My poem, “Horses,” in Acropolis Journal

I’m pleased and honored to have my poem, “Horses” in Acropolis Journal, Issue 6, “Ancient.”

My thanks to Editor Louise Mather and Guest Readers: Letitia Jiju & Matthew M.C. Smith. My poem is paired with a stunning photograph by Sylvia Santiago. I am fascinated by cave paintings and those who painted them.

Merril D. Smith – Horses

“The day we saw the horses,

like apparitions, pale against the rocks,

time froze. . .”

You can read the rest of the poem, here. But do please check out the rest of the issue, too!

Freefalling: Prosery

Claude Monet, The Cliffs at Etretat

Freefalling

A twig snaps. Is that young backpacker following me?

I turn, but no one is there. I go back to my hotel, noting everything and everyone, like a cat alert and waiting to leap. Trust no one, I think. I mention to the hotel clerk that I’m off to Avignon to visit an aunt. I take a taxi to the train station, then from there, another taxi to the airport. I book a flight to Bonn; using an alias, I book another flight to London to gather more puzzle pieces, hoping for a fit.

On the plane, I think of how I once jumped, freefalling in space, in time. I sit thousands of feet above the sea remembering. How much I thought was true was not. Can one love an enigma? Enigma. Paul. Something he said on the cliffs. What was it?

I’m hosting dVerse today. My prompt is “In space in time I sit thousands of feet above the sea” from May Sarton’s poem,”Meditation in Sunlight”

This is a continuation of my spy series. The first line was the last line in the previous episode, which you can read here.

Perspectives

Monday Morning Musings:

Perspectives

“Straight up through the sky above this road right now,
The galaxies of the Cygnus A cluster
Are colliding with each other in a massive swarm
Of interpenetrating and exploding catastrophes.”

—From, Pattiann Rogers, “Achieving Perspective”

1.
Hoaxes dropped like scat—
watch where you walk—
rabid creatures lurk waiting to infect
the gullible. They wear chips on their shoulders,
bray like donkeys, wait to crush all non-believers.

2.
Toothsome treats
savor them, as if there will be no more
fruit brought from away, cooked and sweetened,
no essence of grapes harvested and fermented.
Then and now intersect. For a moment, it’s everything.

3.
Dirt is what a worm knows—
the feel, the taste, the way wet and dry particles
cling differently–soil, mud, earth—it’s the world.
The robin is a giant who knows sky, trees, ground,
catches the worm, swallows it.

4.
Geese squabble like Jets and Sharks
Turkeys look surprised to cross the road
Is it truly spring because I heard a mockingbird sing?
Crows know the answers
to the questions we never ask.

5.
Here is magic, river-caught sparkle,
blue-sky where branches reach up to catch bird-beats
and wing-brushes—here,
where feathered clouds sweep away haze,
and you and perfect daffodils raises your faces to the light.

I used some of Kerfe’s random words for this cadralor.I should mention, that hopefully if you click on the photos in this post, you’ll see captions.
Spring is definitely on the way, despite this past week’s cooler temperatures. I really did hear a mockingbird putting on a concert a few days ago. I’ve seen some around, but this was the first medley-of-my-greatest-hits concert I’ve heard since last summer.
Oh—just now—birds singing pre-dawn, even as the heat clicking on.

We’re getting rain today, and possible snow tomorrow, though I think that will probably be north or west of us.

We walked at Tall Pines yesterday.

Merril’s Movie/Book Club

We watched the new Luther movie, but really you shouldn’t. (You’re welcome.) So many good actors wasted in a movie that’s mediocre at best. Some movies you like more when you think about them later, not this one.

We also watched Women Talking, which both of us thought was excellent. But you know, it was women talking, so if you only watch action films, it’s not for you. A brilliant ensemble cast with deft direction by Sarah Polley. Although the story is loosely based on events that occurred in an extremist Mennonite colony in Bolivia, in the movie, the place and religion are never named. This gives it a timeless feel—these could be women almost anywhere in any time. The violence is never shown, only some blood, a black eye, and a pregnancy. Women Talking was free on Amazon Prime this past weekend.

I didn’t watch the Oscars, but I was pleased that Everything Everywhere All at Once won best picture, and Michelle Yeoh, best actress. I will watch this one again—and it is sort of an action film, but so much more.

Books: I finished the most recent Louise Penny book, A World of Curiosities. I haven’t read all her books, but this one was on the shelf at the library, so I picked it up. The librarian told me that she didn’t care for this one in the series, which she thought was all over the place. The beginning does jump back in forth in time, but that doesn’t bother me. Penny uses a real-life event that took place in Canada, and one that she covered as a young journalist to argue for anti-gun measures and discuss systemic misogyny. The mistaken identity plot device seems a bit thin here. It’s probably not her best, but I still enjoyed it. It’s the humanity of Gamache and his friends that comes through to me once again.

One last thing. I’m participating in a launch of Our Own Coordinates this Friday (3 PM my time). I’ll be reading my poem, “Sylvia.” You can get a free ticket here.

The Women who Wait

Odilon Redon, Illuminated Flower

The Women Who Wait

If I need you,
will you come,
with love-put light
to drive away the smell
of man-sweat and boy-blood?

Here, the storms whip
and the shadows moan
black beneath the blue,
but I ask for—not so much—
roses under a peach sun,
the lifeline of sea, its sparkle, and
the whisper of wind in my hair,
telling me you are coming home.

My poem from the Oracle. I thought at first she wanted me to write about Penelope, but she wanted the message to include women everywhere throughout time.

The Songs: Sun, Moon, Earth

Detail of Four Seasons Mosaic by Marc Chagall in Chicago

The Songs: Sun, Moon, Earth

1.
She rises for others, but never as for us–
a long-bowed cello note sustained
as she wakes, red-breasted,
timpani beat the rhythm of the day,
joined by bird-flutes and wind-harps
while she dresses in gold,
she spins light in contrapuntal streams
with shadow rhythm. Our own star,
crowned giver of life and death.

2.

The moon sings with silvery voice,
her soft hums become operatic arias.
Though on her arid surface, men stood,
and watched the Earth rise. Still, but not silent,
no mere satellite, she demands the spotlight
shine on her. Owl-hoots, wolf-howls, rustles
of restless night creatures are percussion to
her melody. But in the morning, she smiles
as three crows call, the trees wave,
and the birds sing her a lullaby.

3.

And here-
we rotate, revolve, reflect in repeated reverberations—
Earth has its own music,
sea-sighs and deep-belly rumbles,
bird-tweets and dog barks, baby-giggles, and lovers’ moans.
Bangs and bombs, birth cries and death-rattles.
But listen as a rooftop fiddler plays
all the color, all the light–
the songs of earth, moon, sun, and stars.

For dVerse. Laura asked us to write poems with three separate stanzas using one of her word choices. Sun, Moon, Earth was the only one that really appealed to me.

Spring Anthem

Monday Morning Musings:

Spring Anthem

In spring’s slant shadowed light, daffodils,
like bright belles dance, unmeasured
in their joy, guileless
in their lemon-yellow gowns,
they rise unabashed from winter beds,
ready for change,
awakened.

If only we could learn
from them, from the budding trees,
the crows, and geese—the unquestioning tenacity
of life, to reset, to build, to amplify, to repeat–
to believe it’s not a quixotic quest
to acknowledge heartbreak, the systemic wrongs,
resolved

in this: our bodies belong
only to ourselves. Once daffodils, watch
as we become roses with thorns, cactuses with spikes, flowering
as we will. Ancient roots connect us, whispering of freedom–
soon, hear us like the sea, like a tidal wave,
roar.

I used a few of Kerfe’s Random Words. It is Women’s History Month. Over the weekend I heard or read these stories (among others):

This American Life: a doctor who is thinking of leaving the state of Idaho because of the draconian abortion law, which prevents doctors from treating patients, even preventing them from giving care in life-threatening situations.

Washington Post: Divorce and remarried women in Afghanistan forced into hiding because they’re considered adulterers for leaving abusive husbands.

NPR: The covert effort to get abortion pills into Ukraine.

The GOP is still pushing for voter suppression laws, and they have prevented the passage of new Voting Rights Acts, including the For the People Act and the John R. Lewis Act. And in Florida, the governor is moving on with his fascist agenda. I imagine there will soon be statues erected and parades in his honor. Right-wing extremists (and the GOP members who enable them) are happy to keep people ignorant and fixated on fake issues. They, like extremists always have, thrive on hierarchies and fear of the other. Now, LGBTQ+ people are the others. I don’t like the term “woke,” but I’ll own it. What is the opposite, sleeping? Shouldn’t everyone in a democracy be awake (and anti-fascist)?


We watched the movie She Said about the New York Times investigative journalists Megan Twohey and Jodie Kantor and their reporting on allegations made of sexual harassment and assault made against Harvey Weinstein. I read their work when I was working on my book on sexual harassment and also Ronan Farrow’s in the New Yorker.

However, the holiday of Purim begins tonight. It is a joyous holiday—you’re supposed to drink! But it is also a story of Queen Esther and freedom. We plan to open our favorite Syrah, Blue-Eyed Boy, and eat a lot of Hamantaschen.

Democracy seems to be dying. We’re destroying our planet. And yet, there are daffodils. Spring is coming.

Dream Whispers

Franz Marc, Träeumendes Pferd

Dream Whispers

After the storm,
scents swim through
the sparkling air,
ignored on rocks, suffuses skin,
the golden apples of the sun, fragrant

in the blueberry sky,
all in harmony, but for
a thousand tiny ifs–

yet, ask,
then ask again
for dawn’s pink light
the flow of honeyed, peach-fuzzed air,
the garden of delights where azure horses dream.

My message from the Oracle. She knows what fascinates me.

Gogyohka for Grief and Hope (with Audio)

Owl Moon, Kerfe Roig

Gogyohka for Grief and Hope

follow the light
within the feathered beats of moon song,
a mockingbird sings of love and hope,
between the full moon and the new,
an eternity passes

At dVerse Open Link Night we are remembering Glenn Buttkus, who died last month. This is a poem I wrote just a few days after my mom died in 2020 in the first COVID wave. The human world was shuttered and silent, but spring just kept going on. Here, I’ve paired it with Kerfe’s exquisite Owl Moon. You can read the original post here.