Burning Bright: Ekphrastic Challenge, Day 19

Burning bright, each season’s swift turning,
she comes named and nameless, always here
assuaging aches and calming yearning,
giver of life and light—see her,

she comes named and nameless, always here
reaching the apples, making fungi sprout,
giver of life and light, in darkness, see her
circling–a serpent, in and out

reddening the apples, making fungi sprout,
not angel nor demon, she is desire
circling. A serpent in and out,
beyond time–she’s earth, air, and fire–

not angel nor demon, she is desire,
assuaging aches and calming yearning.
Beyond time, she’s earth, air, and fire-
burning. Bright, each season’s swift turning.

A pantoum for Paul Brooke’s Ekphrastic Challenge, Day 19. My poem didn’t make it into the post, but you can read the rest of them here.

When the Moon Sings, NaPoWriMo, Day 17


When the moon sings,
time stills, and
after-aches sleep in the purple-shadowed night
while diamond ships sail,

~spraying if in silver light~

love comes, seafoam-born,
ephemeral and eternal
crushing worlds and driving dreams—
listen to the sky– a symphony of roses rises at dawn.

A collaboration with the Magnetic Poetry Oracle that also works for today’s NaPoWriMo prompt. She loves the moon–and the puente form.

Too Late: Ekphrastic Challenge, Day 15

Cosmic after-
glow, echoes of light,
and matter
through time, before time
before our time–eons

of coursing
color no one sees–
from the sky
to the sea
repeating cycles, fractals
and Fibonacci

on the beach,
a nautilus shell—
you hold it,
at its spiral curves, ancient
sailor, now moored here

amidst stones
and gull laughs, soaring
as Gaia
cups the world.
This is how life unfolds, in
circles and seasons

without hate.
Too late for her, or
him, or them—
the Other—
though filled with stardust, too. See
how cycles repeat?

A shadorma sequence for Paul Brooke’s Ekphrastic Challenge, Day 15. We’re halfway through! You can read the other poems here. My work is inspired by all three works of art. I am behind on replying to comments and visiting other posts because I’ve had to finish paying work this week, but I will catch up in the next couple of days. This will be my NaPoWriMo poem for today because I know I won’t have time to get to the prompt.

Once: Ekphrastic Challenge, Day 13

Once the harbor was a bustling place
of summer light, with salty tang– the sky a vivid blue,
all day and night, we gathered and chattered–of clouds no trace.
Once the harbor was a bustling place,
full of hope and sweet mysteries–our love was new,
but star-crossed by autumn storms–gone ship, captain, crew, you.
Once–the harbor was a bustling place
of summer light, with salty tang, the sky a vivid blue.

For Paul Brookes’ Ekphrastic Challenge, Day 13, I wrote a triolet based on all three works of art. You can read all the poems here. I haven’t written a triolet in ages, and I forgot how difficult it is to get so much in eight lines with the repeated lines and rhymes. But here it is. This will be my NaPoWriMo poem for the day, too.

We Named the Sky: NaPoWriMo, Day 12

Monday Morning Afternoon Musings:

“The dead don’t go anywhere. They’re all here. Each man is a cemetery. An actual cemetery, in which lie all our grandmothers and grandfathers, the father and mother, the wife, the child. Everyone is here all the time.”
-Isaac Bashevis Singer (quoted in Shtisel), Season3)

Sunrise Cloud Reflections over the Delaware River at Red Bank Battlefield ©️Merril D. Smith

In ancient times, we named the sky—
saw Apollo in his flaming chariot fly
as his sister Diana of the woods and moon
bounded with deer and hound, and soon
the stars were storied, and tunes gloried
creation, emotion, and the cessation of
wind and tides, the slide

of seasons from one to next,
as the gods are first jolly, then are vexed.
But Persephone comes and goes–
snow falls, then flower flows,
and we cry and sigh as people die–
but the seeds remain, though not the same,
each generation evolves, and solves

Spring, Red Bank Battlefield ©️Merril D. Smith, 2021

new problems, and old ones we revive.
But if we could fly in hyperdrive
to other worlds, or visit holodecks
to greet and meet dear loved ones in an annex
to another world, an alternate timeline,
future, past, present combined—we’d drink wine
with family and heroes, toast the divine

in fantasy. And yet—we recall,
in memories of sight, scent, sound—however small–
within us all the time, sharing space
with those who came before—the interface
of body and mind. Stardust to genes, renamed things
in seasons reborn on hopeful wings
Cycles, seasons, the stories again–real or imaginings?

Clouds and cool weather
Beautiful blue skies, April Morning. Delaware River at Red Bank Battlefield. ©️Merril D. Smith, 2021

I’ve combined my Monday Morning Musings with the NaPoWriMo Day 12 prompt: “This prompt challenges you to write a poem using at least one word/concept/idea from each of two specialty dictionaries: Lempriere’s Classical Dictionary and the Historical Dictionary of Science Fiction.”

Merril’s Movie/TV Club: We finished Season 3 (most likely the final season) of Shtisel (Netflix). I highly recommend it. My husband and I both got so caught up in this show.
We had Chinese food over the weekend, and so watch two Chinese movies.
Us and Them (Netflix)—a romance of a young man and woman meeting on a train and trying to become successful in Beijing. I liked it, but I’m not sure if I loved it. I think I would have enjoyed it more in the theater. We had some phone calls and other distractions.
Better Days (Amazon Prime rental)—is Hong Kong’s entry for the Academy Awards. It’s about school bullying, and also the high stakes competition/pressure of getting into a good college in China. My husband and I both enjoyed this one more—despite the subject matter of school bullying. There is also a romance. The actress Dongyu Zhou is the female lead in both movies. Watch the end credits for both movies.

May Queen, NaPoWriMo, Day 10

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 sky voices, 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, sweet May Queen–

with each embrace, she color-spaces
a trace of perfume recalls her paces,
and soft poetry where she has been, always and forever green.

I haven’t done too many NaPoWriMo prompts this month because I’m writing for an Ekphrastic Challenge, and there are only so many poems I can write each day! But, I always visit the the Magnetic Poetry Oracle on Saturdays, and today she gave me this sort of folk tale poem.

Philadelphia, 1793: So Much Left Unsaid, NaPoWriMo, Day 8

I want to say, Dear Mother, do not fret
I am gone, and all is set,
you think, I know, our Father’s will and rule–
but, oh I wish I lived to see my babies go to school!
And all the sisters out at play—
instead of here. The way

(my body disappeared
I seem to float without it.)

I remember now, how yellow turned my skin and eyes,
and mournful were my sighs and cries
from aching head–
and then overspread
the blackest bile from within my bowels
over all the sheets and towels. . .

and yet you tended me
till I ceased to be


I no longer feel the pain.
But Mother, I wish I remained.

For the NaPoWriMo prompt today to “write your own poem in the form of a monologue delivered by someone who is dead” and for the dVerse prompt where Grace asks us to write about the body. I wasn’t going to do either prompt, but then this came to me. It’s based on letters I read that were written during the yellow fever epidemic in Philadelphia in 1793. Many fled the city, but over 5,000 people died. The disease is transmitted by mosquitoes, so the epidemic subsided once the weather cooled. I remember sitting in the Quaker Archives at Haverford College reading one letter and nearly bursting into tears.

Everything: NaPoWriMo, Day 8

Crow flying over the Delaware River at Red Bank Battlefield

Listen, as
Crow caws your future—
winter goes,
spring appears,
cycles repeat forever,
light to dark to light

from before
time, it resonates–
the afterlight
of star-birds
flapping their bright-feathered wings,
and traveling on.

Ghost glimmers
spot the sky. Humming
with the moon,
the sea sighs,
everything connected. Now,
listen again. See?

A Shadorma chain for NaPoWriMo, Day 8 inspired by my walk this morning. The crows have been so active, and right now a mockingbird is putting on quite a concert from a nearby tree. It’s a good time of year to look around and listen. Since I’m writing a daily poem for the Ekphrastic challenge, and I’m behind on all my work, I’m mostly not writing for the prompts this year. But, I do love the shadorma form. 😏

Homeless: Ekphrastic Challenge, Day 6

She’s small, like a little mouse, curled into a recess
empty-bellied, shivering,
the newspaper not much insulation—old news–

homelessness. And if it’s new to her, the whys are not—
her stepdad’s roving hands, no work, the cries within her head. . .

in a fitful sleep, she dreams of spring,
filling her small rodent body with tender berries and leaves—
all the people gone, their power plants silent, and she is at peace.

For Paul Brookes Ekphrastic Challenge. My poem is inspired by the two images above. You can see all of the art and poems on the Wombwell Rainbow site. All of these poems are first drafts, and I’ve revised this one since I sent it to Paul yesterday, so this version is different from the one on his site. This is also for NaPoWriMo.

Orbiting: Ekphrastic Challenge,Day 5

Inspired by KR5 “Orbiting,” and JL5 “Green Man”

Spinning, spinning, spinning—
circles, cycles, ends, beginning—
mortality underpinning
hopes, goals, decisions

to power pose with practiced smile,
and walk her steps and run a mile,
to dial back time, and stay a while
her fear of dying.

But, turning, turning, turning
the Moon still glows, the sun’s still burning,
And see? The green man, he’s returning
to bloom the ground with flowers ‘round

where once all seemed cold and dying,
awakened seeds from dreams untying,
raise their tendrils trying, trying–
seeking warmth and air.

Now the robin sings it clear–
another orbit, another year.

This is for Paul Brookes’ Ekphrastic Challenge. This one was a difficult one for me. The poem is based on the two pieces of art above. To see all the art and poems, visit Wombwell Rainbow. This is also my NaPoWriMo poem, since I know I will not have time to get to the prompt today. So many poems, so little time! 😀