Recall the Dreams

 

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Recall when we

watched the moon, a peach

rising—and

crying for

us? The sad music of dreams

and a thousand whys—

 

we want to

run after her and

ask of death,

of whispers,

ugly shadows, yet let it

go, to sleep, aching.

 

The Oracle, of course, knows everything, including the most recent example of human depravity. This is a double shadorma for Colleen’s Tanka Tuesday Challenge, using synonyms for lead and follow

But here’s something else, a bit lighter. I’ve had this song in my head all week because of these prompt words–Carole King, Where You Lead.

Once There Was a Time

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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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Echoes

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Vincent van Gogh, “Wheatfield with Crows,” [Public Domain] Wikipedia Commons

crow calls, beckoning,

rosy-robed sun arises,

new day awakens

with murdered conversation,

echoes in black-winged flutter

 

I’m still waiting for the sun to rise. This tanka is for Frank’s Hakai challenge (crow) and Colleen’s Tanka Tuesday.  And another van Gogh–because you can feel the movement and hear the echoes in this one.

Starry Nights: Musing and Shadorma Challenge

Monday Morning Musings:

“This morning I saw the countryside from my window a long time before sunrise, with nothing but the morning star, which looked very big,”

–Vincent van Gogh to Theo, Saint-Rémy, France, 1889

“For myself, I declare I don’t know anything about it. But the sight of the stars always makes me dream.”

–Vincent van Gogh, letter to his broth Theo, July 1888

 

It was midday, but we saw stars,

swirling lines

and colored bars

65,000 hand-painted frames

aiming to depict the art and life

the vision, the strife

artistry in different forms–the imagination

to take his art, recreate, use animation

caught us,

and we flowed with the waves of light

through bright days and starry nights.

 

Vincent loved

his brother, Theo.

Wrote letters,

long missives

every day penning his thoughts

on art, love, and life

 

The movie involved a bit of mystery

born not just from art, but from Vincent’s history

of writing these letters to brother Theo

and so

Postman Joseph Roulin

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Sends his son to deliver one

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found after Vincent’s death

Armand travels, meets the people with whom Vincent interacted

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Vincent van Gogh, “Dr. Paul Gachet,” [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Learns what they felt, and how they reacted

to his art and eccentricities,

some charged, by his electricity,

others repelled,

the story told almost Rashomen-style

different versions of the artist and the man

and we’re left to understand him, as best we can.

 

An artist for a few years only,

failing at other careers,

art dealer, missionary,

he was a visionary

though his stern parents thought he was a failure,

he painted over 800 paintings in his short career

and it is clear

that he suffered for his art

and gave from his heart

his mother disposed of his work in a crate

finding out–only too late

though she thought he was dim and full of whims

others a genius thought him

 

We walk out into the warm November day

drink coffee

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And look at the colors play

Through city streets and historic sites

And think about Vincent’s short life

 

A few days later

We’re immersed again in art

Using a gift from friends–

sisters of my heart–

we ponder, peruse,

perhaps a snooze,

 

or eat and chat

perhaps a scream

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(imagine that)

I think of light

And creativity

of sun and clouds

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and starry nights

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Ceiling of van Gogh Café

And so, to bed

pillows piled high

from a cat, a gentle sigh

the night here cloudy

perhaps we’ll sleep soundly.

but in our dreams

nothing is as it seems

 

in our dreams

we fly, starry skies

swirl and flow

on light beams

we ride, silver stardust flows

magic of the night

 

Immersed in art

through starry nights and clouded days

seeing magic, creativity,

imagination, a constant, that stays

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We saw the movie Loving Vincent. Trailer here.

We visited Ground for Sculpture. I have many more photos that may appear at some point.

I missed a couple days of Eliot of Along the Interstice’s November Shadorma Challenge,

so I’ve put a couple into this week’s musings.

I Close My Eyes and Dream

Monday Morning Musings:

“For myself, I declare I don’t know anything about it. But the sight of the stars always makes me dream.”

Vincent van Gogh, letter to his brother Theo, July 1888

“I think about our ancestors. Thousands of years, wondering if they were alone in the universe. Finally discovering they weren’t. You can’t blame them for wanting to reach out, see how many other species were out there, asking the same questions.”

–Captain Kathryn Janeway, Star Trek Voyager, Episode, “Friendship One”

 

At night

ghosts sail to stars

dazzling the universe

with wild poetry,

that thing there—

see it?

the liquid blush of desire

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Earth spins and orbits our Sun

but all is not right

(in day or night)

the heavens rage

the surface heaves

the forests burn

the oceans churn

(do you hear them sigh)

and creatures die

on the stars I make a wish

for planet, us, for birds and fish

and then under the glowing stream

I close my eyes and then I dream

 

I wake to see bright Venus,

high above

she sings of love

there in the eastern sky

she dances and she wonders why

(as do I, oh, as do I)

we are not swayed from the hate

and do not counter or negate

the dotard’s words of folly

but instead sink into a melancholy—

(as do I, oh, as do I)

under starlight’s beam

once again

I close my eyes and then I dream

 

We watch Star Trek Voyager

Earth’s greeting of friendship gone wrong

a civilization pushed headlong

into nuclear winter,

the next day—synchronicity

a radio story of the real Voyager

the golden record as it would sound to aliens

Simplicity? Specificity?

We want to reach out,

to know we’re not alone

the moon smiles and gleams

I close my eyes and then I dream

 

We have a holiday dinner

missing daughters, sister, and niece

still I present the soup and loaf

(a masterpiece!)

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with apples, honey, and some wine

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we drink and eat and we are fine

(we pour more wine)

talk of movies and van Gogh

(there’s a new movie out, you know)

wonder about Ben Franklin’s diet and life

then matter-of-factly my mother’s zinger

that he did not sleep alone

at ninety-five, she was so in the zone!

and with that, the laughter lingers

sweet

like the honeyed fingers

from the baklava and apple cake

she mangles the middle

and picks at the pieces

but sister laughter

follows after

and after

 

We drink more wine, again we’re fine

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under moonlight sky and starry stream

I close my eyes and then I dream. . .

 

of the universe’s wild poetry

of singing stars and humming moons

of spirits soaring and swaying to the tunes

before dawn’s blush of desire

turns the sky to fire

I wake and look up to the sky

to see Venus shining bright

I gaze and wish

for us, for cats, and fish

for dogs, and horses, and for birds

(and yes, even for the dotard)

for the planet, earth, and trees

and for the seas

under Venus’s beaming gleam

I close my eyes and wish and dream

 

So, we watched Star Trek Voyager and saw an episode about the result of a probe that was sent out from Earth that was very similar to the real Voyager and its golden record. Then the next day, I heard this story on NPR’s Weekend Morning Edition and the Oracle gave me that poem. Synchronicity?

 

Some of you may know because I’ve ranted about it   that I’ve been working on two reference books about rape. I am happy to report that both manuscripts have now been sent in. I also finished another project over the weekend, so I should now have time to answer e-mails and respond to comments and prompts. At least until, I receive copyedited manuscript (first one is coming next month).

 

 

 

 

 

 

Survivor

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Vincent van Gogh, “Sorrow,” 1882 [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

 

Now years have passed, the pain is gone–

physical pain, the dreams remain,

demons, terror, always the same.

 

Family gone–denouement

of war, of destruction, of fright–

she mourns them still, alone at night.

 

For evil men, she was a pawn.

They took her youth, left no trace

in tattooed arm and withered face.

 

The past is gone, she won’t dwell on,

memories–peace comes, with a book,

a cat, some tea, a quiet nook

 

in which she sits, sometimes till dawn,

longing to die, willing to live,

she tries not to hate; she tries to forgive.

 

This week, Jane asked us to write about pain for her poetry challenge in a poem using the rhyme scheme: abb acc add aee, etc. I didn’t use the prompt words or the image she suggested. I think this Van Gogh drawing conveys the mood of the poem. The model was pregnant and abandoned by the father of the child. She was forced to prostitute herself to buy food. Van Gogh took her in as a model, paid her rent, and shared his bread with her. The Wikipedia page has more information.

Left with the Poplars: Microfiction

 

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Vincent van Gogh, “Poplars in Autumn,” [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

 

As Agata hurried down the dirt road, the autumn sun was already sinking lower in the sky. Sunlight streamed between the poplars lining either side of the path, casting shadows that lay over her small, determined figure like a shroud. It would be dark by the time she arrived at the meeting place. Past curfew. She shivered and wrapped her cloak tighter around her body. She wondered how the children would survive the winter, if she couldn’t get them out.

She had some money—and her body. She would bargain with both if necessary to buy enough food and the necessary papers for the children. She had given up her theater career for a life of religious contemplation, but now she contemplated whether life was a tragedy or a farce.

She left the path and walked into the woods. Feliks—she was certain that was not his real name—was there waiting. Silently, he took Agata’s money and handed over the papers, along with some potatoes. No bargaining.

“I can’t meet you again. It’s too dangerous,” he said to her. “Go quickly now.”

But it was already too late. Hearing men and dogs, Agata thrust the papers into a hole behind a giant poplar root, hoping Maria would find them there tomorrow. Seconds later, the soldiers’ flashlights illuminated her like an actress on a stage. She stared at their boots, then looked up at their faces and thought, “This may be my final performance.”

 

This story is in response to Jane Dougherty’s Writing Challenge. The prompt was Van Gogh’s painting above.

I thought the figure looked like a nun, and it made me think of two recent Polish movies I’ve seen. Ida, the Oscar-winning Best Foreign Film (2015) is about a young woman raised in a convent since WWII, who is about to take final vows. The Mother Superior tells her she must first meet her aunt. The two take a road trip, and Ida discovers her parents were Jewish.

The Innocents (2016) is about nuns in a Polish convent. It is December 1945.  One nun leaves the convent to find a French doctor. It seems there are several pregnant nuns—the result of Soviet soldiers invading the convent and raping the women there. The doctor, Mathilde, and the sisters form a bond, despite their differences.

 

 

Immortality: Microfiction Challenge

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Vincent van Gogh. “Wheatfield With Crows,” [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Long before the time of now, our ancestors came from the sky. Our legends say, we are made in their image. We have lost the technology of these forebears, the knowledge that let them travel from the stars. Why? No one knows. We argue about the details, calling to one another in debate, but it is clear we are like no others on this planet.

We sing the songs of our ancestors, and we’ve created new ones in their trilling, gurgling language. Our voices brighten the dawn and soften the evening darkness. We sing for love. We sing in warning.

There are beings who envy us. They use hot air and machines to emulate us. Clumsy things. But we do not need such devices. We are born with wings and feathers. Born to fly. Over time, we’ve developed into a varied species. Our feathers come in many shades like the colors of this planet, black, brown, white, grey, blue, red, green, yellow. We are the descendants of gods, strong and graceful.

We are sharp-eyed and observant, too, and so when I notice something below that breaks my reverie, I caw to my mate, “Do you see that human? He’s painting us. Perhaps we’ll be immortalized.” She caws back to me in laughter. We are through foraging here. We soar over the golden wheat fields of Arles, heading home.

 

This story is in response to Jane Dougherty’s Microfiction Challenge.   One prompt was the Van Gogh painting above.

This story may or may not be related to my earlier story, “Shapes in the Mist.”

And this poem, “The Raven Flies.”