Poetry in a Storm: Magnetic Poetry

 

 

Storm Clouds Rolling In, National Park, NJ

Above aches

a black storm,

a live delirious show,

the wind heaves sea spray,

and less frantic, sleeps

 

Screen Shot 2017-08-19 at 6.27.31 AM

 

Summer blossoms bright

after rain, vivid color

poetry grows wild

like love shining through the night,

rooted here, behold Eden

 

Screen Shot 2017-08-18 at 9.06.05 PM

Rainbow, National Park, NJ

Yesterday was such a weird day–work, political stuff,  and the world generally. Then late in the day, we watched the storm clouds roll in, followed by a weird golden sky–and a rainbow. I decided to consult the Oracle, who told it like it was, and even gave me a tanka.

 

© Merril D. Smith, 2017

Summer with a Fringe

Monday Morning Musings:

“August rain: the best of the summer gone, and the new fall not yet born. The odd uneven time.”

―Sylvia Plath, The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath

“Don’t you wish you’d go on forever

Don’t you wish you’d go on forever

Don’t you wish you’d go on forever

And you’d never stop?

In that shiny little surrey with the fringe on the top”

–from Oscar Hammerstein, “The Surrey With The Fringe on the Top,” Oklahoma!

 

“The poetry of earth is never dead’

–From John Keats,  “On the Grasshopper and Cricket”

 

When the universe asks,

fill it with music from the stars

sit in joy and laugh

so that flowers bloom in colorful bunches

dropping petals in charming disarray

like garments before a bath

weave clouds of language

into a rainbow of thought and desire

thank the sun

hum with the moon

***

In August, night storms rage

dazzling sleeping eyes awaken

then cloudy skies part

with freshly washed breezes

and summer sings a song

IMG_6477

In the heat and rain

fruit and vegetables grow and thrive

freshly picked,

they sit waiting at farm stands

bursting with flavor,

ripe juices flow in warm sweetness

filling my mouth with the taste of summer

and I hear its song

 

We go to a fringe festival

fringe–an ornamental border,

or something peripheral, extreme, edgy–

I think of the surrey

and of the suede vest my husband wore in high school

(he thought it was so cool)

I think of Fringe, the TV show,

which really was cool

(unlike the vest)

my husband didn’t believe me

but then he watched the entire series on Netflix with me,

and he knew I was right

 

But this festival is none of those things

not suede or surrey or TV

it’s a festival of theater and music

we see three plays in one afternoon,

the first about a boy in school,

there’s a child like that in every class

he can’t sit still

his mind is racing, too.

You’ve known this kid,

or have taught him,

or maybe you were him,

bright, but unable to focus,

excited, eager, but needing to move.

What happens to him?

It’s a one-man show,

the actor fidgets, jumps, somersaults across on the stage

dances with his school desk

We laugh, sympathize, and then we’re stunned.

 

After the play, we eat lunch,

Mexican food

(delicious)

listen to live music

watch the crowds,

the couple with their little dog,

the woman clapping to the tune,

the sun plays hide-and-seek

still, it’s a beautiful day

a bit odd, uneven

yet filled with poetry

and summer’s song

 

 

We see play about Jeffrey Dahmer

another one-man show

I think the actor must be exhausted–

each performance living in the mind of a serial killer–

I hadn’t planned to see this show

(because it’s a play about Jeffrey Dahmer)

but I overhear a man saying how good it was

and he was right,

not exploitive or sensationalistic,

but thought-provoking,

a man who lived on the fringe

battling his demons and desires

 

The third play had an interesting premise

about faith and what it means

famous women from history–

though Eve might be a stretch–

and Mary Tudor?

somehow the threads didn’t all come together

and some did not seem to fit at all,

the whole Islamic subplot,

still it was promising,

a work in progress from a young writer-director

just out of school

still on the fringe, no longer student

but still early in his career

 

We walk around town a bit

as people begin packing up

time is passing,

Sunday evening, the end of the weekend

summer is passing, too

the days a bit shorter

the sun not as high for as long–

the odd uneven time–

still, we wish sometimes it would go on forever

and never stop,

wouldn’t it be nice to sway in that surrey at a slow clip clop?

Passing Time

Passing the Time or Time Passing, Hammonton, NJ

 

At night, we sleep beneath diamond ships

sailing, glittering in an indigo sea

summer drifts, lingering for a while,

we are on the fringe,

autumn is coming

but for now, it’s another storm

another summer song

I hear the birds sing–

The poetry of earth is never dead

 

We went to the New Jersey Fringe Festival in Hammonton, NJ

 

Summer Storm: Haibun

From a dream world I’m summoned back, awakened by a boom and a crash. A flash of light illuminates the room through the window shades. My cat rises, ears up, but he remains by my side. Seeking comfort or giving it? Lovely petrichor drifts in through the windows left open from the summer day. Then boom, crash, flash, and the rain comes down in a rushing torrent, like a waterfall from the sky. I listen to it, feeling like the world below me might flood, and my bed become a ship that sails me, not into dreams, but into a murky river. I lie there in the dark, counting “one Mississippi, two Mississippi” each time the thunder roars. Finally, it is over, and I sleep, dreaming of oceans and sandy beaches. I wake to the mockingbird’s song, and a day that is washed clean. Hope sparkles in the morning sun.

 

Spirits rage at night

crash and bang till washed away

in wonder, joy reigns

 

Nikolay_Dubovskoy_Raduga

Nikolay Nikanorovich Dubovskoy [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

This is late entry for for dVerse. 

I guess it’s a summer memory now, since it happened a couple of days ago. 🙂

 

A Day at the Beach, with a Side of Guilt

Monday Morning Musings:

IMG_4147.JPG

“Like as waves make towards the pebbled shore,

so do our minutes, hasten to their end.”

William Shakespeare, “Sonnet 60”

 

“The idea was fantastically, wildly improbable. But like most fantastically, wildly improbable ideas it was at least as worthy of consideration as a more mundane one to which the facts had been strenuously bent to fit.”

–Douglas Adams, The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul

 

Fantastically, wildly improbable,

but worthy of consideration,

a plan to get my mom to the beach for the day.

A notion hatched by H.

on Saturday afternoon, for the next day.

Younger daughter and I already had plans

because we like things set in advance,

definite, not tentative,

BUT

we decide to go along with this wildly improbable,

but worthy of consideration idea,

despite the weather forecast.

Isn’t it supposed to thunderstorm?

(My first question to H.)

Texts and phone calls back and forth.

 “Jewish guilt will always force a change in plans.”

(Daughter says to me.)

So plans evolve.

We’ll travel in the morning,

have lunch there

and return home early to avoid the traffic.

Husband and I will still get together

with daughter and her husband later for dinner.

A horrible, wonderful, wildly improbable idea,

a beach day for my mom.

 

Three cars from three destinations travel to Ocean City, NJ.

It’s a Seinfeld episode,

or any sitcom,

the human comedy,

the comedy of errors

What could possibly go wrong?

IMG_4146

 

My husband and I are the first to arrive in Ocean City.

We drive around, looking for a place to park the car.

We park.

The downpour begins.

I text the others

We’re here.

We’re sitting in the car

Waiting for the rain to stop.

Trying to be optimistic.

Oh, I hear thunder now.

Daughter replies

There’s a flood watch in effect.

All day.

But the skies clear,

the sun comes out

and my husband and I walk to the beach.

The sun is shining.

The beach looks washed and clean.

It is beautiful.

Daughter and her husband arrive.

They have met

H., her family, and my mom,

who have decided to walk on the boardwalk.

They will have lunch there.

We have packed our lunch,

but I expect we’ll see them soon.

Daughter and I walk on the beach,

walk and talk,

gazing at the ocean

looking at the gulls,

IMG_4150

watching people,

the little boy who wanders in circles,

shovel in hand,

smile on face,

I keep expecting H. to text me

so we can help them

get my mom onto the beach.

I don’t want them to miss this beautiful day.

But no text.

We return to our beach chairs.

Daughter sits down with half a PB&J sandwich,

she takes one bite,

I hear a scream,

a gull has snatched the sandwich from her hand.

Scary, but kind of amazing.

We wait for H.,

and watch dark clouds moving in.

We wonder where they are,

she hasn’t answered the texts.

It’s getting close to when we planned to leave.

A beach checker comes by.

Do you have beach tags?

We don’t.

We decide to pack up,

and wait for H and family on the boardwalk.

Daughter sees them then–of course.

H. has paid for a special wheelchair contraption to get my mom onto the beach.

My mom can’t get into it.

So my mom holds H’s arm on one side

mine on the other, and

we begin a slow walk over sand,

a few feet that seem like miles.

H’s husband sets up their umbrella and chairs,

and it begins to rain.

My husband and daughter have packed up our things.

We leave my mom with H’s family on the beach,

feeling guilty,

but it stops raining.

at least for a time.

 

In the evening, after showers and rest

my husband and I eat pizza and drink wine

with our daughter and her husband,

dog and cat sitting with us companionably.

We watch an old Star Trek movie,

it also involves fantastically, wildly impossible ideas,

but we know Captain Picard and his crew will triumph over

the creepy Borg Queen,

love, friendship, kindness, and creativity

trump evil,

humanity will be saved

once again,

a comforting thought.

I haven’t heard yet what happened

with H., her family, and my mom.

I hope they had a great time on the beach.

It’s a fantastically, improbable idea

but one worthy of consideration.

 

 

 

 

 

NaPoWriMo: Eating a Rainbow

11794190_1018698988143364_5525884205557683035_o

From a local farm stand, Summer 2015

Eating a rainbow, a summer joy,

tomatoes, red and yellow, ripe

basil-topped with olive oil

heady fragrance, swooning

with peach juice dripping

down my chin, corn

silver queen,

toasted

to

a

golden

brown, flavors

scents, colors of

summer, heat rising,

thunder and lightening, bring

rainbows after, hues, tastes, scents

of sun and earth, bitter and sweet,

merging of senses in my kitchen

 

NaPoWriMo, Day 5.  The “eating a rainbow” line came from a seed catalogue in today’s prompts. We had snow flurries this morning, so it was pleasant to daydream of summer.

This started out as a nonet, but I couldn’t stop.

 

 

So Long, Summer

Monday Morning Musings

“By all these lovely tokens

September days are here,

With summer’s best of weather,

And autumn’s best of cheer.”

–Helen Hunt Jackson, “September”

Sunday morning, and I’m in the car. The windows are open to the cool breeze, the sun is shining brightly, and Bob Dylan is singing.

“When your rooster crows at the break of dawn
Look out your window and I’ll be gone
You’re the reason I’m trav’lin’ on
Don’t think twice, it’s all right”

–Bob Dylan, “Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright”

And I think, “OK, Summer, just travel on then. Don’t think twice, it’s definitely all right–because this September morning is truly glorious.” It’s a beautiful morning and a beautiful day, and to quote another American classic, “The corn is as high as an elephant’s eye.”

Yes, I know that technically it is still summer. The autumnal equinox falls on September 23. But the sun comes up later now, and it sets earlier. The early morning bird chirps are giving way to the honking of geese as they fly in V formations across the clear, azure sky. (Were you wondering why they fly in a V? Here you go.)

And today is Labor Day in the U.S., which marks the unofficial end of summer. It is a time that many celebrate with barbecues, picnics, or a final day at the beach or pool. At the same time, people prepare to return to work or school. It is day that looks back to summer and forward to the fall, a combination of melancholy and excitement, a bipolar day.

Labor Day was intended to honor “the working man.” Never mind that women have always worked—and labored in ways no man can experience. Labor Day was first observed in 1882, when a New York City labor organization, the Central Labor Union, a branch of the Knights of Labor, held a parade there. Over the next few years, Labor Day holidays were celebrated elsewhere. In 1894, Labor Day became a federal holiday. In the summer of that year, President Grover Cleveland sent in US army troops to end the Pullman Strike, which had stopped the railways. At least 30 strikers were killed and more wounded in the ensuing violence. Within a week after the strike was so violently put down, Cleveland signed the legislation making Labor Day a federal holiday. The September date was chosen to distance the holiday from May 1 (International Workers Day), which was associated with the Haymarket Riot in Chicago (May 4, 1886) and protests by labor unions. (Here is a short article on Labor Day. And another.

School terms in the U.S. used to begin the day after Labor Day, although weirdly, many now begin in August. This is the first time in 37 years that my husband will not be entering his school on the day after Labor Day. In his former district, it is still the first day for students. As a public school teacher, my husband has also been a member of the teachers’ union. Yes, the union that our governor has said should get “a punch in the face.” Many Americans have forgotten that it is because of unions that we have child labor laws, eight-hour workdays, work breaks, and other benefits.

Labor Day is also the title of a book by Joyce Maynard made into a movie with Josh Brolin and Kate Winslet. It is both a coming-of-age story and a romance. If you read the book or see the movie, be prepared to dream of peach pie. Really. (Here’s the recipe used in the movie. I would use all butter for my crust.)

So what will I be doing today on Labor Day? Well, I’ll be working, of course. After all, I have deadlines to meet. But there will be time to eat some killer nachos and watch a movie with my husband, too. Perhaps I’ll bake a peach pie, as well. It’s a holiday. I will labor, but I won’t forget to enjoy the waning summer.

By the Sea

Monday Morning Musings

We made it.

Down the Shore.

Circling for blocks

And blocks

For a parking spot.

We are a bit farther

than we planned

But it doesn’t matter.

Because we’re here.

And we sit and gaze

At the waves.

IMG_2582

And at the sky.

Plane pulls an advertisement for the Impression Exhibition we saw at the Philadelphia Museum of Art

Plane pulls an advertisement for the Impression Exhibition we saw at the Philadelphia Museum of Art

And at the people.

The girl striking ballet poses

For her mother’s photo shoot

She’s all arms and legs,

Coltish

Her arabesque held

Only for a second.

Fleeting,

like this day

In a long line of days

that make up life.

But proud

In her youth.

“Look what I can do!”

In her life

It’s been an eternity

Since she was that toddler

Carefully placing each foot,

Her diapered bottom just inches

From the sand.

But to the sea

It’s only a second.

Then there’s

the couple playing catch.

And the family digging

A huge crater in the wet sand.

What are their stories?

I wonder.

We read our books,

And we gaze some more.

My husband's pensive pose.

My husband’s pensive pose.

There are no shark sightings.

But there is this little guy.

IMG_2568

The day is cloudy at first,

But still it’s lovely

Sitting there.

Then the sun comes out,

And it is glorious.

A perfect beach day.

The very definition.

Blue sky

A few puffy white clouds

Not too hot

And

A light breeze from the water.

We hate to leave,

But we’ll be back

Some other time.

After all,

The ocean is always here.

We simply need to pause

sometimes to see it.

A stop for water ice

Mango Water Ice

Mango Water Ice

Before we walk back to the car

And home to reality—

Showers and feeding the cats–

And feeding ourselves.

Of course.

But we were

By the sea,

By the beautiful sea.

You and me.

Finally.

IMG_2577

Honeysuckle: A Memory

When my sister and I were small

we sucked the nectar from the flowers of the honeysuckle vines.

We didn’t know then that in nature

sometimes the sweet is tempered by the bitter;

that sometimes joy is followed by sorrow.

Under the hot Dallas sun, we skipped–

barefooted across the grass,

so dry it was almost crunchy,

and more brown than green.

Carefree, and careless with our youth,

we drew hopscotch patterns on the concrete with stones.

And we skipped some more.

Day were endless,

but gone in a second—

the paradox of youth.

We were a nation of two

with our own games and rules.

We spoke in sister-speak and giggled

in the sunlit yard of childhood.

Later, our bodies sun-warmed

and our curls in tangles,

we watched from our living room window

as the hummingbirds sought the nectar

in those same fragrant honeysuckle vines.

They also embraced the sweetness of life

because their lives depended on it.

They hovered, and their tiny wings beat so furiously

as though they could make time stop.

And perhaps it did,

just for a moment,

frozen on this page.

They were so busy.

We were busy, too,

with dreaming and discovery,

the work of childhood.

 

 

©Merril D. Smith, 2014