my family. I turn to a living room window to pull down the shade—and stop. A white owl with black and brown markings sits in the tree directly in front of me. I stare at her, and she stares at me, both unblinking. I am transfixed, knowing that this is a special moment, not knowing I will remember it in twenty years, still uncertain about its meaning.

 

The Owl dispenses

winter wisdom from oak trees–

time paused in passing

 

Caspar_David_Friedrich_Eule_auf_schmucklosem_Baum_1834

Caspar David Friedrich, Owl on a Tree,” [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

This is a Haibun for dVerse, where we asked to write about owls. I’ve combined it with this week’s prompt from Colleen Chesebro , using synonyms for the words, smell and cozy.

 

 

 

I Close My Eyes and Dream

Monday Morning Musings:

“For myself, I declare I don’t know anything about it. But the sight of the stars always makes me dream.”

Vincent van Gogh, letter to his brother Theo, July 1888

“I think about our ancestors. Thousands of years, wondering if they were alone in the universe. Finally discovering they weren’t. You can’t blame them for wanting to reach out, see how many other species were out there, asking the same questions.”

–Captain Kathryn Janeway, Star Trek Voyager, Episode, “Friendship One”

 

At night

ghosts sail to stars

dazzling the universe

with wild poetry,

that thing there—

see it?

the liquid blush of desire

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Earth spins and orbits our Sun

but all is not right

(in day or night)

the heavens rage

the surface heaves

the forests burn

the oceans churn

(do you hear them sigh)

and creatures die

on the stars I make a wish

for planet, us, for birds and fish

and then under the glowing stream

I close my eyes and then I dream

 

I wake to see bright Venus,

high above

she sings of love

there in the eastern sky

she dances and she wonders why

(as do I, oh, as do I)

we are not swayed from the hate

and do not counter or negate

the dotard’s words of folly

but instead sink into a melancholy—

(as do I, oh, as do I)

under starlight’s beam

once again

I close my eyes and then I dream

 

We watch Star Trek Voyager

Earth’s greeting of friendship gone wrong

a civilization pushed headlong

into nuclear winter,

the next day—synchronicity

a radio story of the real Voyager

the golden record as it would sound to aliens

Simplicity? Specificity?

We want to reach out,

to know we’re not alone

the moon smiles and gleams

I close my eyes and then I dream

 

We have a holiday dinner

missing daughters, sister, and niece

still I present the soup and loaf

(a masterpiece!)

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with apples, honey, and some wine

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we drink and eat and we are fine

(we pour more wine)

talk of movies and van Gogh

(there’s a new movie out, you know)

wonder about Ben Franklin’s diet and life

then matter-of-factly my mother’s zinger

that he did not sleep alone

at ninety-five, she was so in the zone!

and with that, the laughter lingers

sweet

like the honeyed fingers

from the baklava and apple cake

she mangles the middle

and picks at the pieces

but sister laughter

follows after

and after

 

We drink more wine, again we’re fine

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under moonlight sky and starry stream

I close my eyes and then I dream. . .

 

of the universe’s wild poetry

of singing stars and humming moons

of spirits soaring and swaying to the tunes

before dawn’s blush of desire

turns the sky to fire

I wake and look up to the sky

to see Venus shining bright

I gaze and wish

for us, for cats, and fish

for dogs, and horses, and for birds

(and yes, even for the dotard)

for the planet, earth, and trees

and for the seas

under Venus’s beaming gleam

I close my eyes and wish and dream

 

So, we watched Star Trek Voyager and saw an episode about the result of a probe that was sent out from Earth that was very similar to the real Voyager and its golden record. Then the next day, I heard this story on NPR’s Weekend Morning Edition and the Oracle gave me that poem. Synchronicity?

 

Some of you may know because I’ve ranted about it   that I’ve been working on two reference books about rape. I am happy to report that both manuscripts have now been sent in. I also finished another project over the weekend, so I should now have time to answer e-mails and respond to comments and prompts. At least until, I receive copyedited manuscript (first one is coming next month).