Things the River Carries: NaPoWriMo



I think of things the river has carried—


Lenape canoes and wooden ships with sails,

spices, barrels, and bails,

the stuff of merchant cargoes.


Immigrants and slaves

carried across ocean waves

seeking a safe harbor.


Geese and gulls

swimming around the hulls

and among the debris


left from centuries–


tree branches and stumps

animals that jump

to swim—away


never staying,




things the river has, is, will be



dreams of a better life,

perhaps a husband or a wife,

or freedom, almost


touching, joining the ghosts

watching from the coast

history and things, strings


of visions with wings—

decisions and stings

flowing with the tide


hopes, feathers, trees,

flowing from river to sea,

passing like time,

and then away from me


For the NaPoWriMo prompt, Day Nine “list of things,” and for guest host, Linda, at dVerse  who asks us to write about prompt water.






In the Dream Time: NaPoWriMo


“The Future Began Here,” ESO/B. Tafreshi [CC BY 4.0 (] via Wikipedia Commons: “This week’s picture was taken by ESO Photo Ambassador Babak Tafreshi at ESO’s La Silla Observatory. The bright lane of the Milky Way can be seen streaking across the skies above the Chilean Atacama Desert, beneath which sits the New Technology Telescope (NTT), one of the ten active telescopes located at the observatory. La Silla is the oldest observation site used by ESO. . .”

The moon hums, and the stars sing

and the souls go a-wandering,

to dance in a shimmering ring.


There is no past, no care what future brings

as they float and whirl and swing–

while the moon hums, and the stars sing,


the owls hoot along, then they take wing,

and the trees remember—everything–

as the souls go a-wandering.


Perhaps I dream? Time circles, springs

when souls fly high in gossamer strings,

to dance in shimmering rings.


Off prompt today for NaPoWriMo. I just couldn’t face sad, and the first two lines came to me at the gym. (Don’t ignore the muse!) This is a cascade poem. I wrote of a cascade, but I didn’t actually write a cascade poem for Amaya’s prompt the other day on dVerse, so I’m doing this one for Open Link night. 
















To Fly above the Moon: NaPoWriMo, Day 3



In ancient times, I wandered,

following the moon

by intuition

hearing her song.


Here, she shines,

there, she sighed

in a feathered plume

of silvered light.


Her cycles called to me,

and I bled

into the earth

where flowers rose


growing in sunlight

glowing in moonlight

sighing and singing,


catching souls

and setting them free


to fly above the moon


The prompt for NaPoWriMo today is “write something that involves a story or action that unfolds over an appreciable length of time.”  That sounds like the Monday Morning Musings I write every week. So, I just took a few words from the Oracle and did a total free write. This is what came of it.




Unanswered Cascade: NaPoWriMo, Day 2



I ask,

do I smile

at blushing skies?

If scented, I’d smell

peach—my mouth waters—though

the window glass is frosted,

the peach, only a memory,

a dream of what was, or what could be.

Time, meandering in my head always

circling around, forming connections, here

cascading like a waterfall, or

a shooting star, streaking, trailing

glimmers of light as it falls–

and then, the dinosaurs

gone in random strike,

like a question






Sunrise this morning was such a beautiful peach color.

This double etheree is for NaPoWriMo, Day 2, where the prompt is to write a poem that ends with a question. It is also for Colleen’s Tanka Tuesday, and dVerse, where Amaya asks us to use “cascade” or write a cascade poem. Poetry Month! I wish I could sit and write poetry all day. So many prompts; too little time.



And We Ask


After the storm,

light sings


in a language of if,


and dreams shine

like the sun through shadows–


gardens must sleep

but time urges us to run


(from, over, to)


and the wind whispers

a thousand whys


(here, there)


rocks chant when,

as the moon watches in beauty


spraying cool diamond music–

a symphony of I am–


and we ask—

who, how, and what is?


Screen Shot 2019-03-30 at 8.48.48 AM

The Oracle made me work this morning. She’s being enigmatic again–sending me out to question the universe–but I suppose that is what poets do.

In Transit

Monday Morning Musings:


“Ports are places where stories are told.”

Transit (2019)

“Time is being and being
time, it is all one thing,
the shining, the seeing,
the dark abounding.”

–Ursula K. Le Guin, “Hymn to Time.” Full poem and more here.


We travel here to there

and back again

full moon shimmers

then grey clouds reign


The movie set in a sort of purgatory–

or is it hell?

Well, there they dwell


in a timeless space,

1942, or perhaps today,

first Paris, then Marseilles


where the man

and all the refugees

flee and plea


and then they wait

for updates—human freight

telling their stories—annotate


in endless exposition

tales of existential despair

they share, aware



of soldiers raiding houses

and the whispers of cleansing and camps–

there mark with the official stamps


the necessary papers

but another visa always needed

and time passes on, unheeded


are the pleas

there’s no direct here to there

false names and identities, stare


now at your betrayer

and then betray–

go again, or stay


it’s all the same, it seems

the stuff of nightmares and false dreams

of hope


of getting out.

And is the story even reliable,

truth seems rather pliable


on “The Road to Nowhere”

echoes sigh and ghosts flitter

and titter, while fear litters


the air—here

now in this my port city

ghosts also walk, in close proximity

to us, all around,

people who came to escape, in fear,

in tears and sometimes a cheer


for whiskey and beer

refugees arriving each year

surviving or dying—the crying


of those left behind

and so here my ancestors also arrived

and mostly thrived,


but what of the untold tales

and the stories that are told,

of the days of old,


perhaps embroidered details

come to sit atop the truth

but lost, the tales of grandparents’ youth


I learn, when vision fails,

the brain fills the void with what has been

projecting patterns on the unseen screen


My mom says, I see it there

like a bird cage

it covers your face, your hair–


a cage without

birds, visions in transit sprout

high–set free to fly


So, we eat hamantaschen

and we drink some wine, it’s fine

because tomorrow we may be


between sun and moon

halfway from here to there–

in transit.


In another movie

a woman time-travels

trying to unravel

Homemade pizza and Netflix

timelines to save a boy

and her daughter—her joy

lost if time’s not changed again


between storms, or mirage,

stories hidden between and around

suddenly lost, suddenly found


like spring when trees and flowers smile

and dance the secret of all breathing

and times stops, but just for a while

a short embrace

of light–a kissing space

to gather pace


ourselves, geese in V flight

we set off, for the light

or like mockingbirds all night–sing

Geese at Red Bank Battlefield

our stories

in transit,

transitory always,

like shadows and spring


Last week was strange and surrealistic, as I’ve noted elsewhere. We saw the movie Transit. Trailer here.  [Dale see] this new movie by Christian Petzold is bold, intriguing, and haunting. I keep thinking about it. One review said something like it’s Casablanca as written by Kafka. So, you know, my kind of movie.  I really liked his previous movies Barbara and Phoenix, too, and the director has said he sees them as a sort of trilogy. I didn’t know until afterward that the movie was based on a novel written in 1944 and set in 1942, but there are no direct references to that time in the movie.

We also saw Mirage, a Spanish movie on Netflix. Trailer here. It was good, with echoes of a Twilight Zone episode in the use of TVs–but you probably shouldn’t watch it during a storm.







Monday Morning Musings:

“let us dream of evanescence and linger in the beautiful foolishness of things.”

― Kakuzō Okakura, The Book of Tea

(Thanks to Beth of I Didn’t Have My Glasses On for this quotation.)

“You can’t see them, but they are there.
Unseen things are still there.”

–from Misuzu Kaneko , “Stars and Dandelions” Read more here.

“Aunt Esther: You think you supposed to know everything. Life is a mystery. Don’t you know life is a mystery? I see you still trying to figure it out. It ain’t all for you to know. It’s all an adventure. That’s all life is. But you got to trust that adventure.”

–August Wilson, Gem of the Ocean


Snow, sun, rain

fleeting moments, each a chain

from then to here—

the dust of stars falls near


and ghosts appear

though we may not hear—


listen! There the rustle, the sigh

spirits or dreams flitting, drifting by?

Temporary, like our days,

so say poets and playwrights in their plays


(how do you measure a year?)


we take brief moments to watch the story

days of hope, days of glory


(one song glory)


days of fear and longing,

days to find a sense of belonging


to build walls, or tear them down

to visit the City of Bones, surround


oneself with people who care

enough to travel through, and share


(seasons of love)


the adventure, life

through Underground Railroads, and beyond—the strife


of being separated from family, husband and wife

and then finding emancipation is still rife


with pain, and different chains

two trains running, and from remains


of cities and lives, present and past

and so, if asked


(What about love?)


we take a chance on freedom,

on love, on hope, and try to teach them–


our children, lovers, friends—

that such much depends


on what we do now

when we allow


to linger in each beautiful pause



our time is limited to

see the unseen, too few


moments in a year


(Five hundred twenty-five thousand 
Six hundred minutes


lost to pain, despair, and fear


We gather our rosebuds, while we may

Ok. Wrong season, enough to say


we walk and talk, and drink some wine

we walk some more, the day is fine


we see some plays

then, find more ways


(with a thousand sweet kisses)


to find some joy, the mystery

of life, the history


ours and theirs

so, dance, who cares?


It’s an adventure, for real

not always ideal


in fact, sometimes awful

perhaps, unlawful



(No day but today)



Look! The unseen things are here, there

in earth, moon, stars—everywhere.



We saw August Wilson’s Gem of the Ocean, a wonderful, stirring, magical play at the Arden Theater. It is part of Wilson’s American Century Cycle, chronically African-American life. This one was one of the last plays he wrote, but it’s the first chronologically in the cycle. It’s set in 1904. We saw Rent, the 20th Anniversary Tour. The parenthetical lines come from Rent songs. Rent is a sort of retelling of La Bohème set in New York during the AIDS crisis. Jonathan Larson (book, music, lyrics) died of an aortic aneurysm a few weeks before the show opened in 1996. We ate at Tria and Monk’s in Philadelphia.

Also, yesterday began Daylight Saving Time, and I hate it.







Once There Was a Time


Vincent Van Gogh, “The Sower,” Wikipedia Commons


Once there was a time to sow

to scatter seeds upon the ground

to water well and watch them grow

a time when hope was found


to scatter seeds upon the ground

to grow stalks of hate that bled

a time when hope was found

and lost among the dead


to grow stalks of hate that bled

that banished love and kindness

and lost among the dead

the acts of willful blindness


that banished love and kindness?

That can’t be how the story goes.

The acts of willful blindness?

Now’s the time to speak, oppose.


That can’t be how the story goes.

Plants seeds, a peaceful dream.

Now’s the time. To speak, oppose

is fine. See how wishes gleam?


Plant seeds, a peaceful dream,

to water well and watch them grow

is fine. See how wishes gleam–

once there was a time to sow?


We’re writing pantoums this month at dVerse, so here’s another one from me. There’s still time to join us.

Lillian has asked us to use some part of the verse from Ecclesiastes, which is also used in the song, “Turn, Turn, Turn” as a prompt.