The Show Goes On

Monday Morning Musings:

“Life is a theatre set in which there are but few practicable entrances.”

― Victor Hugo, Les Misérables

“We do on stage things that are supposed to happen off. Which is a kind of integrity, if you look on every exit as being an entrance somewhere else.”

― Tom Stoppard, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead

 “Some birds sing when the sun is bright/my praise is not for them/but the one who sings in the dead of night/I raise my cup to him.” (“I Raise My Cup”).

–Anaïs Mitchell, Hadestown

Linger here,

in the never-always

remembering

one thing,

two,

three–

remembering

only this,

who, if not when,

the sunshine dazzling,

as laughter

the bluest sky,

and dreams rising

to dance in the clouds.

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***

Long days

in the approach of summer solstice

long weeks of dread

and anticipation,

of entrances and exits,

of missed cues

and dropped lines.

 

We cherish intermissions

to drink wine in the golden glow

sunsets all the backdrop needed

a show in itself

A Girl and Her Puppy, William Heritage Winery

as the show goes on

as daughters comfort me,

and I try to comfort my mother,

life circles around and around

and around and around–

We talk of pets

and medicine and Pride,

and love is love is love is love is love–

walls come up,

walls are torn down,

sometimes Mother is wrong,

sometimes Mother is right. . .

 

The mockingbird sings

in the dead of night,

a solo turn

in nature’s theater,

I raise my glass to him,

the show goes on.

 

 

It has been a long week. My mom is out of rehab and back in her apartment, but she needs a lot of care. There have been visits, and endless phone calls, texts, and emails. We had glorious weather this past weekend–cool nights, sunshine-filled days. It’s raining today.

We haven’t been to the movies lately, but I take my Merril’s movie club seriously, so I can recommend  I Am Mother on Netflix.  My husband and I both liked it, and it kept me interested after a long, exhausting day with my mom. It’s set in a post-apocalyptic world where Mother, a robot, is raising her human Daughter. I watched the Tony awards last night. (To be honest, I watched most of it, but I couldn’t stay awake to the end.) Hadestown—which looks like such a Merril play—won best musical and seven other awards. Here’s the Broadway trailer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Remembering

Monday Morning Musings:

“The purpose of theatre is to bring into public that which is kept offstage. . .”

Paula Vogel, The New Yorker, May 12, 2017.

“We have a story we want to tell you . . .About a play. A play that changed my life. Every night we tell this story—but somehow I can never remember the end. … No matter. I can remember how it begins. It all starts with this moment—”

From Paula Vogel, Indecent

 

About that breeze

carrying the scent of flowers

in the rain—

now rust-tinged with blood–

does it haunt you?

Listen–

the sound of ghosts walking

through ashes, whispering, whispering

the sound of pain

the sound of love and desire

carried through time

***

 

We walk

(through, around, over

ghosts)

steps echoing

a city filled

with art and history

there a bridge

named for a poet

(who lived in Camden)

who celebrated history

and nature

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human bodies and love

(he spoke of that

which was not spoken)

indecent, some said

unnamed the fear

of love

is love is love is love is love

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Celebrating Walt Whitman’s 200th with homemade pizza and Auburn Road’s Eidolon wine

 

We walk after

seeing my mother

her body dimmed,

no longer so electric

but still pulsing light

 

generates the warmth

the air, the sky

on a beautiful spring

we eat outside

where souls once gathered

celebrating god and man

and new beginnings

(blinks of time)

 

the ghosts gather

telling the story

over and over

knowing how it begins,

never knowing how it ends

 

the play begins with ashes

that later return

but remember the rain scene

(that rain scene!)

that glorious love

passionate and innocent

that shocked—

indecent they said,

that play, and this play

about it–

this love song to Yiddish theater,

to theater,

to the light within us

to memory

to time

 

so relevant the themes again

immigrants demonized,

and we more polarized

and there is fear

all around

(like ghosts)

 

twelve more dead,

we shake our heads,

go on with life

(with thoughts and prayers)

but the dead stay dead

and the ghosts whisper,

remember. . .

 

Yet, we create

and generate

(our bodies electric)

music,

art, and poetry

channeling muses

and spirits

remembering

(the rain scene)

the scent of rain

the light through the trees

Sylvia Schreiber, Giverny Sketches

and love–

there is love

all around

 

and friendships

that stay true

through births and deaths

generating

regenerating

remembering

this moment

to the next

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always how it begins,

but never how it ends–

the lights go down,

the lights come again,

the ashes fall,

the ghosts whisper,

remember this moment,

remember this

 

It was a busy weekend: another mass shooting, a celebration, visiting my mom, seeing Indecent at the Arden (I love this play), walks, a bridal shower. We also saw Book of Mormon, the Broadway touring company, but I couldn’t fit that in. We’ve seen it before, and it enjoyed seeing it again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ghost Hearts

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Monday Morning Musings:

“My heart is a shadow,

a light and a guide.

Closed or open…

I get to decide.”

From Corinna Luyker, My Heart

“The people you love become ghosts inside of you, and like this you keep them alive.”

–Robert Montgomery   See a photo of his text installation here. 

 

Yet who whispers

in the summer-sweet night,

where the smell of storms lurk?

There beneath the diamond sky

shadows dance

to the music of life

and death

pants just beyond the light

in the wind-spray of time.

***

I walk by the river park

baby geese and vultures

side-by-side, stark

 

reminders of life and death

cycles like after harsh

winter, spring’s soft breath

caresses mind and soul

and somehow—

we want it all,

 

all the magic of water and air

the delight of light—

time to spare

 

to savor the young

remember the laughter

and all the songs sung

 

and the ones unsung

if we could go back—

trip words from tongue,

 

forgiveness, remembrance

lost gestures and moments

rearranged in order, some semblance

 

of what could be

if or when

or what will it be, see

 

how life circles, the mom me

and she the one needing help

and she doesn’t see

 

well at all,

her vision diminished

unsteady, the mighty fall.

 

Once my daughter said to me

“remember when I hiccupped

inside your belly and you laughed?” See—

 

how do you explain these things?

Circles of life and death

and all it brings.

 

We try to stop time for a bit

eat pizza, drink wine

time to talk—and just sit

 

(doing nothing)

We watch a movie of ghosts and art,

a vulnerable woman

she opens her soul, her heart

 

is shadow-filled, she grieves

sees ghosts,

though she’s not sure she believes

 

but to create

one has to be open–

the muse, a mysterious state

 

of being,

perhaps there are spirits

or some other way of seeing

 

(of being)

 

There is a place in my heart

where my father lives

and all my ancestors, too, a part

 

of my what? My essence, my soul,

the me-ness of me

the all-ness of all?

 

My mother grows old,

but somewhere in time

she is young, in a fold,

 

a pleat, a wrinkled web

where time-space

flows and ebbs,

 

and perhaps ghosts call,

walk in shadowed paths

through my heart, they rise and fall–

 

hear them sigh

as up to the stars

they carry you, me—we fly.

Morning Moon Does Her High Wire Act

Morning Moon Does Her High Wire Aerial Routine

 

We watched the movie, Personal Shopper on Netflix. Kristen Stewart is a personal shopper/medium grieving her dead twin brother–there are ghosts and references to the artist Hilma af Klint. I liked it. Watch it with someone because you will want to discuss it. I may have to watch it again. . .

And here is a bonus, if you haven’t heard this version of Paul McCartney’s “Blackbird” translated and sung in Mik Maq. I thought of this last night when I was thinking of birds and ghosts (and not quite dead languages).

 

 

 

 

This Life, NaPoWriMo

William Heritage Winery

This life, dull

as it seems, without

flashy cars

or jazzy

toys, expensive vacations

to island beaches–

 

still, it’s mine

loved for its loving,

family,

husband, and

children, friends, the poetry

found in moon and stars,

 

in sunshine

moments of cat purrs–

wine kisses,

coffee and

talk, a movie, and a walk

into the sunset.

 

This life, dull

only to others,

but to me

contentment

(most of the time). Yes, worries,

but still, I’m dancing. . .

into the sunset.

 

 

Today, Day 12, NaPoWriMo, challenges us “to write a poem about a dull thing that you own, and why (and how) you love it.”  Another shadorma train and more lists.

 

 

 

 

 

Spring Show: NaPoWriMo

Spring, University of Pennsylvania

Monday Morning Musings:

“Dance is the hidden language of the soul, of the body. And it’s partly the language that we don’t want to show.”

–“Martha Graham Reflects on Her Art and a Life in Dance” (31 March 1985); republished in The New York Times Guide to the Arts of the 20th Century (2002), p. 2734.

“A study in scarlet, eh? Why shouldn’t we use a little art jargon? There’s the scarlet thread of murder running through the colourless skein of life, and our duty is to unravel it, and isolate it, and expose every inch of it.”

–Arthur Conan Doyles, “A Study in Scarlet”

 

 

From a garden

nature sings

dressed for spring

she puts on a show.

Can we,

do we

should we know

the answers?

They blow to the sky

in pastel petals—

Why?

***

We board the train

(no more rain)

So, notice the patterns

of shadows and light

the people shedding jackets,

the delight

of sunlight on the skin,

the day begins.

 

We walk—

a limited edition

cityscape

in an oeuvre that is vast

at last

feeling spring is here.

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Oh, look at the river view,

and how the artist expresses

something both old and new

Schuylkill River from Walnut Street

See the trees?

A work of impressionist art

Combined with naturalism,

Realism,

And there a bit of abstract expressionism.

A study in pink,

I think.

(Love in the air.)

Notice the light.

in this installation,

and the palette of hues

the vivid blues,

the pink, the white,

yellow added to this site.

Now inside,

the dancers dance

bodies tango

they go

this way,

slide from couple to trio

fusion of moves

cues

(she’s in high heels)

catch, swerve

in gender-fluid dives

into each other,

what divides us–

the sensual steps,

the turns,

we yearn

for what?

“No exit,” Sartre says

(ideas compressed)

from seeing ourselves

as others do,

and how do we hold on to

me or you?

We wander back

outside where spring

dances, prances, and glides.

An aside–

we converse with Ben

once again.

And the next day,

I’m once again outside

spring fever,

I decide

No cure,

but to immerse myself

once more.

See, there–

we drink some wine

our thoughts aligned

with others

of similar mind

the winery is crowded.

But this April day—

I wish it’d stay.

Then it’s gone—

another painting on the wall

but yet, not banal.

Don’t you adore

the artist’s shading?

Watch how–

there now–

see the bright light of day

slowly fading

to darkness,

come the night.

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Day Eight of NaPoWriMo challenges us “to think about the argot of a particular job or profession, and see how you can incorporate it into a metaphor that governs or drives your poem.”  I used some jargon of the art world.

On Saturday, we saw Union Tanguera + Kate Weare Company, “Sin Salida,” at the Annenberg Center. Here’s a short video from the company.

 

 

 

 

 

How to Step into Spring: NaPoWriMo

Monday Morning Musings:

“Let the rain kiss you.

Let the rain beat upon your head with silver liquid drops.

Let the rain sing you a lullaby.”

–from Langston Hughes, “April Rain Song”

 

Ah, happy, happy boughs! that cannot shed

Your leaves, nor ever bid the Spring adieu;

—John Keats, Ode on a Grecian Urn

 

She sings from an ache,

raw winds blow, shake

the bare-branched trees,

and the seas weep

till they are silenced by ice–

but on her daughter’s return

the snow melts,

and the sun burns

brightly, birds flitter and coo

and flowers wake with smiles

–and you?

You, smile, too–because

too soon we bid Spring adieu.

***

In the last days of March,

we walk through woods

find shadows and light

breathe air fresh and bright,

with a hint of chill–still

then comes the rain–again

In the last days of March

birds twitter and tweet

at the mornings sweet

with promise of days fair

then the air turns again

and we learn that spring

is here. . . then there

 

In the last days of March,

we walk down city streets

see a show

and have our treats

of wine, beer, cheese

(yes, a bit more please)

and come home at night

to find daffodils have bloomed

shining golden beacons of light

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In the last days of March,

we make candles

sitting in a room full of scent

invent clever names–

imagine a small burning flame

bringing light,

a small delight,

and we drink wine and talk

then walk

and talk some more

 

of stories and poetry

Langston Hughes, Keats,

Shelley, and Persephone, too.

We talk of teachers we knew

of stories completed in dreams

of how the world seems

sometimes horrid, and

sometimes reborn,

fresh and new.

On the last day of March

it rains—

again—

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we gather to eat—

bagels and cream cheese

my mother is pleased

to be out and about in another place,

but it’s a dog who steals the show—

of course, you know

how it is, and so,

we talk about this and that

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then we go home to feed our cats. . .

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and wake upon a cold April first

(isn’t that the worst?)

Well, I suppose it could be snow,

and so. . .we go forward to the spring

(let the rain kiss you)

and that’s how it’s done, we bring

our past to the future

spring forward, looking back,

we stop, step lightly—

breathe

here, this moment of

yellow flowers, pink blooms

and birdsong–

now, spring looms

and I pause

to listen

to its tune.

 

Today is the first day of April, and the first day of National/Global Poetry Writing Month! Today’s prompt is “how to do something.” I’ve played on it a bit for today’s Monday Morning Musings.

My younger daughter and I went to Wax and Wine in Philadelphia. (It was her belated birthday present.)  And because we’re both nerds, we were actually discussing writing and poetry while drinking wine and eating gorgonzola-fig bruschetta at Vintage Wine Bar.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NaPoWriMo

 

 

 

 

Harbingers of Hope and Fear

Monday Morning Musings:

“They look like what you aren’t expecting. What you aren’t paying attention to.”

Neil Gaiman, “Click-clack the Rattlebag”

“Between those happenings that prefigure it
And those that happen in its anamnesis
Occurs the Event, but that no human wit
Can recognize until all happening ceases.”

–W.H. Auden, Epigraph in his Homage to Clio

 

I wanted to write about spring,

about flowers and birdsong–

petrichor–

the things before

the sky turned grey

and people were killed

as they prayed

(they were prey).

 

Here I see the crocuses bloom,

sunlight pours into the rooms

through windows opened wide.

(How do we stem the tide,

the hate and fear

that appears

year after year

after year?)

 

He says there’s no big threat

as he foments and abets,

time before and time after

disasters loom

say the forecasters

tornados and floods

in the heartland

(land of hearts—

What is the sound of them breaking?)

 

My heart beats

some no longer do–

the ones who aren’t you

reading these words

that fly across the page,

free to sing,

uncaged birds

of nouns, adjectives, and verbs

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of action

and reaction

What should we do?

What can we say

to drive the hate away?

Verbs: endure, resist, speak out, sway

push against the rising tide

the climate’s changing

(too many dead).

 

And is it wrong to drink some wine?

celebrate life

while there’s time?

To laugh at a chicken amidst the vines–

more verbs: to love, to dance, to find romance?

If we don’t do these things

then don’t fear and hate win–

making us grovel and dour

unable to see or smell the budding flowers?

 

And so, we listen to music

“Making the best of a bad situation,”

he sings

we laugh

we tap our feet with the beat

of guitar strumming,

the music remains in my head

humming–

though fear

still floats through the air,

between the happenings

the imaginings

and the paying attention

through the misdirection–

sometimes they look like what

you’re not expecting–

you might misconstrue.

But beware,

sometimes they do.

 

Yet—when I open my door

at the start of day

wondering if I’ve lost my way–

my soul rises and soars

to hear the predawn choir sing

returning to nest again

in budding trees,

I seize this moment

make it mine,

the joy it brings–

harbinger–

now, I write about spring.

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We saw Tom Rush at the World Café in Philadelphia last night. His concerts are always a treat. This concert was my husband’s birthday present.

***The WP Gremlins were enjoying themselves last Monday. Some people told me they never got a notification about my post that day. Here it is, if you didn’t see it and you’re interested.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Connections

Monday Morning Musings:

“In a poem, one line may hide another line,

As at a crossing, one train may hide another train.”

–From Kenneth Koch (1925-2002), “One Train May Hide Another”

Full poem here

“Two girls discover

the secret of life

in a sudden line of

poetry.”

From Denise Levertov (1923-1997), “The Secret”

Full poem here.

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Ask if–

and in the language of cool whispers

she sings,

urging us

to what we want—

to soar

Everything is connected. . .

***

The days are cold, then warm,

next comes a storm

of snow, ice, rain,

till the sun shines again

as off to Florida he goes

no emergency, everybody knows

is this the beginning or the end—

only time will tell, my friend

 

if the country lives through this mess

this miasma of awfulness

and where will we go from here–

everything connected, but not so clear

 

why birds appear, everywhere

on the water, and in the clouds

I laugh aloud to see them there

and sigh to catch one unaware

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of how his beauty brightens my day

the dreariness, the gloom, held at bay

one tree branch may hide another—

and behind that, some other–

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a bit of beauty, once unseen

now there it is, what does it mean?

“Beauty is truth, truth beauty”

I wonder–is it something in-between

 

the lines of time, of place

the love that flutters in the space

between two lines—

sometimes it shines

 

in words, in deeds, or touches in time

OK, so, I didn’t make him a Valentine–

but I prepared some fondue

and we enjoyed it—well, wouldn’t you?–

along with the dipping and drinking

wine, and laughing

just enjoying without asking

as stomachs swelling, sinking

 

with all that bread and cheese

(just a bit more, please)

then chocolate to follow–

and if I walk with a bit of a waddle

 

well, more to love,

just give me a shove,

and next day to the gym

I’ll go for me, and not for him

***

We walk through the city

cold, but in sunshine, pretty

we watch a movie about art

and connection, in nature, and the part

 

between humans in ways known and not

perhaps the person you meet, was someone caught

somehow in your life, the whys unknown, and the when

as rain falls, to nourish fields, then evaporates again

 

part of a cycle, through history and time–

love and hate, poverty, wars, crime–

and how we express these things in art,

how do we share our passion and heart?

 

The movie is about art and history,

of the artist, and the mystery

of inspiration and creation,

and of repression and degradation

 

of people by those who are supposed to serve,

but instead they swerve

to serve hate with cool efficiency–

its own mental deficiency

 

as I see it, but not the one they wished to eliminate

with a path that looked so pat and straight

sterilization and cremation,

all to build their master race and nation.

 

And yet, art remains,

strains our brains

unchains with its power

though they censor and glower

 

at artists who speak the truth

and don’t look away, (not just the youth)

or any gender or race, but there is a trace

in all of us, a creative spark, a grace–

 

well, that is what I think about,

perhaps a shout out

to how we’re connected through the ages

In different paths, and through different stages,

but for now—I’ll stop and drink some wine

pretend or find that all is fine,

connect the dots, from below to above

with my musing thoughts to ask if. . .love

 

I wasn’t certain how to begin this Monday musing, so I went to the Oracle, who gave me the opening—which fit so well– of course–and another connection.

 

We saw the movie, Never Look Away. I love that my husband, whose birthday is today, will readily go with me to see a three-hour German movie. (Dale may be the only other person I know who might see it), but we both really liked it. And it honestly did not seem that long. It’s about an artist, Kurt Barnert, based, perhaps loosely, on the life of German artist Gerhard Richter. Barnert grows up during the rise of the Nazis and WWII and then lives in East Germany. When he is a child, his beautiful and beloved aunt Elisabeth tells him to “never look away.” Through her, he is connected to art, history, and to choices— both random and those he makes in his own life. Trailer here.

We also went to a wine and chocolate tasting event at William Heritage Winery. I appear to have really enjoyed that wine. 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Horror, Storms, Pass the Wine, and Look for Grace—Monday Morning Musings

Monday Morning Musings:

“No live organism can continue for long to exist sanely under conditions of absolute reality; even larks and katydids are supposed, by some, to dream. Hill House, not sane, stood by itself against its hills, holding darkness within; it had stood so for eighty years and might stand for eighty more. Within, walls continued upright, bricks met neatly, floors were firm, and doors were sensibly shut; silence lay steadily against the wood and stone of Hill House, and whatever walked there, walked alone.”

–Shirley Jackson, The Haunting of Hill House

“(“Do not equate nationalism with patriotism,” Perry warned Juliet. “Nationalism is the first step on the road to Fascism.”)”

–Kate Atkinson, Transcription

A storm comes and roars,

in waves upon the shores

and tears through towns

with rains and winds—the sounds

of climate wars

where there were homes

there’s now a void–

so much destroyed.

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Here we have only some rain and wind

nothing unmoored, nothing unpinned

from where it should be

the only horror we see

comes on TV,

where things go bumping in the night–

though not as scary as reality

yet we wish and keep hope afloat

that we’ll live to see things be all right.

 

Once we had a president who sang “Amazing Grace,”*

now we have one without a trace

of empathy or wisdom,

separating families,

putting them in prisons

behind barbed wire—

and who does he admire?

Dictators!

(and those who feed his ego—

please all of you, just go!)

 

So, as the days get dreary

I try to be cheery,

find color in pumpkins and leaves

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that fall on ground and eaves.

I cook and bake

hope to shake—

if not the world—

then wake a few,

hope and wish,

the good and true

will outlast, outshine

redefine the new.

 

On a chilly day,

we brighten our spirits

with family, a dog, and wine

spend time conversing

about this and that

we chat about birth

(with a bit of mirth)

as my son-in-law is studying

to be a nurse–

(quite a path he’s traversed

to get there)

and we sit as children ask

to pet their cute pup—

until at last the time is up

and we must go

our separate ways—

well, it’s getting too chilly to stay.

 

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Clouds over William Heritage Winery

I wake to morning mist–and sigh

think, today, I’ll take my apples

and bake a pie.

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We’ll eat it as evening

darkens the room

perhaps to brighten

fall’s impending gloom.

The cats will sleep on cushions nearby,

and we will bid the day goodbye.

 

 

*I was reminded of this when I heard Joan Baez on the New Yorker Radio Hour. Here the song is illustrated in a lovely, moving short animated film.

We watched the first episode of Netflix’s sort of adaptation of the Haunting of Hill House.  The original movie terrified me. I thought the first episode of this version (if you can get over that it’s not actually an adaptation of the story) was OK, but not great. But we will watch the next episode.

But we also watched the movie Eighth Grade–which really was wonderful–even though we all know that age has its own horrors.

I’m reading Transcription by Kate Atkinson. It’s wonderful.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Once

Monday Morning Musings:

“Falling slowly, sing your melody

I’ll sing it loud”

From “Falling Slowly,” Once,

Music and lyrics by Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová

Once. . . I woke in darkness. Then the sun rose golden through rose-tinged clouds. The air was cool but clear. The world shifted and tilted. Dreams rose from the misted woods.

morning moon whispered

softly, praise touched red-gold leaves

geese honked overhead

Morning Moon

If you look carefully, there’s the morning moon.

chevron rises up

earth cycles, river to land,

the tide ebbs and flows

Geese at Red Bank Battlefield Park, NJ

We take a train into the city. We walk over sun-bright cobblestones, passing tourists who stroll and chat in a variety of languages. We wait on corners as wide city buses try to turn onto narrow streets. We enter a theater. Seats surround a center stage area covered with Oriental rugs. Musicians are playing Irish songs of the past and present. I bop in my seat to “Brown Eyed Girl” and tap my feet to a jig. Last call for the bar. The lights go down, and magic begins.

man meets a woman

music flows, drifts from their souls,

they’re falling slowly

 

together in tune

Dublin days strummed in rhythm–

piano echoes

 

musicians rebound

music from aisles and walkways

crowd smiles and applauds

We walk and talk. Watch the lowering sun shine through cloud-dappled sky. Red bricks glow. In Washington Square, a young girl whispers her secrets to a tree. Does it answer?

music of nature

city sounds form the chorus

we dine al fresco

Again. . .

We dine al fresco

wine and pizza in sunshine

a dog rests in joy

Nightfall comes too soon,

moon rises to hum goodnight—

cats slumber and dream

 

Sleeping Cat

Once. . .September was full of rain. The world was full of anger and sorrow and lies. But once, September ended in a perfect weekend of sunny days and cooler nights–falling slowly into October.

 

We saw the  musical Once at the Arden Theatre Company in Philadelphia. It was a performance full of warmth and spirit, wonderfully staged. Here they are rehearsing “Falling Slowly.