Monday Morning Musings:


Reading develops cognitive skills. It trains our minds to think critically and to question what you are told. This is why dictators censor or ban books. It’s why it was illegal to teach slaves to read. It’s why girls in developing countries have acid thrown in their faces when they walk to school.”—Karin Slaughter

The Party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears. It was their final, most essential command.”
–George Orwell, 1984

Now is the time of despite–
when the wind’s cold breath strikes your face
and the sun’s bright smile warms your back,
when sprays of white and pink reach up to the bluest sky
as tender greens poke from ground
covered with moon-frost’s lace veil.

Now is the time of hope
rising against despair,
like those little shoots, determined
to be seen, to be heard
as the robins and mockingbirds
trust true love will come from their songs.
And maybe it will.

The paired geese are life-mated.
So, too, the bald eagles,
vultures, and the crows in squabbling,
affectionate families, flying exclamation
points from morning sun-warmed trees,
where songbirds warble and mourning doves coo.

We’re all connected,
bird, bees, wolves,
trees and seas,
some may try to convince you
it isn’t so. But I know that ignorance
is not strength, that 2 +2 does not
equal 5.

Perhaps spring is a siren call,
and we’re destined to dash against rocks,
yet still, despite, perhaps, because—
the river flows on unconcerned
by the weighty truth it carries.
And I? I want never not to be awed by blue,
or to stop feeling wonder at the palette of colors
in the sky.
What could, what might be. If only.
Right now–the daffodils are dancing in the breeze,
and I watch the sun rise. Again.

We had several rainy, windy days this week. The one day we were going to go out, we cancelled because of the bad weather. I made more lentil soup and bread.

Nevertheless, spring is bursting into beautiful bloom all around me. The GOP here continues to push ignorance, hate, and harm. They continue to push legislation that will harm women’s health and cause women to die; they continue to work against LGBTQ+ people because they need to create “others” to hate when people of color and Jews are not enough, and they continue to ban books because it’s easier to control an ignorant population. I’m sure you’ve heard that Michelangelo’s David is pornography. [Rolling my eyes.) The former president visited Waco, Texas, as a shrine and is once again fomenting insurrection. Then there’s climate change, the deadly tornados, and on and on.
What a f**k-upped world we’re living in.

Merril’s Movie and TV:

We finished Your Honor, the drama starring Bryan Cranston. I thought it was a good ending. Season 2 is supposed to be the final season. I won’t say more in case others are still watching it. We finished Vienna Blood. Despite the name, this is not a gory series, but rather a mystery set in Vienna between 1906 and 1908. The actors are British and German. It employs a familiar idea of a civilian paired with a police officer who solve crimes together. In this case, the civilian is a neurologist who is a follower of Freud and his “talking cure.” I liked the friendship that develops between the two men, Max and Oskar, both who are unlucky in love. I also like how the series shows Vienna it this time, the beautiful buildings, the culture and cafés, but also the casual, everyday anti-Semitism.

We watched the movie, After Love. Here’s the trailer. It’s a quiet, powerful movie, the debut feature film of English-Pakistani filmmaker Aleem Khan. It won several awards in the UK. All the acting is excellent, but Joanna Scanlan’s performance anchors the film, and she is outstanding. It’s a sad movie, but even as it reveals the secret or hidden lives that so many have, it also shows how we can connect. Beautifully filmed, edited, and scored, the white Dover cliffs serve as a metaphor.

April is Poetry Month. I’m taking part in Paul Brooke’s Ekphrastic Challenge again, and I will check out the daily NaPoWriMo prompts as well, though I don’t know if I’ll write and/or post to them.

My friend Pat thought my post was a bit “thin” last week. Is this better?😉

Say all the Words, NaPoWriMo, Day 20

When they ban the books

and suppress the press–

whisper the words

lest you forget.

Pen the poems

(though they’re not read)

and sing the songs

(even if they’re in your head).

Frame the facts with veracity

despite the dire mendacity

of those who strut to power–

then, remember the flower

that blooms again each spring,

and let truth ring.

Share it with the old and youth,

bind them now with this enlightened thread–

love is love,

the earth’s not flat,

nevermore this, but only that,

and no matter what they say–

let hope stay.

Say all the words of knowledge and beauty,

it’s your duty

to resist, rebel–

to kiss and tell–

(these words you’ve said inside your head),

so, set the fires, beat the drums,

shout the call with rhymes and prose,

and like the rose,

your words will bloom unadorned,

fragrant, alluring—but jaggedly thorned.










Mary Vaux Walcott [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons


Today’s NaPoWriMo prompt asked us to write about rebellion.



Art and Shadows

Monday Morning Musings:

“Sweet and faraway voice flowing for me.

Sweet and faraway voice tasted by me.

Faraway and sweet voice, muffled softly.”

–Federico García Lorca (1898-1936) excerpt from “The Poet Speaks to His Beloved on the Telephone,” translated by Francisco Aragón    Full poem here.


We entered the installation area as the sun was setting

screens at one end of the room,

in the middle—more screens, projectors, tables,

words on the wall

Gypsy music played from the speakers—

and the telephone rang

I answered it.

the poet recited a poem in English, then in Spanish.

and then it rang again.

we wandered, looked through drawers of the nightstands,

a grasshopper,



a butterfly

tangible traces of the poet’s words, his existence.

The performance still an hour away,

we went into the exhibition—

Picasso: The Great War, Experimentation and Change

We saw cubist works and neoclassical,

side-by-side, as the artist

produced both styles within the same years

contradictory, bemusing critics and friends.

French nationalists condemned cubism

calling it degenerate, associating it with Germany,

spelling it “Kubism,”

though clearly French in origin.

Picasso never commented on the Great War,

though cubism, he acknowledged,


the camouflage on trucks and ships,

a strange marriage of art and war.

Denouncing art, artists, of all sorts

nations, politicians, war-mongers do this

in every war

repress freedom of speech and expression

slap on the label of nationalism

and suppress, censor

lay waste to all that does not fit

the narrow parameters and forms

of those

who are in control.

Germany destroys the work of degenerative artists

in the the next war,

destroys the artists, too.

Tyrants know the power of words, the power of art,

and music–

music is played at the concentration camps, you know,

dance me to the end of love


We slowly stroll back to the installation

the performance begins,

a ringing telephone

the poet runs to answer it,

then disappears,

shadow puppets blend with figures

on a screen




a fish travels across the white surface

taking us on a journey,

Spain, New York

water, a boat, an iguana with a pipe


surreal images

words of love

lush, sensual

space and time

have no boundaries,

the telephone rings

the poet imprisoned

he speaks no more

shot, silenced

but not forever

because art lives on,

art shadows our world

or perhaps it is our shadow world,

the dreams we live inside.


After the performance, we’re invited to look at and play with the puppets and talk to the actors, puppeteers, and musicians.

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We were at the Barnes Museum

We saw My Soul’s Shadow created and performed by Manual Cinema,

a Chicago-based company.  The performance was part of the Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts 2016 (PIFA), and sponsored by the Kimmel Center.