Brilliant Things

Monday Morning Musings:

Brilliant Things

Path by Dock Creek and Carpenter’s Hall

“One day is there of the series
Termed “Thanksgiving Day”
Celebrated part at table
Part in memory –“
Emily Dickinson

A whimsical stream
reflecting autumn leaves
and wild turkeys clucking,
cooing, preening their feathers
in early morning light.

The sky is still adjusting,
it suggests peace, then trouble,
ever adaptable, vultures understand
its challenge, a caressing cover
that evaporates over time.

Autumn’s stained-glass light
and long shadows overtake
summer’s dawn choir and rabbits,
the graceful melancholy beauty, an expression
of loss and remembrance.

By the river’s edge
a coyote dashes
on powerful legs, she doesn’t
glance at the irate honking geese–
I’m encircled by tangible wonders.

A Thanksgiving table
our family gathered
with food and wine, telling stories, laughing,
and around us our ghosts smile,
yes, they are with us still.

I used some of Jane’s Random words for this almost Cadralor.
Last week was strange and stressful. It was good to see family at Thanksgiving. Who was able to come kept changing throughout the day.

We saw Every Brilliant Thing at the Arden Theatre in Philadelphia on Saturday. It deals with the painful topics of depression and suicide, but it is not a depressing play. There is humor and joy, and ultimately it asks us to consider the brilliant things of every day. Audience members who agree are given cards with words to call out when during the play, the actor calls out the number. Other audience members were given roles in the play. This is the fourth time the Arden Theatre has presented this play with actor Scott Greer. It’s the first time we’ve seen it, but my husband and I both agreed we’d see it again.

Almost and Being So

Monday Morning Musings:

Almost and Being So

“An answer is invariably the parent of a great family of new questions.”

“The truest reason for anything’s being so is that it is.”
–John Steinbeck, The Log from the Sea of Cortez (quoted here)

November passes in brilliant color
and black and white
in clouds that gather in ominous grey,
then glow as if to say, stay

for this is the call of ancient light
without, within,
despite hateful lies and
the punch-drunk, punchline, punching sting
of voters’ votes and natures’ flinging
rain and fog and morning moons
that sail through blue
to you–

and you shiver in the cold
and delight in the sun—
ignore alarms, embrace the charm
and glory of an eagle swooping by
and vultures dancing in the sky—

Vultures, Eagle, and Turkeys

you wonder about the almosts—and fate—
questions without answers, and answers that can wait

as you tread, momentarily awake,
through leaves of brown and red.
crunching dead, but hearing life
in squirrel rustle and birdsong,
the existence of because it is.

I used some of Jane’s Random Words for my poem.

On Saturday, we had planned to go into Philadelphia to visit the art museum and see a show. Unfortunately, our car hit a rock or piece of concrete on the road. It ruined our transmission, but my husband managed to get the car off the highway to a side street. We are fine, and things could have been much worse.

Theater, Movies, TV:

On Sunday, we took my husband’s car to the train station, and went to see a different play at a different theater. The Lantern Theater Company’s production of The Royale. I was not particularly excited to see this play, which I thought would be only about boxing and boxers. I have zero interest in boxing and no desire to see men hit each other. However, this play, inspired by the life of Jack Johnson, the first Black heavyweight champion of the world, was about racism, Jim Crow, and family dynamics. The acting was powerful, and the staging and choreography were outstanding. I’m still thinking about it.

We watched Enola Holmes 2 (Netflix), a totally delightful movie with a message about female empowerment. I think this second one was better than the first one.

We also watch the new show, Inside Man (Netflix). It’s only 4 episodes. Stanley Tucci as a murderer on death row who solves cases, and David Tennant as a vicar in England. Their lives become entwined. There are other fine actors involved, too. A bingeable show.

We started the new Interview with a Vampire (AMC). Two episodes in, and it’s very good. Much better than the movie was. It’s a new present-day (re)interview, and Louis is a gay Black man/vampire.

Pre-theater Walk in Philadelphia:


Monday Morning Musings:


“Time is the longest distance between two places.”
–Tennessee Williams, The Glass Menagerie

Morning Moon, October

Morning Moon

Always the moon—
even in far-flung places, she rises
gleaming, her hair silver-streaming,
to answer questions we haven’t yet asked.

It is the season of falling leaves and
demonic connections. Remember
heartbreak, look for truth—be aware–
of lies and hate. I’ll vote blue.

Autumn Scenes

The brief pause
before you grin, lopsided,
a crooked crescent, the smile of your ancestors,
lights up your eyes.

The mist rises in a glorious ring,
even under a fretful sky
the river flows on, her melody
constant and ever-changing, nature’s paradox.

Morning Mist at the River

The hawk whistles in red-feathered flight,
the squirrels scurry beneath golden boughs
the geese soar in V-flight, a journey
through space and time, the future becomes now.

Golden glow on abandoned ferry terminal, Delaware River, West Deptford

I used Jane’s random words again for this Cadralor.

It has been such a busy week. Work assignments due, the Folktober Challenge, a broken washing machine, now a clogged drain, dealing with a credit card transferred to a bank that seems totally incapable of handling service, the probably final televised hearing of the January 6 Committee, and two plays in theaters this weekend! On Saturday we saw The Glass Menagerie at the Arden Theater in Old City, Philadelphia. I had forgotten how sad and moving the play is, and the actors were all excellent. I enjoyed it very much. It was a beautiful day, so we took a long walk first, and then afterwards, we were able to sit outside at Tria to enjoy wine (mine, a Syrah blend from South Africa), stout (his, some dark something), a seasonal cheese tray of local artisan cheeses. Delightful!

Old City and Tria

On Sunday, we saw Those With 2 Clocks at the Wilma Theater in Philadelphia. It was a completely different sort of play. And yet, perhaps both plays dealt with some universal truths. This would not be a play for many of my friends and readers. As the pre-show announcement said, this performance will hit all the triggers. There were jokes about sex acts, butts, and there was full nudity—and also interactions with the audience. The performers explored humor and what makes us laugh–and attempt to dismantle the patriarchy. I was worried that I would not enjoy it at all, but I did, even as I cannot really explain what I saw. You can read more about it here.

Rittenhouse Square and Area

Truth and Myth

Sunrise Clouds

Truth and Myth

Incandescent miniature–
the sun caught in a wave
bobs up and down, drowning, reborn, a small god

ignored by garrulous geese and laughing gulls
who punctuate the sky with white-feather questions–

but the spotted deer, stoops his head at the shore,
glows as he sips the splendor.

I saw “incandescent miniature” in Jane’s Random Words, and this image popped into my head. I’ll have to use more words in another poem. I shared this poem with Top Tweet Tuesday.
I’m hosting dVerse Poetics today, so I’ll be back later!

They’re Still Here

Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins, Cretaceous Life of New Jersey, 1877, Princeton University (I’m amused by the disclaimer that the painting is not an accurate depiction of dinosaurs.)

They’re Still Here

In this marvelous country, dinosaurs hunt
the weak and dispensable—well, the prisons are full,
and there’s cash to be made.
Here, sign the contract.

In this marvelous country, mammoth buildings
line the ocean, displaying themselves—so lively!
They flash their décolletage glass—so desirable!
But you must pay for the pleasure of their company.
Verify your credentials. Here’s your key.

In this marvelous country, frogs jump
and some still look to see, some still draw, read books,
eat dinners together and converse.
This truly is an amazing place—
except for the dinosaurs

bent on destruction
with tiny brains and stomping feet–
we thought they were gone, extinct,
but monsters only hide in the shadows,
they never truly go away.

Not my usual sort of thing, but there’s no arguing with Oracles. From Jane’s random words from a couple days ago.

Present in Beauty

Monday Morning Afternoon Musings:

Present in Beauty

“Let your soul stand cool and composed before a million universes.”
Walt Whitman, Song of Myself, 48

“In beauty I walk
With beauty before me I walk
With beauty behind me I walk
With beauty above me I walk
With beauty around me I walk
It has become beauty again”
–from “Walking in Beauty”: Closing Prayer from the Navajo Way Blessing Ceremony

Storm Clouds

After the storm

First, a billowy sea of clouds,
then thunder, crash crash crashing–
shock and awe from the heavens,
ending in a hush,
the cat yawns.

History moves on,
I sleep and my hair turns grey.

Now this place, a speck, a blink
in the eye of the universe, does it matter
to the stars or time? Yet
here I walk—beauty before me, and all around.

Heron, deer, and ospreys converge.
The sky is the blue of wishes, the sun an apricot
I can almost taste—like the most luscious wine
I drink-in the daybreak, my soul cool and composed,
I savor this moment, knowing it is evanescent,
a sparkling bubble, no less beautiful
as it passes into memory,
the past another universe, an umbrella
to open for protection, or to cast shade when needed.
Bird-dawn has given way to cricket sunrise,
summer light has slanted—autumn on its way,
I adjust my sight line.

This sunrise! Sunrise over the Delaware.

A late musings today. It’s been a busy week, and I’m finishing some work. I used Jane’s Random Words. We celebrated what would have been my dad’s 103 birthday with Chinese food on Tuesday, and our friends insisted we have a toast to him. (Wonderful friends!) We had more hot and humid weather, then one night with some thunderstorms, and then perfect weather over the weekend. We met our daughter and son-in-law at a new winery on Saturday. Stokelan Winery is a beautiful place. The Stokelan House dates from about 1853. We sat outside. I liked all of the wines, but I didn’t love any of them. Since it’s a new place, they’re still working out some issues. It’s a distance for us to travel, so we probably won’t go back there for a while, but it was still a lovely afternoon.

Toast to Dad and Stokelan Winery

We watched the TV show Dark Winds. It’s based on the series of novels by Tony Hillerman, which take place on Navajo land. It seemed like a good series to watch this week because my dad enjoyed Hillerman’s books. Once my father wrote him a letter, and Mr. Hillerman replied. Although Tony Hillerman was not Native American, much of the cast, the writers, and crew are. A character recites the lines above in the final episode.

This August or Another? Stuck in Time That Passes in a Flash

This August or Another? Stuck in Time that Passes in a Flash

She says eat the cherries,
they’re yummy,
but as she sneezes,
and I look at the dirty bowl,
I don’t feel neighborly anymore.

Promises are scattered,
like crumbs for fish
in the pond–
Gabby Giffords* is still fighting
for gun control

My cat rubs with pleasure,
his chin to my chin
sleek-bodied, silky-furred,
he watches me with giant eyes
attentive as a mind-reader.

At the precipice,
do we accept the inevitable,
or turn to stride through dust clouds
looking for the trail
marked “Love”?

The air is electric,
we wait for an exciting answer
to the sky’s question–
lighting to thunder,
the illumination of mystery.

*Gabby Giffords is a former representative from Arizona who was shot in the head in January 2011 in a mass shooting that killed six people and injured others. She and her husband have become outspoken advocates for gun control.

Early morning brain-starter using Jane’s Random Words. This is perhaps not imagist enough to be a cadralor? I’m never certain.


Onward (there’s more to be said on apples)

Circles, not so remarkable,
connect, snake heads to tails,
they slither, occupy space
merge past with future,

so, we remember a face,
a talk, some music,
the sparkle of knowledge,

and the ludicrous,
suppositions that some cling to,
like ivy on a dusty wall,
warning of the dysfunction that will come

if a woman laughs or learns
there is no shame in desire—

she bites into the apple—red or gold—
spits seeds into the ground,
makes a delicious dash toward tomorrow.

A poem from the random words Jane generated today.

The Eagle

The Eagle

Energetic juvenile drops a feather,
connecting sky and river.
She’s not yet mature, but glorious,
larger than life—
though it might depend on your perspective.

The crows yell and flock around her.
She’s evasive, pretends not to notice. Simply
waves with fringed fingers, then out-stretched wings catch
a thermal. With not even a whisper, she flies out of sight.

Crows chasing eagle

I have things to do, but Jane posted random words, and the first two were so perfect that I had to write a poem instead. It seems Oracle II also knows everything, even what I’ve seen recently on my morning walks. 😏

Summer Stories

Monday Morning Musings:

Early morning in July at Red Bank Battlefield

Summer Stories

Today, the clouds seem unnecessary,
like a rhetorical flourish
they ask questions we’re not meant to answer
about the future, the tense of what might be,
not what is.

I’m frightened by the rabid, purple beast,
the stuff of nightmares—
all in my brain, perhaps,
yet he seems to be whipping the world bloody–
he has no regrets.

The geese, deer, and rabbits feast now
on clover. There are flowers everywhere,
nature is not tightfisted in summer,
but balanced, the growth comes,
so, also the shedding—feathers, fur, leaves, virus.

Geese, turkeys, deer, and flowers at Red Bank Battlefield and around the neighborhood

  1. It might be unsuitable,
    but I’ll join you—let’s be festive,
    order some wine,
    in the shade of the sycamore trees,
    we’ll pretend to be offbeat artists.

On the Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Philadelphia

Here the water overflows,
but there is a bridge, a thread
that carries us to the rest of the story
bathed in orange sunlight,
we cross.

Tall Pines State Preserve

I used the random words Jane generated yesterday for my musings today. I’m not certain if these stanzas are all different enough to be a cadralor, but I’ll call it one anyway. This week we walked at Tall Pines on what was a beautiful early summer morning before it got too hot.

Tall Pines

On Saturday, we went to Philadelphia Museum of Art. Since we’re members and can go anytime, we don’t feel like we have to see everything on each visit. Masking was optional, so we left when it began to get more crowded. We did see some fascinating exhibits though. The Elegy of Grief was very moving, the Waiting for Tear Gas (covering protests from around the world at different periods of time) was powerful, and as you might suspect, I love Picture in a Picture. I will write more about that idea another time.

Swann Fountain and Philadelphia Museum of Art

We found a place on the Parkway to eat lunch outdoors (photos in gallery above).

Merril’s Movie Club: In my quest to bring you movies you’ve never heard of, 😏 this week we watched a movie that was a lot of fun, Beyond the Infinite Two Minutes,:

“Café owner Kato discovers that his PC monitor shows what will happen two minutes in the future. Another screen downstairs in his café shows the past of two minutes ago. His friends decide to place the two mysterious devices opposite each other, which creates a loop to see into the future. Naturally, chaos ensues. BEYOND THE INFINITE TWO MINUTES is a delightfully light hearted flick shot in one take about five innocent heartwarming friends who discover the art of time traveling!”

It’s only a bit over an hour. It’s a low-budget movie shot on cell phone cameras (watch the credits at the end). It’s available on Amazon and other platforms.