Measuring

Monday Morning Musings:

Early Morning, Delaware River at Red Bank Battlefield ©️Merril D. Smith, 2021

Measure by measure—

in hope and despair
from winter bare to sun-charged air

we smile through tears
with spirits brightened, but still the fears

of what comes next?
Another crisis, another text

of sorrow or disaster.
Can we master

moving from the passing of this year?
Too many lost, but we’re still here–

and so, we live as we’re able,
finally meet across a table

to eat and laugh, while those who’ve passed
remain within our memories, clasped

in synapsed snapshots, held fast,
until all is faded, at last,

everything balanced, a measure
of sadness, a finding of treasure

in the remembrance of what she said,
those words, like a thread

linking us, a connection
a form of resurrection

in “do you remember?” Phrases bright—
like the promise, with shadows, there’s light.

Ripples. One Year. ©️Merril D. Smith, 2021

April is a strange month all over, it seems—one day cold, one day warm, full of storms, and also flowers. A bunch of tulips that we didn’t plant have popped up in our garden.

Yesterday was the first anniversary of my mother’s death. Now that we’ve all been vaccinated, we went to our younger daughter and son-in-law’s house—and for the first time in over a year, hugged and ate inside. She made us a tapas feast, and I baked a chocolate cake in my mom’s memory.

My husband and I both got haircuts for the first time in over a year, too. Woo hoo! We celebrated with a date night at home and streamed the excellent production of the Lantern Theater’s production of Measure for Measure. It was a filmed production from a few years ago. The play is very timely. We watched the movie, Promising Young Woman, (rental from Amazon), which my husband and I both enjoyed and thought was very good—great acting, direction, and soundtrack. Both play and movie will inspire discussion.

Magic Comes: Ekphrastic Challenge, Day 12

Magic often comes unseen,
in midnight sky, a sparkling flash,
on morning beach, a treasure stash—
a seabird message left for you
in colored stones of ocean hue.

Magic often comes unexpected,
a wish upon a star, synchronicity, chance,
or perhaps more than happenstance—
that needed doggy grin, the outstretched hand—
none of it planned,

nature and nurture, combined, entwined—
reactions or fate? Other realms or in-between,
ensorcellment in the glimmering sheen—
the magic, unexpected, unseen, and seen.

For Paul Brookes’ Ekphrastic Challenge, Day 12. There were only two works of art today, and my poem is inspired by both of them. You see read the other poems here.

Rising, Setting, Rising

Monday Morning Musings:

Sun rising, moonset
another day to fret

we can’t forget
ever, not yet,

the agitation in the nation–
whatever the frustrations–

instigators and insurrectionists,
racists, and white supremacists,

in armed rebellion to overthrow–
it really happened—and they must go.

They should be tried for their crimes—
spreading lies, hate, violence, and plagues—sad times

for our country, for the world, I cry
for us all, for those who’ve been lost—the wind sighs

with their ghosts. This is not who we are, some say,
yes, it is, but we can find another way.

Some will always be lost to hate,
leave them to their fate. Deflate

what is possible, build from the ashes, anew.
See there—the sun rises–golden beams reflect on blue,

in rosy haze, the geese take wing, then land—
and like them, I hope we can have and stand,

with leaders who try to serve
the many, not themselves only—preserve

out of many, one—come together, the sun rising, just begun.

Sunrise over the Delaware River, Red Bank Battlefield. ©️Merril D. Smith, 2021

I’m sure everyone knows what happened this past Wednesday—insurrectionists, incited by President 45, attempted to overthrow the U.S. government. He, the GOP lawmakers who supported him, and those who engaged in sedition should be arrested, removed from office and jobs, and tried. In addition to hate and sedition, they also most likely spread Covid. I’ve been thinking a lot about the Rising Sun chair. It’s the chair George Washington sat in while presiding over the sessions of the Constitutional convention. James Madison later wrote that Benjamin Franklin said of the chair, “I have often looked at that behind the president without being able to tell whether it was rising or setting. But now I… know that it is a rising…sun.” You can see the chair here.

I also thought of how thousands, including me, have marched in peaceful protests.

Merril’s Movie Club: Last night we watched Elizabeth is Missing, which features an outstanding performance by Glenda Jackson. It was shown in the U.S. on Masterpiece. Some may not wish to see it because Jackson portrays a woman with Alzheimer’s. It was somewhat upsetting to me in that it made me think of my mom. At the same time, the movie and her portrayal are so accurate and sympathetic, that I felt myself thinking that’s how it must have been for my mom—except that she was nearly blind and far less mobile than Jackson’s character. The story, however, is about Jackson’s character solving two mysteries. The present-day disappearance of her friend, and the decades-old disappearance of her sister.
We’re about to start Season 2 of Occupied (Netflix). Season 1 of this Norwegian series was excellent and exciting. I also finished Bridgerton (Netflix). I probably don’t have to say anything about that. Binge and swoon. (But if you don’t know anything about it, it’s a period piece and a Shonda Rhimes production. My daughter described it as Jane Austen with sex.)

Creation

“Listen,” by Catrin Welz-Stein

She is ever young and ancient, too,
mistress, mother, destroyer, divine,
she births the world, but burrows, then weeps
in cold blood darkness, and there she sleeps–

and when she dreams, the flowers bloom
on roots, warm-spun from her honeyed hair,
and ladybugs skitter, scatter, fly
beneath sun-kissed clouds and azure sky.

She is woman, goddess, earth’s true love,
diamond-eyed, rose and chocolate-scented
breast-achy, she nurses–but then sighs–
all that comes, goes, all that lives, yet dies.

An ekphrastic poem for dVerse, where Lillian is hosting and received permission from artist Catrin Welz-Stein to post four images of her work. We are permitted to choose only one of these four images to use as springboard for poetic fancy.

Flickering

Glow  (July 2020)

A field of grass by an ugly gravel parking lot, transformed by sunlight. ©️Merril D. Smith 2020

 

Light

comes, goes,

so it flows

to earth and sea,

flaming grassy meadows,

with photons streaming, gilds a tree.

Though shadows loom below, we let them be;

pretend we do not see the coming of the night,

but live, walk, talk—and love, the apogee

of our beings—humanity

with stardust traces glows

but faintly—see?

The flickers

dim. . .grow

bright.

 

This is a diatelle for Colleen’s Tanka Tuesday. This week she wrote:

“Let’s make this challenge truly a poet’s choice! Use any syllabic poetry form that you’d like. As long as there are syllables to count, you’re good to go! Be creative. If your form is something new, teach us how to write it. Have fun!”

I know she doesn’t normally do rhyming forms, but this is definitely syllabic, and I know Colleen likes shapes, so I hope this is OK. 😀 Mine can probably use some more work, but I’m posting it anyway.


I found the form, created by Bradley Vrooman, on Shadow Poetry.  

“The Diatelle is a fun, syllable counting form like the etheree with a twist. The syllable structure of the diatelle is as follows: 1/2/3/4/6/8/10/12/10/8/6/4/3/2/1, but unlike an ethere, has a set rhyme pattern of abbcbccaccbcbba. This poetry form may be written on any subject matter and looks best center aligned in a diamond shape.”

Maybe everyone does this, but if not, maybe it’s helpful to see. I made myself a template to keep track of syllable/lines and rhymes. I do this for many forms.

a1 Light

b2 comes, goes

b3 so it flows

c4 to earth and sea

b6 flaming grassy meadows–

c8 with photons streaming, gild a tree

c10 though shadows loom below, we let them be,

a12 pretend we do not see the coming of the night

c10 but live, walk, talk–and love, the apogee

c8 of our beings–humanity

b6 with stardust traces glows

c4 but faintly—see?

b3 The flickers

b2 dim, grow

a1 bright.

Wishes

512px-Winslow_Homer_-_Moonlight,_Wood_Island_Light

 

From the sea, she walks ashore, seal-skin slips

from her body–she stands now unadorned–

shimmering hair unbound and flowing,

dulse-laced and glowing, she whips

it ‘round like armor. Girded thus, the sea foresworn

yet she lingers, soul unsure, not quite captured

by the sunlight, body gleaming, hair sheened by salt-sea blowing,

directed then by lover’s shouts, she turns, enraptured.

 

But rapture does not last, not when the sea sighs and calls

in waves that beckon with infinite ebbs and flows

with subaqueous whispers from afar–

till finally, she must flee the confining walls,

let loose her hair and shed her clothes

to rush upon the sea-kissed sand,

fur-pelt in hand, she makes one wish upon a star,

and embraces the sea, abandons land.

 

For De’s prompt at dVerse on mermaids and selkies. I rewrote a poem I did a while ago for one of Jane’s prompts and added a second stanza. I kept the rhyme scheme, but didn’t quite follow the rest for a san san poem. So, here goes—no minimalism here, this one’s unabashedly romantic.

 

 

 

 

 

Mockingbird, NaPoWriMo 2020, Day 30

512px-Mocking_Bird_(Audubon)

 

Every year–

I wait for spring

to hear again

the mockingbird sing–

the effort he exerts—

that brings to me such pleasure.

 

Now hear the sound of robins, cardinals, jays,

all of their phrases within his song

so long, and repeated with such power,

calling from above the flowers

as he perches in a tree.

 

See—he struts,

with wings outstretched

he flaunts his stuff—

 

but it’s his voice that floats

above the pink-petaled rain,

he’s sustained

by hope–or desperation–

the sound

goes ‘round and round

through the midnight hours

 

singing with so much might

he summons dawn’s light—

 

and still he sings

into the after.

 

So. . .many of you know I’ve had a rough couple of weeks, and I stopped participating in this year’s NaPoWriMo and other prompts. But, here’s one on-prompt for the last day of NaPoWriMo to write a poem about something that returns. I felt like doing a bit of rhyme.

I’m also linking it to Open Link Night at dVerse, where Kim is hosting and notes “we are listening.”

 

 

 

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The Language of Flowers, NaPoWriMo2020, Day 11

512px-John_Singer_Sargent_-_Carnation,_Lily,_Lily,_Rose_-_Google_Art_Project (1)

John Singer Sargent, “Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose”

 

Dance

with flowers in your hair,

carnation, lily, lily, rose,

hear their secret voices

rising in the air—

carnation, lily, lily, rose.

 

Breathe

perfume on a summer breeze,

carnation, lily, lily, rose

listen to the song of sky and trees,

carnation, lily, lily, rose.

 

And if your heart is seeking why or after—

remember here, the children’s laughter

a sudden memory that dazzling blows–

of carnation, lily, lily, rose.

 

This language of flowers, your soul comprehends–

the joy, the ghosts, the beginnings, the ends.

 

Today’s prompt for Day 11 of NaPoWriMo asks us to consider the language of flowers, which led me to Sargent’s painting. I also consulted the Magnetic Poetry Oracle  becuase I knew she would have something to say about this subject. The form of this poem seems sort of nineteenth-century Romantic.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

April Wind: NaPoWriMo2020, Day 10

 

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Blowin’ in the Wind

 

The wind moans, a dissonant ghost

Ooooo it sighs, as it drifts through trees

and shifts down streets, then with a boast–

I travel wide, cross land and seas

in gusty gales and gentle breeze–

let birds soar high and then take wing,

flying on currents, singing of spring.

 

It’s cold and windy here today. We even had some snow flurries. Yesterday and the day before we had thunderstorms.

I’m off prompt for Day 10 of NaPoWriMo,but on prompt for Frank’s 7-line poem prompt at dVerse. I’ve done the rhyme scheme for a Chaucerian stanza, but I’m not sure that I got the meter right.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Gleam in the Gloom: NaPoWriMo2020, Day 7

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I walk down streets marked No Outlet

wondering if I could find a way, to flit

or flee, like Alice underground

 

but I’m afraid of falling, rolling

into a hungry black hole,

consumer of light—and all–

 

though light beams through night

and clouds and cracks, the sight

we see glimmers from the past–

 

no less wondrous if unseen–

the black hole, or a tree, I mean

here, the flowers bloom,

 

and birds sing

in their secret language of spring,

of greening feathered flight,

 

and the sun flirts with treetops,

but no one kisses on Main Street, that’s stopped,

and there’s no rock and rolling,

 

as masked like bandit queens and kings

in solitary kingdoms, with empty swings–

the children inside–

 

we walk steadfast apart

with trembling hearts

still able to feel

 

steel yourself, no stumbling into a hole,

so, we comfort and console

as the birds sing and flowers bloom

 

and we sit in our rooms

connected with Zoom—

finding there’s an outlet after all,

 

a gleam through the gloom.

 

I’ve combined two prompts. The NaPoWriMo Day 7 prompt asked us to write a poem based on a news story. I wrote about “the hungry black hole.” At dVerse, Björn asked us “to take inspiration from the words like plague, pestilence, and pandemic, and write a poem to console us in this time of the Corona.”