Secrets, Adaptations, and Joy

Monday Morning Musings:

Once upon a time, when women were birds, there was the simple understanding that to sing at dawn and to sing at dusk was to heal the world through joy. The birds still remember what we have forgotten, that the world is meant to be celebrated.

–Terry Tempest Williams, When Women Were Birds: Fifty-Four Variations on Voice*

 

“History is that certainty produced at the point where the imperfections of memory meet the inadequacies of documentation.”

–Julian Barnes, The Sense of an Ending

 

 “Raise a glass to freedom

Something they can never take away

No matter what they tell you

Let’s have another round tonight”

–Linn Manuel Miranda, “The Story of Tonight,” Hamilton

 

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We wandered

wet spring stone,

an ancient bough,

poetry of lonely bird & squirrel

Listen

There

I know

(almost)

this secret garden

life

 

 

The dawn chorus sang

before the sun appeared

their secret language of chirps and trills

floated through the damp air,

early spring.

I began the day.

 

We wandered old city streets

stepped on bricks and cobblestones

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the stories these stones and buildings could tell

the Founding Fathers wheeling and dealing,

letters and documents they wrote, still preserved,

our laws, our past, present, and future,

but what of the buried secrets

items tossed into privies,

and bodies,

uncovered in construction

thought to be moved long ago,

a lie from the past,

the new built over the old,

history in layers,

the way our life tales are constructed

with secrets and stories

hidden and revealed

 

private secrets and public secrets

the lies we tell ourselves,

the lies politicians tell us,

“Let sleeping dogs lie,”

bold-faced lies

little white lies

lies of omission

lies of commission

“What does the president know

and when did he know it?

 

We saw a movie about lies,

the lies a man has told himself,

stories he never told his wife

(omission)

buried in a secret room in his mind

rooms we see on the screen

his past played over and over

more revealed each time,

we all have secret rooms,

compartments,

where history is written and rewritten,

the personal,

the political,

and as we walked along these streets

we push past ghosts who linger there still

in rooms where they told their stories

and raised a glass to freedom

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City Tavern, Philadelphia

 

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We drink to our own freedom. Pondering the second round at Tria.

We saw a play,

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Prague and New York City, 1977

there is an immigrant,

a Czech woman in a surreal dream

wanting the freedom to express herself,

to be an artist,

we hear the folksongs of her friend, Marek,

he was arrested for singing them,

a bird-woman goddess,

she who existed before the Thunder God,

shows the immigrant woman,

what?

Her past?

Her possible future?

Men with pig faces,

followers of the Thunder God,

builders of walls,

conquerors of women,

they exist everywhere,

must we adapt,

live our secret lives within a police state,

a surreal dream

for the immigrant,

what will freedom bring,

What happens when the walls are torn down?

What is the American dream?

Is it a cautionary tale

that anyone can become the president—

cowboy, actor, failed businessman?

Perhaps their time is numbered.

 

We walked past a rally for the current president,

in the neighborhood where men gathered

over two hundred years ago

to give them that right to protest

 

 

in secret hearings

closed to the public,

they crafted a body of law,

then explicitly added others,

free speech,

freedom of the press,

I am thankful to live in a place where the president’s supporters have the right

to gather with signs and make speeches–

though I disagree with their views–

and will use my own voice to protest against hate and ignorance

to sing out

against oppression when I can,

but like a bird woman,

I will celebrate the world, too–

we all need a pop of color on a dreary day,

daffodils in the rain

and secret gardens.

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*Thanks to Robin of Breezes at Dawn for the reminder about this quotation.

The Oracle gave me the magnetic poem that was perfect for the day.

We saw the play, Adapt, a world premiere by Blanka Zizka at the Wilma Theater. We saw the movie The Sense of an Ending.

 

 

 

Swamp Monsters Rising

 

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Brors Anders Wikstrom (1854-1909), “Mangrove Swamp,” [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

“I suppose my critics will call that preaching, but I have got such a bully pulpit!”

–Theodore Roosevelt, President of the United States, 1901-1909

 

All the world’s his stage,

the phone, his bully pulpit,

emitting fear and rage,

small thumbs all atwitter

producing chirps, smirks,

false promises that glitter.

 

Perhaps this is a test—

but monsters crawl from the undrained swamp

fetid creatures that once were buried,

ravenous beasts, they stomp and chomp,

intent on destruction,

wise on obstruction,

We the People,

that earnest phrase

will it expire in a Twittery blaze?

No bonfire of the vanities

the burning of humanity’s

souls aflame with freedom lost,

fascist salutes and justice tossed.

 

Life is short, we live and die

and perhaps sometimes we wonder why

the good die young

and the evil ones fly

high in this post-truth world

we must expose the lies,

smile with heart and eyes,

keep kindness and hope,

atop this slippery slope,

support freedom of the press

to get rid of this mess,

take back the stage,

bring back love and fight the rage.

 

This poem is for Secret Keeper’s Weekly Writing Challenge.

The prompt words were: Stage/Short/Young/Test/Live

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Past That Wasn’t And Is

Monday Morning Musings:

“The blacklist was a time of evil. . .no one on either side who survived it came through untouched by evil. . .it will do no good to search for villains or heroes or saints or devils because there were none; there were only victims.”

–Dalton Trumbo, Laurel Award acceptance speech delivered to the Writers Guild of America West, The Writers Guild of America Newsletter, April 1970.

“Until now, we scientists have only seen warped space-time when it’s calm,” Dr. Thorne said in an email. “It’s as though we had only seen the ocean’s surface on a calm day but had never seen it roiled in a storm, with crashing waves.”

New York Times, February 11, 2016 

Gravitational waves have been heard

A chirp, hitting Middle C

Einstein’s theory confirmed

Space and time moving,

Collapsing,

Causing waves

A cosmic sea

Moving,

Ever changing.

 

We watched the movie, Trumbo

My husband and I,

We missed it in the theaters

But saw it “On Demand”

Yay, technology.

And science education.

Without it, you wouldn’t be able

To stream your shows

Or read the latest gossip news.

Do you think this happens by magic?

 

During WWII,

When Franklin D. Roosevelt was president,

Radio was important.

Sound carried by waves.

Imagine that?

He talked to the nation through

“Fireside chats”

And told us that December 7, 1941

Was “a date which will live in infamy.”

Which it was and is.

That was the date of the attack on Pearl Harbor

By the Japanese military.

Two months later,

February 19, 1942,

FDR signed Executive Order 9066

And with that order

Japanese-Americans,

Citizens of the United States,

Were forced to leave their homes,

And placed in internment camps.

Did you study that in school?

Fear took over.

People were profiled by their ancestry,

By the way they looked.

Locked up.

Does this sound familiar?

 

A political candidate called for

Banning all Muslims from the US.

He wants a wall built to keep

Mexicans out, too.

No matter that it would costs billions of dollars.

Mexico will pay for it, he says.

He thinks Mexicans are all criminals, rapists.

People believe what he says.

 

But back to Trumbo.

Remember, I told you we watched the movie?

It’s about Dalton Trumbo,

The screenwriter

Played by Bryan Cranston

Many people have never heard of him.

Trumbo, I mean.

Perhaps they’ve heard of some of the screenplays though.

He wrote:

Spartacus,

Roman Holiday (a must-see, Audrey Hepburn, in her first big role,

And the always wonderful Gregory Peck.)

Exodus

But those are just a few.

Yet Dalton was not credited with writing these movies.

At least not at the time.

Though they won awards.

Because he was blacklisted.

So he wrote them under other names.

He was one of the Hollywood Ten.

He—and many others–served time for standing up to HUAC,

The House Un-American Activities Committee.

That’s right, the 1950s were not just “Happy Days,”

There was Joseph McCarthy and the FBI

Knocking on people’s doors.

Witch-hunting of communists.

Arthur Miller took the witch part literally

And compared the time to Puritan Massachusetts

And the Salem Witch Trials

In The Crucible.

It was a shameful time

Of fear

The Cold War.

No, the US is not a theocracy,

Though there are people who would like it to be.

But that is not OK.

The separation of church and state is guaranteed

By our Constitution

Our Bill of Rights.

Also, guaranteed is the right to free speech.

So you have the right to

Say what you want.

And I will defend your right to do so.

But I have studied history,

And I can read and fact-check.

I know it is not against the law to be a communist

Or a Muslim.

So it would be fine for our president to be one,

Though he is not.

You can believe the Earth is flat, or

That humans have not been to the moon.

I know those things are not true.

You can believe

That building walls is a good thing,

I have a right to believe you are wrong.

I want to believe

Not in conspiracy theories

But in the value of education

To believe that everyone, men, women, and children

Of all races, religions, and social class

Have the right to learn

To read

To explore

To understand that the past repeating itself

Is not always a good thing.

History,

Water under the bridge

That flows one way only?

Or does it travel in a loop

Splashing like a waterfall

Into a river where it flows

Peacefully until the next storm hits?

An endless cycle.

Space and time

Warped

Disrupted

Changed?

Hate,

Fear,

Walls built,

Walls torn down.

So many people and places gone.

So many crimes repeated.

So much to learn.

 

I can’t imagine never wanting to learn.

I feel sorry for those who fear knowledge.

“Courage is not a man with a gun in his hand. It’s knowing you’re licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what. You rarely win, but sometimes you do.”

–Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird