All the Seconds, Connecting

Philadelphia from Patco train, February 2020

This moment–sparkling.

Monday Morning Musings:

“Nourish beginnings, let us nourish beginnings. . .

This moment, this seed, this wave of the sea, this look, this instant of love.”

-from “Elegy in Joy [excerpt]”

Muriel Rukeyser – 1913-1980

 

In the slow sailing of time

and the dazzle-dance of stars

in all the afters

and the befores

we find connections

 

heroes still live

chasing one another for eternity

unable to escape

though larger than life

and immortal

 

(as long as we see them)

even if they vanish

in the rosy blush of morning

like the dew

like the second that has just passed

 

never to return.

But this instant,

and the next,

a beginning each time

like this seed

a burst of lavender and yellow

comes again, crocus then daffodil

through the years,

four seasons,

one birthday to another

 

we celebrate you

we celebrate us

a special dinner,

cake and presents,

you smile

 

say you’ve been thinking Vera, Chuck, and Dave

but I’ve brought you a bottle of wine

and you’re still my Valentine

I still need you and feed you–

let us nourish beginnings,

 

the moments that pass too soon–

my mother tells me my father wrote songs

she says she knows they’re his

though they say anonymous

because they’re about her,

 

the moments they had

when he saw her

and she could still see

and the doctor can fix her eyelid

but not her sight

 

or her green eyes

dimmed by time

almost a century

our oak tree even older,

and ghosts dance beneath its boughs

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where we had a swing,

a yellow baby swing,

somewhere in time

maybe it exists still

gently swaying

 

a rippling memory

like old window glass

of what was–

and I could connect them

the present and the past,

Merchant Exchange Building, Philadelphia

Wavy window glass of the Merchant Exchange Building, Old City Philadelphia, 2020 Merril D. Smith

 

and then that moment

would pass, too

elusive like a ghost.

Does my mother really see him

my father?

 

In the movie

the women are bound by the past,

broken by war

wanting to nourish new beginnings

will they heal

 

connect to something more than ghosts?

They are filled with emptiness.

And she is frozen.

What happens to the ghosts

when past moves to future?

 

We watch a show of future times

space ships and androids,

but still there is war.

Treachery seems to fill the skies

everywhere, so we look for heroes

in the stars

and watch their dazzle-dance

and mark the passage of time

with cake

as we nourish love, drink–

and so, the seconds pass

from birth to death

all the in-betweens

seeds to flowers, kittens to cats,

stars explode and are reborn, connected.

***

Random bonus cats.

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Cats and reflections! Philadelphia.

 

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Sometimes we like each other. 

 

Merril’s Movie Club: We sawJoJo Rabbit on Prime. I think my husband liked it more than I did. Not that I disliked it, but. . .I’m not sure if it worked. It’s hard to laugh about Nazis. Parts of it I did, and the little boy in it is wonderful. We saw Beanpole in the theater. Another one that is difficult to say, “I liked it” because of the subject matter, but excellent acting–the two leads especially are astonishing–but also the whole cast. It is definitely a bleak movie set in post-WWII Leningrad, but I can’t stop thinking about it.

We started watching Picard, even though I really don’t want to pay for another streaming service, but Patrick Steward as Jean-Luc again and daughters are watching it. . . and yes, that is an Enterprise pizza cutter with our homemade pizza.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To Drive the Dark Away

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Monday Morning Musings:

“Stars, in your multitudes

Scarce to be counted

Filling the darkness with order and light. . .”

–“Stars” from Les Misérables

“So the shortest day came, and the year died,

And everywhere down the centuries of the snow-white world

Came people singing, dancing,

To drive the dark away.”

Susan Cooper, “The Shortest Day”

“Even if all life on our planet is destroyed, there must be other life somewhere which we know nothing of. It is impossible that ours is the only world; there must be world after world unseen by us, in some region or dimension that we simply do not perceive.”

–Philip K. Dick, The Man in the High Castle

 

The shortest day approaches,

we celebrate with tales and light

in centuries-old traditions,

we gather, talk, and drink

to drive the dark away

to drive the dark away

we count the stars

on the shortest day,

they fill the sky

with order and light.

 

With order and light

soon we’ll celebrate

eight nights of Hanukkah

to drive the dark away,

remembering

 

remembering, my mother says

girls were not sent to school,

but her mom knew where everything was

in their store, she could find the peas

the cans had pictures

 

the cans had pictures

and she knew the prices

she could add the figures quickly–

order in this world

like stars in the sky

 

like stars in the sky

we make patterns in our brains

memories form

and we fill in the gaps

stories of might and if

 

stories of might and if–

is the movie a cautionary tale?

What happens when we mess with nature?

Or is it tale of mothers and children,

variations on madness and guilt?

 

Variation on madness and guilt,

describe a host of myth and legends

along with greed, anger, and lust,

in animating stars, clouds, and trees

we try to make order of our world.

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We try to make order of our world

in patterns and statues and stories.

In art and poetry and song, we transform

and celebrate the light within

and without

and without this ability

what would we be?

Worlds unseen, other dimensions

beyond the stars, but here now,

we drive the darkness way

 

we drive the darkness away

with love and light and food

with sisters and sister-friends

with children and mothers and kin

we let the light in.

It’s been a busy, crazy week, and I apologize for being so behind in visiting and reading other blogs. I’m finishing reviewing my copyedited book manuscript. There have been many calls and text with my sisters about my mom’s care. We had to suddenly go to my mom’s when an aide called out sick. While there, we discovered that PBS was showing the 25th anniversary concert version of Les Misérables, which my mom and I both enjoyed. We did a “Nightmare Before Christmas” tour for my early birthday celebration with younger daughter—it turned out to be a fun evening of talking and drinking. We visited the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Christmas Village.

Merril’s Movie Club: We saw Little Joe. It’s a quirky film about a woman who develops a new plant that she names for her son Joe. But perhaps there are unintended consequences. It’s filmed in bright colors and with a percussive soundtrack. Emily Beecham won best actress at the Cannes Film Festival. We liked it, but I may not sniff a flower for a while.

We’re on the penultimate episode of The Man in the High Castle on Amazon Prime. It’s so good—and kind of frightening to think of what could be, what might have been, and where we’re headed with the present administration.

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From “Designs for Different Futures” Philadelphia Museum of Art

And a more peaceful image to leave you with

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Winter trees form a bower outside the Philadelphia Museum of Art–Merril D. Smith, December 2019

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

B. Franklin and the Kite

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Source: The Youth’s Book on Natural Theology, 1840 

 

First a rumble

grumbling in the night,

then a crack, the light

jagged and brightly-white

zig-zagging, where the kite

with hemp strands and key

conducts electricity–

a sight to see,

but from afar—

 

(check the jar)

 

this experiment of wonder,

science, lighting, and thunder.

 

A  quadrille (a poem of 44 words) for dVerse where De asked us to use the word “crack.” If you don’t know anything about Benjamin Franklin’s experiment, here are the details from the Franklin Institute—it includes a passage from his article in the Pennsylvania Gazette.  He actually electrified the hemp from the charged air, not directly from the lightning, but poetic license. 😉

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Remembering

Monday Morning Musings:

“The purpose of theatre is to bring into public that which is kept offstage. . .”

Paula Vogel, The New Yorker, May 12, 2017.

“We have a story we want to tell you . . .About a play. A play that changed my life. Every night we tell this story—but somehow I can never remember the end. … No matter. I can remember how it begins. It all starts with this moment—”

From Paula Vogel, Indecent

 

About that breeze

carrying the scent of flowers

in the rain—

now rust-tinged with blood–

does it haunt you?

Listen–

the sound of ghosts walking

through ashes, whispering, whispering

the sound of pain

the sound of love and desire

carried through time

***

 

We walk

(through, around, over

ghosts)

steps echoing

a city filled

with art and history

there a bridge

named for a poet

(who lived in Camden)

who celebrated history

and nature

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human bodies and love

(he spoke of that

which was not spoken)

indecent, some said

unnamed the fear

of love

is love is love is love is love

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Celebrating Walt Whitman’s 200th with homemade pizza and Auburn Road’s Eidolon wine

 

We walk after

seeing my mother

her body dimmed,

no longer so electric

but still pulsing light

 

generates the warmth

the air, the sky

on a beautiful spring

we eat outside

where souls once gathered

celebrating god and man

and new beginnings

(blinks of time)

 

the ghosts gather

telling the story

over and over

knowing how it begins,

never knowing how it ends

 

the play begins with ashes

that later return

but remember the rain scene

(that rain scene!)

that glorious love

passionate and innocent

that shocked—

indecent they said,

that play, and this play

about it–

this love song to Yiddish theater,

to theater,

to the light within us

to memory

to time

 

so relevant the themes again

immigrants demonized,

and we more polarized

and there is fear

all around

(like ghosts)

 

twelve more dead,

we shake our heads,

go on with life

(with thoughts and prayers)

but the dead stay dead

and the ghosts whisper,

remember. . .

 

Yet, we create

and generate

(our bodies electric)

music,

art, and poetry

channeling muses

and spirits

remembering

(the rain scene)

the scent of rain

the light through the trees

Sylvia Schreiber, Giverny Sketches

and love–

there is love

all around

 

and friendships

that stay true

through births and deaths

generating

regenerating

remembering

this moment

to the next

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always how it begins,

but never how it ends–

the lights go down,

the lights come again,

the ashes fall,

the ghosts whisper,

remember this moment,

remember this

 

It was a busy weekend: another mass shooting, a celebration, visiting my mom, seeing Indecent at the Arden (I love this play), walks, a bridal shower. We also saw Book of Mormon, the Broadway touring company, but I couldn’t fit that in. We’ve seen it before, and it enjoyed seeing it again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Theories of Clouds and Time

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Caspar David Friedrich, “Drifting Clouds,”[Public Domain], Wikipedia Commons

Once I looked up at the night sky

and watched the clouds flying

 

like time

on feathered wings,

 

I flew along,

eager for what it’d bring,

 

asking why–

finding when

 

happens then

again, and time the thing

 

like clouds

that drifts up, away, sighing.

 

Taking a work break! This is a quadrille for De’s prompt on dVerse using the word “up,” and for my dVerse prompt on theories.

And some music, Joni Mitchell’s “Both Sides Now”–from her Clouds album.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Connections

Monday Morning Musings:

“In a poem, one line may hide another line,

As at a crossing, one train may hide another train.”

–From Kenneth Koch (1925-2002), “One Train May Hide Another”

Full poem here

“Two girls discover

the secret of life

in a sudden line of

poetry.”

From Denise Levertov (1923-1997), “The Secret”

Full poem here.

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Ask if–

and in the language of cool whispers

she sings,

urging us

to what we want—

to soar

Everything is connected. . .

***

The days are cold, then warm,

next comes a storm

of snow, ice, rain,

till the sun shines again

as off to Florida he goes

no emergency, everybody knows

is this the beginning or the end—

only time will tell, my friend

 

if the country lives through this mess

this miasma of awfulness

and where will we go from here–

everything connected, but not so clear

 

why birds appear, everywhere

on the water, and in the clouds

I laugh aloud to see them there

and sigh to catch one unaware

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of how his beauty brightens my day

the dreariness, the gloom, held at bay

one tree branch may hide another—

and behind that, some other–

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a bit of beauty, once unseen

now there it is, what does it mean?

“Beauty is truth, truth beauty”

I wonder–is it something in-between

 

the lines of time, of place

the love that flutters in the space

between two lines—

sometimes it shines

 

in words, in deeds, or touches in time

OK, so, I didn’t make him a Valentine–

but I prepared some fondue

and we enjoyed it—well, wouldn’t you?–

along with the dipping and drinking

wine, and laughing

just enjoying without asking

as stomachs swelling, sinking

 

with all that bread and cheese

(just a bit more, please)

then chocolate to follow–

and if I walk with a bit of a waddle

 

well, more to love,

just give me a shove,

and next day to the gym

I’ll go for me, and not for him

***

We walk through the city

cold, but in sunshine, pretty

we watch a movie about art

and connection, in nature, and the part

 

between humans in ways known and not

perhaps the person you meet, was someone caught

somehow in your life, the whys unknown, and the when

as rain falls, to nourish fields, then evaporates again

 

part of a cycle, through history and time–

love and hate, poverty, wars, crime–

and how we express these things in art,

how do we share our passion and heart?

 

The movie is about art and history,

of the artist, and the mystery

of inspiration and creation,

and of repression and degradation

 

of people by those who are supposed to serve,

but instead they swerve

to serve hate with cool efficiency–

its own mental deficiency

 

as I see it, but not the one they wished to eliminate

with a path that looked so pat and straight

sterilization and cremation,

all to build their master race and nation.

 

And yet, art remains,

strains our brains

unchains with its power

though they censor and glower

 

at artists who speak the truth

and don’t look away, (not just the youth)

or any gender or race, but there is a trace

in all of us, a creative spark, a grace–

 

well, that is what I think about,

perhaps a shout out

to how we’re connected through the ages

In different paths, and through different stages,

but for now—I’ll stop and drink some wine

pretend or find that all is fine,

connect the dots, from below to above

with my musing thoughts to ask if. . .love

 

I wasn’t certain how to begin this Monday musing, so I went to the Oracle, who gave me the opening—which fit so well– of course–and another connection.

 

We saw the movie, Never Look Away. I love that my husband, whose birthday is today, will readily go with me to see a three-hour German movie. (Dale may be the only other person I know who might see it), but we both really liked it. And it honestly did not seem that long. It’s about an artist, Kurt Barnert, based, perhaps loosely, on the life of German artist Gerhard Richter. Barnert grows up during the rise of the Nazis and WWII and then lives in East Germany. When he is a child, his beautiful and beloved aunt Elisabeth tells him to “never look away.” Through her, he is connected to art, history, and to choices— both random and those he makes in his own life. Trailer here.

We also went to a wine and chocolate tasting event at William Heritage Winery. I appear to have really enjoyed that wine. 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

For My Older Daughter on Her Birthday

Ocean City, NJ

Little girl

gambols by the seaside

 

the saltwater flows,

and she grows

 

wondering who she is,

who she’ll be

 

as onward flows

the sea, she knows

 

kisses, and soaring free

to be

 

herself, and shows

a world images–she knows

 

what dreams can be

 

A quadrille for dVerse, where De is asking us to use the word kiss. Sorry for all the birthday poems, but I wrote a poem for younger daughter’s birthday, so I had to write one for older daughter’s birthday today. I’m struck by how many of her paintings are of soaring figures—both people and sea creatures. You can see some of them here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Seen and Unseen

 

“What do we call visible light? We call it color. But the electromagnetic spectrum runs to zero in one direction and infinity in the other, so really, children, mathematically, all of light is invisible.”

–Anthony Doer, All the Light We Cannot See

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Philadelphia Mural Arts

 

Redshifting and blue,

all the colors, hues

we cannot see, and beyond

our comprehension, or will–

yet, don’t they exist still?

And the man, there on his rags,

sleeping on his clothes in bags–

if we walk by him unseeing

does it mean he’s not a being

worthy of a view, a thought

of what once was? Even if

only a trace of has been–wisps

that linger here–the invisible who

are all the colors, all the hues

and so,

as sunset slow shifts to indigo

and all the in-between,

there, find all the light that’s there

find it, unseen and seen.

 

This is for my prompt at dVerse, where we’re exploring the invisible. I was inspired by the quotation I used and also by the mural that I just happened to see on Sunday, after I had written and scheduled the prompt. Isn’t it weird how that works?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In the Time of Rain: Magnetic Poetry

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Vincent van Gogh, “Wheat field in Rain” [Public Domain]via Wikipedia Commons

After the rain

licks pink from the sky

 

and shadowed mist

cries a raw symphony of aching sighs,

 

you trudge to–

or from—

 

wanting. . .

whispering. . .

 

“There the sun rose in honeyed music,

sang of life when”

 

So our dreams together

recall time

 

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My message from the Magnetic Poetry Oracle. She’s knows it’s raining here—again.