Well, Here We Are–it’s August Again

Monday Morning Musings:

Well, Here We Are, It’s August Again

Every day opens with possibility,
every story flows from what if,
each second is a mysterious connection
from what was to what is

Sunrise Clouds

next passes, too, in a stream like
the luscious light of the sun,
outside of time,
both ancient and new

Sunrise Reflections— worlds collide in light and color , Merril D. Smith, 2022

like memories,
the past remembered is reborn,

perhaps re-written, or embroidered upon,
added stitches to a tapestry, patches placed
over the tears in the fabric,

until we can’t tell what was the original
and what was added,

and so, we guess, living between shadows,

and walking down paths
we imagine, we ask, “what if?”
and “what happened next?”

This is fiction and science,
this is every story ever told,
our fates and faults, “not in our stars,”*
and we, not star-crossed—yet,
dependent on them for our existence,

each of us carrying traces of stardust,
holding an infinitesimal speck of before time–
and each of us an answer to what happened next.

Ceres Park
Ceres Park

This past week we had high heat and humidity and normal summer heat with less humidity. Elsewhere there have been huge wildfires and floods. We got a little bit of rain, but not enough.
While we wait to see if our nation is destroyed by authoritarian rule and our Earth dies, we go on living.
My daughter and I visited Kennedy Cellars in Hammonton, NJ for some mother-daughter bonding time. My husband kindly served as DD while we sampled wine flights and nibbled at the delicious cheese board. It was a very hot day, but bearable in the shade, as we really didn’t want to sit inside in the small space with rising Covid numbers.

Kennedy Cellars

On Saturday with the lower humidity my husband and I took a morning walk in Ceres Park in Mantua/Pitman, NJ. It was very quiet and peaceful, except one section of the trail goes under an overpass, but even there the light was beautiful. Then later in the afternoon, we visited Auburn Road Winery for wine and pizza.

Ceres Park

One night this week, we watched a play from our video backlog. It was The Merry Wives, performed last August when plays in Central Park in NYC were permitted again and televised this past spring. Perhaps Shakespeare purists would not approve, but I think it was just what we needed. It was a streamlined version of The Merry Wives of Windsor set in Harlem. Shakespeare’s plays were of the moment and appealed to common people as well as the educated and aristocracy, so I think of this as sort of the same thing. Here’s how it looked. If you have PBS Passport you may still be able to stream it.

We’re also watching For All Mankind (Apple TV), a series based around what if the Soviet Union landed on the Moon first? In this series, it changes history, and each change changes something else.

These two shows gave me the idea for my musings. Also, both of my parents, now gone, were born in August, which has me thinking of August, what was, what is, what might have been. . .

I’m hosting dVerse Haibun Monday today, so I will be back later.

*”The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars,
But in ourselves, that we are underlings.”
–William Shakespeare, Julius Caesar

Banished Ghosts



Banished Ghosts

What is a winter’s tale told in the spring?
A story of ghosts, adrift in the green.

xxxxA story of ghosts—there on the river
xxxxa sparkle, where a naiad swims and shivers.

A naiad swims, sparkling a glow,
silver on the surface, though dark below.

xxxxThe dark below crawls through our dreams
xxxxwith monster claws and demonic screams.

The monsters and demons of nightmares—your ghost--
all banished by the light of day--or almost--

xxxxthe light banishes ghosts, and so, hope grows
xxxxlike a smile, like a daffodil in snow.

A daffodil, a smile in melted snow, hope sings
 for the winter’s tale re-told each spring.






This is for today’s NaPoWriMo prompt, a type of poem called a duplex, a form invented by poet Jericho Brown. I think mine still needs work. This is also a response to Ingrid’s dVerse prompt to use one of Shakespeare's play titles she selected. I chose A Winter’s Tale.

Sparkling Delaware River

Measuring

Monday Morning Musings:

Early Morning, Delaware River at Red Bank Battlefield ©️Merril D. Smith, 2021

Measure by measure—

in hope and despair
from winter bare to sun-charged air

we smile through tears
with spirits brightened, but still the fears

of what comes next?
Another crisis, another text

of sorrow or disaster.
Can we master

moving from the passing of this year?
Too many lost, but we’re still here–

and so, we live as we’re able,
finally meet across a table

to eat and laugh, while those who’ve passed
remain within our memories, clasped

in synapsed snapshots, held fast,
until all is faded, at last,

everything balanced, a measure
of sadness, a finding of treasure

in the remembrance of what she said,
those words, like a thread

linking us, a connection
a form of resurrection

in “do you remember?” Phrases bright—
like the promise, with shadows, there’s light.

Ripples. One Year. ©️Merril D. Smith, 2021

April is a strange month all over, it seems—one day cold, one day warm, full of storms, and also flowers. A bunch of tulips that we didn’t plant have popped up in our garden.

Yesterday was the first anniversary of my mother’s death. Now that we’ve all been vaccinated, we went to our younger daughter and son-in-law’s house—and for the first time in over a year, hugged and ate inside. She made us a tapas feast, and I baked a chocolate cake in my mom’s memory.

My husband and I both got haircuts for the first time in over a year, too. Woo hoo! We celebrated with a date night at home and streamed the excellent production of the Lantern Theater’s production of Measure for Measure. It was a filmed production from a few years ago. The play is very timely. We watched the movie, Promising Young Woman, (rental from Amazon), which my husband and I both enjoyed and thought was very good—great acting, direction, and soundtrack. Both play and movie will inspire discussion.

Such Stuff

Odilon Redon, “Flower Clouds”

“We are such stuff as dreams are made on”
William Shakespeare, The Tempest.

We soar past sleep,
stop to eat

the stars—swallow as they glide,
we abide

outside and within–
of such stuff, our dreams begin

to flutter-float, winging high
to fly upon some glittery boat

then with a quivery sigh,
they drift away, whispering goodbye.

A quadrille for dVerse. Lisa is hosting and asks us to use the word, “abide.”

Castaway

Image Credit: © Sally Cronin

 

“We all were sea-swallow’d, though some cast again,

And by that destiny to perform an act

Whereof what’s past is prologue,”

–William Shakespeare, The Tempest

 

 

Castaway,

the tide brings treasures

lost at sea,

and found–

we begin again

 

find magic

in ordinary things,

discover beauty

and hold life in woven strands–

fated patterns of past and future.

 

A gogyohka sequence for Colleen’s Tanka Tuesday—photo prompt using the photo above by Sally Cronin, and also linking this to dVerse Open Link Night.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Well, To Love, NaPoWriMo

IMG_7239

Well, to love

in that time of year

when spring fancy turns to summer heat

and to love well and sweet

that which is young and sleek,

simmering with fire-passion, consume

the green with new-sprung bloom.

Yet, autumn’s color also bursts

in fiery hues,

and glows diffused

in russet-gold glimmer, behold–

till twilight turns it dark and midnight tolled.

Still, there’s no wrong in loving strong

and right in loving well and loving long.

 

Day 27 of NaPoWriMo asks us “to ‘remix’ a Shakespearean sonnet.” Busy day for me,  so this is a quick fourteen line, non-sonnet, riffing on Sonnet LXXIII.

 

Telling the Story

Monday Morning Musings:

“Go out and tell the story.

Let it echo far and wide.

Make them hear you.

Make them hear you.

How that justice was our battle and how justice

Was denied.

Make them hear you.

Make them hear you.”

— from Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty, “Let Them Hear You,” Ragtime

 

“Our children

See them running down the beach

Children run so fast

Toward the future

From the past”

–from Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty, “Our Children,” Ragtime

 

 

Dawn comes to tell the story

of the day,

the sun rising, a fact, or perhaps allegory

of what might be,

but at dawn we still have to wait and see

what will unfold over the hours

wait and behold, to see if it’s sweet,

or if it sours.

Will there be light and flowers,

or angry tears of raging showers?

 

We travel over the cool bridge*

Commodore Barry Bridge

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

listening to the voice we’ve named Siobhan,

she guides us to our destination

no hesitation

on her part

though we wonder as she directs

us to wander,

and ponder

at her choices—but she gets us there.

And it’s where we want to be.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s a hot day,

but fine if we stay

in the shade

and made

more pleasant

by costumed musicians playing flute

and a stringed instrument—but not a lute–

Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

so, we munch

our lunches, listening, as we crunch

and enjoy this day–

wait for more of what it has to say.

Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s a day of protests,

and I am thankful for those who brave the heat

trying to fight and unseat

the evil—so obvious–that is being done

with children in cages, rights that were won

being stripped away–

a new horror every day–

evil has become commonplace,

even while it’s made banal

(build that wall, he still says

this excrescence, the prez)

And we sway in the breezes of change

wanting to blink and look away

but hoping still

it will go our way–

this story of our days.

 

So, we see this play,

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

a musical, and I’m amazed

at the way

it’s so timely today–

full of immigrants fleeing

and wanting the American dream

though things are not always the way they seem,

as white women are awakened to life beyond their homes

and people of color

striving for rights and equality,

though there is no apology

for the discrimination, only denial

without fair trial

or justice–

And, ok, I get choked up

when Sarah runs down to meet Coalhouse

even though I knew it was coming

and it’s possible I was crying by the end

of the story—I won’t pretend—

it’s true,

I was moved by the magic of theater,

perhaps you would have been, too.

 

It might seem funny that we see

this musical, not a Shakespearean play

at a festival named for the bard,

Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

but it’s not hard

to understand

the popularity of musicals.

But he wrote of current events and history

and it’s no mystery

that his plays would have been performed with song–

perhaps the audience hummed along

to some familiar tunes.

Though all the female roles then were played by men,

well, things go around and around again

(Remember when we saw a woman play Hamlet’s role?

Gender no longer is the control.)

 

We ask Siobhan to guide us home

where we feed our cats,

(upset at being left alone)

wait for the sun to set

and the moon to rise,

wait for people to hear the babies’ cries

to set the course of things to where they should be,

where children are free,

not locked away, torn from their parents’ arms

but instead, quite naturally, kept safe from harm.

And by and by

the stars twinkle and sigh,

sing to us a lullaby.

I make a wish by candle light

for wisdom to come—perhaps tonight,

I’ll tell the stories of truth and right

and wait for some to listen,

Can I make them hear me?

I guess I’ll have to wait and see.

 

*Our children–actually their stuffed animal friends–named the Commodore Barry Bridge, “the Cool Bridge.

I’ve listened to the music of the musical Ragtime–and in fact, one summer I listened to it so often in the car that I pretty much had it memorized. But I had never before seen the show. This was a wonderful production with Broadway actors with great voices (and some fortunate DeSales students filling in some of the ensemble roles). It was very well-staged and the costumes were great, too.

Here’s Brian Stokes Mitchell singing, “Let Them Hear You.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fair and Foul and Fair

Monday Morning Musings:

“So fair and foul a day I have not seen.”

–William Shakespeare, Macbeth, Act I, Scene 3

“To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays have lighted fools
The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.”

–William Shakespeare, Macbeth, Act V, Scene 5

“A library is infinity under a roof.”

—Gail Carson Levine

 

I lust for language–

a thousand symphonies play in my head

like light on water, ripples tripling

the glowing

flowing,

sending words, like spindrift into the sky

never lies,

but truth amplified.

I see the storms of summer spring

and hear the mockingbird sing

in night and day

he stays–

wanting love and standing guard

his tiny body working hard.

I feel

(ever present)

the ghosts around me sighing

and do they fear

from year to year

what was and what will be?

The circling of time

and life beating

(so fleeting),

but renewed again and again.

 

We walk through galleries

and by the river

(life giver)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

flowing through a city that has grown

built with wood, and bricks, and stone,

a nation conceived, and ideas flown

(now people find them on their phones).

But still—here they are gathered

scattered on grass

biking, running,

or rowing, sun-glimmered,

forward and back

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

like time

(the Muse says)–

they’re in their prime

now

in this clime

the moment frozen in a thought

or captured in a rhyme

but before long

they will be gone.

 

Museums and libraries

I celebrate–

spread my books out on a table

enabling those who pass to see them better

West Deptford Public Library Book Festival

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

to read the letters and titles

though mine don’t sell

people stop by to wish me well

and support the work I do—

telling the truth

when some others seldom do.

 

We go out later to drink some wine

and dine in the open air

Sharrott Winery, Hammonton, NJ

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

the day turns fair, then foul, then fair

where birds flutter and fly

and children cry

with delight

running in fields in the fading light.

 

We see the Scottish play

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

on a cooler day–

then again it moves from foul to fair

threatening skies to a more spring-like air.

But inside this grand library

Free Library of Philadelphia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

something wicked this way comes

though there are only two witches instead of three

(something in this version that bothered me).

Yet the acting is good, and the Macbeths

both powerful and vulnerable

to fate

that they help to make.

As the drum beats. and the swords fly

time in the theater passes by,

and tales from another age verify

the universals truths of humankind

(though this production streamlined),

all the tomorrows,

and the yesterdays,

the sound and the fury,

our vision often blurry

during our brief stay—

and yet we find a way

with stories and art

to share our hearts.

 

Once we had leaders who valued art

and learning,

understood the yearning to know

truth and beauty.

It is our duty

then to spread such ideas,

no matter what he says

and they believe

the false faces and words

that constantly deceive.

Yes, the storm is coming

and let it blow

away the discordant tunes

and the starless nights

for bright humming moons

and radiant light.

 

Sister Cities Fountain

 

 

 

 

Skylark: Haibun

Frank is continuing his bird-challenges. This week it the skylark.

 

We sit in a vineyard watching a production of Romeo and Juliet. Onstage, the lark sings, the lovers part in sweet sorrow, longing for a tomorrow that never comes. Offstage, the sun sets and the night birds call. In the twilight, my husband and I, together for over four decades, listen to human voices and to nature around us. We have had the joys, the sorrows, the todays, and the hopes for tomorrows. We sip our wine and smile, happy to be here, happy to be together.

 

skylark in dawn flight

summer’s promises in song

winged love soars with hope

 

Sunset, Auburn Road Vineyards

Auburn Road Vineyards

 

Of Lies and Better Things on the Way

Monday Morning Musings:

 

Men should be what they seem,

Or those that be not, would they might seem none!

–William Shakespeare, Othello, Act III, Scene iii

“ they are not men o’ their words: they told me I was everything; ’tis a lie…”

–William Shakespeare, King Lear, Act IV, Scene vi

“Here’s wishing you the bluest sky
And hoping something better comes tomorrow
Hoping all the verses rhyme,
And the very best of choruses to
Follow all the doubt and sadness
I know that better things are on their way.”
–from Dar Williams, “Better Things”

 

We walk through a living, mortal city

see buildings transformed

here an insurance building, now condominiums

a Starbucks at its base

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is the history erased

or still held there, a trace of perfume or smoke

left somewhere in a bit of old oak

and here, the cobblestones and bricks remain

some things, perhaps, stay the same

IMG_7152

We travel through space and time

in books, movies, theater, art

from my small town’s fall festival

to Philadelphia streets

then we enter the London theater

of centuries ago—a show,

the stage framed with the red velvet proscenium curtains

uncertain what we will see

amongst the esteemed company

there at Convent Garden

where a substitute actor

steps in to play the part of Othello, the Moor–

a black man? Well, that’s not been done before!

A character declares, “People come to the theater to get away from reality.”

The cast members of this well-known London troupe are divided,

some undecided about how they feel,

but willing to try some new techniques

or at least to somewhat tweak

their stylized manner and gestures

though scandalized at how Othello touches Desdemona

Do they understand the play and his persona?

We see a bit of the handkerchief scene

enough to glean how it might have been

the critics were vicious, in racist prose

derided Ira Aldridge’s performance in the show.

He is an anomaly upon the stage

We see there both passion and his rage

later hear him, as Lear in madness decry the lies

as fury builds and slowly dies,

around him, slavery still exists

(and even now)

though we can hope through sorrow

that better things come tomorrow

and better things are on their way

 

We discuss and dine

and drink some wine

(well, beer for him)

we’re both well pleased by the cheese

that we nibble sitting there as day turns to night

caressed by a breeze

perhaps it’s wandered round the world

unfurled and carried hope and sorrow

and we discuss the present and the lies

ignorance that triumphs over facts or the wise

but still we hope that tomorrow

better things are on their way

 

Younger daughter and I go to a concert

Dar Williams sang of the pagans and Christians

sitting at the table–

and just like them, we’re able to sit with different folk

but at least they were silent, and no one spoke

and I was more fascinated than annoyed

by the man touching the woman and the other woman stroking her hair

both unaware, I suppose, that we couldn’t help but stare

as we enjoyed the songs, the reading, our food and wine

so yes, we also came to dine

(a bit like the Gilmore Girls—

if they were vegetarians with curls)

and Dar sang of the babysitter, now urban planner

and “positive proximity”

(despite city’s life often anonymity)

she spoke of transformations she has seen

spaces empty and dark, now full of life, green

and when she sang “Iowa,” we all sang along

we all sang the chorus to the song

and despite lost hopes in November

our fears and sorrow

we left in hopes for better things tomorrow

that better things are on their way

 

In the blood

in the dreams

in the cities

and in the seams

and it seems

and it seems

that we wade through streams

against the current

things that are and things that weren’t

sometimes floating

ever light

drifting far and out of sight

journeys through space, time, day, and night

to ponder, to wonder

at art’s spell, we fall under

does it hide or amplify

the truth and the lies

and those who are afraid of women

and those who lie, quite unredeemed

or even worse

(notes on a theme)

they are exactly what they seem

but in our sorrow, we can dream of tomorrow

and let hope linger here, now stay

better things are on their way

 

We saw Red Velvet at the Lantern Theater Company.  The play is based on the life of the real actor, Ira Aldridge. We saw Dar Williams at World Cafe Live.