All the Haunted Mays: Prosery

Winslow Homer, On the Hill

All the Haunted Mays

I’m coming.

Despite my brave words, I don’t feel like a hawk. I’m a hummingbird flying backwards into the past. Remember that one perfect May Day when we forgot the war, the occupation, and our unending nightmare world? We shared a baguette that was almost edible and a semi-drinkable bottle of wine, as we pretended the safe house was ours. I wasn’t Nighthawk then either. We were simply Julia and Paul in love–or so I wanted to believe.

I can’t change the past, but I must discover the truth to live in the present. I will find you. I must find you and talk to you face-to-face. For how can I be sure? I shall see again the world on the first of May, or I’ll perish in the attempt. I refuse to be haunted by ghosts any longer. I choose the living.

This is another installment of my non-linear spy tale. Here is a link to the previous one. I’m hosting Prosery on dVerse today. The prompt line to be included within a prose piece is

“For how can I be sure
I shall see again
The world on the first of May”
From “May Day” by Sara Teasdale

A Breath

Winslow Homer, Moonlight, Wood Island

A Breath

Listen—
moon-wreathed
the sky balanced between
night-hymn and dawn chorus, a breath
exhaled

a breath
and then one more
as wine-dark sea froths pale
and gull-laughter sounds from the shore
again

now watch
and see the world
around you breathe and stop
when baby chick is eagle-plucked
and gone

choices
are made–eagle,
chick, child, a soldier’s gun
loaded, aimed, then stopped with a cry,
a sigh

a breath,
a pause in time,
the world re-balances–
land, sea, sun, moon, stars join in song—
listen.

A cinq cinquain–five verses of five for the fifth day of the fifth month-for Laura’s prompt at dVerse. But I’ve also repeated the first line as the last, as in a crown cinquain.

Black Holes and Brown Paper Moons: Prosery

Winslow Homer, Moonlight, Wood Island

History, I think, is light trapped in a black hole. It is a moon wrapped in brown paper. Perhaps our love was also like that; something I did not see clearly then. Though how could I, or anyone, see beyond the occupation? Peace was a mirage, as was feeling comfortable. Still, we chased it. We were hiking an unmarked trail with hidden turns, pursued by beasts more horrible than any found in a fairy tale because they were human. And were you one of them? You were a shapeshifter with many names. Oh, I was a shapeshifter, too–perhaps we all were. I tell myself at night that I was working for good.

What do you tell yourself, Paul?

They said you’re dead, but I sense you out there. In my haunted dreams, I feel your presence—somewhere. Watch for me. I’m coming.

A continuation of my non-linear spy series for dVerse, Prosery using the line: “It is a moon wrapped in brown paper” from Carol Ann Duffy’s poem, Valentine.

The Rocky Shore

Winslow Homer, On a Lee Shore

A stone’s toss
from sea to beach,
where stoic women wait,

beseeching gods of stone-face
for their men’s grace.

Storm-tossed waves, deep-sea graves–

a stone’s toss
to stone-cut hearth, the fire dead.

Uncut threads
tie spirit-treads to stony-shore–
stone-cold hearts still yearn for more.

A quadrille for dVerse, where De asks us to use the word stone. I decided to go with the season.

If I Ask

Winslow Homer, “Watching the Breakers” 1891

Moonlight’s sea-spray songs
lather, pound, and lick the rocks,
in dream whispers they shape-shift
through purple mist, bear away time-aches,
turning black to blue

~as I watch~

the sky blushes pink–
and is it enough
to wing away the dark-shadowed night?
And if I ask what love is,
will the white-feathered wind answer hope?

Today’s message from the Magnetic Poetry Oracle.

Watching the Breakers

Bitter at after, done with
his red rose lies revealed–
ripping her raw,
till she became wind, water–
a purple storm surging,
crashing on the rocks

~in shadowed mist~

dreams are created,
embracing all the ifs
born of hope—or despair—lingering
like the caress of the sea
in the touch of a salt breeze, recalling
what once was and the words that would never be said.

My message from the Oracle took some work today, but it finally came through, and then a bit of added inspiration from Winslow Homer. Thanks to Jane Dougherty for sharing a fix for the formatting.

Wishes

512px-Winslow_Homer_-_Moonlight,_Wood_Island_Light

 

From the sea, she walks ashore, seal-skin slips

from her body–she stands now unadorned–

shimmering hair unbound and flowing,

dulse-laced and glowing, she whips

it ‘round like armor. Girded thus, the sea foresworn

yet she lingers, soul unsure, not quite captured

by the sunlight, body gleaming, hair sheened by salt-sea blowing,

directed then by lover’s shouts, she turns, enraptured.

 

But rapture does not last, not when the sea sighs and calls

in waves that beckon with infinite ebbs and flows

with subaqueous whispers from afar–

till finally, she must flee the confining walls,

let loose her hair and shed her clothes

to rush upon the sea-kissed sand,

fur-pelt in hand, she makes one wish upon a star,

and embraces the sea, abandons land.

 

For De’s prompt at dVerse on mermaids and selkies. I rewrote a poem I did a while ago for one of Jane’s prompts and added a second stanza. I kept the rhyme scheme, but didn’t quite follow the rest for a san san poem. So, here goes—no minimalism here, this one’s unabashedly romantic.

 

 

 

 

 

The Almost Was

Winslow_Homer_-_Eastern_Point_Light_-_Google_Art_Project

Winslow Homer, Eastern Point Light

 

She almost remembers sailing over open seas,

a symphony of waves and skies, singing

of a universe of tomorrows,

with the wind whispering when—

she almost remembers

though it wasn’t her life

 

~and if her heart wonders~

 

and wanders through the never was,

she imagines by his bed a picture

of past celebrations, and lingering kisses,

embraces, poetry in the night–

and time, an open window

of what might have been

 

A collaborative poem with the Oracle.

Odysseus Under the Moon: To Wanderers, A Ghazal

Winslow_Homer_-_Eastern_Point_Light_-_Google_Art_Project

Winslow Homer, “Eastern Point Light”

 

Over star-glimmered waves, we journeyed and sailed under the moon.

There we bemoaned our fate, still sailing—railed under the moon.

 

We see the fork-tongued serpent, slither-scaled–

no siren, silver-voiced with hair unveiled under the moon.

 

From the towering giant, one-eyed, we quailed,

but when blinded he was curtailed under the moon.

 

On blood-wine seas, the winds caught and prevailed–

yet what of the gods, we flattered, yet failed, under the moon?

 

What lands should we conquer? If heroes, we’re hailed.

What tales of those places to you we’d regale under the moon?

 

Do we return to love, or to marriages failed?

My own wife, what of her travails under the moon?

 

Too far, too soon, the poet sleeps unassailed

to the gentle rhythm of the waves, inhales, exhales, under the moon

 

A re-worked ghazal for dVerse.

 

 

Safe Harbor: Haibun

Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

–from Emma Lazarus, “The New Colossus”

 

Our ship is stalled in the harbor–the weather, customs duties, bribes to officials—who knows why? We live in suspended time in a liminal space—on a ship, but not at sea; people who have left their homes, but who have not found a new one, refugees. I worry about leaving—perhaps it would not be so bad to stay? But it is too late, we are sailing. Weeks seem like months, as my stomach rolls and heaves with the ship, till at last we arrive. We are weary, but grateful for our new home, a small room in the house of distant kin. At night, we walk to the beach to escape the heat of the day. My sister’s face mirrors my own—relief that the journey is over, sadness that we may never see our parents again, and joy that we are safe. We dance on the sand under a moonlit sky.

 

Faults in men, not stars

lighting a sea-crossed journey

freedom has a price–

beckoning with torch raised high,

the beacon separates, too

 

Winslow_Homer_-_Summer_Night_(1890)

 

This is for Colleen Chesebro’s Weekly Poetry Challenge.  The prompt words were mirror and harbor. I remember my grandfather telling me about when he was a boy, after he, his mother, and his sister left Kiev, their ship was stuck in Trieste. I don’t know why or how they got there. Trieste was then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. I mentioned him in a previous post called Feast of the Immigrant. 

And here’s the Hamilton mix tape based on the line from the show, “Immigrants, we get the job done.”