Thursday, December 17, 2015

On Polish Christmas in the Notre Dame Cathedral,and Ladies, and Cherries, and Music Boxes

The Cathedral floats up 
above  my leopard prints and faux fur
its stones polished by time 

There was a surprise waiting for me at the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris this November. After I waited in a long line in the rain, with colorful umbrellas and a watchful eye of fatigue-clad soldiers with machine guns, the clock struck one: (read about it in the previous post, Thanksgiving in Paris).

Then, inside the stone monument defying the passage of time, I saw the stained glass windows, the breathtaking heights of the main nave.  I walked around and listened to the music, swirling beneath blues and reds of the stained-glass windows: I heard the Kyrie Eleison, Christ Have Mercy, Lord Have Mercy:

Finally, a  medieval Alleluia filled the air.... I walked around the back of the main nave, from one stained-glass window chapel to the next.

Why "stained"-glass?
There are no stains on the rubies and cobalts
of Notre Dame air

Is the twirling ribbon
of stone embroidered with more finesse
than the lead-framed glass?

See more pictures on the Picasa Web Album:

And here it was, my delightful surprise. A tinfoil and paper monument of massive proportions: Szopka Krakowska, the Nativity Scene in a fantastic scenery of multi-towered Castle or Gothic Cathedral as envisioned by folk artists from Krakow, Poland.  The minuscule Nativity scene in the heart of the building, surrounded by Polish folk dancers, and characters from folk tales. Pan Twardowski on his rooster, flying to the moon... Angels, three Kings, everyone...

I find Poland in Paris
bright tinfoil towers of a Nativity Scene 
among the grey stones of Notre Dame

I was in Paris for a reason: to read a paper, research, talk... (my Szymanowska Conference Report is on the Chopin with Cherries Blog). At end of the 3rd International Symposium "Maria Szymanowska and Her TIes" was the closing salon, "An Invitation to the Dance," I read poetry by 19th century Polish poets, and verse of my own. I loved being accompanied by improvisations of extraordinary pianist, Edoardo Torbianelli, who has music spilling from under his fingers. I was going to say: from his sleeves, but he rolls them up tightly, so that nothing can spill.... Reading at the Salon "Invitation to the Dance" at the close of the Maria Szymanowska Conference in Paris, November 27, 2015. Edoardo Torbianelli improvises on Johann Alois Graff pianoforte from 1825 and I read my poem "A Study with Cherries" in Polish, from the Chopin with Cherries Anthology (2010).  Recorded by Alicja Bialek-Guillemette.

Here are the words, in English and Polish:

"A Study with Cherries"

          After Etude in C Major, Op. 10, No. 1 and the cherry orchard
                of my grandparents, Stanisław and Marianna Wajszczuk

I want a cherry,
a rich, sweet cherry
to sprinkle its dark notes
on my skin, like rainy preludes
drizzling through the air.

Followed by the echoes
of the piano, I climb
a cherry tree to find rest
between fragile branches
and relish the red perfection –
morning cherry music.

Satiated, sleepy,
I hide in the dusty attic.
I crack open the shell
of a walnut to peel
the bitter skin off,
revealing white flesh –
a study in C Major.

Tasted in reverie,
the harmonies seep
through light-filled cracks
between weathered beams
in Grandma’s daily ritual
of Chopin at noon.

in Polish translation by Maja Trochimczyk

"Etiuda z Czereśniami"

 Inspiracja Etiuda C-Dur, Op. 10, No. 1 i wisniowym sadem mojego dziadka i babci, Stanisława i Marianny Wajszczuk

A ja chcę czereśnie
Słodziutkie czereśnie
Chce poczuć ciemne nuty soku
Na mojej skórze
Jak krople deszczowego preludium
W mżawce poranka

W obłoku fortepianu
Wspinam się na czereśnię
Szukam ukojenia wśród kruchych gałęzi
Cieszę się doskonałością czerwieni
Czereśniową muzyką od samego rana

Nasycona, śpiąca
Chowam się w ciemnościach strychu
By łupać orzechy, obierać gorzką skórkę
Odsłaniać biały miąższ
Studium w tonacji C-dur

Smakuję marzenia
Akordy płyną przez szpary
Starych belek wypełnione światłem

To codzienny rytuał mojej Babuni
Popołudnie z Chopinem

(c) 2010 by Maja Trochimczyk

English version published in Chopin with Cherries: A Tribute in Verse (Moonrise Press, 2010)

Photo by Alicia Bialek-Guillemette

I also read 19th century poems  written to Maria Szymanowska by Count Henryk Rzewuski (A Menu of her Dinner) and Julian Ursyn Niemcewicz (Praise of Szymanowska's Talent).  I read them in Polish with a summary in English. The first one was quite funny, a full humorous menu, the second properly laudatory.  Here they are:

And, of course, at the end, I read my poem inspired by Leonardo da Vinci's "The Lady with an Ermine" and the theme poem for the salon, "An Invitation to the Dance" -  a lovely trifle, written in the form of a dialogue, on the  intertwined themes of love and dancing...

Below are the texts of the two poems recited at the Salon, the closing event of the 3e Maria Szymanowska Colloque, in Paris at the Academie Polonaise de Sciences, on November 27, 2015. I am accompanied on Johann Alois Graff pianoforte by Edoardo Torbianelli,who improvised renaissance style music for the Leonardo poem, and some sweet arpeggios for the Dance poem. Recorded by Alicja Bialek-Guillemette on November 27, 2015.

The Lady With An Ermine

~ after Leonardo da Vinci's portrait of Cecilia Gallerani, in the Czartoryski Museum in Krakow

Her eyes follow me around the room
with that secretive smile she shares
with her famous cousin.

Filled with the knowledge of what was, what will be
she slowly caresses the smooth warm ermine fur.

"Tesoro, amore mio, sii tranquillo, ti amo"

Leonardo’s brush made a space for her to inhabit,
a grey-blue sky painted black much later –
she was pregnant, her son – a Sforza bastard,
the white ermine - the emblem of her Duke.

Sheltered by Polish royalty, she revealed
her charms only to their closest confidantes.
In 1830, exiled in a precious wood box, to Paris,
In 1919, returned to taste the Polish freedom.

"Amore mio, sii tranquillo, ti amo"

In 1939, hidden again, found by the Nazis
for Hitler’s last dream, the Linz Führermuseum,
Art among red flags and swastikas, flourishing
in the dark cavern of his mind. Never built.

Berlin, occupied Krakow, Governor Frank's
hunting lodge, Bavaria. The Red Army's closing in.
Train tracks. Crisp winter air. American soldiers,
The cameras of Monument Men.

"Sii tranquillo, ti amo"

Back home in Krakow, she is safe
in the recess of a museum wall. Under a muted spotlight,
Children play a game:Walk briskly from right to left,
don’t let your eyes leave her eyes, see how she is watching you.

Her eyes follow me around the room
Filled with the knowledge of what was, what will be
she slowly caresses the smooth warm ermine fur.
She knows that I know that she knows.

"Amore mio, ti amo"


* Tesoro, amore mio, sii tranquillo, ti amo" - fragment of a love letter in Italian, "Sweetheart, my love, be  quiet, I love you"

(c) 2015 by Maja Trochimczyk

Leonardo da Vinci, The Lady with an Ermine

An Invitation To The Dance

And the angels are dancing.

Did you say dancing? Yes, dancing. Making somersaults
and jumping two hundred yards in the air.

Air? Are they here? I thought they lived in infinity,
Or eternity, or the great beyond, or whatchamacalit.
No. Here. They are laughing their heads off.  Giggling,
smiling, smirking, guffawing. Laughing.

What’s so funny? Nic. Nada. Naught.
It is just that they are so happy.
So incredibly,  exorbitantly, blissfully happy.

Why?  Oh, because of that quirky thing
from the country song.

What thing? Don’t you know? Have you not heard
that love conquers all?  That love triumphs
over lies, fear, anger, shame and despair?
That it is? Love is. True love. Our love…

It blossoms in us, through us.
It opens its petals.  The world is more tranquil,
serene in the luminescence of our love.

New stars are born and cherries are sweeter when we
are together, immersed in this love. When we
find it. Return to it. Share it. Cherish it. When we
are not giving up. No matter what. No matter how hard.
No matter how late.  It is soo simple, very simple.

Impossible? Yet, it is here to stay.

So what about these angels, then…
Oh, yes. Would you like to go dancing with the angels?
 Boogie-woogie, waltz, tango or salsa?

(c) 2015 by Maja Trochimczyk

With Szopka krakowska in the Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris

After coming back home, it was time for Christmas and New Year Wishes. I picked a rose, beautiful striped antique one, Rosa Mundi, the Rose of the World that grows in my beloved Descanso Gardens in La Canada. With a green background it was exactly what I needed. Forget medieval cathedrals... here's something real, something that grows:

With the snow and all white
Without the snow and all green
With lights and garlands and spice
May your holidays shine from within!

Happy New Year 2016!

But the stanza I wrote sounded trite and tired to my ears, so unaccustomed to rhyming. Where did this silly rhyme come from?

On a sunny afternoon, I went shopping to my favorite thrift store and found a bunch of music boxes, playing English carols, more or less out of tune. I picked the best ones to add to my ever - growing collection.  Silent night, A little drummer boy, Saint Nick... I thought of the previous owners, who died and left their treasures unattended, waiting to be rescued from the pile of old teddy bears, and damaged Santas. Was it a warm-hearted, cookie-baking Grandma? Was it a lonely, sentimental spinster? Are there still spinsters (what an ugly word!) in 2015?

Time for another Christmas poem, then, this one with music boxes and memories of happy childhood, from one generation to the next...

A Santa music box - snow globe  with toy bird whistles from Poland.

A Music Box Christmas

I wind the spring on the music box
Silvery specks swirl in the snow globe

The twinkling of “We Wish You a Merry Christmas”
Fills the air. Santa on the rooftop falls into the chimney.
Are you ready for the holidays?  With Scottish whisky cake
Polish makowiec, or American apple pie? Will you cook
Tamales on Christmas Eve, your family gathered
Around steaming pots, laughter mixed with hearty flavors?
Will you roast turkey with fixings on Christmas? Will you
Nibble slices of chocolate oranges, after unwrapping gifts?
Taste walnuts and sesame snaps from your stockings?

I wind the spring on the music box
Silvery specks swirl in the snow globe
Memories of home swirl before me

Sparkling lights shine in the colored tinfoil of Szopka Krakowska,
Its fantastic church towers rise in their Gothic splendor
Above a Nativity Scene and figurines from Polish folk tales.
I make cranberry sauce with diced pears and apples
The way my Mom taught me. Do I still know how
To chop figs and dates into finely-ground poppy seeds
Boiled in milk, re-fried with honey? The favorite flavors
Float away with Ogiński’s polonaise, Farewell to the Homeland.
Under the blazing California Sun, I taste the exotic desserts
Of Poland’s eastern borderlands, where cultures mixed
And worlds mingled – Poles, Lithuanians, Tartars, Jews –
Cornflower blue skies and shimmering gold of rye fields.

I wind the spring on the music box
Silvery specks swirl in the snow globe
I make a promise to myself

This Christmas, I’ll read a novel, wrapped in a plush blanket
And a Santa hat. I will walk alone in the park, come back
To the empty house and watch The Lord of the Rings,
The epic battles of the elements, good versus evil,
Good versus evil  - twirling and waltzing like the silvery
specks in my Santa snow globe. I will sing along “We Wish
You a Merry Christmas” and remember a Nativity Play
With my daughter - an angel waving a green pine bough
Singing in a sweet chorus of children’s voices:
“We swish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!”

© 2015 by Maja Trochimczyk

Szopka Krakowska with toy bird-whistles from Krakow, Poland, 
on my mantelpiece in California.

Monday, December 7, 2015

On Dali's Silver Towers of Eyes

Daum Variations on Dali at Espace Dali in Paris

Maja Trochimczyk with Hanna Kulenty and the Crowds of the Basilica Sacre Coeur

Maja Trochimczyk with Alicja Guillemette-Bialek and Dali

So many blessings, so many delights discovered in Paris... in the Espace Dali in Montmartre. While hordes of tourists are satisfied by a trek up the hill to the Sacre Coeur Basilica and down the side streets to the art market square, faux restaurants and all the faux artistes, we took a turn around the corner to an empty street, past an empty restaurant: Espace Dali with a show of modern interpretations of his sculptures in multicolored, liquid glass.

an empty bistro 
silences crowded Paris street
outside of time

In part, I did know what to expect: melting clocks, women with drawers in their bodies, and giraffes on fire.

melting clocks
go on pretending -
too solid for time

"to melt or not to melt" -
this is the question only
snails may answer

bronze leaves
deny the right of time 
to melt in your eyes

wings seen unseen
I multiply into a twin shadow
of a double goddess

I did not know about the eyes, though. I guess, they are too far beyond the ordinary, even the extra-ordinary-ordinary...  There are several drawings and sculptures of multiple eyes on display in the museum. I was fascinated by the Architecture of Eyes, a relief sculpture made of silver metal and blue artificial eyes, some with eyelashes, some without. 

The whole stack of these eyes has an other-worldly, apocalyptic impact, making one think of Cherubim and the Divine Vessel described by Ezekiel, with its wings folding into each other, and the multitude of open eyes on the rim of its wheels... A strange world, a strange world indeed where eyes are buildings and buildings are made of eyes...

After Dali

If your eyelids do not shine silver
In a tower of endless repeats,
If your lips do not bloom in a sofa,
Too pouty to be touched or kissed
If your snails do not grow larger than tigers,
And your clocks do not melt onto your trees,
What are you doing  in the Espace Dali
on Montmartre? Lost in this crooked house
On a crooked alley, up a crooked hill
That twists time into a pretzel of potentiality
Where elephants grow spider-thin legs
Running after endless flames of giraffes.

Eyes watch blue eyes
Folding into the silver
Rings of recurrence

You have to really look to see that reality
Of impossible presence beyond limits
Where Everything is One and One is 
Everything and you are in the leaves 
And petals open in you and the Earth 
Under your feet sighs through your lungs 
And your heart beats with the waves 
of the ocean

Eyes watch blue eyes
Folding into the silver
Rings of recurrence

                                When birds welcome the sun
Rising in your garden that morning, you know
You hear their song, singing Yes, it is always
Yes in the eyeless ears of the birds
In the bluest eyes of silvery turrets
In Dali’s architecture of eyes

When birds welcome the sun
With the waves of the ocean,
You know.  Everything is One
One is Everything
You hear their song, singing Yes,
Always Yes in the bluest of Yes
In the Time’s Yes, the unfolding
Architecture of Eyes.

eyes watch blue eyes
folding into the silver
rings of recurrence

eyes watch blue eyes
folding into the silver
rings of recurrence

And still... Ambika Talwar saw something else:

flashing walls
folding doors
see eyes creep
do not fall asleep
how can you awaken?


Photos from the Espace Dali in Paris by Maja Trochimczyk, Photos from Paris by Alicja Guillemette-Bialek and Martin Majoor.  Artwork includes fragments from Architecture of Eyes by Salvador Dali, Paris Espace Dali.
(c) 2015 by Maja Trochimczyk

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Thanksgiving in Paris with Leonardo, Swans, Music, and Rain

Self-portrait with Leonardo at the Louvre, November 23, 2015.

And they said, aren't you afraid to go? To Paris? Now? After the explosions? Bloodied bodies in the streets? For Thanksgiving? This is how we show we are not afraid, we will not let them win, whoever they are, these men with guns, tall, strong-muscled men without love, with guns, always more guns. But I sought something else, something to be thankful for. The Louvre was there, waiting.

Oh, how we long 
for the tender arms of mother -
safe touch of azure

And there is more, that other half smile of John the Baptist.  Leonardo's mysterious twin.

look at the clouds 
don't get distracted by things below 
he says, pointing at the sky

Today, I'm thankful for paintings. Leonardo in black and blue made my day.  And so did that flustered angel, excitedly bomb-diving the Blessed Virgin with the good news, hers and ours, the real Good News: Peace be with you. God lives in your heart.  Look how surprised she is, how unprepared. Aren't we all? To know that there is only love, only One Love that links us, sentient beings, from the bee to the bison, from dolphin to the duck, with the cruel, violent humans hiding somewhere in-between?  When will we feel that all human beings are part of us; that all trees grow our roots, all skylarks sing our songs? 

Yes, I did see long guns in Paris. Groups of four or five soldiers in camouflage fatigues, walking along the umbrella lines waiting to get inside the Notre Dame Cathedral.  Why did we stand for over an hour in the cold?

umbrellas blossom
on the cathedral square 
without gunshots

Maybe to hear the bells ringing at noon, and, again at one o'clock.

 a new hour -
cathedral bells are ringing
under clouded skies

The Cathedral

waves of song
bounce off the cobblestones
spill on the rooftops

stay still, watch
shadows fle the bronze
majesty of bells

morning brightness
rises in the rhythm 
of the ocean, caressing

ancient mounds 
of cooled off lava 
at the edge of the dying world

inside the rib-cage 
of a cathedral
we learn to breathe

in the beached whale 
of a building
the city’s beating heart

(C) Maja Trochimczyk, October 19, 2013

Yes, I'm thankful for the cathedral. For the artisans who made its rosettes and stained glass windows,

I also thank the carpenters who built the walls of the Auberge des Deux Ponts near the Bibliotheque Polonaise on Ille de France, just around the corner from the Notre Dame. What a perfect, simple, elegant,  place. With ten tables for two, and a harmony of sights and tastes.

I count my blessings when I walk around in the rain. It is such a pleasure to take in the sights, the sounds. The wind and the wings of seagulls gathering above an old lady who came to feed the swans on the shore of the Seine. The whole aviary showed up, uninvited, and started their pithy battles for the crumbs.  I'm touched by the sight of the swans, and the one, oversized ugly duckling swimming nearby.

Yes, I'm grateful for the bread, the lady, and the swans. The violinist and artist Wanda Sobieska made hand-drawn illustrations for a new version of the Ugly Duckling, composed by Ken Woods and recorded by his ensemble. It took them two years to write a ten-minute tale. Was this time well spent?  Of course.
grey feathers fly
the gang pecks and screeches
poor ugly duckling 

But that turmoil was before the swan was aware who he really was: the majestic, glorious bird, of grace and beauty. A case of mistaken identity. Don't we all suffer from it sometimes? At all times? Do we know what are we here for? The contours of our lives outlined by heartbeats? The invisible links of affection? Shortcuts through time into the ever present, ever brilliant now? Are we thankful?

What are we thankful for?

Today, I'm grateful for music.  My travel to Paris is for a reunion of scholars, connected by an unlikely subject of a pianist-composer long gone, Maria Szymanowska died in 1831, why are we still talking about her? What is there in the life, in the music of this lovely, elegant lady, the Court Pianist to the Tsarina, that could possibly matter to us today?  Aren't we thankful for when we listen to Szymanowska's Romances sung by Elisabeth Zapolska and played by Bart van Oort on an antique Aloysius Graff fortepiano from 1820s? One of seven such instruments in the world... It has five pedals, can sound muted, distant, or jangling, percussive, or resonant and boisterous. Who knew so many colors could hide in a box of precious wood and metal? Hats off to those who made and restored this ancient beauty... Hats off to Elisabeth whose enthusiasm and warmth inspired so many...

Bart van Oort and Elizabeth Zapolska perform Maria Szymanowska. November 24, 2015.
Photo thanks to

Today, I'm grateful for libraries.  We would not know who we are, where we came from, who was here before us, what they thought, what they did, what they left for us to find, if not for the nameless armies of librarians, archivists, custodians of our past, and ushers of the future.  The Czartoryski family of aristocrats in Poland, and their Home Library of letters and notes that helps us understand the emotions felt by lonely mothers two hundred years ago.  The countless, nameless servants of truth, who made sure that these paper gifts survived until today (and are now in Krakow). The Great Emigration exiles in Paris that started the Bibliotheque Polonaise in 1830s, among them the son of Adam Mickiewicz, grandson of Maria Szymanowska, who kept Grandma's papers, jewels and even her satin slippers....

Maja Trochimczyk with Eva Davos-Talma and Prof. Irena Poniatowska,

And let me thank the librarians: Ewa Rutkowska who guards the Mickiewicz manuscripts and Magdalena Glodek who oversees the rare prints and books. Thanks to them I could make my small discoveries, making order out of chaos. I identified a romance by a forgotten woman, Franciszka Kochanowska, found her death date and her family, and doubled the size of her known oeuvre, from one to two songs!!! Hurray!!! The first notice of this rare find was given at the 3e Maria Szymanowska Colloque held at the Polish Academy of Sciences in Paris, with Prof. Irena Poniatowska, my mentor, in attendance.

A page from Maria Szymanowska's Album, Manuscript No. 970, 
Bibliotheque Polonaise, Paris.

Soo, I'm grateful for books. The ones written and lovingly preserved, and the ones I'm going to write and publish.  One of my favorite books of all times is a set of illuminations of Dante's Divine Commedy by Giovanni di Paolo, way better than the 19th century dark imagery of weird angels and demons.  Giovanni paints huge golden suns, the dazzling brilliance of Primum Mobile with real gold.
A revelation and a delight.  Coupled with my favorite pomegranates from my tree: a treat for this Thanksgiving!

A Revelation After Il Paradiso

We live in the third sphere
of lovers, in the Earth’s long shadow
Our love waxes and wanes
like the Moon, or Venus rising up
before dawn, the star of the morning
We oscillate from darkness to brilliance,
float from fear into sunlight
to rest on a golden afternoon
in the innocent warmth of affection
among newly planted roses
Imperial, Electric, Compassion
Double Delight and Simplicity roses
in our garden where we trim dried, twisted
branches of old oleanders to make room
for orange blossoms and more pomegranate
always more pomegranate
never enough pomegranate

Dark red translucent juice stains our fingers
Tart juice bursts with flavor
in our mouths, ready for kisses
always ready for more kisses
softest, childlike, strongest, tasting
like the wine we never tasted, the dream
we never even hoped to dream about
escaping the long shadow
of the Earth on a golden afternoon
lovers in the Garden of Love
afternoon in the Third Sphere of Venus
golden, golden, sparkling golden
afternoon on another planet

(c) Maja Trochimczyk, October 2015

Finally,  and always, I'm thankful for those who love me, my children, my family, my friends.

Maja, Marcin, Agnieszka, Ian, Anna, May 3, 2015

Among them, there is the talented poet and visionary mystic of deep insights, Ambika Talwar who posted a beautiful note on Facebook... Yes, this is what FB is good for:

Thanksgiving Post from Ambika Talwar

Hello Everyone ~ I am here in ND remembering and counting my blessings, my lessons, the gifts from many of you through rough and gentle times. For this I am most grateful.

I am remembering my ability to serve and those willing to receive. For this I am most grateful.

I am remembering the diverse possibilities arising for our futures that so many of you have shared and I long to learn more ways by which our potential may be realised. For this I am most grateful.

I am remembering how utterly alone one can be in this vast world and how someone remembers or shows up to remind you we are not. For this I am grateful.

I am remembering my many homes while I sit here in my parents' living room making sense of all our ways and vagrancies, whose lessons are not always easy. For this I must be grateful for those above and those actions unmentioned. 

And mostly, I am remembering the life of my beloved father and his many sensitivities, sensibilities, and wisdoms - his delighting ways, his challenging ways, his capacities to know and to understand and to love despite our profound differences. To remember and to cherish all this is my deepest privilege now, knowing that this is what will carry me forth wherever I am to now step and claim as mine.

I am grateful for my kith and kin, my friends, my most delightful nieces and nephews, the birds and bees, horses.. all sentient beings, all life. I pray I find my new way and am fulfilled in ways not imagined before. And I wish this for each of you, for all of you.

With all my love ~ Ambika Talwar

Lois P. Jones, Maja Trochimczyk and Ambika Talwar, Photo by Susan Rogers.
Santa Monica's Rapp Saloon, October 2015

Isn't it a beautiful greeting? From the mind and the heart?

Happy Thanksgiving everyone. Today and always.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Rain or No Rain? From Whisper to Torrent of Despair to Absence

The sound of rain has preoccupied poets "since time immemorial" - and rightly so.  There are few more soothing sonorities than the music of raindrops on the leaves of the camellia outside my window. Even the rat-tat-tat signals of larger drops loudly attacking the tin roof of my patio are a welcome diversion after weeks and months and years of drought in California.  

On the few days of winter when low clouds cover the hill slops like scarves or blankets of fog, I'm happy and wait for the water that will make my garden happy. The trees will be happy, the bushes, the roses, the grass - all stretching their branches and leaves up towards the sky, towards the life-giving nourishment of rain. And singing their songs in silence. Lets hear the voices of poets, inspired by rain...

Like Rain it sounded till it curved 

by Emily Dickinson

Like Rain it sounded till it curved
And then I knew 'twas Wind --
It walked as wet as any Wave
But swept as dry as sand --
When it had pushed itself away
To some remotest Plain
A coming as of Hosts was heard
It filled the Wells, it pleased the Pools
It warbled in the Road --
It pulled the spigot from the Hills
And let the Floods abroad --
It loosened acres, lifted seas
The sites of Centres stirred
Then like Elijah rode away
Upon a Wheel of Cloud.

The Fury of Rainstorms 

by Anne Sexton

The rain drums down like red ants,
each bouncing off my window.
The ants are in great pain
and they cry out as they hit
as if their little legs were only
stitche don and their heads pasted.
And oh they bring to mind the grave,
so humble, so willing to be beat upon
with its awful lettering and
the body lying underneath
without an umbrella.
Depression is boring, I think
and I would do better to make
some soup and light up the cave.

It is the depressive darkness of stormy clouds and the danger of too much water, both literally (rain) and figuratively (tears) that "asks" for a shelter from the rain and turmoil, under a light-filled umbrella... so beautifully portrayed on a card by Kathy Gallegos, Director and Founder of Avenue 50 Studio in Highland Park.

The Rainy Day 

by Rabindranath Tagore

Sullen clouds are gathering fast over the black fringe of the forest.
O child, do not go out!
The palm trees in a row by the lake are smiting their heads
against the dismal sky; the crows with their dragged wings are
silent on the tamarind branches, and the eastern bank of the river
is haunted by a deepening gloom.
Our cow is lowing loud, ties at the fence.
O child, wait here till I bring her into the stall.
Men have crowded into the flooded field to catch the fishes
as they escape from the overflowing ponds; the rain-water is
running in rills through the narrow lanes like a laughing boy who
has run away from his mother to tease her.
Listen, someone is shouting for the boatman at the ford.
O child, the daylight is dim, and the crossing at the ferry is closed.
The sky seems to ride fast upon the madly rushing rain; the
water in the river is loud and impatient; women have hastened home
early from the Ganges with their filled pitchers.
The evening lamps must be made ready.
O child, do not go out!
The road to the market is desolate, the lane to the river is
slippery. The wind is roaring and struggling among the bamboo
branches like a wild beast tangled in a net.

Big Tujunga Wash with Rainclouds

The favorite Polish poem about rain was written by Leopold Staff (1878-1957), who heard in the rain the sounds of despair, death, loneliness and desolation - portrayed with a typical fin-de-siecle exaggerated fashion. I found an English translation of Staff  on MLingua Forum:

Deszcz jesienny

By Leopold Staff

O szyby deszcz dzwoni, deszcz dzwoni jesienny
I pluszcze jednaki, miarowy, niezmienny,
Dżdżu krople padają i tłuką w me okno...
Jęk szklany... płacz szklany... a szyby w mgle mokną
I światła szarego blask sączy się senny...
O szyby deszcz dzwoni, deszcz dzwoni jesienny...

Wieczornych snów mary powiewne, dziewicze
Na próżno czekały na słońca oblicze...
W dal poszły przez chmurną pustynię piaszczystą,
W dal ciemną bezkresną, w dal szarą i mglistą...
Odziane w łachmany szat czarnej żałoby
Szukają ustronia na ciche swe groby,
A smutek cień kładzie na licu ich młodem...
Powolnym i długim wśród dżdżu korowodem
W dal idą na smutek i życie tułacze,
A z oczu im lecą łzy... Rozpacz tak płacze...

To w szyby deszcz dzwoni, deszcz dzwoni jesienny
I pluszcze jednaki, miarowy, niezmienny,
Dżdżu krople padają i tłuką w me okno...
Jęk szklany... płacz szklany... a szyby w mgle mokną
I światła szarego blask sączy się senny...
O szyby deszcz dzwoni, deszcz dzwoni jesienny...

Ktoś dziś mnie opuścił w ten chmurny dzień słotny...
Kto? Nie wiem... Ktoś odszedł i jestem samotny...
Ktoś umarł... Kto? Próżno w pamięci swej grzebię...
Ktoś drogi... wszak byłem na jakimś pogrzebie...
Tak... Szczęście przyjść chciało, lecz mroków się zlękło.
Ktoś chciał mnie ukochać, lecz serce mu pękło,
Gdy poznał, że we mnie skrę roztlić chce próżno...
Zmarł nędzarz, nim ludzie go wsparli jałmużną...
Gdzieś pożar spopielił zagrodę wieśniaczą...
Spaliły się dzieci... Jak ludzie w krąg płaczą...

To w szyby deszcz dzwoni, deszcz dzwoni jesienny
I pluszcze jednaki, miarowy, niezmienny,
Dżdżu krople padają i tłuką w me okno...
Jęk szklany... płacz szklany... a szyby w mgle mokną
I światła szarego blask sączy się senny...
O szyby deszcz dzwoni, deszcz dzwoni jesienny...

Przez ogród mój szatan szedł smutny śmiertelnie
I zmienił go w straszną, okropną pustelnię...
Z ponurym, na piersi zwieszonym szedł czołem
I kwiaty kwitnące przysypał popiołem,
Trawniki zarzucił bryłami kamienia
I posiał szał trwogi i śmierć przerażenia...
Aż strwożon swym dziełem, brzemieniem ołowiu
Położył się na tym kamiennym pustkowiu,
By w piersi łkające przytłumić rozpacze
I smutków potwornych płomienne łzy płacze...

To w szyby deszcz dzwoni, deszcz dzwoni jesienny
I pluszcze jednaki, miarowy, niezmienny,
Dżdżu krople padają i tłuką w me okno...
Jęk szklany... płacz szklany... a szyby w mgle mokną
I światła szarego blask sączy się senny...
O szyby deszcz dzwoni, deszcz dzwoni jesienny...

On windows the raindrops, the raindrops are knocking
Rhythmically, constantly, not ever stopping,
The autumn rain falling and tapping on pane…
Glass weeping… glass crying… the signs of the rain
And light, oh so gray, the colours is blocking…
On windows the raindrops, the raindrops are knocking…

The dreams, ghosts of evening ethereal and floating
The sun which could save them in vain they’ve been wanting…
Ahead they are marching through gray, foggy desert,
Ahead only unknown, ahead is their present…


You can listen to the poem here:

Autumn Rain

by Leopold Staff

Autumn rain keeps ringing and ringing out loud
Beating against windows, so steady its sound!
Raindrops keep on falling and hitting the sill
Glass moaning... glass crying... rain keeps falling still
Gray sunlight keeps dreamily seeping through the clouds
Autumn rain keeps ringing and ringing out loud

Evening dreams, so beautiful but flighty and faint
Eagerly awaited the sun that never came
Until finally they faded away into night
Into darkness eternal, untouched by light
Wearing nothing but rags of their mourning clothes
A quiet place for their own graves they sought
On their faces, grief and sorrow left their mark
In a long line they moved on into dark
To forever wander with tears in their eyes
Haunted by their sadness, no recourse in sight

It's the autumn rain ringing and ringing out loud
Beating against windows, so steady its sound!
Raindrops keep on falling and hitting the sill
Glass moaning... glass crying... rain keeps falling still
Gray sunlight keeps dreamily seeping through the clouds
Autumn rain keeps ringing and ringing out loud
Someone left me on this cloudy, rainy autumn day
Who? I know not... I know I'm alone and in pain
Someone died... who? I rake my memory in vain
Someone close to me... from some funeral I came
Ah ... the coming joy was frightened away by the dark
Someone wanted to love me but I broke their heart
When they found that they couldn't sustain the flame
A beggar died, awaiting help that never came
In a village somewhere, a house burned to the ground
Children died in the fire... people gathered around
And wept bitter tears

It's the autumn rain ringing and ringing out loud
Beating against windows, so steady its sound!
Raindrops keep on falling and hitting the sill
Glass moaning... glass crying... rain keeps falling still
Gray sunlight keeps dreamily seeping through the clouds
Autumn rain keeps ringing and ringing out loud

Satan, his grief deadly, to my garden came
And turned it into ruins, blackened by the flames
His head lowered, brow furrowed, he spread out gloom
Under ashes he buried the flowers in bloom
Heavy stones he scattered, grass he set ablaze
He spread fright and despair and fury and rage
Until at last, frightened by what he had done
He laid down awaiting relief that would not come
His grief weighing him down, he shed tears of flame

It's the autumn rain ringing and ringing out loud
Beating against window, so steady its sound!
Raindrops keep on falling and hitting the sill
Glass moaning... glass crying... rain keeps falling still
Gray sunlight keeps dreamily seeping through the clouds

Autumn rain keeps ringing and ringing out loud

Big Tujunga Wash with Chemtrails

The recitation of Deszcz Jesienny by Staff is illustrated by the most famous piece of "rain" music in the classical canon: Fryderyk Chopin's Prelude in D-flat Major, Op. 28, No. 15.  Several contemporary poets wrote about this work for the anthology I edited in 2010, Chopin with Cherries: A Tribute in Verse (Moonrise Press, 2010).

To accompany the readers on their Chopin-inspired journey, here are some links to various pianists' interpretations of the Prelude:

Prelude in Majorca

Christine Klocek-Lim

The wet day carried rain into night
as he composed alone.
With each note he wept
and music fell on the monastery,
each note a cry for breath
his lungs could barely hold.
Even as his world
dissolved around him
“into a terrible dejection,”
he played that old piano in Valldemosa
until tuberculosis didn’t matter;
until the interminable night
became more than a rainstorm,
more than one man sitting alone
at a piano, waiting
“in a kind of quiet desperation”
for his lover to come home
from Palma.

When Aurore finally returned
“in absolute dark”
she said his “wonderful Prelude,”
resounded on the tiles of the Charterhouse
like “tears falling upon his heart.”
Perhaps she is right.
Or perhaps Chopin “denied
having heard” the raindrops.
Perhaps in the alone
of that torrential night
he created his music simply
to hold himself inside life
for just one note longer.


Prelude No.15 in D-flat Major, Op. 28. 

Quotes from Histoire de Ma Vie (History of My Life, vol. 4) by George Sand (Aurore, Baronne Dudevant).

(c) 2010 by Christine Klocek-Lim, published in Chopin with Cherries (Moonrise Press, 2010).

Chopin’s “Raindrop”

Cheryl M. Thatt

A steady rain
drips down
insistent as the minutes
he looks out the window
cannot escape it.

He translates rain
damp spirit
travels inward
notes whittle away the dreary
steady rain
a clock
in the distance punctuates the gray day
wrestling with his own dark language
his soft fingers caress the keys to sanity
slowly he shapes adversary into ally…
pounds out melancholy
by precious damn drop…

A steady rain
dripped down
like the click of a shutter
slippery hours
captured forever.                                                                  

(c) 2010 by Cheryl M. Thatt, published in Chopin with Cherries (Moonrise Press, 2010).

Prelude in D-Flat Major, Opus 28, No. 15

by Carrie A. Purcell

You have to
my teacher said
think of that note like rain,
steady, but who,
my teacher said
wants to hear only that?

On Majorca in a monastery
incessant coughing
covered by incessant composition
and everywhere dripping

sotto voce
move the rain lower
let it fill the space left in your lungs
let it triumph

We die so often
we don’t call it dying anymore

(c) 2010 by Carrie A. Purcell, published in Chopin with Cherries (Moonrise Press, 2010).


But we do not have the rain, the raindrops, the thick, low clouds in California. Not often. Not for long. The last solid rain season of El Nino was in 1998. Since then, our skies are more often than not crisscrossed by the white stripes of chemtrails, left by high-flying airplanes with tanks full of chemicals that nobody wants to list or describe... We live under a chemical sky, our white stripy clouds are a geometric design of insane architects who are meddling with what they do not understand.  No rain under white-striped skies...

chemical weather –
we forget what we want to be
under whitened sky

(c) 2015 by Maja Trochimczyk

their air is for sale
their water rights sold –
last breath of freedom

(C) 2015 by Maja Trochimczyk


The clouds become milky, the sun death-white, like bleached bones on the chalky shore. Planes after planes fly high up, leaving patterns of crisscrossing chemtrails in the sky. The strange lines of clouds puff up and spread like cancer in the air. He takes out his camera, takes another series of snapshots for the series of Graffiti in the Sky. At home, he looks through his inbox, Los Angeles Sky Watch is meeting again. Same old, same old: aluminum, barium, strontium compounds, nano-particles stopping the rain, causing the blizzard, transforming California fields back into deserts. Only six thousands signed the Stop Geo-engineering petition he wrote. Only two hundred came to the demonstration he spent months planning. He thinks of ancient prophets, unheard voices calling in the urban wasteland.

           like frogs in boiling water
           they do not notice poison 
           raining on their heads

(C) 2015 by Maja Trochimczyk

And where is the rain?


To see more photos of strange chemtrail patterns in California  skies compared with clear blue skies, or regular cumulus or rainclouds, visit my "Graffiti in the Sky" albums on Picasa Web Albums: Part I from 2014 to March 2015; Part II from April to October 2015.

No matter how bad the weather is, we can still triumph internally, by keeping a spiritual balance. How do you do it? Like this:

The Great God Experiment


How to Find the Meaning of Life and Universe
And All their Sultry Secrets in Ten Easy Steps

Ask a friend to sit facing you,
closely, but do not touch.
Remember Mary of Magdala:
“Noli me tangere”
said the gardener and she saw God.
Close your eyes. Clear your mind
of every worry, every thought but
“I am here, I am, I love.”
Open your eyes. Look.
A flash, a lightning will pass
between you two. Time will stop.
The world will disappear.
You will see what the blind saw
after His hands touched their eyelids.
The unnamable.
The One who is, who will be.

Don’t talk.
Be thankful.

Ask a new friend.

                                                                             © 2007 Maja Trochimczyk 

Published in Meditations on Divine Names (2012)