And then the stars
the holy wafer moon
shone glittery, shone full
(was it for just a blink?)

turned midnight to high noon
a nearly swooning madness of
sweet flight before falling
back to black as ink.

And then began the temporal
succession of plain days
soft-slippered slow processions
into comfort and familiar ways

a preference for what
cuts clean the edges of
unruly fringe, a deference
to the well-oiled, silent hinge.

And then the stars
the holy wafer moon
shone quieter, more faraway,
glittering re-tellers of

the story of the glory of
the thing to which we cling
as we get used to almost
(almost) anything.

64 responses »

  1. I had to listen to it several times before giving it a “like” because a “like” is demeaning. This deserves a “love”.
    “…soft-slippered slow processions/ into comfort and familiar ways”. I went out to look at the distant holy wafer moon and forgot to change from my slippers first…!
    This poem is a wistful, haunting, lovely, sad melody…

  2. Your singing was such a treat–so unexpected (but who knows, maybe you always start off with a song: I normally go straight for the jugular, bypassing the recording).

    Perhaps I will have to wait for the annotated version of the poem–which could also be sung, I expect.

    • My singing was a treat?….now that tickles me, Prospero. The usual audience for my singing (which I seem to do all the time, having inexplicably stored in my brain all the popular songs of the first three-quarters of the twentieth century) is comprised of a dog and two cats. They never applaud; they just treat it as an environmental phenomenon they’ve gotten used to. In this case, I braved the ridicule of readers/listeners probably because ridicule is meaningless to one who has reached a ridiculous age.

      There won’t be an annotated version of the poem, by the way, unless someone other than myself does it….in a stuffy, academic venue of competitive graduate students, years after I am dead and can no longer protest.

      • Old is a relative term, as you only really start to feel old after about two hundred and fifty years of youthful exuberance (that the undead and most self-respecting vampires tend to feel it around then is a well-documented fact). Ridiculous is also a relative term.

        Having said all this, I still think we need the Annotated Cynthia–a volume cataloging the semantics of this or that sonorous reference (with an extended section on selenology), for knowing whether a reference points informatively, tellingly to a secret passageway or a narrow cuniculus of Cynthia’s febrile mind–or to the Great America Songbook–would be to round off our understanding of the imposing, and at times opalescent, poet.

        • Occasionally I forget, Prospero, that you are the expert here, on aging, given that you are now into your fourth century. It must be your ebulliency that does it.

          Selenology…now there is something I know practically nothing about. Otherwise, how could I refer to the moon as a holy wafer? Holy wafers, on the other hand, I do know something about, and all the transubstantial ways in which they are nothing like, say, Necco wafers.
          For opalescence, you only have to know one of the terms in a metaphor. Then, suddenly, the febrile mind jumps across the chasm of unknowing and lands on the moon. It is an exercise as mysterious and surprising to the jumper as to the jumpee.

          • Being an expert in Lacanian psychoanalytic theory, I surmise that your unconscious want of opalescent Necco wafers is impeding your will to abandon all in favor of selenology. This is a difficult problem. In such cases, I recommend complete immersion in poetry. You may either read from the classics (anything past 1901 is strictly off limits) or, in moments of clarity, write your own, taking care to model your efforts after said classics.

            Incidentally, Necco wafers are generally considered to be health food since they are fat free. Unfortunately, they are not sugar free–and there’s the rub. But since the dogma of nutritional coaches is as spurious as that of psychoanalytic practitioners, I wouldn’t scratch these plenilune shaped beauties off my shopping list just yet.

            • I have almost never met anyone else who liked Necco wafers as much as I. I was early addicted to them—at an acquisitive age, probably because there were more of them in a package than all the other candies on offer at the saturday matinee movie. The art of consuming them was not to bite and chew, but to place one on the tongue and allow it to melt slowly on its own to a half-moon, maybe a crescent or two, and finally to pure sugary flavor. Lavender was my favorite among the many pastels.

              My enjoyment of them was curtailed somewhat when I realized all that savoring of sugar was not good for my teeth. That’s probably why I turned to poetry. And I am so glad total immersion is what you recommend, because I am already doing that. But now that I know you also approve of Necco wafers, I just might go and get me some. Heck, I won’t be needing my teeth much longer anyway.

              • This is exactly the sort of material that’s needed in the Annotated Cynthia. After all, who would have suspected a Necco wafer addiction or that the pastel colors of these sugary roundlets would have informed your poetic center. If a little bit of sugar–and an unregulated dose of unnamed chemicals–can turn an individual into a poet, think of the benefit these delightful disks could impart to mankind. I’m getting very excited about the Annotated Cynthia. There is so much ground to cover. Just trying to deal with the moon and your lugubrious sense of humor should be proof enough that a second volume is warranted.

                • You wouldn’t think my sense of humor lugubrious if you could hear the uproarious laughter here upon reading your comment(s)…my livestock are staring.

                  As regards the moon, when I was told in parochial school that I was the only child in the class without a saint’s name, I felt like a pagan and looked it up. I found that Cynthia was an alternate name for Diana, Goddess of the Moon, who lived on mount Cynthus. Since then I have always forgiven those who mistakenly call me Diana. “Same Goddess,” I tell them with a shrug.

                • The Diana thing is a great anecdote. I’ll do my darnedest to include it, somehow, in volume 3. No promises, Diana–or is that Cynthia?

  3. Cynthia I have never found a modern poet who can tell me my story and relate my emotions in the way that you can and do. How very beautifully this recording began. Like Bruce I am touched and listen and re-listen. We need a ‘love’ button!

    • What you say here really pleases and humbles me, Pauline. I never set out with the sole purpose of touching others, but when that occurs, I myself am touched. That’s probably because some poems seem to come not “from” me but “through” me from an unknown source. I work on them, composing them, but in the aftermath I wonder how and what I did. Thank you so much for your kind comment!

  4. I can’t add to what Bruce said. The language–the temporal succession of plain days–is so evocative. Some poems are visual and this one is emotional. I liked the singing, too! What a good way to start.

    • Your distinction between the visual and the emotional is interesting to me…many years ago (too many to think about!) a college professor in a creative writing workshop told us the very essence of a poem is an odd thing called the emotional image—not always, necessarily a visual image, but the Image-inative power of language to evoke image, even in sound, if that’s possible. Since I experience synesthesia, I understood what she meant, though I’m not sure everyone did. Anyway, I thank you for making me think of her again—a now deceased, wonderful lady—- and for all the nice things you’ve said here.

    • Ah…I enjoyed that movie, and I love Bette Midler. The song was really wistful in that story, but it’s a song I knew from as early as I can remember. i used to play it on the piano for my mum, who loved to sing it…among a zillion other songs from the 30’s, 40’s, and 50’s. Thank you so much for coming to read and comment, Oscar. it means a great deal.

  5. Oh this is fabulous Cynthia. I had to wait patiently for the song and the reading as my iPad wouldnt play your recording. But at last it’s done it and it was well worth the wait. You continue to astound me with your way with language; so very clever and a completely natural poet. You should have had books published all over the place 🌼

    • There certainly are a lot of books being “published all over the place.” I’m happy with my own small venture into a self-published, limited edition. It’s nearly sold out, now, and I can delight in the knowledge that the book sits (on a small number of shelves), all over the world. You never know who will randomly come across a book, pick it up, and enjoy it. No writer ever really knows that. I probably won’t do it again, though. There are already too many unnecessary books in the world.

      That’s funny about your iPad not playing the recording. I’ve had the same problem occasionally. Yesterday I wasted hours diddling with a printer that wouldn’t co-operate. How I hate/love technology! Thank you, of course, for saying it was well worth the wait. xo

  6. I’m taking a new approach to your beautiful poetry, Cynthia. I read your latest when you post it a few times, then I let it sit for a day, marinating my brain. I don’t listen to the audio because I like to read it first and feel how the words move in my mouth.

    • That’s wonderful to hear, Sue; it’s exactly how I approach a poem first. When I read written words with my eyes, I hear the language. Having taught English to youngsters, I know that not everyone does hear that way. I imagine it applies to a goodly number of adults as well. I’ve listened to readings recorded by some famous poets and sometimes been shocked by them. They didn’t sound at all like they sounded in my head when I read their work!

      On the other hand, some of my readers seem to really like having the audio here. Could it be that because you and I play so often with the written word that we actually find it alive?
      I don’t know if others read and listen simultaneously or just listen, but I find it a very interesting question.

  7. Crap. Hit send before I finished the damn thought. That’ll teach me. So, after I read it out loud a couple of times, THEN I listen to your audio and so I glad I did to hear your voice singing that old song! You can sing! You can write poetry! You do calligraphy! You are so talented! I absolutely agree about the emotional impact of this poem. While I love this stanza “a preference for what
    cuts clean the edges of
    unruly fringe, a deference
    to the well-oiled, silent hinge.
    for some reason it makes me sad and wistful.

    • I’ve done that so many times, that I no longer comment on the reader, but go to the site itself. You are too kind with your compliments. (but I love it, of course.) Your comments, coming as they do from a writer I respect, are always a welcome and valuable response.

  8. It’s a stirring piece Cynthia. It’s as though you awoke out of a cocoon and looked up seeing the nighttime sky with new eyes, each element taking on a special place in a brief and fleeing moment – just as the world around you has become the ordinary and expected way you spend each of your days.

    Wonderful surprise to hear your signing voice – go Cynthia!

  9. Cynthia, I saw your starry sky last night. Maureen and I were emerging from a gorgeous country church (built 1730) after reading at a fund-raising event, and there it was. Stars brighter than ever in an inky sky, crescent moon deep orange. Yet the rolling pastures, woods and hedgerows were veiled in mist. Weird but true, a touch of your β€œswooning madness”, perhaps?

    A wonderful poem inviting contemplation of the great mysteries.

    Fond regards,


    • A truly lovely swooning madness you paint here, Paul. I must say I am impressed by you two troubadours and all the fun you seem to be having as you travel about, reading your poetry. The story of the glory of….indeed!

  10. These are beautiful lines and of course they resonate with lots of us! Several thoughts occur to me ‘Diana’. If we can persuade you to publish another book, this is one to include. I love the progression of thought, the sound of the words. I don’t always listen to your recordings because like you I can always hear a poem clearly. Incidentally I too experience synesthesia. I wonder if your dog and cats do in some way! And lastly, what in heaven ‘s name was that tactless teacher thinking of?!

    • Aha! You have been reading comments! (my friend Eileen tells me that’s the most interesting part of my blog…then hastens to add how much she likes the poetry)….and so you know I forgive you for addressing me as ‘Diana.’ πŸ™‚ Despite that tactless teacher, I have come to appreciate not being a saint after all.

      I, too, have wondered about dogs and cats and synesthesia. As you may know, Lulu naps atop the piano but she sits there also when it’s being played and seems to tune into the vibrations in a way that may be unlike ours. Anyway, I was delighted to hear that you also experience synesthesia. (are Tuesday, Wednesday, any particular colors for you?)

      I loved finding your comment here, this morning, John. You will perhaps not understand what I mean when I say that you always seem to show up at the right time, and that has been so since “Six Yellow Tulips.” More than you know, I appreciate your continued encouragement, dear old blogger buddy. Thanks.

      • It’s very good to hear that Cynthia. Thank you.
        Oh yes, Tuesday is yellow and Wednesday is blue. Obviously! πŸ™‚
        I went back to read Tulips again. I love it and admire it. All the best. John

  11. WONDERFUL ! I am mad about that alliterative phrase “soft-slippered slow processions”. More as well, though …
    I remembered what it was your Arabic construction reminded me of. It’s so bloody predictable you’ll sigh, Cynthia:
    the Rubaiyat …

    • Oh good, M-R, I was almost afraid that alliteration went too far…but I like it meself, so I kept it in!

      I can see why the ghazal reminded you of the Rubaiyat (I assume Omar’s Rubaiyat?) The general traditional form of a rubaiyat (Persian) is a quatrain stanza while the ghazal is a couplet, but the whole feeling is, I think, similar, in the fact that the rhyme scheme suggests the possibilities from the beginning. Also, both forms were dedicated to love poetry at first and grew to include a whole spectrum of thought and emotion over time.

      I’m not sighing….I’m thinking isn’t it lovely that M-R came to read and comment….and I hope all is well.

  12. I first thought this poem was about the moon. Then I didn’t know as I was left wondering. After reading the comments, Necco wafers? … i love them … especially the black, brown, and pink ones. … Bottom line – my mind is still wandering around … but cheers to your poem and the aria prelude.

    • I just choked on my coffee from laughing at your “gift” of applause this morning. And I salute you as a fellow member of the Necco Wafer Elite. I agree about the black and pink ones, especially, but did you ever notice how there always seemed to be fewer of the favorites than all those others in a pack?

      Thanks so much for your comment and video, Frank. They started my day smilingly!

  13. Wow! I have no words for this Cynthia – it goes beyond words!
    Fortunately, somehow this slipped my radar until this morning. Fortunate in two ways: the comments above speak volumes – as does the poem – and I ditto them all!; and tonight, being the super moon eclipse issue, how fitting!
    Your voice (what a pleasure to hear that!) now adding to ‘the story of the glory of’ whatever cosmic and galactic events may swirl around us! Accordingly, we’ll hold tight, enjoy the ride, and see what we can ‘get used to’ next, yes?! Wafers and all! πŸ™‚

    • I like your idea of seeing what we can “get used to” next….brings out the possibility of a sense of adventure, even for us with mobility limitations that seem to leave that sense in the past. I’m hoping the trees around my house don’t prevent my seeing something of the superbloodmoon, tonight, but I’ll know it’s happening, because the scientists tell me so, and because, by now, we are all somehow connected to the moon. Thanks so much for stopping by to comment and read, Rob. It means a great deal to me.

      • Always an absolute pleasure to stop by and read, Cynthia – so much gained in so many ways. Thank you for being there! Do hope you get to see some of the moon tonight but, as you say, it will be happening either way and a new day will dawn tomorrow….kinda like it did today and will on Tuesday too. How very strange! πŸ™‚

  14. ‘The glory of’ appears to shine so bright at first, and then….you wonder quite what happened. 😐 I wonder if the images and songs we are feed when growing up, give us a slightly warped view of what love should feel like. But there is something about newness that excites the heart, so maybe we just can’t help starting on a high! I love your singing too Cynthia, that added to the ‘story of’ quite nicely! πŸ™‚

    • It’s an old story, isn’t it….from the starry-eyed romanticism of youth to the more staid adaptation over time as age and practicality make their marks on us….but if we’re lucky we survive without completely destroying that early enthusiasm for it all…thanks, Suzy πŸ™‚

  15. …..’the thing to which we cling as we get used to almost (almost) anything’ is so worth pondering over. The evening out of days, each much like the next, yet not…not, because unlike those glittery stars, so eternally there…our days mark out the finite, the mortal, and what we get so used to imperceptibly becomes less and less until it is no more….and then, we are left, so unused to attempting to get used to what is not. And we almost can — (almost). That is how this speaks to me after reading it several times, Cynthia. Galaxies might be forever, but we, like Captain Hook, always hear a faint disquieting tick tock.

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