When Opening the Bottle

Edvard Munch, The Day After

My first try at a Trinitas, a three-in-one poetry form invented by Samantha Terrell. For dVerse, where Punam asked us to write about wine. I’m tired, so I hope this makes sense. I apologize for being behind on reading and commenting. There have been some family issues, and I’m also getting ready for Thanksgiving tomorrow.

November Mysteries

Monday Morning Musings:

November Mysteries

“It was November–the month of crimson sunsets, parting birds, deep, sad hymns of the sea, passionate wind-songs in the pines.
–L.M. Montgomery, Anne of the Island, Chapter XXV

Now it is November,
the sun with white nimbus and absent-minded face
takes her time to rise, to trace with bony fingers in the mist,
to burnish birdwings as they glide–

she touches the treetops, and they enraptured glow
to share November’s secrets through roots below,
and cast elongated shadows on the land
where the wind scatters leaves, red and brown,

the rustle-song a piece, along with sparrow hymn
and blue jay screech, of autumn’s orchestration,
of melancholy beauty, saudade, an ache of yearning
for people and seasons past—

harvests are over, we drink the wine
wanting to linger. . .but the sun sets quicker–

even if I ask, time will not stop,
and it remains a mystery
how it moves, now slow, now fast—
each second ticks, now has passed,

and still the moon rises, the earth still spins
the repetition of patterns, circles within circles,
a cycle ends, another begins—

November walks in mystery
her penumbra grows, obscuring the light
echoing the sounds unheard—every note–
the things just beyond sight.

We are having unseasonable warm weather—and I am trying to enjoy every second of it, despite being a bit off from the switch back to standard time. The combination of warm days and November sunlight is a bit disconcerting, especially mixed with the time change. Everything is a bit off, like being in a dream. Though we and many others have already voted, tomorrow is Election Day. It is going to take days or weeks for all the results to be in, but the party of the former president is busily pushing misinformation, and who knows what will happen on Wednesday?

We enjoyed the beautiful warm weather at two wineries this weekend. Auburn Road for pizza and wine with our daughter, son-in-law and their puppy, and William Heritage Winery for sparkling Blanc de Blanc with lobster rolls. Sunday morning, we walked in Ceres Park.

We’re watching a Polish show on Netflix called 1983. Although it’s set in an alternative historical setting, the show merely uses that to frame a mystery and a political thriller. It has the feel of Scandi-noir. We’re confused by the various factions, but in a good way. We’re both enjoying the show.

Slanted Words in Slanted Light

Monday Morning Musings:

Autumn Light Through the Trees

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 high-pitched whistles fly—

above red and yellow dazzle,
berry-warm against cool grey and blue
eagles with high-pitched whistles fly,
wine glows as canted rays shine through

berry-warm against cool grey and blue
circles woven of color and time
wine glows as canted rays shine through
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

The Wild Turkey Gang

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

A pantoum for today. I used some of Jane’s random words, as well as playing off Emily Dickinson. October has been a mostly beautiful month this year—some grey days and rain, but beautiful color, even as the days are growing shorter. And that eagle!

We took care of some things this weekend, such as flu shots and new COVID booster and haircuts. No ill effects from the vaccines, except I was a little tired Friday night and Saturday. We also voted in NJ’s early voting. I’m dismayed and angered that so many still support the GOP, which has become the Tr—p Party of Christo-fascists, and people egging them on, and also some who somehow still believe their lives will improve–despite decades of proof that trickle-down economic policies only make the rich richer. The GOP wants to eliminate Social Security and Medicare—how will that help most people, and what will happen to the people who depend on them? The attack on Nancy Pelosi’s husband, which was meant to be her assassination, and the rise in antisemitic rhetoric indicates what this party stands for–in case the dismissal of women’s rights and attacks on LGBTQ+ weren’t enough, and oh yes, the attempts to destroy democracy weren’t enough! We cannot agree to disagree on these things.

Horror viewing this week because nothing is as scary as the real world. The Midnight Club on Netflix this week, which we enjoyed. It’s based on a YA novel. There are a few “gotcha jumps,” but it’s not super-scary. But it’s both sad (set in a hospice for teens with cancer) and hopeful with some fun 1990’s references, too. The Innocents (1961), the beautifully photographed movie based on The Turn of the Screw with Deborah Kerr as the governess. A classic ghost story. No blood and gore, just spookiness. I had forgotten the ending though, which is creepy on another level, too.

We went to William Heritage Winery to enjoy the beautiful afternoon yesterday.

Small Joys

Monday Morning Musings:

Small Joys

“Seek out each day as many as possible of the small joys, and thriftily save up the larger, more demanding pleasures for holidays and appropriate hours. It is the small joys first of all that are granted us for recreation, for daily relief and disburdenment, not the great ones.”
–Herman Hesse, quoted in The Marginalian

Early Morning October Reflections, Red Bank Battlefield

A mysterious sky forms,
whispers, “be untidy now,”
scatter leaves like hope,
watch them catch the wind
as eagles do, wings-outstretched
straight as the horizon,
to land softly, like feathers,
but to crackle and crunch with satisfaction
as you walk upon them,
sharing them with the earth.

Autumn leaves, Tall Pines

Bird Skies

Now mark how the thunder passes,
and gold pours from the sky
gilding the trees
as the sky-blue jay
shares his opinions of the world,

you and the trees sigh.

October Morning, Red Bank Battlefield

See, how the wine is garnet in your glass,
a drinkable jewel, glimmering in the sun,
the afterlife of grapes, the culmination of sun, harvest,
air, and time. Some things can’t be hurried—

and so, we sit.

The afternoon may be a shaggy dog story,
or it might simply have a dog,
and isn’t that the point,
isn’t that enough

a beautiful autumn day,
loved ones, wines, a dog?

A bridge connecting seasons,
connecting future and past,
joy in this moment,
this moment, now,
whatever comes to pass.

Wooden Bridge, Tall Pines State Preserve

I used some of Jane’s Random words from Oracle II for my musings today. We are in the peak of autumn splendor now. Cool nights and sunny days (mixed with cloudy rainy ones). We will not have many more days of sitting outside, but we took advantage of the weather on Saturday afternoon to meet our daughter, son-in-law, and their puppy at Amalthea Cellars. Great wine (we had a red blend of merlot and Cabernet Franc.) On Sunday morning, before the rain, we walked at Tall Pines State Preserve.

Amalthea Cellars

Tall Pines State Preserve

Thursday afternoon I had a delightful time doing a podcast and reading some of my poetry, which I will share once it’s up—probably sometime in November. On Friday, I participated in an online Black Bough poetry event for “Sun-Tipped Pillars of Our Hearts,” the Dai Fry Award for Mystical Poetry. Such a beautiful event! My poem was among the long-listed poems included in the volume.

Ricky was dismayed by the dog, and he wants equal time. He should know how much he’s loved.

I have more to say about shadows and light

Monday Morning Musings:

Reflections on the river. Red Bank Battlefield

I have more to say about shadows and light and . . .

age-old questions. The chicken or the egg?
The egg, of course. But before that?

Look! A little rainbow in the clouds.

How about light?
It was there before stars, scientists say,
as they inquire and test,
while I’m left—simply pondering

the quantum strings and shades of black-and-white.
How to describe such ancient light
in that time before? Then move on–

have you considered our volcanic existence,
how we erupted from the sea
from stellar grit to ammonite then pinniped? In a blink,
or a flutter

of butterfly’s wing—the randomness, the chaos,
dust to mud,
a hurricane—

where does summer hide when winter’s cold winds blow?

My thoughts are far from towering, I confess,
reflections on riddles, the stuff of dreams—foretell and forget–

a leap into the unknown, but sweep away the cobwebs,
what is left?
Nothing dashing, impressive—more like Alice tumbling down the rabbit hole.

But really, where do the fawn’s spots go? How long can a heron stand
so quiet and still?

Sit awhile in on the hill. Do you see?
The way it glows. The way the shadows caress its curves? Do you feel how
the breeze kisses your cheek so tenderly like a mother?

Listen as the river sings the song of what is and what might be.

Now the geese float atop cotton ball clouds in the mirrored blue, sailing
on light, through shadows, into tomorrow—

the place of questions, dreams, and shadows.
But for shadows to exist, there must also be light,
and so again, we begin.

Sunrise over the Delaware River, August

I’m posting early today with something a bit different. I actually wrote most of this yesterday, and I used Jane’s Random Words

We had beautiful weather for the past week. Today it’s very humid with some rain and possible thunderstorms. It feels icky (a precise scientific term) outside right now.

We went to Vino and Vibes at William Heritage Winery with friends on Thursday night. It was a beautiful evening—perfect weather and company (and wine). We’re watching the second season of For all Mankind.

Present in Beauty

Monday Morning Afternoon Musings:

Present in Beauty

“Let your soul stand cool and composed before a million universes.”
Walt Whitman, Song of Myself, 48

“In beauty I walk
With beauty before me I walk
With beauty behind me I walk
With beauty above me I walk
With beauty around me I walk
It has become beauty again”
–from “Walking in Beauty”: Closing Prayer from the Navajo Way Blessing Ceremony

Storm Clouds

After the storm

First, a billowy sea of clouds,
then thunder, crash crash crashing–
shock and awe from the heavens,
ending in a hush,
the cat yawns.

History moves on,
I sleep and my hair turns grey.

Now this place, a speck, a blink
in the eye of the universe, does it matter
to the stars or time? Yet
here I walk—beauty before me, and all around.

Heron, deer, and ospreys converge.
The sky is the blue of wishes, the sun an apricot
I can almost taste—like the most luscious wine
I drink-in the daybreak, my soul cool and composed,
I savor this moment, knowing it is evanescent,
a sparkling bubble, no less beautiful
as it passes into memory,
the past another universe, an umbrella
to open for protection, or to cast shade when needed.
Bird-dawn has given way to cricket sunrise,
summer light has slanted—autumn on its way,
I adjust my sight line.

This sunrise! Sunrise over the Delaware.

A late musings today. It’s been a busy week, and I’m finishing some work. I used Jane’s Random Words. We celebrated what would have been my dad’s 103 birthday with Chinese food on Tuesday, and our friends insisted we have a toast to him. (Wonderful friends!) We had more hot and humid weather, then one night with some thunderstorms, and then perfect weather over the weekend. We met our daughter and son-in-law at a new winery on Saturday. Stokelan Winery is a beautiful place. The Stokelan House dates from about 1853. We sat outside. I liked all of the wines, but I didn’t love any of them. Since it’s a new place, they’re still working out some issues. It’s a distance for us to travel, so we probably won’t go back there for a while, but it was still a lovely afternoon.

Toast to Dad and Stokelan Winery

We watched the TV show Dark Winds. It’s based on the series of novels by Tony Hillerman, which take place on Navajo land. It seemed like a good series to watch this week because my dad enjoyed Hillerman’s books. Once my father wrote him a letter, and Mr. Hillerman replied. Although Tony Hillerman was not Native American, much of the cast, the writers, and crew are. A character recites the lines above in the final episode.

Bangs and Whispers

Monday Morning Musings:

Early Morning, Delaware River

Bangs and Whispers

The attempt was not furtive,
not noiseless, it was abusive, shameless
a deafening crash—
we’re crashing. . .crashed

over the precipice,
past nervous titters,
and anxious alarms
into the volcano,

we wait for a line,
a beaming up and out.
There—a bird
an owl, her cry resonates—look–

each cloud indents the sky,
like a paragraph on a page,
now watch the blue
more words float into view:

less mothering from a tiny red rose
there is life and death and magic in the woods

Morning Rain

for if in rain, pale petals fall
and time cries with tapping beats
against the glass, stop, listen,
hear the drumming, hear the violin sighs

of life aches–
the raw is still there
but pink-petaled spring
whispers under a sweetened lemon sun,

failure, collapse, frightening–
and boundless—once upon a time,
the stars sang a secret. . .
I wish.

June, Red Bank Battlefield

This is a poem created from the Random Words I generated yesterday and some of the Oracle’s words from Saturday. I’m getting this up early so I can do some work before the next round of January 6 Committee Hearings begin this morning at 10:00 AM Eastern Time.

We listened to the first televised hearing on Thursday night on the radio as we were driving home from a beautiful night with dear friends at William Heritage Winery, and then watched it on TV after we got home. It was horrifying and stunning to watch. It’s beyond doubt that the former president instigated an attempted insurrection. Unfortunately, it’s gone beyond him now and growing.

Merri’s Movie, TV, Theater Club:
We finished the new season of the Danish political drama, Borgen, which was a lesson on how power corrupts. This season returned after nine years. It is an excellent series, which I highly recommend. We stated watching the new season of Stranger Things. It’s a lot of fun so far. Both shows are on Netflix. I didn’t watch either trailer because I don’t want to know anything in advance.

I get emails from Focus Features, and so I was able to see a free virtual screening of the new Downton Abbey movie, Downton Abbey: A New Era. It was a bit predictable, but it was Downton Abbey—well-acted, beautiful filmed—and if you like the show, you’ll enjoy the movie. I did.

On Saturday afternoon, we saw Into the Woods at the Arden Theatre in Philadelphia. We walked around in a light rain first. It was a very enjoyable production, the audience around three sides of a bare bones stage with an excellent orchestra raised behind them. It was a show of imagination and storytelling—no special costumes, just a few props like crowns, red cape, golden shoes, Rapunzel’s braid, etc. Several cast members played multiple roles, including playing Snowy White the Cow, the hen that laid golden eggs, and the Giants’ harp. The Baker’s vocals were the standout for me, but all the actors sang beautifully. We both enjoyed this production very much.

Washington Square Park, A rainy afternoon in June
Roof Garden


Monday Morning Musings:


“The idea,” she said, “is that in a dream a person might be able control events. And I thought how much better I’d like it if there were such a thing as lucid living. Much better to control what happens in life than what happens in your dreams.”
–Nina De Gramont, The Christie Affair, p. 53.

“Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”
–Dylan Thomas, “Do not go gentle into that good night”

Early morning light on the river

Sun and Shadow, Early morning

We’re settled in the confluence
of sorrow and remembrance,

another shooting
barely makes the news,
the politicians spin, backpedal,
attempt wheelies to distract–

because there’s no logic,
no reason for children to be killed.

Today we remember the soldiers
who gave their lives—but how much
better if these were ancient
memorials, war a foreign concept.

But none are safe,
no one is immortal.
Plagues, guns, chance, and choice
everything gone in a second.

A small graveyard in Salem County, NJ

I hold my loved ones close,
say I love you,
bake bread and cakes
drink wine, cherish the day, family, and friends,
I cuddle my cat,
smile at puppies, kittens, baby birds–

knowing I can’t control, except in a dream,
but wishing—

in the cycles of sunshine and storms,
the predawn choir and the bats at dusk,
that I could translate and circulate this—
the light, tree memories, crow wisdom,

we’re settled, resigned,
but I will see the beauty

and rage against the dying of the light.

An overgrown yard transformed by morning light.

Today is Memorial Day. Yesterday we went to Auburn Road Vineyard with our daughter, son-in-law, and one of their dogs. It was a gorgeous day to sit outside and enjoy wine and pizza. I’m having leftover pizza for lunch. I’m about three quarters of the way through The Christie Affair, a novel that takes place during Agatha Christie’s famous disappearance, as told by her husband’s mistress. I’m enjoying it very much.

Traces Left Behind

Traces of wine on clay shards,
residue of the past, a history
of migration, cultivation–civilizations
that rise and fall. Transition and transformation–
chemical processes and time, the call

of ancient frescoes, where long ago dreams still live
enshrined, the stories of people and place–
the grapes, the gods, the snakes, and banquet plates,
a bird perched just so,
and for a moment—there—it sings.

I heard it.

Through the grapevine trellis,
in an enoteca now, the sun’s heavy golden face peeks
then goes, as it did that day in Pompeii
before the darkness fell in clouds of ash, rock,
and a river of lava flowed,
burying wine and dreams.

And yet—the artist’s vision lasted–
a woman gazes down at me, the scent of garum
in the air, birdsong in the background—and I
taste centuries in a glass.

I’m sharing this for dVerse’s Open Link Night, where Lisa is hosting. I missed Lillian’s “birthday prompt” on Tuesday. She asked us to
“go to the website https://mybirthdayhits.com and plug in your birthday. There’s a spot in the upper right-hand corner of the site for you to enter your birthdate. Have fun scrolling down the years, seeing what the #1 tune was on each of your birthdays. Pick at least one of the song titles that hit the charts at #1 on your birthday – one that resonates with you – and use it in its exact wording within your poem.”

“I Heard it Through the Grapevine” was one of the top songs on my birthdate. I’m not sure that the line really works in the poem, but that’s what revision is for. I actually do love the direction the title sent me in—which actually fits what Lisa had to say about hidden things and art, and also fits a larger project I’ve been working on. There are more frescoes here.

In Feathered Light

Monday Morning Musings:

The moon hums and the sun sings,
and feathered things with outstretched wings
soar into the light

dazzling white, the egrets’ flight,
the eagles’ glide, a majestic sight
above my head

and down below, the scent of dead
attract the vulture’s blooded head—
but even they fly

with graceful beauty in the sky
circling round—hello, goodbye—
life comes and goes

This cormorant spent several days in this spot.
Oh, Hello!

the questions everybody knows,
and none can answer, I suppose
there’s beauty in that, too–

science can tell us why the sky is blue,
yet perceiving it, is that new?
Do we name things so that we see–

or does sight come, and we feel free–
And still, we disagree
about the color of the sea,

fields of grain, and climbing vines
lost to asphalt, modern signs
of progress made,

decisions that now cascade,
a waterfall, decisions weighed
spinning in retrograde, still we shine

in setting sun, sipping wine,
fruits of field and vine,
talking as time slow-walks–

a paradox—the universe’s sleight–
time, truth, the beauty of the feathered light.

Morning— Delaware River at Red Bank Battlefield

We went to Blue Cork Winery in Williamstown, NJ this past week, where our daughter gave a talk—a brief history of sangria–and then guided us through making our own using a white and red base they supplied, along with fruit and juices. It was a fun event, and of course we bought a bottle of wine to take home, too.
I’m still finishing that chapter, so I apologize for my slow response time here. Also, I’m hosting dVerse Poetics tomorrow.