Weird News Headlines

Even though we may be on a Lenten fast of news headlines, Day 7 of NaPoWriMo has asked us to mine the news for today’s poetry prompt.

“And speaking of news, today our prompt (optional, of course) is another oldie-but-goodie: a poem based on a news article. Frankly, I understand why you might be avoiding the news lately, but this is a good opportunity to find some “weird” and poetical news stories for inspiration.

http://www.napowrimo.net/

I can’t say that their examples really grabbed me. But it was full moon and a cloudless night so I was wide awake even before NaPoWriMo had posted the Day 7 prompt on their website. (It goes on at midnight EDT FYI insomniacs of Europe.)

In the end, I just googled “Weird News Headlines.” So my poem is not based on a single news article. It is a mash up from a series of headlines that caught my attention.

The 2020 Zoo
 
Mr. Fox has gone and done
a Leopold Bloom walkabout,
strolling over The Ha’penny Bridge.
 
Meanwhile, elsewhere…
in Chicago, coyotes are patrolling
Cook County on Neighbourhood Watch.
 
It’s reported that the deer have taken Calgary.
A lion is loose in an Indian city.
Brown and black bears, everywhere
 
are waking grumpy and hungry.
Horses are stampeding
Singapore’s streets.
 
Chimpanzees are mimicking
their keepers,
washing their hands on repeat.
 
Outside my bedroom window I can see 
that the magpies are in residence,
roosting in my roof.
 
Copyright © Bee Smith, 2020. All rights reserved.

Featured image Photo by Tj Holowaychuk on Unsplash

Bosh! Or Bosch!

NaPoWriMo Day 6 has given us a prompt based on a triptych by Hieronymus Bosch, a Netherlandish painter working in the fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries. One possibility was to take some image from his triptych The Garden of Earthly Delights. The thing is, looking at such detailed paintings digitally really does not do it for me. He influenced Peter Breughal the Elder. I have seen some of his paintings up close and personal. But doing a zoom in just did not give me enough detail to spark a poem. So I opted for ventriloquising the artist, who really should be credited as the father of the surrealists imho.


Hieronymus
 
St. Jerome had his desert.
I was born in the forest.
 
The forest was in me,
its darkness, its danger, its  furtive delights,
its teeming life inside bark,
the fallen ones deprived of heft and height,
riddled with insects, the ravenous worms
eating solid timber to dust. Hark!
I can see the town’s burghers faces
in the trees' knots.
I have watched whole kingdoms burn,
seen humanity’s vanity come all
to naught.
It is all in here –
the venal, the feral, the beautifully strange.
The mountain ranges of my imagination
are sharp peaks carved by avalanches alien
to the flatlands of Brabant.
I do not paint monsters to amuse.
Like my patron saint I contemplate
my soul’s destruction
and its salvation
before it is too late.
 
St. Jerome had his desert.
His namesake is a forest.
 
Copyright © Bee Smith, 2020. All rights reserved.

The featured image picks up on the forest imagery used in the poem.

Photo by Yoshi Takekawa on Unsplash

Metaphorically Speaking

Welcome to Day 5 of NaPoWriMo/GloPoWriMo and the Sunday Weekly edition for those who only pop by once a week to see what poetry has been cooked up in Corrogue. Over April I will be posting daily, using the prompts from http://www.napowrimo.net/ who have set a fiendish prompt this morning that is doomed to an epic fail. (See point 20.) We have been asked to incorporate “Twenty Little Things.” There was a point this morning where I nearly gave up the effort. But I have a stubborn, dogged streak, so I trundled on. Then I could say, “it’s done!” I can get on with other things today – like baking some cookies, or cutting back brambles. (We have an acre in West Cavan and it’s spring planting time. But there are also lots of wild features on the place to encourage wildlife, but the blackberries have to be tamed on health and safety, slip and trip grounds!)

Anyway- these were the parameters of the “Twenty Little Things” prompt. If you care to count up how many I did cram in to the poem, you are welcome. I gave up!

Begin the poem with a metaphor.

Say something specific but utterly preposterous.

Use at least one image for each of the five senses, either in succession or scattered randomly throughout the poem.

Use one example of synesthesia (mixing the senses).

Use the proper name of a person and the proper name of a place.

Contradict something you said earlier in the poem.

Change direction or digress from the last thing you said.

Use a word (slang?) you’ve never seen in a poem.

Use an example of false cause-effect logic.

Use a piece of talk you’ve actually heard (preferably in dialect and/or which you don’t understand).

Create a metaphor using the following construction: “The (adjective) (concrete noun) of (abstract noun) . . .”

Use an image in such a way as to reverse its usual associative qualities.

Make the persona or character in the poem do something he or she could not do in “real life.”

Refer to yourself by nickname and in the third person.

Write in the future tense, such that part of the poem seems to be a prediction.

Modify a noun with an unlikely adjective.

Make a declarative assertion that sounds convincing but that finally makes no sense.

Use a phrase from a language other than English.

Make a non-human object say or do something human (personification).

Close the poem with a vivid image that makes no statement, but that “echoes” an image from earlier in the poem.

Happy writing! (They said brightly at the end of the post!)

Hah! That’s not how I would have described it! I really want to see who has actually got all of them in the featured poem on the site tomorrow. They have more fortitude than I.

Metaphorically Speaking
 
Love is a caterpillar
that wants to be a butterfly
as it trundles along all hungry,
woolly and fuzzy, 
longing
to say goodbye
to its sluggish locomotive
state, because
 
love wants to have its wings,
to coast on gentle thermals
in sunshine, 
to sup on scented roses,
on bee's leftover nectar in a fragrant tea,
most probably, 
exhilarated,
because
 
Love has the memory
of the crackle
in the moment
when the pupa snapped open.
Its surprise,
the shock
of being out of its
body,
because that was what 
it
had always wished for.
Though 
 
love is really only in it
for the eggs.
Or so Woody Allen said 
long ago
in voiceover at the end
of Annie Hall.
 
Love is the egg of its eye.
Also, the drag and the crawl,
the cocoon and the shelter,
wings 
and fleet connection.
Love lays the egg
of its own 
transmutation
 
and it will do so over and over,
again and again –
crawl, cling, fly, light,
die,
because 

we are all really
Sumatran butterflies
fluttering
raucous chaos
across the air waves
rippling across the planet,
gently leading us
in a mad tango.

 
Copyright © Bee Smith, 2020. All rights reserved.

A Bolt of Blue…

Not FROM the blue in this case. Day 4 of NaPoWriMo has asked us to take an image from a dream and weave it into today’s poem. We are asked to dive right down to the seabed of our subconscious and bring up an image from that seabed what might be a pearl, or maybe just only an oyster.I am not usually an adept dream catcher, but it so happens that I did have one dream in recent memory that had an arresting image. What was edifying with this exercise is that I teased out a deeper interpretation of the whole dream simply by excavating around this image.

A bolt of cloth
 
It found me, that bolt of blue,
very indigo, very Pantone 2020,
a very on trend hue, apparently.
But spangled with sequins!
More Shirley Bassey than our Bee…
 
From it will be the robe
of what I have become to be.
Even with all the glitter and sparkle
it says that I am trustworthy.
I am a woman for all seasons.
 
The raw material is in my hands.
There is sparkle in this bolt of blue.
I can make and shape and marshal
the forces that I can command.
It is now my second skin.
 
This bolt of cloth is my new mantle.
It confers a blessing and a sweetness.
With this cloth dyed in goddess Mary's hue
I accept that I can be, that I am,
now -  finally - my own high priestess.
 
Copyright © Bee Smith, 2020. All rights reserved.

To help you to visualise the blue I describe you can see the Pantone Colour of the Year 2020 below. The background to the colour of the year for 2020 can be found on this link. https://www.pantone.com/color-intelligence/color-of-the-year/color-of-the-year-2020.

Classic blue

How did they know that they should be illustrating the safe social distance of 2 metres in their promo pic? Huh!

Featured image is a Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

Notes from #StayingHome

The reason why I participate in NaPoWriMo/GloPoWriMo every year is that the prompts really challenge me out of my poetry comfort zone. It’s important to become assured in your voice, but sometimes you really just have to get the bit between your teeth, bite and…push! Today’s prompt was like that for me. It started out with an exercise that was simple enough. Find ten words and write down ten random rhymes for them using a rhyming website’s generator. I used a combination of random dips into headlines from the Guardian Review 21st March issue and some objects that were close by. Not all got into the poem. And there were several false starts before I laboured out what emerged.

This was the brief today from NaPoWriMo.net.:

Today’s prompt (optional, as always) asks you to make use of our resource for the day. First, make a list of ten words. You can generate this list however you’d like – pull a book  off the shelf and find ten words you like, name ten things you can see from where you’re sitting, etc. Now, for each word, use Rhymezone to identify two to four similar-sounding or rhyming words. For example, if my word is “salt,” my similar words might be “belt,” “silt,” “sailed,” and “sell-out.”

Once you’ve assembled your complete list, work on writing a poem using your new “word bank.” You don’t have to use every word, of course, but try to play as much with sound as possible, repeating  sounds and echoing back to others using your rhyming and similar words.

http://www.napowrimo.net/

Notes from #Staying Home
 
The electricity went out last night,
plunging us in candlelit mystery.
It came back again, cause for pondering
on how we define some felicity.
Our screens flicker pictures of misery
from New York City, Rome. We’re wondering
when it will come closer to home, history
landing on the doorstep. Our fear. No flight.
 
When will we again be able to wander?
Contemplate a life in the wild yonder?
How much longer can the end be in sight?
Will discarding erroneous beliefs
about Monsters make us any stronger?
Will we be overthrown by trickery?
When the Barrier Reef died, who felt grief?
What meaning arises from Emergency?
 
Meanwhile, we swap anecdotes on the phone.
Gratitude is a landline’s live ring tone,
where we each reach out from our comfort zones.
 
Copyright © Bee Smith, 2020. All rights reserved.

Yes, we have lost service of our landline for a couple days two weeks ago. We do live in an area where the mobile (cell) signal is at the whim of the fairies. Yes, the power went for a few hours last night. Which also means we lose internet. But I am so grateful for the engineers and technicians who are negotiating the scary outside world so those of us staying home can have creature comforts. We also have a young neighbour who is doing our grocery ‘gap’ filling runs for us. I am a really not a gifted sewer. I don’t have a sewing machine. But I hand sewed a slightly wonky face mask for him yesterday from scraps of craft fabric I have around the house. Better safer, than fashionista.

Today’s featured image is a Photo by Bill Oxford on Unsplash.

2500 Steps: My Daily Walk

The prompt from NaPoWriMo2020 this morning is “asks you to write a poem about a specific place — a particular house or store or school or office. Try to incorporate concrete details, like street names, distances (“three and a half blocks from the post office”), the types of trees or flowers, the color of the shirts on the people you remember there. Little details like this can really help the reader imagine not only the place, but its mood – and can take your poem to weird and wild places.” I know that those who do not live in remote places cannot get out for much walking at the moment, so I thought I would share my daily walk with you. Or at least have a bash at it.

My walk takes me up our lane to the townland of Tubber, which is the Anglicisation of the Irish tóbar, meaning well. The holy well remains, even though the village was destroyed in a flood and avalanche in 1863.

2,500 Steps: A Breath
 
Two thousand five hundred steps
there, and back home again,
a daily pilgrimage, up and down
 
a hedge fringed lane,
moss, lichen limbed ash trees.
Alder that's up to its knees
soaks up the run off
from the lane side shuck.
 
Step, step, step – breathe.
 
A baby oak is growing up
through eon’s old rock.
There is primrose and buttercup.
Soon horsetail will spring its
bog brush bristles up.
 
Step, step, step – breathe.
 
There is bird song,
far off rumble of tractor engine,
anxious mehs from mothers of frisky twin lambs,
the lowing basso profundo
from brown cows in the old Pound.
 
Step, step, step – breathe.
 
The lane smells of new life
and silage liberated from black plastic bales.
There is the whispered suggestion
of precipitation, a mist on the cheek
that never soaks the skin.
 
Step, step, step – breathe.
 
The fields unfold their green and reach upland,
undulating towards the sky.
The Playbank ranges to the right, lorded by cloud…
sometimes the grey edged half-mourning kind
doing their best not to cry.
 
Step, step, step –breathe.
 
Pass the lost village’s old Pound.
Pass the modern barn where cows
soulfully munch their silage lunch,
patiently waiting to be put out to pasture.
Pass the remnant of what once was a house.
 
Step, step, step – breathe.
 
First, pause to let the fox cross the lane,
coming from its devotions at the holy well’s shrine.
What litany of  heart-felt murmurings
has weighed down the gnarled hawthorn’s limbs
with ribbons, scapulars, rosary beads, and mittens?
 
Breathe.
 
Listen to the burn’s rush and bustle.
The holy well’s sacred water rises and falls
in drought and flood. The alabaster plaster Mary
presides, stands open-armed for petitions
from those who have no other recourse than She.
 
Breathe.

Copyright ©Bee Smith 2020. All rights reserved.
Tubber Holy Well Clooties – rosary beads, ribons, and bits of cloth
Tubber Holy Well May 2017

It’s April. It’s GloPoWriMo

You might call it NaPoWriMo. It started that way. But given that the globe is experiencing such a collective shared experience, I prefer the GloPoWriMo label. This April is prime for getting the globe to write a poem a day. While many things are uncertain and stressful, I am sticking to the same site I have used for daily inspiration for the past three years. I began NaPoWriMo in 2017. In September of 2018 I thought I would push the boundaries and see how long I could go with writing a poem a day. I completely that 365 day journey in September 2019. With the urgency of staying in situ, on weekdays I have been posting photos from my garden with a haiku on Instagram (look for Word Alchemy to follow me.)

So this is Day 1’s prompt:

Forrest Gump famously said that “life is like a box of chocolates.” And there are any number of poems out there that compare or equate the speaker’s life with a specific object. (For example, this poem of Emily Dickinson’s). Today, however, I’d like to challenge you to write a self-portrait poem in which you make a specific action a metaphor for your life – one that typically isn’t done all that often, or only in specific circumstances. For example, bowling, or shopping for socks, or shoveling snow, or teaching a child to tie its shoes.

http://www.napowrimo.net/
Lift Off

I am the granddaughter
of a New York City elevator operator,
which is one step above
bellhop.  He went from labourer to
janitor and on up.
But for his foreshortened life span,
all forty-five years, well...
who knows. The skyscraper 
was his own limit, though
his sons did better than expected.
They had the GI Bill,
were educated beyond 
Depression expectations.

I press the buttons myself for lift off,
and let myself down.
I must rely upon myself,
though sometimes a fellow passenger
will ask which floor I want
and do the honours.
Or I am the one doing that particular
chore, pressing for five, eleven, nine
or going to ground floor.

I am not smartly uniformed
like my Grandpa. Mostly
no one knows my business
or if I am going up, or
if I am going down. 


Copyright ©Bee Smith, 2020. All rights reserved.

Today’s featured image is courtesy Diego Fernandez on Unsplash