Cold, Wars, and the Music of a Dream

Monday Morning Musings:

For a brief time, the world is shot in black and white. Silent, like an old movie, till the wind sighs.

Quiet morning snow

soft sugar sprinkles glisten—

finch flits from bare branch


I sit at the computer. In my head, a fantasy world. On the screen, test items, following a prescribed style. Test takers will read these sentences and answer questions, never knowing that the people and places they read and promptly forget about lived a full life somewhere in my imagination.

black lines on white screen,

silhouettes in the snow,

whispered world awakes


The world is grey again—and again. The world seems broken and full of ignorance. I finish a project, find comfort in baking. I used to bake these cookies for my children. Sometimes I bake them for my mother. Today, I bake them for me.  Mommy cookies.

Scent of cinnamon

stirring up memories, dreams—

tastes of yesterday

Mandelbrot   Merril D. Smith, 2019



We walk cold city streets. Above, I hear a hawk cries, echoing. Ghosts stroll beside us, as we walk across cobblestones. Free and enslaved. Immigrants and native born. Shades of white, brown, and gold. In life, some had wealth, education, and fine homes; others died illiterate and in poverty. The promissory note has yet to be paid.

Spirits sighing

wondering when and why they died

dreams left unfulfilled


We go to a movie that opens with a scene of a cold, Polish winter with a car traveling on snow-covered rural roads. There is a search for folk music, or something that fits the bill. They become choral tunes, resurrecting a past that never was, as one government replaces another with slogans and rules. There is still prejudice and inequality in the workers’ state. Cold War politics. Realpolitik versus ideology. A couple that can’t live together, but who can’t live apart. We see time pass and locations change—rural Poland to Warsaw, Berlin, Yugoslavia, and Paris. We see velvety black and white images, shadows and light–the woman’s blond hair haloed as she sings, cool jazz. Polish becomes French and Polish again. The soundtrack of the film is a soundtrack of their lives. The unofficial theme song, in all of its permutations, a story of lovers who cannot be together.

Caged bird sings in hope

waits for a door opening

to fly, free at last


I stock up on spices and examine all the angles. We laugh at whimsical signs. Over coffee, we discuss the movie. My husband says he would like to have seen the costumes in color. “They were in color in my head,” I say. He replies, “of course they were.”


seeing color in the grey—

blue eyes and red lips


On the radio, I hear the writer/director/producer of a new documentary, Who Will Write Our History. She discusses the film about the clandestine archive kept by residents of the Warsaw Ghetto. They know that they will probably all die, and the Nazis, who think they are the master race want to rewrite history. Even in the ghetto, they were filming propaganda. The Jews bury their records in batches, so that their true history will be known. “A time capsule of a murdered civilization,” the director calls it.

buried underground

bulb emerges in the light

truth flowers and grows


The world is grey and broken. Still, I laugh as our cats play and chase each other around the house, then plop–toddler-like–and fall asleep. Our path sometimes looks straight, but then circles around. It is cold, but spring will come again. The moon rises, and tomorrow, dawn will come, again. In my dreams, I hear the music of the stars.

Blood-red, frosted moon

hums tunes of what might be . . .if

dreams rise, set, and rise



Sweet Dreams  Merril D. Smith, 2019

Sweet Dreams



We saw the movie Cold War—beautifully photographed with wonderful compelling performances. Trailer here.  The main song has been playing in my head on a loop—well, perhaps I’ve listened to it a few times, too. Dale–highly recommend this one.  🙂 Music is definitely important in this film. I may have to get this soundtrack. We also enjoyed the previous film Ida, by writer/director Pawel Pawlikowski, which won the 2017 Academy Award for Best Foreign Film.

Last night was the super blood wolf moon eclipse. The eclipse occurred after I was in bed, but the moon was certainly bright last night and early this morning.

Today is Martin Luther King, J. Day here in the U.S. I’m linking this to Frank’s Haikai Challenge on equality. Here’s a link to MLK’s “I Have a Dream” speech. The current resident of the White House is not participating in any MLK activities today. Of course, it would be a bad joke if he did.


49 thoughts on “Cold, Wars, and the Music of a Dream

  1. Love my Monday morning “what shall I do this week” post from Merril 😉 (Thank you!)

    I love how different cultures have similar foods – mandelbrot looks just like biscotti 😉

    It’s freezing cold here, too (-23C) and I am going to brave it today and go see Cold War before meeting up with my date for dinner 😉 Since I have to go into town, I might as well miss the traffic, right?

    • Thank you and you’re welcome, Dale. 🙂 I often describe mandelbrot as Jewish biscotti–both twice-baked. It’s cold here, but much colder where you are. I hope you like Cold War. Since you were going out in the cold anyway, I feel like I’m off the hook if you don’t, but I hope you do. 🙂

  2. It would be a very bad joke.
    It’s so cold here, our heat is on standby because it’s unfreezing its coils (my daughter figured this out via google) But we ran in and out of it looking at the moon appear and disappear last night.
    it’s hard not to be somber, or to wonder what Dr. King would say. Still, the wheel turns…(K)

  3. It would be a bad joke if Trump participated in any activities around Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and I’m glad we’ve been spared that. At this point, I’d rather he’d be “honest” and not insult our institutions and history by pretending to care. Just sayin’ 😉

  4. I have missed to many of your wonderful musings recently, I am happy to be back again, wandering with you Merril.
    For this Christmas, I decided to make my late grandmother’s Christmas cake. No one has made it in all the years since she passed. While it was baking, while it was being drowned for weeks afterwards here in Paris with more and more cognac, while we all eat it at home in Dublin, in what used to be her home, her life, those long ago Christmas memories with her came flooding back and yet, when I was a kid, I hated Christmas cake, fruit and cognac- where was the chocolate? And yet, this time, eating it, my history changed, it wasn’t the taste but the scent, it wasn’t the scent but the memory, it wasn’t the memory but the person, the attachment. In school I studied history, the 1st World war, the 2nd World War, the Cold war, they were specific points in time. I wonder when our children’s children study us will they see specific moments or just a world at war, daily. In my memory these were isolated events, years apart, but then I wonder if that is just how the memory softens my coping mechanism. I grew up during the troubles in the North of Ireland, my teens during the rise of Saddam and all the while the catholic church telling me every Sunday that we were sinners and I, in particular, that boy, so still and silent, without yet a voice, but who knew he loved other boys and that this was no choice or sin or reason to be kept down, or silent, or silenced. I wonder does peace exist more in memory because I am not sure where peace exists today? Maybe it’s like the ‘Quiet morning snow’ you mention, you have to be there to see it before it melts all too quickly.

    • Your comment is so thoughtful and beautiful, Damien. Thank you! I have no answers. I suppose we have to find peace, beauty, love where we can–and hope that those are the memories that we remember. It is hard to say this is the moment when a war, or a movement, started. I hope there are children’s children and a world left to ponder, and I hope they do a better job.

  5. So much to digest here, Merril. I will focus on the mandelbrot and kitty and the colors seen in the B&W movie. I need to keep thinking of the positive. The soft fur, the cinnamon smell, the rich colors you’ve put in my head.

  6. Pingback: Making the Best of It | A Dalectable Life

  7. Really enjoyed your recap of your Monday, and your train of thoughts too. The Mandelbrot you made yourself looks delicious. A lovely treat for yourself and I’m sure they didn’t last long 🙂 From your photos it looks so cold over there. Sending you some warmth all the way from a summery Australia 🙂

  8. I love your Monday Morning Musings. Such a mix of life, the sweet and the not-so-sweet (and such is life, isn’t it?). Combing the last lines of each of your haiku makes an interesting and beautiful poem.

  9. Pingback: #Haikai Challenge #70 (1/26/19): Rachel Sutcliffe tribute #haiku #senryu #haibun #tanka #haiga #renga – Frank J. Tassone

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