May Queen (Revised with audio)

John William Waterhouse, Ophelia

May Queen

She sleeps in a thousand blues
of forest-shadowed whispers, waiting
for the world to wake, now in-between—

and in her dreams, she listens
for welkin carolers, the laugh of stars and birds remembering
the rhythm of days, tiny rose-tips, yet unseen—

but when, not if, they come again
dressed in honeyed gowns of golden light, lingering–
she’ll wake to take her place, enchanting May Queen–

with each pace, she’ll color space,
a trace of perfume recalling her embrace
and soft poetry where she has been, always and forever green.

I revised a poem I wrote for NaPoWriMo in 2021. Sometimes I like a bit of rhyme. 😉 I’m sharing it with dVerse Open Link Night, and I’ve added a recording.


Slanted Words in Slanted Light (Revised with audio)

Slanted Words in Slanted Light

“Tell all the truth but tell it slant —
–Emily Dickinson

“There’s a certain Slant of light, . . .

When it comes, the Landscape listens –
Shadows – hold their breath –“
–Emily Dickinson

Slanted words in slanted light,
this is what autumn brings–
ghosts and trees whisper,
elongated shadows seem alive.

This is what autumn brings–
red and yellow dazzle,
elongated shadows seem alive,
eagles with piping whistles fly—

above red and yellow dazzle,
berry-warm against cool grey and blue
eagles with piping whistles fly,
wine glows in canted rays of the sun

berry-warm against cool grey and blue
circles woven of color and time
wine glows in canted rays of the sun,
stories told and understood–

circles woven of color and time
now amid the age-old lies,
stories told and understood
for those who wait, a battle cry

now amid the age-old lies
truth is bent and rearranged
for those who wait, a battle cry,
but nature marches to a different beat–

truth is bent and rearranged,
elongated shadows seem alive,
but nature marches to a different beat–
slanted words in slanted light.

I’m sharing this pantoum I wrote for my Monday Morning Musings two weeks ago with dVerse Open Link Night. You can see the original version with photos here.

Butterflies and Crows (Revised, with audio)

Butterflies and Crows (Revised)

Early Morning Crow at Red Bank Battlefield

In the time of before
when color emerged from grey,
and butterflies swayed, seeing
blue, green, red, and yellow,
when storms erupted, and branches grew
and everything had a counterpart
in nature’s art of fractals. The stars,
the sun and moon, the black of night and day’s light
kept earth balanced, though
a small-winged tipped could cause a shift,
but mostly that was righted.

Now ice drips, and winds drift
in wayward tempest gales,
the trees are split, their roots cry out
and mycelium networks ache as they transmit
arboreal dying sounds.

You dream of the past, you dream of now
and in your dreams, you understand

that crows carry wisdom’s key—they warn
with caws–

a telling, not a reprimand,
like Casandra, what they must do

even if their truths fly by,
even if nobody listens.

My photo fits, but this is a slightly revised version of a poem I wrote in response to artworks by Gaynor Kane, Anjum Wasim Dar, and John Phandal Law for Paul Brookes’ Ekphrastic Challenge in April. You can see the art there and read the other responses. The poem seems very timely right now. I’m sharing this with dVerse Open Link Night.

Ghost Light

Ghost Light

Every theater has a ghost
often appeased with light, protection
from dangers seen and not

Never forget, we say,
as we do

ghosts flicker-flit or shadow-boom in every theater,
watch the room and mark the spot–

recall how light once sparkled above–
an encircling diamond bracelet
now obscured by a smoky sleeve
and bursts of bright arterial blood.

Every theater has a ghost,
but this one has a multitude.

The final curtain fell
with the beating of Death’s black wings
there is no exit

and no light,
in the darkness, the children cry,
ghosts in this theater of the absurd.

For dVerse Open Link Night. I’ve included my reading of the poem, too.
The ghost light is a theater tradition. Some say it’s to appease the ghosts that all theaters are said to have. Others say it’s for safety reasons—to keep people from falling into the orchestra pit in the dark or tripping over cables. While theaters were closed for Covid, many kept a ghost light on as a promise that they would reopen.

I saw in the news that Russian forces had bombed a theater in Mariupol that was sheltering many children and elderly civilians. According to satellite photos, the building was clearly marked with the word “children” written in Russian. It sounds like the basement kept them safe, but elsewhere, children’s bodies have been found in mass graves.
I am appalled (though unfortunately not surprised) that some people in the US, such as the former president and his true believers, still support Putin and parrot Russian disinformation.

Poem, “The Wobbling Moon,” up in Roi Fainéant

“The world courses on

arhythmic heartbeats, now too fast, now too slow–“

Thank you to the lovely, lively editors at Roi Fainéant for publishing my poem, “The Wobbling Moon,” in this most recent issue. I’m eager to read the entire issue.

I’ve added a recording, and I’m linking this to dVerse Open Link Night Live.

A Rainbow Future After the Storm (Revised with Audio)

First the clouds gather, a bevy of soft doves,
transformed, reborn as wolves, who black and roaring

pounce with boom and crash, then with a flash,
the shrouded sky shines with strands of woven light,

a tapestry,
a multitude of shape, color, hues. Here, a strand of azure,
there, emerald-green, glistening with diamond sparkle, threaded
over, under–and again

embroidered with the vibrant wishes of children—blue horses, red deer,
twinkling golden stars, a spotted purple dog, a striped-orange cat—

all that—

a collection, a connection of
smiling faces brighter than the sun,
with dreams of a rainbow future–
after the storm is spent and done.

A Sunrise Rainbow ©️Merril D. Smith, 2021

For dVerse Open Link—Live.

I’ve revised this poem written for Paul Brooks’ January Ekphrastic Challenge last year. Here’s the link to the first version. You can see Kerfe Roig’s art, which inspired the poem. A couple of weeks ago, I saw rainbows on two different days. Here’s

Owl Moon with Audio

Owl Moon by Kerfe Roig

Full and bright, the night alight
with skittering scatters and chitter-chat
of sated rat. The vixen barks to her mate,
and beneath the walls, creatures slither and crawl,
while mice and voles in the shadows hide
as feathered wings outstretched glide–and bide.

And shall I call it owl moon?
A moment in time, perhaps not real—
Imagined flights, unseen sights, but
the planets spin, the stars glow and go
about what they do, and the owl does, too,
with a hoot to the world, he dives,
survives—though it’s fate—not feud,
the hunters and the pursued.

All the questions, unanswered, still are asked—
the moments gone, past to future and to past–

but listen–
the fade of argent song, the hummed goodnight,
as trills and twitters awaken dawn’s light.

This was originally written for Paul Brookes’ Special January Ekphrastic Challenge. Kerfe Roig supplied the beautiful artwork. I’ve added this recording of the poem to go with it, and I’m linking it to dVerse Open Link Night.

Looking for Clues

One step forward, round and round,
the labyrinth circles. Go? Or stay
in the in-between? Are answers found
when past finds future? Which is the way?

The labyrinth circles—go or stay?
I’m a shadow figure lost in blues,
when past finds future. Which is the way?
Where should I go? Where are the clues?

I’m a shadow figure lost in blues,
within my mind-forest, I search in dreams–
where should I go? Where are the clues–
nothing here is as it seems—

in the in-between. Are answers found
within my mind-forest? I search in dreams–
but nothing here is as it seems–
just one step forward, round and round.

I’ve revised this pantoum originally written in April for Paul Brooke’s Ekphrastic Challenge inspired by the above artwork by Kerfe Roig and Jane Cornwell. I’m linking this post to dVerse Open Link Night. Live today!

I’ve done a recording, too.

Always the Clouds

JMW Turner, “Norham Castle Sunrise



Always the clouds come, drifting

colored in the hazy shades of ever-after,

yet distant stars glimmer through, sifting

light diffused from ancient gas and matter,


colored in the hazy shades of ever-after

time travels on, translucent or opaque

light diffused from ancient gas and matter,

and so, we ache


as time travels on. Translucent or opaque,

our thoughts grow dimmer to dark,

and so, we ache—

forgetting glory, gone our spark.


Our thoughts grow dimmer to dark

muttering and sputtering of past wrongs,

forgetting glory. Gone the spark

of former days and daisy chains and songs.


Muttering and sputtering of past wrongs,

we dream in owl-feathered night

of former days and daisy chains and songs–

then wait for lark-trilled light.


We dream in owl-feathered night,

as distant stars glimmer through, sifting

(our thoughts) as we wait for lark-trilled light,

but always the clouds come, drifting.



This is for Peter’s prompt on dVerse. He’s asked us to think about sound. Kerfe had me thinking of pantoums, and so I revised one that I wrote in April.