On the Fringe

Monday Morning Musings:

“The fringed curtains of thine eye advance, And say what thou seest yond.”

–William Shakespeare, The Tempest

“We all move on the fringes of eternity and are sometimes granted vistas through fabric of illusion.”

–Ansel Adams, Ansel Adams: An Autobiography

Once a star devoured a universe

long haunted by dark clouds

then breathed to wake a new one

 

~with laughing kisses~

 

we awoke

though we hadn’t known we slept

or how close we’d been to the edge

 

~of time, an illusion~

 

that we cherished then

but now the blue horses prance

and caramel breezes drift from the sea

 

~carrying past and future~

 

through the window of time

and beyond. Remembering

what we forget, carrying our dreams.

***

Twenty-nine dead in thirteen hours

the headlines say, we

offer thoughts and prayers, and flowers

 

of blood bloom on streets and malls.

How tragic, we say

and go about our day

 

and the death bell tolls

again, and again

and we wonder when

 

it all will end.

When will we wake

and find a way to send

 

away the men who profit from hate–

who stoke the fear—

and say what people want to hear,

 

the lies that trip from poisoned tongues

and damage life, and old and young–

the fringe chorus becomes the loudest sung.

A macrocosm of death surrounds me,

but sheltered in my smaller world

I want to see, to flee, to be

 

What? I’m not sure,

though there is some allure

to buried heads when all around

 

is death and dying.

And we laughing, sighing, and crying

as my mother weakens

 

speaking clearly, or not–

each day different, caught

adrift, she smiles, sleeps

 

but keeps

on going. Through shallowing deeps

of ocean-mind

 

that flows in and out,

sweeping the beach to turn about

and leave treasures on the sand.

 

But fleeing this land

we visit friends,

who offer helping hands

 

and open hearts

to listen, as we talk

and we eat, then walk

 

on a summer night,

there’s music and friendship–

sometimes things are right,

sometimes there is light

in the darkness–

the stars twinkle diamond-bright

 

against the sapphire sea,

and the sun rises, and I see

promise in a day.

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We go on our way

to the fringe

and back, we see a play–

OK, perhaps we see six–

(One even had magic tricks)

in this blueberry town,

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we walk up and down

the streets, find food to eat,

and clap from our seats

 

for actors and singers

and our smiles linger

from some.

 

We avoid the tempest

from our seats inside,

on stories sail and ride.

But it’s fringe,

some need a tinge

more polish, perhaps.

 

We’ll see what happens

next year–

if, when, we’re here–

 

as time laps,

racing to the edge

of eternity, with no pledge

 

of what will be,

there on the fringe

of eternity.

 

On Saturday and Sunday we went to the New Jersey Fringe Festival in Hammonton, NJ, “The Blueberry Capital of the World.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Promises and Dreams

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In the dew-dappled dawn, promises fly,

rising up in murmurations, flowing

into space, tracing patterns in the sky

turning into misty clouds, then throwing

shadows back onto dreams. But then knowing

that the moon rises as the sun sets still

and the earth yet revolves–and will–and will

beyond our mortal lives. So, starlight gleams,

we watch it speckle bright the night—until

it seems, our dreams grow luminous streams.

 

I haven’t been around much lately at dVerse, and I’m sorry for being so behind in reading. I have a lot going on right now. This is my first attempt at a dizain, this month’s poetry form at dVerse.

 

 

 

 

 

Fleeting Impressions

Monday Morning Musings:

“Painted portraits have a life of their own that comes deep in the soul of the painter.”

–Vincent van Gogh, 1885

 

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Angels dance across the sky

kissing the grass with morning dew–

there, a door opens,

there, a door closes

ephemeral as a ghost.

Do you hear the belly laugh

emerging from the silence?

It is wild and warm,

life.

***

Impressions of a week,

moments stored, like snapshots

a truth we seek, we speak

 

of how my mom is weak

our lives tied-up in knots,

and the world is often bleak,

 

but we take a long walk

by fountains and statues,

we talk

51BAC5FB-E41B-40D6-A539-B0336653FA13

Swann Memorial Fountain, Logan Square, Philadelphia

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“Social Justice” Philadelphia Museum of Art, Association for Public Art

of family, admire brushstrokes and dots

in bathers, poplars, and fields–

impressions formed from all these spots.

I want to be in this scene

I say, and wonder what it’d be like—

I dream. . .

 

but we walk past the sycamore trees,

an urban oasis, cool in the summer heat

from the welcome breeze

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Rodin Museum, Philadelphia

in the garden, a rabbit darts

and bees flit, while birds sing

perhaps all patrons of the arts?

 

The Impressionists would enjoy

the gardens here, I think.

As we walk, I see a little boy

his shirt, says “Just Do It,”

and he looks eager to—

my impressions flit . . .

 

It’s a beautiful July day.

We drink wine, eat cheese,

wanting a moment to stay

 

here, in a bit of peace,

sitting, dreaming, a sidewalk café

(though the texts don’t cease)

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Tria, Washington West, Philadelphia

we drink wine and beer,

eat luscious cheese,

and find some cheer that we’re here.

Then a day with our daughter

(more wine and cheer)

she tells me how her father taught her

and her husband how to fix things.

and we talk of friends and dreams,

and how funny it is, the way life brings

 

us to these moments, and all the feelings—

love and tears, dogs, house, spouse—

the roller-coaster ride that sends us reeling

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and hallucinating. Yet we stop,

read a book, sit here

in a pleasant, tranquil spot. . .

 

Impressions, fleeting

they come together

completing

 

somehow, my life.

Impressions–look, see

forget the moments of strife—

 

there, the lucent moon sails high

her ship glowing

across the sapphire sky.

Morning Moon, June 2019, Merril D. Smith

 

. . .and there are cats.

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“Content with My Delusions,” I Wait

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Content With My Delusions, Jacqueline Hurlbert, 

Only I could see him,

my dark friend, slim

with rabbit ears

and glowing eyes—

so kind, so wise.

 

He comforted me

I spoke to him alone–see

no one else believed in him,

but friends we were and are–

and from me he never strayed far.

 

I gave him a gift, a striped shirt,

and he said, sorry, don’t be hurt–

but I’ve got to go away for now.

somehow, remember us, don’t fuss–

this is only a phase, it’s ever thus.

 

(Count the days. Discuss.)

 

Today is my ninetieth birthday,

and I think I feel his glowing gaze

from somewhere in the night.

He’s come for me, my old dark friend—

Hello, good-bye, this is my end.

 

(We begin again.)

 

Today on dVerse, Linda has asked us to write poems based on the work of artist Jackie Hurlbert.  Her Web site can be found here.

 

 

 

 

Reflections: Shadows and Light

Billy Penn Reflecting on Philadelphia--Merril D. Smith, May 2019

Monday Morning Musings:

“But it is only in epic tragedies that gloom is unrelieved. In real life tragedy and comedy are so intermingled that when one is most wretched ridiculous things happen to make one laugh in spite of oneself.”

–Georgette Heyer,  Civil Contract

“Here in the moving shadows

I catch my breath and sing–

My heart is fresh and fearless

And over-brimmed with spring.”
–from Sara Teasdale, “May Night”

 

Here the ghost eyes eternity

looking through a window

from the after

flying through fires of if

laughing at when

they embraced,

in heartbeats

measured time

****

My heart is over-brimmed

as my mother’s eyes fill

and weak are her limbs.

 

Days move from freezing rain

to summer heat

and I reel from pain

 

of seeing her so.

 

But nature and comedy

make me smile and laugh

and provide a remedy

both constant and temporary–

because life is full of

tragedy and joy, the extraordinary

 

and ordinary

of illness, broken cars, and trains delayed

–and the first strawberries

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of the season

the scent alone

a reason

 

to celebrate life

and being here

friends, family, husband, wife—

 

we go through shadows

seek light,

and who knows

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what will be, and if anything will be right

(the world sighs)

but there, the light

 

comes through the trees

and we drink coffee

savor moments, these

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small joys, please–

the walks and shadow shows

pizza, wine, dogs—these

 

simple pleasures bring

to our hearts even in winter

feelings of spring

 

(briefly in my mother’s eyes)

and comedy and tragedy both fly

dancing to the tune

of the moon’s lullaby.

Full Moon over Woodcrest Station

 

Thank you for all the good wishes for my mom. She has improved some from her stroke, and we were able to take her outside yesterday for a little while. We saw our son-in-law perform a stand-up routine at Helium Comedy Club in Philadelphia, and we saw Manual Cinema’s Ada/Ava at the Kimmel Center in Philadelphia. This is the second time we’ve seen one of their shows.  They’re hard to describe–but combine shadow puppets, actors, and live music to create something unique. If you get a chance, see them perform. There’s a video on this Kimmel Center link.

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Theory, This

Odilon_Redon_-_Der_Wagen_des_Apolls (1)

 

Once we thought

a golden chariot brought

the sun to move around the earth,

 

once we saw only what could be seen—

except the spirits in-between

here and there, birthed

 

in our imaginations,

as we created causation

to explain our earth.

 

Once, did dragons breath fire

until they were forced to retire?

Any theory can be brought forth

 

for haters and deniers,

but crisscross the wires,

spread kindness and mirth.

 

My theory this—

not to be dismissed

through rotations of the earth–

 

believe in facts, the real,

but sense earth’s magic, the ideal.

 

This poem is for my theory prompt on dVerse. Join us in poetic theorizing!

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?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Owl

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Caspar David Friedrich, “Owl on a Tree,” [Public domain] Wikipedia Commons

Gloaming—a hoot

and then she soars

 

silently, in pursuit

of prey, explores

 

the land–still unspoiled—

glides with serrated wings

 

over territory still unsoiled

by the sighs and zings

 

of manmade things

seeking oil or gold.

 

But tonight–

only silent wings in flight.

 

This is for dVerse where Lillian has asked us to write a quadrille using some form of the word “spoil.” She mentions movies, so I’ll say—and this is not a spoiler—that there is a prospector and an owl in one of the “chapters” in the movie The Ballad of Buster Scruggs.