Moon Spirits, NaPoWriMo


Johann Georg Haeselich (1806-1894)
Holstein Sea – Moonlight


In the dawning of owl-light

when the bell-voiced flowers

croon goodnight,

and the tide-looped river

mirror-shines still-bright—

the spirits gather, awakened

by the silver feathered light.


Moon-blown they dance

tickled by her rays (the sight!)

to make a vagary,

and convened in delight,

to ring with dark-vowelled voices

singing peace upon the night.


Day 16 of NaPoWriMo is to write a list poem. It seems like I’ve done a few lists already, so I’m following the dVerse prompt today instead. Laura asks us to write a poem “using at least FOUR of the hyphenated compound words” from the list of words taken from the works of Dylan Thomas. I’ve done this and added some of my own.

Additionally, in a tweet, Dale Rogerson (who blogs at A Dalectable Life) challenged me to use the word “vagaries.” I used the singular form, vagary, discovering that an old meaning of “to make a vagary,” was to make a wandering journey.







The Search

“I see today that everyone on earth

wants the answer to the same question

but none has the language to ask it.”

~ Jim Harrison from Songs of Unreason


She gallops the globe, dawn to night

searching for wondrous words to say–

what are the sounds, what can be right?

She gallops the globe, dawn to night

seeking the language to bring light

to darkness—she questions the way.

She gallops the globe, dawn to night

searching for wondrous words to say.


To sway the world, what words are right?

What to ask, who knows what to say?

Still she journeys, circling through night

to sway the world—what words are right?

Perhaps they’re doomed, without the light

stuck, hope at bay—what is the way

to sway the world, what words are right?

What to ask, who knows what to say?


This is a double triolet (is that a thing?). I felt it needed a second stanza.  This is for Day 21, of Jilly’s 28 Days of Unreason. We are writing poetry inspired by the poetry and work of Jim Harrison.








The Words

“I’m quite tired of beating myself up to write.  I think I’ll start letting the words slip out like a tired child. “Can I have a piece of pie” he asks, and then he’s asleep back on the cusp of the moon.”

~ Jim Harrison from Songs of Unreason


Oh, the words. . .

they spill


sometimes needlessly


dreamily fluttering

gliding owls

against the moon

hearing her tune

(she hums and croons)

echoing it back

with a hoot and screech

just out of reach,

the right words

flittery flit

lazily split

do a dip

then flip

from my mind

(leaving me behind)

they fly,

I sigh . . .

and wave goodbye.


This is for Day 19 of Jilly’s 28 Days of Unreason—poetry inspired by the poetry of Jim Harrison.



In the dreamworld time

words were born,

they tumbled in waves

through air and sea and

scattered like seashells on the beach

sparkling, sharp, buried, bright,

gathered like mussels,

polished like pearls

to feed minds and souls–

Words of wisdom

(Beat the drum)

Words of joy

(Do not destroy)

Words of sorrow

(Keep for tomorrow)

Words of hate

(Oh, please wait)

and most importantly,

Words of love

(A thousand examples of)

Words resplendent and complete

Words, some bitter and some so sweet

In the dreamtime born uncertainly

But lasting through all eternity.


©Merril D. Smith 2016


Here in the U.S., it’s Mother’s Day. Happy Mother’s Day to mothers everywhere!


My mom and I–wine glasses in hand!







“[Words] do not live in dictionaries; they live in the mind. And how do they live in the mind? Variously and strangely, much as human beings live, ranging hither and thither, falling in love, and mating together.”
Virginia Woolf

Sometimes words march through my mind like soldier ants on a mission, orderly and controlled. At other times, they swirl violently in the currents and high winds of emotion. Occasionally, they drift like clouds, beautiful and beyond reach.

I’ve spent countless hours in archives reading the words of people long dead. I’ve held the centuries-old parchment that a mother touched long ago, placing quill on paper to share the grief she felt over the death of her child. Her words conveyed anguish still so palpable that my eyes filled with tears as I read. I’ve read court records–the dry, official language that nevertheless reveals details of spousal abuse and sexual transgressions. From both the heartfelt words of love and grief and the cold words of law and bureaucracy, we uncover the buried lives of others and unearth truths about the past.

We use words to express love: “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?” We use words to create images: “The fog comes on little cat feet.” We use words to proclaim liberty and freedom: “We hold these truths to be self-evident.” “We the people.”
But sometimes words are too much. “Words! Words! Words! I’m so sick of words!” Eliza Doolittle sings in My Fair Lady. “Show me!’ she demands of her would-be suitor, Freddy Eynsford-Hill

There are times when we want don’t want words, we want action, whether it is fighting, loving, or marching. We want someone to do something. “Don’t just stand there. Help them! Help me!” We need a hug, a kiss, a caress, or a human touch.
Sometimes words are inadequate. “I’m sorry. I don’t know what to say.” We cannot make a broken heart whole again. I cannot heal your heart, as much as I want to. But we—but I– put pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard because that’s all we can do.