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.

Me: Here, or There?

“Time isn’t circular. . .It’s like a. . .palimpsest.”

“And memories are sometimes in the future.”

–Kate Atkinson, Life after Life

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James Abbott McNeil Whistler, “Nocturne,” Public Domain via Wikipedia Commons

 

Looking back, older but not yet done–

then, there, I see myself a young child.

Did past or future end–or has one just begun–

life stories entwined, or is time unreconciled

 

then? There, I see myself a young child

so, I wonder if my path was fated,

life stories entwined? Or is time unreconciled,

to choices immutable and slated–

 

so, I wonder if my path was fated–

did I always marry my high school sweetheart—

choices immutable and slated?

Or did time and roads lead elsewhere for my counterpart?

 

Did I always marry my high school sweetheart?

Was I always the me I see?

Or did time and roads lead elsewhere for my counterpart?

Could it be there’s another world with–or without–me?

 

Was I always the me I see?

Did past or future end, or has one just begun?

Could it be there’s another world with or without me?

I’m looking back—older–but not yet done.

 

Happy New Year! A pantoum for my prompt today on dVerse.

If all goes as planned, the prompt should be live at 3:00 P.M. (EST). Come join us!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Impressions

Monday Morning Musings:

“For last year’s words belong to last year’s language
And next year’s words await another voice.”

–T.S. Eliot, “Little Gidding”

In the last week of the year, in the dark of December, we gather with family. We eat and eat some more. We drink and drink some more. We exchange gifts. We laugh at our goofiness, and we laugh to keep from crying. Laugh for joy, laugh to keep the ghosts at bay.

winter dark lingers

pale sun hides behind grey clouds–

winter birds still sing

 

 

There are endless lists—the best movies of the year, the best books, and the famous people who have died. This has been a year of horror for many, and a year of fear for my country. Guns, fires, protests, children abused and dying–and those nonstop tweets. We bury our heads in pillows, blanket our thoughts to pretend this is not happening. I listen to ghost stories because they are less frightening than thinking about what could really happen in this world.

ghosts replay stories

winter always, never spring–

still, sapling sprouts, grows

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Theresienstadt Tree

 

The rain comes again and again. Finally, we walk in sunshine. We walk through city streets decorated for Christmas. We see a movie about Vincent Van Gogh, a tortured soul who created beauty with a ferocious passion. His impressions have lasted longer than he did. He taught us how to see the starry night, to see all the shades of yellow in a sunflower, to see the light and color.

red and green doors call

holiday cheer to neighbors–

winter warmed with smiles

Tonight, we’ll gather with our friends. The friends of decades–from before we had children, and they had grandchildren. We’ll eat Chinese food, and find our fortunes in a cookie. We’ll wish each other Happy New Year, though we will all most likely be in bed long before the bells peal, the ball drops, and the fireworks light up the sky. My impression of the old year—tortured souls and broken lives, missing pieces, like van Gogh’s ear. Yet, there is still beauty. Like van Gogh, we need to find light, and paint it quickly with our souls before it fades away. Remember it in our hearts. My heart swells as the dawn rises on a new day, a new year—awaiting new words.

 

old words tucked away,

come new year in harmony–

bird on snowy branch

bravely sings in hope of love

soon cherry blossoms will fall

 

Greeting Dawn    Merril D. Smith 2018

 

Wishing all hearts filled with joy and peace in the new year.

I’m linking this to Frank’s Haikai Challenge for the New Year prompt. We saw the movie, At Eternity’s Gate. Trailer here.  Husband and I agreed it was not a great movie. I think the parts were greater than the sum, but William Dafoe is wonderful as van Gogh, and van Gogh and his brother Theo’s relationship is depicted with great tenderness.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Solstice Dreams

 

On this longest night

no trilling riffs of birdsong,

only dreams take flight,

gathering round the cold full moon

dancing home through sodden clouds

 

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Enter a caption

 

Happy Solstice—Winter or Summer! It is rainy, dark, and dreary here in NJ. This is a print I own, but it was a gift, and I don’t know the artist. It’s the wrong season, but I can dream. 🙂

I’m linking this to Colleen’s Tanka Tuesday Challenge. She’s on break, but so thoughtfully left prompt words! This week, synonyms for fly and sing.

 

 

 

Lights and Life: Quadrille Haibun

First Night of Hanukkah, December 2018

Candles burn, in winter darkness, a miracle of light. The ancient hatred is rising again. Six million and more, but we survive. We clink our glasses lightly, saying not, “Cheers,” but “L’chaim.”

twilight comes early

shadows blanket ground and trees—

light glows in windows

 

De, aka Whimsy Gizmo, has asked us to write a quadrille using some form of the word cheer for dVerse.  I’m also linking to Frank’s Haikai Challenge to write a poem that alludes to Advent or Hanukkah.

I know I wrote about Hanukkah yesterday, and there will probably be more—but you know, it lasts for eight nights. Tonight will be the third night of Hanukkah.  🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Turkeys, Squirrels, and Magic in the Air

Monday Morning Musings:

“So dawn goes down to day.

Nothing gold can stay.”

From Robert Frost, “Nothing Gold Can Stay”

“The sky is already purple; the first few stars have appeared, suddenly, as if someone had thrown a handful of silver across the edge of the world.”

Alice Hoffman, Here on Earth

The leaves strive to stay,

pops of color dot the landscape

brightening the grey

 

but falling, flying, drifting so

as autumn grows colder,

they must go

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Red Bank Battlefield

as does the day

soon the shadows lengthen

silently sliding their way

 

along pavement and ground

above bare branches wave

without a sound.

 

Violet turns midnight blue

and a glimmering filigree of light

dots the sky, like morning dew.

 

Twilight—this magic time

when fairy tales sprout

in the mind—and so I rhyme

 

Once– if tale be told–

my arm up a turkey,

the day frigid cold

 

I shoo away a sniffing cat

look at the bird’s freakishly long neck–

wonder what kind of dinosaur was that?*

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Survival and extinction

I continue the job

I won’t eat it but some

 

will, it’s the family holiday deal

a mixture of traditions and love

along with the holiday meal.

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Our lovely sommelier

And so, we gather together

unmold the cranberry squirrel—to cheers–

bask in weirdness, warmth in the cold weather.

On this night of full beaver moon

we eat, drink, laugh, and talk

though ever present the tune

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of what will be and what was past,

we try to stay in the moment, mindful

that we cannot know what is cast

 

by the auger’s stones

our fate with the stars

unknown, until felt in our bones.

 

We eat leftovers for days–

and drink more wine

walk and sleep in holiday haze,

 

then we sleep and dream

of a million things

forgotten at dawn, the theme

 

who knows? I hear the birds sing

amidst November gloom–

a little winged thing

 

can achieve wonders, I think,

cat on a lap, a book, a cup of tea—

yes, back to food and drink.

 

In sunny weather, we go to see

a Swedish film, not comedy,

a fairy tale, of sorts, it seems to me

 

border can be taken in many ways

as can gender and eye of the beholder

much in the world and nature may amaze

 

a fable may hold truth—

no matter about who or what is told

shy or bold, cultured, or uncouth

 

Magic all around us

in glowing leaves and laughing speech

known and unknown worlds, ever thus–

And so, we talk

drink our coffee and catch our train,

then our shadows take a walk—

and soon we’re home again

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to sleep under the silvered sky,

to dream of wondrous, magic things,

to ask without answers all the whys,

to hear the stars sing and to them fly.

 

Thanksgiving 2018

*I read this article on Thanksgiving.

 

We celebrated Thanksgiving with family (missing older daughter and her wife) and friends. For those who are new, our cranberry squirrel is a beloved family tradition. The unmolding of it is part of the tradition, and this year my sister made a very funny recording of the event. We saw the Swedish movie, Border. Trailer here. As the trailer says, unlike anything you’ve ever seen. It is definitely unusual, but my husband and I liked it. Coincidentally, I’m reading a book that is also a sort of fairy tale but that is set in the area of the world where my ancestors came from. Perhaps more about that in a future post.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cold and Burning

Monday Morning Musings:

 “Listen. .

With faint dry sound,

Like steps of passing ghosts,

The leaves, frost-crisp’d, break from the trees

And fall.”

Adelaide Crapsey, “November Night”

 

“In the burned house I am eating breakfast.

You understand: there is no house, there is no breakfast,

yet here I am.”

From Margaret Atwood, “Morning in the Burned House”

 

The sun sleeps

in shadow now

the ground prepares

to slumber, too

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covered in brown

then sprinkled with white

golden-leaved boughs

glowing bright

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in defiant display—

this they say—

remember this day–

we will return

 

when the sun burns

the frost away.

 

So, we stay inside

watch a movie of sly wit and song,

there death seems to come along,

a bit of jokester, it seems

for which we’re never prepared,

still we turn the pages in a book,

hoping for a happy ending

Movie Cat

He is fascinated, watching The Ballad of Buster Scruggs.

And in the night

I dream of petting a sloth

(in a park)

 

then accompanying a pretentious hipster

dressed all in black, dark

like the restaurant where no food is consumed

 

but I outwit him and his friends

and wake laughing at the dream’s end.

 

Score one for the old lady

there’s life here still–

and more to be penned.

 

We venture out to see another film

unfolding tension

(a few jumps in my chair)

 

metaphors and

things that are not there—

 

a tangerine,

perhaps a cat—

 

and there is burning—

of various kinds—

 

and yearning–

what is in their minds?

 

What do they feel,

 

the young woman,

the would-be writer,

and the mystery Gatsby-rich man?

 

What is real?

 

We walk and talk

buy spices

to simmer in the cold,

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then in the chilly day

creeping into shadowed night

savor the warmth of wine

consumed in cozy light

life enjoyed despite what may

transpire, gloom kept at bay

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undesired here and now

and our fate unknown anyhow

 

so, we gather rosebuds—or drink

fruit of the wine, laugh and think

 

but not too long about the future

instead we nurture

 

ourselves and one another

 

cuddle with cats, dream of the moon

enjoy one snowfall, but wait for June

 

still we prepare soon

with family to gather

 

as the seasons turn

burn only candles

 

yet, seek the light

in every room.

 

We watched The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, a Western, Coen Brothers style, in theaters and on Netflix. We also saw Burning, Korean movie, a psychological thriller. We liked both movies very much. Wonderful acting in both of them.

 

The Brilliant Blush, and the Stars

Sunrise, National Park, NJ

The brilliant blush—

fire dancing and

 

the sky warms,

Ghost remembers this—

 

morning and joy

here awakened

 

in champagne clouds

breathing ocean air

 

I was like you—

so young–

 

haunted and not—

the sad slow whens–

 

but sail on

looking at the stars

 

embracing eternity,

almost

I had to get a message from the Magnetic Poetry Oracle before really getting started with my day.  But you can see that sometimes I do it in stages.  🙂

 

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