Mell Morris - The Voices of Blue
Passed Away on March 18, 2006.
Mell Morris was a most gifted poet whose work on The Poetic Link both moved and inspired me. She possessed a special affinity for the Irish poets, including Seamus Heaney, whose use of vivid imagery and internal rhyme are also hallmarks of her own writing, treats for eye and ear. Mell loved the natural glories of the world around her. Her favourite colour was the exuberant blue of irises, and Van Gogh one of her best-loved artists. I have included an iris from my own garden in tribute to Mell - and Vincent, too. Mell's words are paintings on the canvas of imagination and longing.
She endured much physical pain during her last years on earth, and often struggled to post the poetry she crafted for others' enjoyment. Her laptop became her alter ego, her means of communion with like-minded poets and readers. Through its electronic voice, she left us a rare and splendid legacy. Only a small portion of it is offered here, by permission of her son, Eric Walker. There are dozens more of Mell's pieces still listed on The Poetic Link (www.poeticlink.com).
Of two million words in the English language,
only a few are apropos: arid, desert, dry,
vulture. I watch the birds spiral from high
places down to scabrous, scorched earth.
On the horizon, cumulous clouds with dark, heavy
underpinnings start to form then change to new shapes,
amassing cloud upon cloud. They disappoint as clouds
finally dissipate before they reach us. All that rain...
gone like broken promises. The sky is a canopy of grey,
soft cashmere grey. Each day the same, temperatures
ten to fifteen degrees higher than normal, a result
of global warming, or so they say. My mouth is dry
and I feel as if I were floating outside of time...
a sensory suspension. Winter sun shows shadows
with colors I've never seen, rivers of light sift
slowly through the landscape. A sepia scene
where I summon and call the rays of light, day
and night, until at last, raindrops begin to fall.
Copyright © January 2006 Mell W. Morris
Deep In My Heart Is A Song
Rivulets gurgle insouciantly, following
The course of gravity. Gifts given freely
For our use and for me, a time of an
The stream plays over pebbles in its bed,
Eddies around stones and rocks, and
Expands in places where it roils with
A whispery sigh. I breathe deeply
And say, "This is it! This is my place
Where I feel rooted and where I'll
Live and die." A medulary moment, close
To the bone, a luminous event to dispel
The lassitude and languor I've lazily
Allowed to accumulate. I tire of living
Like a tumbleweed, blown here and yon
At the wind's whimsy or the will of others.
It takes determination to root this ashy-blue
Weed and soon I have a surround of feathery
Blue blending with the lavender hue of my
Lilac saplings. The people here welcome all
Who come with pure heart and no ploy to
Destroy the land. I feel flooded with peace
And grace like the stream which brought me
Here. Rivulets, freshets, all waters bring
Me to my knees in a prayerful attitude
With a song of gratitude
That at last, at last,
" ... you call Van Gogh's painting to mind and Irises hangs over my bed. My room has his Sunflowers, Irises, and Starry Nights so no matter where I look, he's there to inspire me. I also have two 'still life with flowers' prints.
... I just finished a poem where I quote Van Gogh again and it's as with Heaney and his poetry... I must stop writing about/like (as if I could!) him.
I feel such intensity about my favorite poems, songs, etc, but I hope I don't miss part of life by being stuck therein. However as I peek out at the world and see Dubya/Kerry debating, I am so appalled, I scurry back to my nest of color and harmony." - Mell, in response to my critique of the above poem
The Texture of Blue
I prefer repair to prayer as religion still
grapples with sin after all these centuries.
I've read that many trade God for a sense
of God but I want my blue true.
The scent of laburnum and lilac on the breeze
brings me repentance; add a briny, blue-eyed
sea and I am inspired past mediocrity. The
scene loses its outline which speaks of a
touch divine. If my blue is too pallid for
you then lean back and enjoy the revelry
of geese skywriting the ways of the world
in blue: cerulean, lapis, and turquoise.
Give me Vincent-blue of Starry Night
and of Irises. No palette ever held
blue as Vincent conjured but he always
returned home, ruing the hue he could
see but not reproduce on the canvas. Your
blues have inspired our lives, dear Vincent,
and I hope the divine allows you to see your
truth from empyrean view.
Copyright © November 2004 Mell W. Morris
"I dearly love that poem of all my creations." - Mell, referring to "The Texture of Blue"
If You Could Live Your Life Backward
Blackbirds flew across the sun this morning.
Was it an omen of mourning to come?
If you had known it would turn
Out like this, would you have
Risen when he leaned in and
Asked, 'Care to dance?'
Would you have agreed to the
Fourth of July parade where he
Was pure patriot and you dripped
Perspiration on the general?
Pledge your allegiance, one God,
Invisible. Sunset at 9:00pm,
You risible, sweat drying cool;
Fireworks viewed, inside you, too.
Then, irritating habits, scattering
Papers, tossing out Sunday cross-
Words, his careless ways with your
Emotions. If you'd heard and caught
On before, would you still have
Gone to the store and bought
The lavender dress?
Copyright © October 2004 Mell W. Morris
One As Beautiful As You
It is time to have my piano tuned,
To confront the keyboard once more,
To corral chords of sunshine, ever
Looking around for something to do.
I've enjoyed the sound of colors through
Sleeping stained-glass portals, angles
Of light dispersing from the reliquary
Where forms contrive. But of late, I
Find no fortissimo, no fermata. I place
A flower behind my ear to hear its scent
But uncover no musical conflation which
Feels like an arid field awaiting rain.
Once, Vincent wrote his brother that at
Times he didn't know what to do with his
Misery so he went outside at night
And painted the stars.
I lack his brush but realize that's where
My music lies: in flaming flowers that
Brightly blaze, swirling clouds in violet
Haze, in the strokes of light in Vincent's
Starry, starry nights.
Copyright © June 2004 Mell W. Morris
Inspired by the song "Vincent" composed by Don Mclean.
When my days are hazy with tristesse,
my heart a burden of regret, my soul
Eidolons of entropy seize my self
and my up is buried in mire, no desire
to please nor ascend.
Riven and unshriven in my state
of disenchanted duality, I realize
it is time to revise my reality.
With that insight, a score of sun-lit
airs pours inside to luminesce,
to erase the shadows
and replace them with lambent light,
chiming as a timely angelus might.
Music lifts my down, turns the tide
around, and supplies a sarabande
of sound. All provided from above
to thrill and fill me
with undivided love.
Copyright © January 2004 Mell W. Morris
When Birdsong Colors The Air
A pair of mockingbirds nests in a japonica
Shrub near my bedroom window. Long known
For their ability to duplicate the exact
Notes of other birds, both react to my
Morning whistles as if I were Toscanini
And just tapped my baton. I've not been
Able to determine a pattern of their singing
Except one certain event each month.
The brilliance of a full-moon night leads
To a serenade, always from the same perch
In a nearby ash tree. Those evenings lush
With moon-struck glory elate and elevate.
The bird's throat and breast throb as he sings
And after each series of notes, he hops. Sing,
Hop, whistle, hop, croon to the moon, hip-hop.
Perfect cadence of sound and motion, a show
Of delight. Comes dawn, the pair peeks out the
Leaves and with flickers of white-streaked
Tails, they sweep past then out of sight. Yet
Another day for mimetic play, for mimicry
And to flavor the air with arrays of melody.
Copyright © November 2004 Mell W. Morris
"I have no idea of the mechanisms of how a bird sings (only the male in my pair) but before a "big" note, he lifts his chest/diaphragm in a manner reminiscent of Jose Carreras or Potimkin. The smaller tenors seem to have to physically stretch to hit the high note and so does my birdie." - Mell
"I think I told you I have five of Vincent's prints in my room..."Starry Night"
above my desk and "Irires" above mt bed. My true blues are so close to me, literally."
- Mell , 12/ 6/04
Marmalade of gold with orange
striations, fresh-snipped mint,
crumbs from a mother's array
of treats, and a child's sweet face.
The herb will wilt soon like energy
in late afternoon and the child runs
outside to play while the light lasts.
A mint sprig in her tea for viewing
a sea of persimmon, cinnabar,
and then grape-deep tints of sunset.
And so begins a tremolo of night's
timbre, its color tone. Scene
from the stoop: a panorama
of nature against a stellar backdrop
of cosmic curtains. Child at her side,
the mother knows they will survive
any dearth or paucity because the earth
always provides. A certain fertile smell
tells that without light, unseen life
goes on until the sprout of dawn.