Winter Warmth and Winter Light

***I woke up to quite a surprise this morning. My poetry collection, River Ghosts, is Black Bough Poetry’s December Book of the Month. This is such an honor, and I am beyond thrilled! Black Bough, Matthew MC Smith, and his @TopTweetTuesday have done so much for the poetry community and pushed me to become a better poet. Sarah Connor, whose poetry I have admired very much for years, wrote a very perceptive and lovely review. You can read it here. ***

Monday Morning Musings:

Stark Winter Beauty, a parking lot on a December morning

Winter Warmth and Winter Light

“So the shortest day came, and the year died,
And everywhere down the centuries of the snow-white world
Came people singing, dancing,
To drive the dark away.”
–from “The Shortest Day” by Susan Cooper

Dawn comes late and dusk is early,
the sky is grey, the clouds are surly,
the wind deep-sighs, the squirrels all scurry
to gather nuts in a hurry–

brown leaves rustle, and the weak sun gleams
creating jewels on boughs and streams
glittering rubies anointing the dead, nothing seems
as it was—because the dark enfolds light’s beams

and our dreams that change with passing time
of revolving spheres and the bells that chime–
and so, we don bold red and sparkle bright,
we sing and dance, to spite long night.

Soon the shortest day will come—again—
and then, and then—as we wonder if or when
we’ll feel warmth, see light, a crocus rises from the snow

and soon spring breezes in, and winter must go.

We went to a wedding this past weekend. It was the wedding of the daughter of friends of many years. This is the first event we’ve been to since the pandemic. It was fun to dress up and celebrate with our friends.

What is this without that?

Monday Morning Musings:

Sunrise over the Delaware River

What is this without that?

“Color itself is a degree of darkness.”
–Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Theory of Colors

“For this we go out dark nights, searching
For the dimmest stars,
For signs of unseen things:”
–from Rebecca Elson, Let There Always Be Light (Searching for Dark Matter)

The paradox of worlds and sky
every breath an unconscious
mechanical, chemical feat
we don’t consider, just do

as bees do, too
and the butterflies that flutter by
and the fish that surface from the blue
as if to say

look at the beauty of this day,
then gulp and swim away
from heron, eagle, and osprey
the descendants of dinosaurs

Sunrise Heron

their genes in feathered splendor soar
from prehistoric to modern—this,
the paradox of seeing the unseen
the shadows in the morning light

the glittering trace of dead stars at night,
and when there were no words for blue,
somehow, we found them through
green when we needed to

not perception, but expression, the view
of what we see. How do we know
the bee does not perceive beauty, as well
as utility in the flower, or the doe
appreciate the hours when the sun sets or rises–

we think only we are wise,
but the paradox of larger brains–
I can write about blue and time,
and force a rhyme,

appreciate the sublime,
but I cannot run without a sound
or find true north on a midnight flight
or love unconditionally like dog—or cat—
we have all this, but we have lost so much of that.

Whitall House and Colonial Garden, Red Bank Battlefield

It’s been a busy week. We had a special lunch with poet friends last Monday, which I’ll write about in a separate post. We had various appointments and outings, work, and then I finally made it to a book club meeting, run by my daughter at Blue Cork Winery. I had read The Lost Apothecary by Sarah Penner several months ago–a book that I thought looked interesting when I saw it at the library, so I was happy to re-read it for this meeting. Here’s a review from NPR.

Book Club at Blue Cork

Merril’s Movie Club: I’ve been slacking on the movie recommendations. 😏 We still have not been in a movie theater, but perhaps someday soon. . . Here are two strange Merril movies. Neptune Frost (2021) is a movie that our older child and their wife saw in the theater recently. I think I can safely say that if you watch it, it will be the strangest movie you’ve ever seen. My husband and I both liked it, and we’d like to see it again. Here is the description from Rotten Tomatoes: “In an otherworldly e-waste camp made of recycled computer parts, a subversive hacking collective attempts a takeover of the authoritarian regime exploiting the region’s natural resources–and its people. When an intersex runaway (Neptune, played by both Elvis Ngabo and Cheryl Isheja) and an escaped coltan miner (Matalusa, played by Kaya Free) find each other through cosmic forces, their connection sparks glitches within the greater divine circuitry. With hypnotic visuals and original songs composed by musician and co-director Saul Williams, this celestial cyber-musical offers a radically bold vision of power, exploitation, and love.” I rented it from Amazon, but it’s available on other platforms.

We also watched Thelma, “a 2017 Norwegian supernatural thriller drama film directed by Joachim Trier,” whose more recent “Worst Person in the World” film we enjoyed earlier this year. We also both liked Thelma. It has some unexpected moments, and it makes you think.

And so, November Begins

Monday Morning Musings:

Vulture flying by the morning moon.

Ineffable the moon and light,
the rainbow sky, the morning delight,
the shadows where the deer skitter,
and ghostly shapes drift and flitter,
the world around me an emitter

for hope and fear, desire and cheer
emotions swirl in collected glow, and we’re
receivers—if only we know

A sunrise rainbow before the rain.

when and how to feel the dead around us,
in the susurrus , and the prickling air—are they there?
We celebrate their lives
by remembering a laugh, a phrase, the favorite food on holidays—

Two skeletons hanging out in the neighborhood

her hands and eyes, his hair and songs,
things we hold inside, that belong
a part of us, carried in traditions and blood,
generations on

might never know, but somehow recognize—
like those grey or green eyes
or ability to paint, or sing, or write–
to gaze up as stars ignite

Geese Flying from the Morning Moon

and feel the colors twirl and spin. To see without and within
the cycle of all beginnings and all ends—to think of ifs
and remember when.

A fiery morning sky.

This has been a strange week. Nothing terrible, just things that didn’t work out as expected, and some mornings in the twilight I felt like this really was a time when the veil between worlds was thinning . . . In between storms and wind, the sky has been so beautiful, and the morning light has a special quality.

We got our Covid boosters on Saturday night. We voted that day, too. Who says we don’t know how to have fun on a weekend? My arm was a little sore, and so was my husband’s, but no other reactions. I had long phone calls yesterday (Halloween) with my sister, sister-in-law, and older child. It was great to catch up! As I walked around the house while on the phone, I got over 25,000 steps in yesterday!

Merril’s Movies, Shows, and Books:
We watched a cool show on Netflix called Tabula Rasa. It’s Belgian. It’s a mystery with some supernatural overtones. It’s about a woman with amnesia, and a missing man. It’s best not to know too much–we were very surprised by the twists and things we didn’t see coming. We’re watching a Japanese show called Midnight Diner, also on Netflix. We watch an episode every once in a while, because I feel like I want to savor them. They’re only half hour episodes about a restaurant in Japan that is open midnight to 7 AM, and the people who come there. My husband was saying he doesn’t know why he loves the show so much. It’s a simple idea, but somehow, it’s just very gentle and satisfying. (Don’t watch it while you’re hungry.) We watched two horror movies over the weekend: The Omen (1976) and The Hole in the Ground (2019). We saw The Omen way back when in a theater with friends, and it was terrifying. Now watching it on TV, it seems a bit dated, not to mention the questions I have now about a husband who would just decide to substitute a baby and not tell his wife? Wifey is too fragile to know the truth. UGH! But it still has some very scary scenes. The Hole in the Ground is an Irish-Finnish production about a woman whose son seems to have been replaced by something else. It had some great and scary moments, and overall was very well done.

I read The Rose Code by Kate Quinn. It’s a novel about three very different women who meet and bond during the time they all work at Bletchey Park during WWII. It seems to be very well-researched. I really had a hard time putting this one down. I highly recommend it, if you like historical novels.

The Nightmare

The boundaries between mist and light,
time and dreams, seems porous, slight
in memories, thoughts dim, but feelings brighten
not where or when, but why we’re frightened
in the night, death comes close, as senses heightened
to scream beware—

before you vanish from that liminal space
where hours dash, and you wear another’s face
knowing you are you but not, and you forgot
to take a test or you’re lost, or haven’t brought
that thing, you know–or maybe not,
but where

do you go in this maze of a house,
and who is he, surely not your spouse–
but oh, what’s he’s doing feels so good,
and you think you shouldn’t, you wouldn’t, but you would
until they stare,

the people, they’re monsters, with giant teeth
and what is that, behind the door, beneath
the bed, not Grandmom, not husband, or lover,
scary creatures, they grimace, and hover
and you want to escape, or at least take cover—
but you can’t till you wake, relieved the nightmare’s over.

Another bit of Halloween fun. I’m posting this for dVerse’s Open Link Night. We’re live tonight, if you want to join us!

While Walking in the Time of Plague and Panic




Beneath the blue

the branches swayed

as soft the breezes blew,

squirrels skittered in the shade,

cardinals twittered,

blue jays scolded,

and robins from treetops tittered–

affably, the day unfolded

in blooming pink and white.

Violet fairy bells danced on the ground

under the golden shimmering light–

all undisturbed by human sound.

And the sun shone if on everything

with the all the hopes of spring.


For Frank’s prompt on dVerse—a final couplet. I went for a walk today. It was beautiful, and bit eerie with no one else about. I also consulted the Oracle for some tips on how to get started on this non-sonnet




Golden Apples


Hesperides Dance Around the Golden Tree


I dreamt of golden apples

that fell fragrant from the sun

to land on earth shadow-dappled–

beyond, I heard a river run

and wandered to its grassy bank

where songbirds flocked and flew

to swoop at shining, rainbow fish. I drank

the pure, clear water—well, wouldn’t you?

For this was a calm and peaceful place–

where bees droned and danced a pirouette

in rhythmic waves, almost embraced–

I wondered if they loved or faced regret

at the days that pass all too soon,

when love and loved ones disappear–

yet silver apples of the moon

shine on, in dreams, golden apples appear.


This is for dVerse Open Link Night, where Grace is hosting, and also for the Tuesday dVerse Poetics prompt, where Anmol asked us to write about apples. Jane, I managed to get the silver apples in, too. 🙂














Three Witches Echo the Light


“In a light echo, light from the flash is reflected by successively more distant rings in the complex array of ambient interstellar dust that already surrounded the star. V838 Mon lies about 20,000 light years away toward the constellation of the unicorn (Monoceros), while the light echo above spans about six light years in diameter.” Image Credit: NASA

 For Kerfe and Jane


The echo of stars’ light

(so bright, so bright)

twinkles through space and time


in radiant waves shimmering

(the sight, the sight)

of shimmering stars


and humming moon

(her tune, her tune)

propels us forward


with Oracle and alchemy

(rhapsodies of fantasy)

we three witches seek guidance


through conjuring magic

(the gifts, the gifts)

of whys and ifs,


thus, we pause life’s darkness

to reveal the light—it’s there, it’s there!

So bright, so bright, so bright, so bright.


This is for my prompt at dVerse, where I’ve asked everyone to echo or write about echoes.

The Scent of the Past


Monday Morning Musings:

“We sit down

in the smell of the past

and rise in a light

that is already leaving.”

From Rita Dove, “November for Beginners”

“Wars, plagues, names upon tombs tell us only what happened. But history lies in the cracks between.”

― Sarah Blake, The Guest Book


The wind roars, a dragon

blowing in the season


overnight the temperature drops

and there’s a reason


I’m baking and cooking

easing in

this time of melancholy and light.


The leaves glow golden

in the slanted light of dimming days



and color pops, unrestrained,

blazing, in the rays


of setting sun.


Here come ghosts

and memories, the dead

Day of the Dead at Love Park

William Penn looking down at the Day of the Dead display at Love Park, Philadelphia


remembered in joy and sorrow

decorations, graves, a thread



of history, the moments in-between

the things we love, the times we dread


the smell of the past,


comes back to haunt us–

my mother says, do you smell that


when nothing is in the air

and goes on to chat—


(I open window and door)

we discuss dogs, a cat


and this is where we’re at,


now, daughter and I make candles

smelling scents for future burning

but is it also, perhaps,

for a past we’re yearning


in scents of autumn and Christmas

as the season is turning


we talk and sip our wine.



Swirl, sniff, taste,

discuss ghosts and dreams,


the feelings of houses

our moods, of what seems


to be real or not—

(I watch how the light streams


then dims.)

Vintage Wine Bar, Philadelphia

Vintage Wine Bar, Philadelphia

The clocks turned back,

but we’re the ones that change,


not time. It moves on,

there’s no real exchange


hours lost or gained,

yet memories remain, sometimes disarranged


but triggered by this or that, perhaps a scent.


I dream of cooking beans,

the refrain, they need long simmering


add some water the dream people say

and in my mind some glimmering–


this is my life and words

with long slow cooking, simmering


and sometimes shimmering


through the cracks

the scents of cinnamon and spice, autumn


the leaves glow and fall

the ghosts often forgotten


wander, here and there

as the light dims


but returns—in time.


Merril’s Movie Club–we watched It on Halloween, as the wind began to howl. We saw Pain and Glory, Almodovar’s latest. Husband and I both liked it–(but liked Parasite more)–you probably know if you like this kind of thing, Banderas as Almodovar remembering his life, perhaps more pain than glory at times. Trailer here.  We also started watching a French series on Netflix, Black Spot (definitely not translated from the French title Zone Blanche) about strange goings on in a French town. We like to keep our viewing international.  😉



















Here and There and Here

Willow at Dock Creek, October 2019

Monday Morning Musings:

“All I know

Is you are there

You are there

And I am here.

–Irene Sankoff and David Heine, “I am Here,” from Come From Away


“Suddenly there’s nothing in between me and the sky”

Irene Sankoff and David Heine, “Me and the Sky,” from Come From Away


“Think of it as a ghost play; the actor’s older bodies are haunting these thirteen-year-old characters.”

Clare Barron on her play, Dance Nation


“Are you here?” my mother asks

as I, involved in some ordinary task

stand just beyond her sight.


The boundaries between mist and light

time and dreams, seems porous, slight

and she drifts, and we drift again and again


Reflections in a rain puddle, Philadelphia

sunshine, then rain

“Here,” says the woman in the book

“Here,” I say, “Look.”


The twilight and dawn

the days that falter, end with a song

look at them fly

nothing between them and the sky

and we drink wine, talk of movies and why

they did this or that—it’s a metaphor

I say, and we laugh, remember more

to discuss, remember the time when it was just us

or when we were thirteen–


remember how life seemed?

All emotions, and the dreams?

Emotions now more settled, but more stress—

I digress.

Time right now to sit in gardens bright

to catch autumn’s glowing light




rain and sunshine, tears, delight

I was there once, now I’m here in sight–

of what? I’m not certain, but you are here

together we’re here,

and there’s magic in theater–and deer

and nature, magic in each day’s dawning


watching the sun rise, yawning

as it sets, and the cats that sleep, never fawning

honest with their desire

for food and love, we’re the suppliers

but we get it back, their love doesn’t expire

no ghosts in their bodies, at least that I see


they can just be–

and sometimes so can we—

here together,


I am here,

you are here,

nothing between us and sky–

in my dreams, we fly.



We actually saw two shows this week: Come From Away and Dance Nation. Come from Away is heartwarming without being cloying. It’s about people doing good. It’s about the town in Newfoundland that takes in flights following the terrorist attacks on 9/11. It’s poignant, but also very funny at times. The staging is wonderful, and we saw it in the beautiful Academy of Music in Philadelphia. Dance Nation is about a competitive dance team of middle school kids, but it’s also a memory play, as we see glimpses of the girls (and one boy’s) older selves. All the actors are adults. It’s laugh out loud funny at times, but it also makes you want to cheer. There’s a wonderful speech on female empowerment.

And for Merril’s Movie Club members—we finally got to the movies and saw Parasite. Yes, of course it has subtitles. It’s Korean. It’s about class and metaphors, and it’s excellent, but you know, it’s a Merril movie. 😉 Here’s the trailer.













The Night Passes




William Heritage Winery


Workday chores set down,

the sun sinks low, birds take wing,

stars soon appear to glimmer and sing


songs drifting over gleaming river

and sleepy town


to me and you, the sound

of nature, moon hums a chorus–

and so, night passes before us.


I’m hosting dVerse today. We’re writing quadrilles, using the word, “set.” Come join us!