Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Poem ~ Loneliness - be still

Loneliness – be still
                        by Marilyn Monroe in 1955

So-o-o-o-o many lights in the darkness
making skeletons of buildings
and life in the streets.
And the moon so full and dark.
What was it I thought about yesterday
in the streets?
It seems so far away –
long ago.
It’s good they told me what the moon was
when I was a child
for I could not understand it now.
Noises of impatience from cab drivers,
always driving – who  must drive –
hot, dusty, icy streets so they can eat,
and perhaps save for a vacation
in which they can drive their wives
all the way across the country
to see her relations.
Then the river – the part made of Pepsi Cola –
the park – thank God for the park.
Yet, I am not looking at these things.
I’m looking for my lover.
That silent river which stirs and swells itself
with whatever passes over it –
wind, rain, great ships.
I love the river –
never unmoved by anything.
Sad, sweet trees - 
I wish for you - rest
but you must be wakeful.
You must suffer
when your covering of dark golden –
even dead – leaves leave you strong and naked.
You must be –
alive – when looking dead.
Straight through
bent with wind
and bear the pain and joy
of newness on your limbs.
It’s quiet now.
And the silence is alone
except for the thunderous rumbling
of things unknown,
distant drums very present
but for the sharp sounds of piercing screams
and the whispers of things suddenly hushed
to moans beyond sadness – terror beyond fear.
The cry of things dim and too young to be known yet.
The sobs of life itself.
Loneliness – be still.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The Difficulty of Working in a Library

I am sure you are wondering - "What could be so difficult about working in a library?"

First let me assure you, we do not have time to read books in between checking books out to patrons and checking them back in again. At least, not at the busy libraries where I have worked (this includes the one I work in now). We are lucky to get all the extra jobs done that keep the library humming as efficiently as it does!

The difficulty to which I refer is the one inferred by the oft quoted statement -
"So many books, so little time".

Daily, hourly, I see books coming and going that I would dearly love to read or at least look through. I have tried making a list of them, but that is all it remains - a list. Possibly a list of books to read when I retire? Unfortunately, retirement is not in my near future so seeing all these wonderful, intriguing books go by is akin to turning a child loose in a candy shop with only a quarter to spend. (Yes, I know candy costs more than two bits but that is the point!)

Recently, a book came in to fulfill a request for a patron that I had to take the time to look at. As soon as I opened its cover and glanced through a couple pages, I knew I had to request a copy for myself - a copy I could check out and take home to look through and read more closely. So I did. And another copy arrived within a couple days (oh, the wonderful efficiency of the Berks County Public Library System!).

The book?
"fragments: poems, intimate notes, letters by Marilyn Monroe"  

This is a collection of her own notes and writings - diligently reproduced photographically. The left pages are the photographs of her writing (sometimes very hard to read) and the opposing pages have the editors' ideas of what she wrote, typed out, including all the arrows and cross-outs indicated. The editors noted they tried to put an order to her writings in their typed out pages but sometimes it was not clear what she was trying to say. Some of the poems she wrote had sections crossed out or arrows showing she wanted the order of sections changed or that she was unsatisfied with the words she had chosen. It was obvious she was not finished with many of her writings either, some were just half-formed thoughts and ideas.

One "poem" in particular was transcribed by the editors in a way that I don't believe she meant. I have worked on it, reading and re-reading it. Writing it out and moving the phrases around - trying to see what her arrows may have meant. I think I got it figured out a little better than the editors but it is hard to say. I don't really think Marilyn was really finished with it. In any case, I will post my own transcription of her scribbles and let you decide on the coherency of her poem. Of course, you will have to borrow or buy the book to compare my transcription with that of the editors of the book.

Marilyn Monroe was an amazing, deep, intelligent, sensitive as well as sensual woman. Of course she was troubled. Her life was full of turmoil. Her childhood was filled with things a child should not have to deal with. She had to grow up WAY too quickly, but she was very quick to learn important lessons and was able to understand herself and her actions and reactions very well.

I will leave you with one of her statements, an admonishment to herself, but one we should all take to heart:
"There is nothing to hold on to - but reality
to realize the present, whatever it may be - 
because that's how it is 
and it's much better to know reality
(or things as they are)
than not to know.
To have as few illusions as possible."

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Poem ~ Truth Rising

The poem included below is a "Found Poem". 
"Found poems take existing texts and refashion them, reorder them, and present them as poems. The literary equivalent of a collage, found poetry is often made from newspaper articles, street signs, graffiti, speeches, letters, or even other poems.
A pure found poem consists exclusively of outside texts: the words of the poem remain as they were found, with few additions or omissions. Decisions of form, such as where to break a line, are left to the poet." 
Definition courtesy of - Some famous poets who used this form include Ezra Pound, T.S. Eliot and William Carlos Williams.

Truth Rising:  George Harrison Found*

                             If you don’t know where you’re going
                             Any road will take you there
                             There was no beginning – there is no end
                             It’s so far out – the way out is in
                             The truth is hiding, lurking, banking
                             Filling my heart with delight
                             I’m a Pisces fish
                             I’m a Pisces fish
                             And the river runs through my soul
                             I’m living proof of all life’s contradictions
                             One half’s going where the other half’s just been
                             I never knew life was loaded
                             I never knew that things exploded
                             I only found out when I was down
                             Looking for my life
                             Looking for my life
                             In a room of mirrors you can see for miles
                             But in the rising sun you can feel your life begin
                             I heard the messenger from inner space
                             And in the rising sun you can see your life begin
                             The place that it’s coming from
                             Is inside me now
                             Oh the rising sun
                             Oh the rising sun


*(Source material for Found Poem: several songs from George Harrison’s 2002 album “Brainwashed”)

written by mARTa weller, Feb 24, 2012

Monday, March 19, 2012

Poem ~ "Wishful Words"

This poem went through several days of cogitating before I decided on a couple words and finally came up with a title I liked. I wrote the poem to try to explain WHY I write poems. And happily, my many friends tried to help me figure out a title for the poem and gave me lovely suggestions for the words I wasn't happy with in my first draft. It was obvious that they "got" the WHY of this poem.

So here is my final (?) version:

Wishful Words 

I wish you could see what I see
- - the beauty in a moment, a hue
I wish you could feel what I see
- - the wonder in a vision, a tree
I wish you could hear my feelings
- - the magic in a memory, a smile
I wish you could touch my feelings
- - the whisper of a thought, a tear
I wish you could feel my words
- - my thoughts in a poem, a sigh

(completed March 19, 2012)

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Birthday Month Reading List

I thought it would be nice to revisit some of my childhood favorites and some favorite authors who write young adult and juvenile books during this my natal month. I do have to admit that this will not be the first time I have re-read these books. Some of these books I have loved so much I have read them more than a dozen times! (No lie!)

Right now I am listening to one of my favorite juvenile / young adult authors read one of her books to me. Who? you ask. Madeleine L'Engle. How can this be? you may also ask. Not difficult when you consider that most cars have CD players these days. I listen to books on my way to and from work instead of listening to the radio.

The book is A Wrinkle in Time read by the author herself. And when I first started listening to the audio book, I had a delightful surprise. Before she began reading the book on the recording, she commented on how the book came about. She told the story about how she would write and tell stories to her children, who would urge her to write more about the Murrys (the family in the story) which in turn gave her reason to persist in trying to get A Wrinkle in Time published. It finally was in 1962.

I really enjoy the mixture of science fiction, fantasy and philosophy in her books. And her characters are so very well created and so very interesting. I don't think I will re-read the rest of L'Engle's Kairos and Chronos books (the two intertwined series) at this time, because there are several other young adult and juvenile books I want to re-read.

The other books I plan to read this month include M.M. Kaye's The Ordinary Princess - a wonderful fairytale about the lucky seventh daughter of a king and queen who made the mistake of NOT inviting the fairy Crustacea to the celebration of their little princess's birth. They invited many fairies hoping for wonderful gifts such as great beauty, charm, a sweet disposition, etc. which their little daughter (named Princess Amethyst Alexandra Augusta Araminta Adelaide Aurelia Anne of Phantasmorania) indeed received. However at the last moment the slighted fairy arrives and bestows a gift on the tiny princess - the "gift" of ordinariness. And as she grew up Princess Amy was indeed very much different from her six lovely sisters. She was freckled, had brown hair, was plain looking and preferred playing in the woods to wearing "fine clothes".

I can't wait to hold this book in my hands again, to read the story and to look at the beautiful illustrations drawn by M.M. Kaye herself. I highly recommend this book to any mother or grandmother to read to a young girl who might have a princess fixation. It may bring her back to earth.

Another two books I hope to have time to re-read are by Robert A. Heinlein - Have Spacesuit Will Travel and Tunnel in the Sky. Have Spacesuit (published in 1958) is a great story about a boy who dreams of space travel and tries his hardest to win a trip to the moon but has to settle for another prize (he didn't win 1st place), an obsolete but genuine spacesuit which he puts back into good working condition all by himself. Of course, Kip (the teenage boy) ends up having a very unusual adventure and getting to the moon anyway.

The other Heinlein book, Tunnel in the Sky is a classic sci fi teen "Survivor" story. Bearing in mind the book was published in 1955 and therefore some of the science has been disproved, it is very interesting how MUCH of the science is accurate (this statement goes for Have Spacesuit as well). The premise of this book is that teenager Rod Walker dreams of becoming a professional colonist on another planet but he must first complete the final test in his Advanced Survival class - staying alive on an unfamiliar planet for anywhere from 2 to 10 days along with the other members of his class. Unfortunately, the survival test lasts much longer than 10 days and the students eventually come to believe they have been "planted". I never read Lord of the Flies (believe it or not) but I imagine Tunnel in the Sky is somewhat similar though it takes place in the future and on another planet.

I own the last three of these books and look forward to reading each of them again. I would very much recommend anyone, teen to adult reading these - just for the pure enjoyment. But with Heinlein's books I love reading them for the science and admiring the man's vision of what might be possible compared to what has actually come to pass. It is just amazing.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Museum Tour

Recently I was privileged to go on a special bus trip with a friend to the Philadelphia Museum of Art. We had special tour tickets for the Van Gogh exhibit. What was really special about the tour of the Van Gogh exhibit was that it took place during the hour before the museum opened to the public. We also had a human guide who talked about many of the paintings and about Van Gogh's life.

One interesting fact I learned was the reason he signed all his paintings with just his first name. He wanted his paintings to give the message that he was a friend and brother to all. Family and friends call you by your first name. There are also many paintings he did not sign but they are known to be his because he gave them to family and those paintings have passed down from person to person giving the paintings a provenance.

Winslow Homer's painting "A Temperance Meeting"
How incredible to be able to stand so close to these masterpieces! To be able to have my nose a bare 4 inches away from a canvas and see the individual brush strokes! Not just with the Van Gogh collection but all the rest, Monet, Matisse, Turner, Picasso, Pissarro, Winslow Homer, Thomas Eakins, just to name a few. A very few.

I could have spent the whole day there but we only had a few hours. We took a break for lunch and discovered just past the cafeteria an interactive exhibit based on Van Gogh's painting, Rain. Visitor's were encouraged to write a Haiku inspired by his painting. So I had to enter my effort.

"Undergrowth With Two Figures" by Vincent
I want to go back. I WILL go back. It was expensive to go on the bus tour but it was definitely well worth the expense. I used my Christmas money for my ticket and to buy a souvenir mug with a Vincent painting on it. One of my favorites from the exhibition - no, NOT Sunflowers. But a truly French forest image called "Undergrowth With Two Figures". It is beautiful and slightly haunting. This particular painting is on loan to the exhibit from the Cincinnati Art Museum. I highly recommend everyone to go see the Van Gogh exhibit while it is still touring. There are paintings from many museums including the Van Gogh Museum in the Netherlands as well as others from private collections. The next stop on the tour will be Toronto.

Poem ~ Haiku: On Vincent's Rain

The Haiku I wrote, inspired by the masterpiece "Rain" painted by Vincent Van Gogh.

"Rain "by Vincent

On Vincent's Rain

Grey rain streaking down
curtains the lush green landscape
splashed by Vincent's brush

written 2/12/12 by mARTa weller

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Poem ~ Snowflakes

 In honor of our "non-winter" and 
the forecast by Punxsatawney Phil 
for six more weeks of winter 
(or six more weeks for winter to arrive), 
I am posting this little poem.


                  Feather light crystals
                  float gently down,
                  Softly they blanket
                  branches velvety brown.

                  Barren grey landscape
                  now downy white,
                  Covered by snowflakes
                  twinkling diamond bright.

                                                 -mARTa weller
                                                               January 9, 2009
                    (snowflake photos from Google Images)

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Groundhog Day

I am back... finally. I am really falling down on the job. My ideal was to post something at least once a week. But the problem is, I don't believe in posting something just for the sake of posting something. I don't want to waste my time or any potential reader's time. Be that as it may - I write....

You may notice from the date of this post that it doesn't really match the title of the post. (Groundhog Day occurred two days ago.) But I feel I am still allowed to comment on this recent annual event.

Punxsatawney Phil February 2, 2012
- photo courtesy of the Washington Post
I live in Pennsylvania, home of the internationally known Punxsatawney Phil. Granted, he is not the original rodent nor do I live in the town of Punxsatawney (I live on the other side of the state), but I woke up just before dawn on February 2nd and, as I normally do, tuned in to BBC America to watch the world news and what should I see? Punxsatawney Phil being hauled out of his pseudo home by the tuxedo-ed and top hatted town fathers of Punxsatawney, Pennsylvania. Therefore, even though there are several other groundhogs out there in communities being watched each year to provide the weather forecast everyone anxiously awaits every February, it is Pennsylvania's own Punxsatawney Phil who has become an international star and rated a good 3 or 4 minute coverage on the BBC World News!

According to folklore, if it is cloudy when the groundhog comes out of his burrow on February 2nd, then spring will come early. If it is sunny and the groundhog sees his shadow, then folklore maintains there will be six more weeks of winter.

Now, as I watched on BBC America (I could have seen the same thing on any local channel, too, but it was so very interesting to see and hear the British perspective), I noticed that with the dim light from dawn's early light, and because there were so many cameras flashing away, there wasn't any natural light to speak of. There were plenty of spotlights and flash bulbs and artificial light. OF COURSE the silly rodent could see a shadow. He saw MANY shadows! But I guess the town fathers were the ones who decided that there wasn't very much cloud cover, they could see the sun would be causing shadows so therefore - in their opinion - Punxsatawney Phil saw his shadow and there would be 6 more weeks of winter.

So, this brought another irreverent thought to mind. We here in my neck of the woods have been having a very unusual winter. The calendar says winter, we are weeks away from the spring equinox, but we are in the midst of a non-snowy, relatively warm and rainy winter (it was 60 degrees F two days in a row last week!) - when we usually have at least an inch or two of snow periodically throughout January and into February!

The irreverent thought? I don't know about six MORE weeks of winter, but maybe six more weeks for winter to ARRIVE!