Ghosts of Guilt, NaPoWriMo, Day 30

Monday Morning Musings:

“Not only are selves conditional but they die. Each day, we wake slightly altered, and the person we were yesterday is dead.”

–John Updike, quoted here.

“Monsters are real. Ghosts are too. They live inside of us, and sometimes, they win.”

–Stephen King, The Shining

 

There are ghosts we see—or don’t

invoke, as though if left uncalled for

we’ll not provoke

those of the past,

who vanish–or won’t

go gentle into that good night,

the ghosts of guilt,

may waft or wilt

drift silently,

(seen just from the corner of your eye,

fly by)

but whether unexplainable

or declaimed

they are us

and soon, we’ll be them.

 

We see two movies,

walk in between,

to see the vibrant glow of spring.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The first film set in Hungary in 1945,

a small town that seems not war-torn,

some have even thrived.

The town clerk owns a well-stocked drugstore,

more–he lives with his family in a large town house.

Others have also gained homes and wealth

obtained by stealth,

though it’s all legal, they explain

(show the papers,

for goods and property

no one left to claim).

But they are haunted by their complicity

no joy at an upcoming wedding,

where there should be felicity

secrets begin to seep—

they’re all around–

Look! Two Jews in town.

What do they want, these nearly silent men?

As they walk behind the cart,

like mourners to a grave site.

Dark, somber,

(the film shot in black and white)

Here, it’s always “God Bless,”

and the brandy seems ever handy.

There’s a Hungarian saying about this brandy–

“Palinka in small amounts is a medicine,

in large amounts a remedy.”

But there’s no remedy for what they’ve done.

What have they lost, and what have they won?

The Germans are out, the Russians are in–

A new dawn

when the Jews are gone?

But these two, why are they here,

and what is it the town folk fear?

Dark smoke billows from the train,

sun-filled day fills with thunder and rain.

The monsters are real. The ghosts are too.

They are us, and we are them.

 

We walk and chat

about the movie, this and that–

the susurration of sparrows,

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

the murmurings of spring

though the ghost of winter, touches

with icy fingers clings

as we turn from sun to shadow

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

whispers–

you can’t flee me forever,

I’ll return in November or December,

when seeds then huddle underground,

sharing the cold comfort of the dead.

But now is for the living instead,

in blooms of green and pink and yellow and white

glowing, vibrant in the light.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We walk, seeing weddings and brides in white

smiling groups, life in color and in light.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We see a second film,

this one with ghosts up front

that an investigator will confront.

He’s a skeptic, he doesn’t believe,

but perhaps there are events he also grieves

There are scenes that makes us jump–

doors that rattle, and things that bump,

demons that are locked away,

but are released,

perhaps, to stay.

Three cases become woven together–

Will there be a happily ever after?

(Cue the nervous laughter).

 

We walk some more,

The Signer stands tall

The Signer,
Philadelphia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

through many seasons–

he’s seen them all—

and thus,

though he represents freedom

he’s surrounded by ghosts

who flit over cobblestones,

manning their posts,

due diligence, remember the past—

remember us.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My cat wakes me from a dream—

a ghost tells a character in a play

(stories within stories within my dream, it seems)

“we mourn the dead, but we move on.”

They are us,

and we are them.

Life moves on–

we begin again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The final NaPoWriMo prompt asks us to “write a poem that engages with a strange and fascinating fact.” Well, I included some facts. They may or may not be strange or fascinating. For more on “odd facts” about Hungary, see here. And here is more on the Holocaust in Hungary  The Signer statue is in Philadelphia’s Old City.

We saw the movies 1945 and Ghost Stories.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Everything is Made of Magic

Monday Morning Musings:

“The universe is full of magical things patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper.”

–Eden Phillpotts (often incorrectly attributed to W.B. Yeats, according to Quote Investigator)

“Everything is made out of Magic, leaves and trees, flowers and birds, badgers and foxes and squirrels and people. So it must be all around us. In this garden–in all the places. “

–Frances Hodgson Burnett, The Secret Garden

 

In dreams I flit through walls,

through time and space

dream worlds,

where things are and are not what they seem

full of wonders taken as ordinary

magical and real

 

We go on an outing to see an exhibition,

wander through a gallery on Pennsylvania Impressionism

then on to see Magical and Real.

Henriette Wyeth painted family and flowers,

She survived polio that weakened her right arm,

learned to draw with her left hand,

and paint with her right.

She lied about her age to enter the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts

before she was sixteen.

A self-portrait hangs on the wall between two paintings

the main men of her life–

N.C.Wyeth, her father, posed before one of his landscapes

her husband, Peter Hurd,

in front of one of his western landscapes–

father, husband

east and west,

conflicts and tensions in her life and art.

Before marriage the couple had separated–

she feared that marriage would be the end of her artistic career,

he assured it would not,

she also feared being separated from her family.

During their separation,

she turned to fantasy

painting ghostly figures,

a dead girl,

and three women picnicking under the moon.

(And the story of how that painting was rediscovered

and restored is a bit of magic, too.)

The couple reunited and married,

and eventually, unexpectedly,

Wyeth found beauty in the stark landscapes of the west

and in the people who lived and worked there

She paints a final portrait of her husband,

before his mind succumbs to Alzheimer’s

he  is still ruggedly handsome, distinguished,

He had painted pilots, western landscapes,

advertisements, magazine covers, and presidential portraits

and was better-known that she was,

as her Chaddsford studio went to her brother Andrew

who became the better known Wyeth.

Yet she may have been more talented than brother or husband,

she was an artist,

magical and real

 

Over time,

a jail becomes a museum

Michener Museum jail doors looking out to Fonthill Castle

 

beside it, a public library

Do the ghosts of the inmates wander there,

through galleries where once there were cells?

A place where bodies were imprisoned

becomes a place where minds are freed

to imagine and express themselves,

another man builds a castle filled with tiles,

crazy whimsy?

glorious fantasy?

 

 

It all flows together like time and space,

sometimes crashing

birthing stars,

ending worlds

But in this world,

we create magic

in art, music, poetry, literature, theater–

real buildings

filled with magic

 

Artists come and go,

but their works live on

feelings put on canvas

carved in bronze, marble, plastic, steel

brush strokes that echo–

Can’t you feel the wind?

Hear the child laugh?

Feel the sea and taste the salt in the air?

Art–

magical and real

 

And our shadows

real and magical

stand side by side

us, but not us,

I see flowers blooming in the snow–

time flowing, circling–

everything is made of magic,

magical and real

 

 

We went to the Michener Art Museum, in Doylestown, PA.

The exhibition was Magical and Real: Henriette Wyeth and Peter Hurd, A Retrospective.

I took some photos, but then I wasn’t certain I was allowed to, so I’m not posting them.

There are also some photos of the paintings in this article.

 

The Visitor: Quadrille

 

Under the midnight moon

creatures shuffle, scurry,

slither in a flurry

from the shadowed form.

A sharp cry, silence punched

by dead leaves crunched

under booted foot

stepping through the old back door

over creaking floor,

the Visitor walks in–

smiles his malignant grin.

 

 

I used two dVerse prompts.  De Jackson (aka WhimsyGizmo) asked us to write a quadrille using the word “crunch.” Lillian asked us to write a poem using a form of the word, “visit.” Sorry, this wasn’t exactly a holiday-themed poem.  I should probably stop reading the news.

 

 

 

 

Secrets and Shadows: Musings and Shadorma

Monday Morning Musings:

“Secrets, silent, stony sit in the dark palaces of both our hearts: secrets weary of their tyranny: tyrants willing to be dethroned.”

James Joyce, Ulysses

“It’s a triumph of art and friendship over time. And it’s also very important, I think, to hang on to the things that mean something to you. And they transcend time.”

–Judy Collins, “Love, Friendship and Music: Stephen Stills and Judy Collins Collaborate on New Album,” All Things Considered with Michele Martin, November 11, 2017

“There is regret, almost remorse,
For Time long past.
‘Tis like a child’s belovèd corse
A father watches, till at last
Beauty is like remembrance, cast
From Time long past.”

–Percy Bysshe Shelley, “Time Long Past”

 

Secret lives

buried deep in walls

or within

chambered hearts,

echoing the beats, flowing,

waiting for release

 

The garage

old, unstable, and so

down it comes

over the years

it’s housed tools and junk,

a chipmunk or two, amidst the rakes

perhaps a snake.

We were told the wall at the back

was bumped out a bit to fit

a Model T–

But honestly, I don’t know,

and it’s all so long ago.

The roof was shingled many times

and covered with leaves, pollen, and snow

beside it children have played,

and a wandering doe has grazed.

The yard is littered

adorned with its pieces–

fragments of a secret life

forlorn in autumn’s fading light,

a building built to last,

but now

shadows cast, from time long past.

 

The weather now has turned much colder

as the year journeys to its end,

no more harkening back, it seems to say

though time winds round again

through falling leaves and winter snow

to springtime bud and summer flowers,

and in the buildings here on city streets

there’s blending of the old and new

where cobblestones meet asphalt streets

and on concrete pavements,

shadows cast, from time long past

We see a musical about phone sex and love

set in the 1990s,

just before

(it opens a door)

the Internet really became a thing

and here a young man and woman

don golden chastity rings,

and vow to remain chaste till wed.

But now with their upcoming marriage,

they realize they do not really know each other.

They learn in song

(Well, it’s a musical, so we go along.)

we all have secrets lives and secret selves–

shadows cast, from time long past

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It’s a funny, enjoyable show

a quirky romantic comedy

if not profound

it covers some familiar ground,

but still we talk of how it’s set

in a changing time.

a time now past

when our children were young.

And as day becomes night,

in autumn’s fading light

We see a bride and groom

and should we assume

they have lives kept private and

shadows cast, from time long past?

IMG_7374

In the car, we listen to NPR

hear an interview with Judy Collins and Stephen Stills,

old lovers, now still friends,

hanging on to important things

and illustrated with their songs

throughout time

things that last,

shadows cast, from time long past.

 

I think of my mom and dad

meeting in time long before technology

of cell phones and Internet

and they connected,

once they were young and in love

then they weren’t either

keeping secrets from each other

yet still, I think the love was always there

and she to him said a final goodbye

the night before he died

shadows cast over time, long past

 

We take my mom to a winery–

“Cross a wine tasting off your bucket list,”

I say.

IMG_7387

Here we can sit at a table

order our selections

of white and red

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served with cheese and bread

and the atmosphere is convivial,

the conversation, mostly trivial,

but as we move to pizza and more wine,

we’re feeling pretty fine,

we talk of Thanksgiving

and of ancestry

I tell her about my poetry,

she tells me things she remembers–

sitting in her grandfather’s lap

though she doesn’t remember much about him,

and after that he died,

from an injury to his skull,

difficult times from them all

immigrants from another land

speaking a language I don’t understand,

I learned there was a baby brother born

after her mother and her aunts

he died young, seldom spoken of.

In the conversation here

ghosts of ancestors now appear–

shadow cast, of time long past

 

Then to home

the weekend ended,

secrets shared

journeys taken,

sunshine and shadows, blended,

cast in a circle

 

through time and

space our souls wander

sharing love

fearing death

casting shadows of time past

long ago and now

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We saw TouchTones at the Arden Theatre. We went to Auburn Road Vineyard.

I’ve begun and ended my musing with Shadorma for my somewhat sporadic participation in Eliot of Along the Interstice’s November Shadorma Challenge.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shadows of the Almost-There: Yeats Challenge, Day 2

A late second day of Jane Dougherty’s Yeats Challenge. I probably won’t be doing every day, but I do  love these quotations. Here is today’s:

“… the dark folk who live in souls
Of passionate men, like bats in the dead trees;” —W.B. Yeats

For this second Yeats’ challenge, I’ve used Jane’s poetic form, but added a rhyme and borrowed her regret. I seem stuck on shadows lately.

 

In the darkening of the day

spirits linger, not far away

in the shadow of almost-there

joy and despair

 

Beyond the trees, perhaps within

the tortured souls, the denizens

like bats they wait for dark of night

fearing the light

 

Perhaps you wonder who they be

perhaps they’re you, perhaps they’re me

within our passion, dwells the dark

a drop, a spark

 

of evil lurks within, we hold

good, but some are poisoned and fold,

lured by passion, fear, doubt, and hate

goodness in their souls, they negate–

regret too late

Shadows: November Shadorma Challenge, 1 and 2

Eliot of Along the Interstice is doing a November Shadorma Challenge.  You can read about it here.

“The Shadorma is a Spanish poetic form made up of a stanza of six lines. (sestet) with no set rhyme scheme. It is a syllabic poem with a meter of 3/5/3/3/7/5. It can have many stanzas, as long as each follows the meter.”

Here is my Day 1, inspired by a fortune cookie, and Day 2, a bit of fun inspired by the foggy morning.

 

Light shining

through the shadowed world,

glimmering

battling fears

luminous rills, glowing streams

where hope ever grows

 

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Misty morn

where night creatures lurk

shadowy

half-seen. Blink

and they will be gone—but no,

watch, they linger still.

 

 

 

 

 

Storm Music

I’m awakened by the rain hitting the window, the barker for the upcoming show. Step right up, folks! This one’s a dazzler of light and sound. The lightning takes center stage as it illuminates the sky, followed by the chorus of thundering kettle drums. One cat leaps off the bed; the other snuggles closer to my side. My husband sleeps, but I’m held captive, an unwitting, unwilling audience for this production. Do hours pass, or does it just seem that way? The endless percussion, the strobing encores? The fortissimo storm music finally ends, drifting off, pianissimo, until it’s gone. I dream then of shadows and golden light, of distant seas and far off worlds, until at last, the sun rises, waking me again, with a gentle song.

whirling midnight storms

shadows flit through worlds and minds

in dawn’s light, vanish

 

 

 

Embed from Getty Images

 

This Haibun is for Colleen Chesebro’s Weekly Poetry Challenge.

The prompt words were shadow and light.

I’m also linking to dVerse, where Gayle is hosting an open link night.

 

 

Garden Shadows

Monday Morning Musings:

“’I am half sick of shadows,’ said

The Lady of Shalott”

Alfred, Lord Tennyson, “The Lady of Shalott”

 

“We’re neither pure, nor wise, nor good

We’ll do the best we know,

We’ll build our house and chop our wood

And make our garden grow. . .

And our garden grow.”

From Leonard Bernstein, “Make Our Garden Grow,” Candide

 

 

All week the sun plays hide and seek

perhaps preparing for the eclipse

my soul also wanders

in and out of shadows

I think about life

blooming in the late summer plants about me

at a make-your-own-terrarium night,

 

 

we each make one,

the open kind—succulents–

though the closed kind would be more interesting to me–

and less so to the cats–

I think,

as we drink wine

and visit with our friends’ daughter who had also showed up

(Surprise!)

I wonder how long our plants will live,

we, who are good at bringing up children and cats,

are not so adept at raising plants,

though the weeds seem to thrive,

still we put them in the sun

(but where there is sun, there are shadows)

and try to make our garden grow

 

As the sun plays in the August sky,

we go to the movies

(shadows turn to light and life upon a screen)

the film is about life and death

and making choices

telling the truth

confronting traditions

rejecting what does not work for you

embracing differences

seeing people as people,

not as members of different groups,

it’s kind of a comedy

and a romance

the comedy of life

the tragedies

funny family dinners

love

and a coma,

existence in a shadow world,

while life goes on about you

 

Afterwards, we sit upstairs

in an open-air part of a restaurant

flowers planted, blooming in boxes outside the railing

and street performers serenade us from below

it’s noisy,

but, hey, summer in the city

a beautiful evening

we watch buses and tourists below us

and pedicycle drinking groups,

laughing and singing

we eat tater tots and pizza

because it’s that kind of night

summertime

and we’re not at war yet,

we walk around

Do these creatures protect the house?

 

just a bit

because there’s work to be done

and an early day tomorrow

the shadows deepen

 

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The sun dances through clouds

casting shadows large and small

on the eighth, Barbara Cook and Glen Campbell both die

glorious soprano and beautiful tenor

perhaps they sing duets in some other world

(do gardens grow there?)

the next day is the anniversary of my father’s birth

he would have been ninety-eight this week

and I think of my mother,

who will soon turn ninety-five

the seasons turning, sun and shadows

Auburn Road Vineyard

The sun comes and goes

hiding

seeking

gone for a woman in Charlottesville

gone for her family

gone for people killed in mosques and churches

gone for women taken as spoils of war

call evil by its name

the darkness of the soul

never brightened by the sun

hidden beneath shadows

 

I watch the sun rise and set

watch the shadows lengthen

as summer turns to fall

I hold on

seeking light

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giving it to the terrarium plants

because they are still holding on, too

despite all odds

we’ve made our gardens grow

 

I wrote about my father here.

We went to Plant Nite at Auburn Road Vineyards.

We saw The Big Sick, official trailer here. We ate at Revolution House.

You can hear Barbara Cook in “Make Our Garden Grow” the original Broadway cast recording of Candide.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Books Left Behind

Old_book_gathering

By Remi Mathis (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

“When she came to write her story, she would wonder when the books and the words started to mean not just something, but everything.”

–Markus Zusak, The Book Thief

 

I am haunted by ghosts I have not seen

Some departed quickly, others not fast enough

They left the things they could not carry

They left the past behind

 

Some departed quickly, others not fast enough

They lost their loved ones, and in flame, their desires were castaway

They left the past behind

Scarred by war, they traveled far from home

 

They lost loved ones, and in flame, their desires were castaway

Stories written in many voices, stories left unread

Scarred by war, they traveled far from home

Journeying to unknown futures and uncertain fates

 

Stories written in many voices, stories left unread

I hear them calling to me

Journeying to unknown futures and uncertain fates

They shout and cry, do not forget

 

I hear them calling to me

The cast-off shoes, the abandoned books, the photos

They shout and cry, do not forget

These spirits of the past

 

The cast-off shoes, the abandoned books, the photos

Objects of the departed

These spirits of the past

The echoes of destruction, the abandonment of hope

 

Objects of the departed

Held here by shadows and memories

The echoes of destruction, the abandonment of hope

I am haunted by ghosts I have not seen

 

Never forget

 

I was inspired by this article about a Czech schoolhouse still filled with the books of Jewish families forced to leave in 1942—most of them killed in Auschwitz. Holocaust Remembrance Day (Yom HaShoah) was May 5.  I thought of the rise in hate crimes, genocide, and all of the refugees who now are forced to leave their homes because of war and hate. Then I read this story about Syrian refugees in Canada who are helping the people who have had to evacuate their homes because of the massive fires in Alberta, and I realize that there are still good people and people who believe in doing good.

©Merril D. Smith, 2016

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Long Walk

NOR Måneskinn, ENG Moonlight

Jane Dougherty’s challenge this week was to write a poem using this painting as a prompt and some or all of these words:

winding – moonlight – follow – heavily – path

 

She stood in the moonlight

sensing his presence behind her

waiting did not bother him

he was patient

as was she

knowing, but not yet ready,

not quite ready to follow him.

He stood still, behind her

a shadow image

hovering

not unkind

simply there.

Then it was time.

Death took her hand,

and they walked together

through the moonlight

down the winding path