Poem up at the Ekphrastic Review

My poem, Our Lady of Scarlet, based on a painting of Marchesa di Casati, by Augustus John, is posted today on The Ekphrastic Review, along with Jane Dougherty and other writers.  I did not look up the Marchesa until after I had written my poem, but I think the artist captured the essence of her life in his portrait. What I saw without knowing the facts seems very close to the truth.

You can read my poem here.

My thanks once again to editor Lorette C. Luzajic for supporting my work and the interaction between the visual and written arts.

 

I was told by several people I could post the old way by going to WP Admin–and it works.  I will still be absent for awhile as I am entering the final stages of moving–I’m packing up my computer today.  But I’ll be back before the end of September.

stars of everything

stars of everything mandala s

In my childhood, even our suburban house was only half a block from woods and meadows and creeks to explore.  We had no devices to keep us indoors, and we went outside at every chance.  There were still open spaces, for butterflies dragonflies tadpoles bees creeks meadows woods trees rocks sky prickers blackberries colors and clouds and wind—we ran wild, my mother just told us to be home for dinner, who does that now? They would take your children away from you.

I had the companionship of trees plants wild things animals and such clouds to contemplate–I used to lie on my back in the grass and just look at the sky, what was I thinking? Maybe thoughts beyond thought before thought.  Now my mind is so busy it never stops to just be and let the world run through like a river like the wind.

watching my
child-self lying in
a bed of
greentree bird
sky
everything is opened
up, shining—the world

explodes in
to a forever,
endless waves
merging as
they ebb and flow—cascading
landscapes shouting yes!

stars of everything mandala close up s

Sarah at earthweal asked us to think how we connected with nature in childhood.  I took sentences and lines from 5 previous posts–especially I remembered writing about this subject in a collaboration I did with Claudia McGill, and the bulk of the text is from there.

The art was done as a homage to artist Thornton Dial–I took his title, Stars of Everything, and made my own collage and accompanying words.  He knew about the power of art.

“Art is like a bright star up ahead in the darkness of the world. It can lead peoples through the darkness and help them from being afraid of the darkness….Art is a guide for every person who is looking for something.”
–Thornton Dial

 

holiday

i have a dream s

The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.
–Martin Luther King, Jr.

You would think if you shared a birthday with someone whose date of birth merits a national holiday, people would remember.  But the actual date of my own birth is still a constant confusion to many of my family and friends. (I know it’s in January…what day again?)

Maybe it’s the moving of all holidays in the U.S. to Mondays, so everyone can enjoy a long weekend.  No need to acknowledge why their employer or school is giving them a day off—the real reason for holidays is to have 3 days off in a row with no work, right?

mid-January–
voice of crow under grey skies–
how to fill the hole

mlk-2017-s

Kim at dVerse prompted us to talk about our birthday.

shine bright

shine bright blk s

Is who we are first tribal, or is it nothing at all?—particles unjoined, the dust of eons.  How do we make sense of our place in the world as homo sapiens?  Do we even need to hold on to that identity?  Must we be labeled, categorized, forbidden, dismissed?

Embracing the isolation of our own self-definitions, we pretend to be the only ones allowed—better, exclusive, oppressed by difference.  All the while the net frays, the miracles of being turn into an infinity of voices drowning in egos with closed eyes, with closed hearts, with lost souls.

shine bright
you are everything and
like nothing else

shine bright wht s

Ammol at dVerse asks us to consider Pride Month.

that they are

secrets white

The stars answer each other, singing over and through the wind.  Coming and going follows patterns that signal a chorus of light from within chords I cannot name.

We are not on the same journey, the stars and I.  We go in different directions, down the imperturbable street that seeks both its ending and beginning in a place that can’t be found.  We pass each other on separate orbits, reflected in the pulses of moontides.  We circle and spiral, held by different arrangements of time and space.

Holding the sea, I lift it to the sky, trying to capture and distill the chiaroscuro into a garment of rainbow clouds.  Join me, I ask silently.  Dance with me, become with me a kaleidoscope that shifts the darkness of chaos into currents that gyre together, a collective river of song.

secrets
become visible–
exchange of self

each to the other

Merril’s prosery prompt at dVerse quotes from poet Gwendolyn Brooks:  “We go in different directions down the imperturbable street.”

Merril posted some wonderful photos of light in her Monday Morning Musings today, and several of them reminded me of collages I had done for Jane Dougherty’s microfiction prompts.  This one is from 2016 (you can see the original post here).

the lights went out

th lights went out s

Broadway is dark now, vacant.  The only lights to be seen shine out of hastily abandoned office windows, or from traffic lights that change for invisible crowds.

Makeshift stages shrink to fit into screens, the audience now virtual.  Dreams stand still, waiting between hope and grief.

dancing voices pause–
forever on the verge of
opening to spring

the lights went out close up s

Billy Joel wrote this song in 1976, inspired by the NY Daily News Headline “Ford to City:  Drop Dead”.  And in 2020 we have a parallel line:  “Trump to New York:  Drop Dead”.

But we’ll be back.

For dVerse Haibun Monday, hosted by Kim.  We’re thinking about Mondrian’s ‘Broadway Boogie Woogie‘.

Memorial Day

paul sayre s

My mother’s cousin Paul was a pilot who was shot down and killed in WWII. She often spoke of him with admiration and affection.

When my mother died, she left boxes of unidentified family photos; my aunt helped a bit with identifications, but she was much younger than her siblings, and had not known the southern Ohio cousins very well.  In my mother’s address book, I found her second cousin Mona, Paul’s niece, who patiently looked through many photo scans I emailed her.

Finally I had a face to put to my mother’s words.

silence speaks your name–
through distant shadows of trees
crow answers, calling

fog 1s

This is a revision of a post from 2015.  However we are spending this day, let’s take a moment to remember those who served their country and sacrificed their lives so that we could enjoy our own.

For Frank Tassone’s #Haikai Challenge #140, Memorial Day.

what it is

what it is s

I open my grandmother’s trunk and the smell of cedar recalls my father’s woolen army blankets, faded and frayed.  The inside of the chest had become their home, a refuge from the memories woven into fibers that had crossed the ocean twice.

My father would not talk about the war itself, but he brought home with him both blankets and cots.  We never used the blankets.

On hot summer nights my brothers and I opened the cots to sleep in the basement, unaware of the secrets they could tell us, the images seared into our father’s eyes and carried in his bones.

all those silences–
invisible ink written
on the wings of birds

what it is close up a

Day 28 NaPoWriMo–the prompt is to describe a significant space from your life.

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as you like it

moonlit shadows s

“All the world’s a stage…”

I was not even born then, and yet I remember it well.  In colorized black and white, that moment—where is it now?  It disappeared while we were somewhere over the rainbow.

Those were the days!—drowning in background music, we listened for cues, trying to follow the footlights through the portal.  We wanted to capture that perfect world, inhabit it, pretend it into now and forever.

How do we measure a time that never was?  We continue as dreams, a montage of cinematic stillness, myth disguised as memory.  A voice calls from behind the curtain—is that me?  Is that you?  We rehearse our scripts of storied pasts, fools exposed by darkness, shadows of artificial light.

searching for signs
we adjust our eyes–
crow in a cherry tree

shadow s

For NaPoWriMo Day 27, I’ve used the prompt from Frank at dVerse to write a haibun inspired by either Shakespeare or Basho.

Stephen Sondheim turned 90 this year.  Another master.

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ms faces s

I’ve taken the art from my archives.

the circle game part 2

circle game 2bs

Times Square is empty, like the weather—grey now, the colors drained like the empty subway cars, residing hidden in tenements, written in the isolation of morning coffee.  The Sunday newspaper remains undelivered (again) as even that thread of connection frays into feral cats in dark corners and the shadows of crows haunting the hometown I never knew.

All of this is imaginary, of course—flora and fauna are absent from this enclosed space, except as chimera, impoverished by the boredom of my own company, the same jeans and shirt waiting to be worn like the trackless days.  No Significant Other to keep me in, and an invisible barrier blocking me from leaving.  Outside my window a graffiti of exclamation points greets me each day behind the passing cars and on clear evenings I say “Goodnight Moon”, remembering bedtimes with small bodies close and sleepy and warm.

But the lines have been drawn, and as Joni reminds me, the seasons still go round and round.  We’re always captive on the carousel of time.

tomorrow
blue skies
growing new wings

circle game 2 close up s

The NaPoWriMo prompt today was “to fill out, in five minutes or less, the following “Almanac Questionnaire.” Then, use your responses as to basis for a poem.”  You can see the questionnaire here.

 

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