I am the river

Monday Morning Musings:

Delaware River with early morning clouds

I am the river

Time is a river which sweeps me along, but I am the river. . .”
Jorge Luis Borges

Step by step, I travel,
the river my guide, an eagle far above
with broad wings outspread, glides out of sight—
I am envious, the music of a thousand shadows
is a whispered song.

We clutch at alluring promises
with unguarded hands, seize the cards,
moon and stars—hopeful–but
we are merely passengers—trust
is a guess, nothing sanctified.

Bread, thick and toasted,
spread with butter and blueberry jam
while the wind bites and the dry air crackles–
I’m surprised by the taste of summer,
sweet and blue.

Now the air
is cinnamon and peppermint,
wax drips from candles,
warm and pliable,
how quickly it becomes cold and stiff.

Azure June days become
December’s violet nights.
Giddy romance turns practical,
but still, your hands, your smile–
which is afterthought, dream or reality?

Another almost-Cadralor from Jane’s Random Words. The start of December has been fitful.
Sunny, then miserable. My husband came down with something VERY suddenly on Friday night. Itchy nose, sneezing, congestion. He took two COVID tests, but both were negative, and he feels better now. The morning is all off–our Ricky is at the vets having his teeth cleaned. I’m hoping that is it. It makes me anxious. I think Ricky and I both like our routines.

We watched The Souvenir, Part II. I liked it, but since my husband was not feeling well and didn’t remember Part I, it didn’t make much sense to him. The director, Joanna Hogg, has a new movie out, so I wanted to finally see this one.

Now that the third and final season of Dead to Me (Netflix) is out, we’re re-watching the first two seasons (already into the second).

Clouds: #Prosery

Sun and clouds reflected on the surface of the Delaware River, Feb. 24, 2020

Is it realistic to believe I can think like Nighthawk again? The war is over, and I’m a different person now. I stare at my reflection in the river–it’s me, but these clouds are clearly foreign. Such an exotic clutter against the blue cloth of the sky doesn’t happen anywhere else. I’ve tried to forget the beauty, along with the horror.

But the memory of that day insists on surfacing. That day–when the sun shone in the azure sky dotted with cotton balls, and sunflowers reached up for honeyed streams of golden light. We made love and scraped together some scraps for a meager meal. We thought it a feast, washed down with some local wine we had found in the shed. Oh, Paul! If only we had had more days like that. If only that safe house had truly been safe.

I’m continuing with my story of wartime spies for dVerse, where I’m hosting Prosery today. I should mention that anyone can participate in any dVerse prompt, as long as you can post a link in the Linky. This Thursday will be Open Link Night–live.

The lines I’ve selected for today’s prompt:
“But these clouds are clearly foreign, such an exotic clutter
Against the blue cloth of the sky”
–from “Clouds” by Constance Urdang

For When

Egret, the Delaware River at Red Bank Battlefield ©️Merril D. Smith, 2021

I don’t ask the moon for what she cannot give,
enough her silver gleam on fields and streams,
the night-shadowed things
that vanish in dawn’s rose-petal glow.
I know the universe’s music and light
go beyond the who and when,
circling through time’s beginning and its end–
but if I stop to sit–
even when the wind urges me to go—
I’ll watch the clouds
wing across the sky–
egret white and heron grey–
and here, I’ll dream of you.

My poetic collaboration with the Magnetic Poetry Oracle.


August Sky over the Delaware River at Red Bank Battlefield



clouds reflect my mood,

shadows cast

on river

rolling to the sea, endless

cycles streaming throughout time



stormy skies and light

untamed and


the appearance of a deer

like a gift to me,


like nature

answering a call,

now a need,

now the light.

I walk on, heart more joyful,

the river flows on.


A shadorma sequence for Colleen’s Tanka Tuesday, using synonyms for character and wild. This was inspired by a walk I took yesterday.









Morning Walk

Morning Walk

Almost born away—

I fly by champagne clouds,

waking poetry

of morning’s moist perfumed breeze.

Angel voices celebrate the universe,

time slows. . .lingers

for one smile

Delaware Rive, Red Bank Battlefield, September














I visited the Oracle yesterday, but I didn’t have a chance to post this. She was in rare form though. I feel like she was ready to give me many more.


Cloud Houses of Dreams

Monday Morning Musings:

“I would build a cloudy House
For my thoughts to live in;
When for earth too fancy-loose
And too low for Heaven!”

–Elizabeth Barrett Browning, “The House of Clouds”

“I’ve looked at clouds from both sides now

From up and down, and still somehow

It’s cloud illusions I recall

I really don’t know clouds at all.”

–Joni Mitchell, “Both Sides Now”



Striking in their billowing shapes, watch them drift, the clouds.

Somehow relaxing, to see them shift, the clouds.



On a beautiful afternoon in July,

we walk, a blue bed is the sky

for puffy clouds to lay upon

transient, seen, and then they’re gone—








like the inhabitants who once held sway

on these cobblestone streets, walked each day–

in daily life and times of strife they lived in these houses

with children, relatives, with their spouses,

Elfreth Alley, Philadelphia














do their spirits yet walk here under moonlit clouds

shy, hesitant, or fierce and proud?

I must ask my friends who once lived herein

if they ever encountered such ghostly denizens.


We watch a movie about a baker of cookies and cakes

who travels under a cloud, with a life that’s fake

but ghosts and memories bring new love–

sort of—

(The pasty looks delicious, but the story hard to convey

without giving too much away.)


We eat pizza and drink wine while the weather is fine—

against more green, blue, and white, we sip and dine

taking advantage of this unusual meteorological blip

before the storm clouds roll in and the forecast flips—

Auburn Road Winery,
Salem County, NJ

















which it does, the skies turn grey

the white clouds drift away

and I build cloud houses from my thoughts

turn them away from should and oughts

Raining on the Ben Franklin Bridge








but I dream of houses with stairs to nowhere

or perhaps from here to there,

if only I can find the right paths (or footwear)—

a dream with goals and friends and cats,

and if there’s unfinished business—

well, I can live with that.

His work is done. Sweet Dreams.











I’m sorry about the spacing here. I can’t quite figure out how to fix it.

People still live in the homes of Elfreth’s Alley. You can read about it here.

We saw the Israeli movie The Cakemaker. Trailer here.

We went to Auburn Road Vineyards.



On Phoenix Wings

When we soared on Phoenix wings,

reborn from the ashes of the stars

flying in the slipstream of time,

then I knew I loved you–

this time getting it right–

creatures of the light

clothed in cloud filament,

dancing in rhythm

to the music of the universe

Sunrise, National Park, NJ


I loved the first line of Jane Dougherty’s poem, “Heaven’s High,” so much that I used it for the first line of mine. Thanks, Jane! J


Clouds and Illusions

“I’ve looked at clouds from both sides now
From up and down, and still somehow
It’s cloud illusions I recall
I really don’t know clouds at all”

Joni Mitchell, “Both Sides Now”

When I was a child, I thought clouds were soft and fluffy like cotton balls or a down comforter. I imagined stretching out on a cloud, and I thought it would feel like a soft bed. I half-believed I could touch the clouds. Even now, when I know they are composed of water droplets and far beyond my reach, I still half-believe I can reach up and grab a piece of cotton candy cloud.

"Clouds."  On the way home from Ocean City, NJ

On the way home from Ocean City, NJ


Our lives are filled with illusions—and only some are the optical type. In a dinner discussion a few nights, my younger daughter commented that she always found the villain in TV shows, movies, and plays to be much more interesting both to watch and to perform. I think that is often true. Very often in fiction, the villains get the interesting lines and the more complex back-stories. They get to be fun instead of righteous.

The most interesting fictional heroes are flawed. I like characters and stories in which people and the choices they make are not black and white. In John Le Carre’s elegant Cold War masterpieces, for example, the lies and half-truths of various governments are echoed in George Smiley’s personal life, and in the lives of many people he encounters.

In real life, I suspect few people know people who are always good and always right. Life is seldom that uncomplicated. Was it wrong for Jean Valjean to steal a loaf a bread to feed his sister’s hungry children? Yes, Inspector Javert says. Stealing is stealing, and there can be no straying from the legal road of right and wrong. Morally, however, was it wrong to steal to feed hungry children? That is

Português: Jean Valjean e Cosette perto do cas...

Português: Jean Valjean e Cosette perto do casamento (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

the type of question that most people have to decide on their own.

Philip Kerr’s Bernie Gunther novels feature a homicide detective/private detective in WWII era Berlin and in the immediate post-War period. Gunther is not a Nazi—he despises them–but he sometimes works for them to solve murders and find missing persons.  Of course, since there is no lack of either in this time and place, he always has work. He is cynical, and not always likeable, but he is a truly interesting character, the hard-boiled detective transposed to 1930s and 1940s Germany.

In the TV show The Walking Dead, the most interesting thing to me, is how the characters have had to evolve. Their world has changed, and each one of them must decide what he or she will do to survive in it. They must watch out for zombies all the time, but they also have to decide when to help and trust other humans. (I realize many people, if not most, watch the show only to see blood, guts, and gore, but I would be fine without viewing any of that.) Similarly, the young protagonists of  Suzanne Collins’s Hunger Games trilogy and Julianna Baggott’s Pure trilogy must fight against the morally corrupt governments of their dystopian worlds without becoming corrupted themselves.

In the real world, even those of us not living in war zones or battling zombies must still make daily decisions about right and wrong and how we want to live our lives. In the novels of our lives, we choose to be the heroes or the villains. We may be flawed, but we can still try to be good, while remaining interesting. I can only speak for myself. In my own life, I want my daughters to be as proud of me, as I am of them.

I truly want to believe that most people are good, and that a rainbow will appear after a thunderstorm if I only keep looking for it.

“In spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at
heart. I simply can’t build up my hopes on a foundation consisting of
confusion, misery, and death. I see the world gradually being turned
into a wilderness, I hear the ever approaching thunder, which will
destroy us too, I can feel the sufferings of millions and yet, if I look
up into the heavens, I think that it will all come right, that this
cruelty too will end, and that peace and tranquility will return again.”

Anne Frank

We decide what illusions we want to accept and which battles we want to fight. And we dream–because

what would we do without imagination? Who has not looked at the clouds and wondered–if only?

 For those who really enjoy clouds, I discovered there is a Cloud Appreciation Society.