Listen, see if my tongue speaks the language you want to hear– there’s a storm coming, you can feel it in the air–
the blossoms murmur watch for the blue of after, this is the secret told in vine rustles, gentle then wild.
They love each breath, each river bend—these birds, these ghosts, carry song from gardens on dawn winds, the buzz of awakened bees, falling words falling worlds reborn
My message from the Oracle. There’s a lot going on in the world. Good luck to all who are marching and fighting for freedom here, in Ukraine, and throughout the world. I’ve had a busy week and a busy weekend, but I’ve just finished some work, so I will still try to catch up with reading posts over the weekend.
“If war has an opposite, gardens might sometimes be it” Rebecca Solnit, Orwell’s Roses
“Arise, women!” . . . “Say firmly: ‘We will not have great questions decided by irrelevant agencies. Our husbands shall not come to us, reeking with carnage, for caresses and applause. Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn all that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience. We, women of one country, will be too tender of those of another country, to allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs.’” –Julia Ward Howe (quoted in Heather Cox Richardson, Letters from an American, May 7, 2022)
Extreme– four seasons wander through a week, and clocks strike thirteen, people will die
death comes, we say of all things bright and beautiful yes, the daffodils gone—but reborn again in the spring, reawakened
to minority rule we must rise, not as flowers, but trees with ancient wisdom and roots that delve deep to whisper underground in mycelium connections
to grow with desire, yes, like flowers, too, with perseverance,
in freedom and love
the birds sing and soar. Resist the woman calls with a strum on her guitar,
music the gift of moon and stars— we echo, yet–
now, elaborate on how peace reigns in the garden, though they are always full of ghosts— blooms arise from decay, and time veers on hidden paths to circle back–
I see my mom backlit by flowers, sitting there as she did once–and still does in my dreams. She smiles.
We’ve had cool weather, warm weather, dry weather, and rainy weather this week. We went from walking in t-shirts to turning the heat back on and bundling up in fleece. Meanwhile, here in the US, the extremists are taking over. They are not conservatives; they are not the party of Lincoln; they are right-wing reactionaries and fanatics who want to set up an authoritarian state.
Yesterday was Mother’s Day, and I thought of how my mother helped the war effort during WWII, as the US fought (eventually) against the fascists. And then later, the progress that was made for human rights in her lifetime–that the fanatics who now control the Republican party are stripping away. Meanwhile, war continues in Ukraine . . .
Stepping down from the soapbox, I did have a lovely Mother’s Day with our daughter and her husband. She put together this beautiful brunch of nibbles and home-made bagels. Our older child and their wife sent a gift and called to say, “I love you.”
We saw Janis Ian in concert this week, her final North American Tour. It was a wonderful concert, and also a beautiful evening, so we took a walk in Collingswood, NJ before the concert. Here’s a link to “Resist.”
My dream poem begins Between a sonnet and an ode, I can’t remember the rest, it’s vanished in the universe of my mind, a star to black hole or a comet to return with a blazing tail— but me without the telescope to see within
this galaxy of thoughts, my past, the fragments hurled through time, and filtered through the space debris of memory.
I’m left trying to determine what I meant, a borderland of form and matter, formal structure and rhymed connections, an abab skip to u– the meter set by moon rise and the rhythm by dawn choir.
I could sing the praises of a leaf of grass, the beauty of the vulture’s glide,
the river tides, or the scent of spring rain rising
the volta of each season, expressed in a grand reveal, or a subtle exposition
unexpected, yet familiar, everything
may change in a flash light to darkness to light— while we dream, whether we remember . . . or not.
Movies, Books, This and That:
Good morning! A couple of nights ago, I dreamt an entire poem, and “Between a sonnet and an ode” was really the beginning.
April was quite a month of poetry, wasn’t it? Even though we still seem to alternate warm and cold days, the flowers say it’s now May, as do the goslings, and rabbits.
We fortified ourselves with bruschetta and roasted asparagus from a local farm stand to begin watching the final episodes of Ozark (Season 4, part 2). We watched two episodes—it’s intense, but no spoilers!
We had Chinese food and watched a Chinese movie (of course). 😏 Here is one that most likely few of my readers have seen,Gone with the Light. You’re welcome. The plot will sound familiar—there’s a flash of light and some people all over the world vanish. Trust me, that the movie becomes something quite different, a meditation on love. I enjoyed it very much.
I’m reading A Woman of Intelligence by Karin Tanabe. I just couldn’t quite finish it last night, but I’m really enjoying this novel of a woman who feels trapped in her life as a housewife in 1950s NYC after working as a translator at the newly created UN. One day she agrees to become an FBI informant, also becoming involved in Cold War spying—and feeling more alive than she’s felt in a long time.
“It’s about how invisible things circulate within a couple.” –Tony (Tim Roth) in “Bergman Island”
Here, the colors are over-the-rainbow bright, and there are choices to be made with tea— blueberry jam or orange marmalade?
It’s a dreamworld, but real as any other while I’m there, a few pounds of matter can hold imagined universes–
I walk with ghosts on Fårö the director a presence there even after his death, and invisible things drift between married couples, like jellyfish in the ocean, growing in the midnight sun.
Or–perhaps I am in Ukraine, the family’s cherry orchard soon to be auctioned off, revolutions looming— conflicts appeased by volleyball, or perhaps we are the ball endlessly lobbed over and into, finding a place just out of bounds.
I could be at a Cape Cod cottage swimming in the cold pond water early in the morning, a lifetime lived over in a day–
time, space, places existing always or never,
a morning moon that fades in day,
a bird in flight–to beyond.
The truth and magic of physics words may hang in the air, but a bomb must fall,
and we jump once— and over and over, remembering a moment passed,
a split-second when everything changes, or doesn’t.
Movies, Plays, Books, This and That:
I woke up from a dream this morning where I was in this place with such bright colors, like a Technicolor musical.
On Saturday, I participated in “There’s a Poem in this Place: Poets in the Blogosphere.” It was a wonderful experience, and I was honored to be included amongst such brilliant poets. I will share the video when it becomes available. I realized how important place is in the recent things I’ve watched and read. And how, sitting in a house in New Jersey, or in a theater in Philadelphia, we can be transported somewhere else. (Not an original thought, I know, but still . .) And artists, poets, writers of all types, musicians—all continue to create in war zones or in repressive societies, sometimes bearing witness to what is going on around them, and sometime imagining a better or different world.
I celebrated the poetry month event and the end of Passover with wine and pizza, and we watched the movie Bergman Island.It’s a Merril movie, involving a movie within a movie: “Two American filmmakers retreat to Fårö island for the summer and hope to find inspiration where Bergman shot his most celebrated films. As the days pass by, the lines between fantasy and reality begin to blur, and the couple is torn apart.” I like it more and more as I think about it. It’ one I’d like to watch again, as I was kind of tired.
We saw The Cherry Orchard at the Wilma Theater in Philadelphia, a pre-theater walk first, and wine and cheese at Tria afterward. An unusual production with slapstick humor, lines referencing contemporary pop culture, and yes, a volleyball game. A railway flipboard is a character who answers the characters’ questions. I haven’t yet decided if I liked it, but it was certainly interesting. The Russian director, Dmitry Krymov, who came here to direct the play just before the invasion of Ukraine, is now living in exile.
I read The Paper Palace: A Novel by Miranda Cowley Heller that takes place in both one day at a summer beach cottage and also through the course of a woman’s life, exploring love, secrets, and relationships. We’re also watching Picard—Season 2 is much better than Season 1, and there is time travel and Q!
If you’ve read this far: I’ve added a River Ghosts page to my Website with information and links.
I dream of birds, of red-winged blackbirds chirping against a peacock-blue sky, of dusky crows on slate-grey rocks, gazing as the river’s azure ribbon flows— what does it know?
My dreams are the colors of portend and possibility, breadcrumb paths from my subconscious for me to follow and taste. I toss Cheerios to the crow, essential elements that dissolve on the tongue like thoughts, like dreams I hold them fast, I let them go.
I’ve had a couple dreams about crows lately, and other morning I wrote the last couple stanzas of this poem while I was waking and still in bed. After I wrote it, I thought of the Langston Hughes poem, and then I went back and wrote the beginning of the poem.
Overnight we had a frost advisory, but then on Wednesday and Thursday we’re going to have summer-like weather. That will be the end of the daffodils.
Merril’s Movie, TV, Book Club: This week we watched Apollo 10 ½ (Netflix). It was enjoyable–a sweetly, nostalgic fantasy for people who grew up in the 1960s. However, I LOVED The Worst Person in the World. It was Norway’s entry for the Academy Awards, and it is on several best movie of the year for 2021 lists (including Barack Obama’s). So, it’s a definite Merril movie—if you’re looking for popular, action films, this isn’t it. It was worth seeing simply for Renate Reinsve’s peformance. She was wonderful as Julie, a young woman who is trying to find herself. I’ve seen it described as a sort of anti-rom-com, in that there is romance, but. . .
Also—my first poetry collection, River Ghosts, published by Nightingale and Sparrow Press, is out in the world! I don’t have a copy yet, but you can get yours here. Or available soon here.
Gather clouds of every size, shape, and hue— to hold your thoughts and feelings, connect the dots from grey to blue.
Notice how they hold the light, then let it go— now taste the honeyed glow that pours on newborn leaves. You need these things.
Inhale the scent of petrichor, sprouting green in squelching mud. Believe in spring.
Hear the robin trill, pre-dawn cri de coeur, then listen as the mockingbird sings every part–such art!—into your symphonic poem pour some woodpecker drumming. The morning moon humming. Crow wisdom, a spoken role flung from river to tree. Include the call and response. Repeat. You’ll see.
You need to add a bit of rhyme with bowers of flowers– scatter the petals here and there, a few hours spent to sweet-scent words gone sour. Season and flavor. Savor.
For the final couplet, fill readers with awe— show them bird-winged magic and soaring arches in the sky. Let your words fly.
I was inspired by today’s NaPoWriMo prompt to write a poem prompt. I try not to post more than once a day because I know it gets annoying—but sometimes it happens. This is poetry month, and there is a lot going on. I apologize in advance if I clog up your in-box, but I may have some VERY special announcements, too. 😏
“To be a Flower, is profound Responsibility —” –Emily Dickinson, Bloom
Bulbs like hidden secrets wake in yellow, purple, and pink, they celebrate and wink, just so
the prideful robin sings a-wing with red-breasted élan to make Ceres smile and nod from her abiding place–she knows mutability is a constant, time fast or slow
circles around, blood-moon nourished, mothers and daughters with planted wombs or fallow, carry on carrying on waiting for a sprout, a sprig, a blink of life to flow—they sow–
Now a brave woman curses soldiers with seeds— never shirking their responsibility, on your graves sunflowers will thrive and grow!
Tomorrow is the start of poetry month. I’ve signed up for NaPoWriMo, but I will probably not post the poems I write to those prompts because I’m also participating in Paul Brookes’ April Ekphrastic Challenge again, and I will be posting those poems each day.
Today there is an early-bird prompt for NaPoWriMo to use inspiration from Emily Dickinson. I had already used one of the suggested lines recently for a Monday Morning Musings post, so I’ve taken a bit of that post and revised it to share, though still rough, for NaPoWriMo and dVerse Open Link Night.
“but wait, Uncle Vanya, wait! We shall rest. We shall rest. We shall rest.” –Anton Chekov, Uncle Vanya
Outside, it’s wind-swept, then calm, heron-grey till blue returns, and sunshine wakes the laughing daffodils to play. Outside all is contrary—
we know the ending, but how will the middle go? Bombs drop, ice-shelves crash, pandemic freefall– isolated branches forget their roots, yet grow.
Inside, we drive with Uncle Vanya—hear her voice, then his, rehearsals for life through Hiroshima streets, the play’s the thing– but connections
through time and people signing with love, humor, and song. It is language, all the languages—words, faces, hands. The beauty of them all— the text, feelings, love, and sadness
buds and blooms again. Outside birds soar and find mates, we hear dawn choirs begin amidst the carnage and despair, yellow waves across blue
again and again. Inside and outside remind us that life goes on—a dance through time, variations on a theme, singing with rhythm–
Vulture Aerial Ballet
signs of creation. We are the product of stars replicating their wonder and extinguishing light with big bangs—love, joy, sorrow, death
–and then we rest.
I watched this goose running and chasing after other geese. Crazy with love perhaps.
This is a wayra chain–5-7-7-6-8 syllables per stanza. March continues its craziness. The warm weather brought lots of blooming, but now it’s cold again. My husband saw snow flurries yesterday, and we might get more today. Later in the week it’s supposed to get unseasonably warm with thunderstorms. . .and still there’s war in Ukraine, Covid, and a huge ice shelf broke off in the Antarctic. Still, the birds sing and flowers grow.
Merril’s Movie Club: We caught up with some of the movies up for Academy Awards last night. I didn’t watch the awards ceremony. We’ve seen 7 of the 10 that were nominated for best picture, plus 3 of the International Feature Films, including the winner, Drive My Car. (We may watch The Worst Person in the World next weekend.) And we’ve also seen The Lost Daughter,Parallel Mothers, and Flee–all excellent. This week we watched: Drive My Car,Coda, and West Side Story.
Drive My Car was my favorite. I was hooked from the beginning, and I just keep thinking about it. Like Coda, it also features signing—Korean Sign Language—as one of the actors in a multi-language production of Uncle Vanya communicates through it. The movie has so many levels—and languages. It’s about connections and language, love, and loss. Much of it takes place as an actor-director drives or is driven in his beloved red Saab listening to his wife’s voice reading Uncle Vanya with pauses for him to say his lines. The movie is three hours, which along with subtitles, will probably keep many people from seeing it. As for me, I want to see it again. Trailer here
Coda was very good—loud out loud funny in parts, sweet, sad, and poignant, even if it was a bit predictable. It’s a definite crowd-pleaser. Troy Kotsur, who plays the deaf father of a young woman who can hear and wants to follow her dream to sing, won a well-deserved Best Supporting Actor award. Coda won Best Picture. Trailer here
West Side Story—was very enjoyable, and I liked it a lot. My sister and I used to listen to the album (an actual record on a turntable), and throughout the years I’ve seen the movie many times, as well as stage productions (including the worst ever production when I was in college), so I know all the songs. I don’t know that all the changes were necessary, but I suppose if you’re going to remake a classic, then you should make it your own, as Spielberg has done. Tony Kushner updated the book, and the cinematography and the literal dancing in the streets brought a better sense of New York City and the changes it was undergoing in the 1950s. I liked that there was a native Spanish-speaking cast for the Puerto Ricans, and that they spoke without subtitles. And of course, there was no horrible make-up, as in the original. Ariana DeBose, who played Anita, was a standout for me, and she won the Best Supporting Actress Award. Rita Moreno won the same award as Anita in the original 1961 film.