NaPoWriMo2019 Day 11 – Rivers

Day 11 dawns early given many mission and tasks to complete. I set the alarm extra early. And what do they ask of us? A personal origin poem? ” …we’d like to challenge you to write a poem of origin. Where are you from? Not just geographically, but emotionally, physically, spiritually? Maybe you are from Vikings and the sea and diet coke and angry gulls in parking lots. Maybe you are from gentle hills and angry mothers and dust disappearing down an unpaved road. And having come from there, where are you now? ” Big theme NaPoWriMo! Poems need compression. How to put a gallon in a pint pot!? It’s been a longish life, too. But a few years back I did a similar exercise and realised that the recurring theme in my peripetic lifetime is …rivers. I even did a collage around it, figuring in all the rivers that have been relevent to my life story. Not all have made it into the poem, See if you can spot the difference.

Rivers origin story
Spot all the Rivers that have somehow been important to my personal origin story

Rivers

I am of rivers.
All flow.
They meet the ocean,
roll on.

First was East River.
I'm Bridge and Tunnel
for four generations.
There's a Delaware
ferryman mother's
side piloting flow
back and forth. I know
rivers, how they meet.

Then Susquehanna.
Marcellus rock formed
my teeth and bone.
I am of rivers.
All flow.
They meet the ocean.
and roll.

Potomac, then Thames,
preoccupations
adult. Capital!
Then slowing down to
Yorkshire's Ouse, Wharfe, Aire,
snake goddess piercing
my heart. There's a hole -
river hewn hag stone.

Yes, I'm of river
all flow
going to meet, reach
ocean
still seeking the source.

At last
the River Shannon
close to its pulsing
Pot, where the river
rises, trickles, flows,
spreads, widens over
Midland plains, rolling
down the lip of land.
Fresh water meeting
sand and salt and there
river meets ocean.

I am flow, rock, roll,
water of love meets soul.
I am of rivers
seeking
all flow
yearning
for the ocean's
rocking
and roll.

Copyright © 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved.

The featured photo is my own of the Shannon Pot, where the longest river in Ireland rises about three miles from where I have lived for the past seventeen years. The photo was taken when the Pot was very full, almost to overflow, not unlike how it might have looked at the mythic start of Ireland’s own origin story.

GloPoWriMo2019
Bee Smith is participating in GloPoWriMo2019
Advertisements

NaPoWriMo2019 Day10

I am playing fast and loose with the NaPoWriMo2019 prompt for today. “Today, I’d like to challenge you to write a poem that starts from a regional phrase, particularly one to describe a weather phenomenon.” I have a cracker of a regional phrase, one from County Armagh, Northern Ireland. Which makes this very GloPoWriMo2019 and gives me a chance to vent about Brexit.

“Shar me hay-ed” is what it sounds like. This translates as “shower my head”. Or could even be used as “go shower your head.” It’s more to do with internal weather than external low and high pressure systems. My late sister-in-law came over to us in England from Armagh back in the late 1990s for her fiftieth birthday to “shar me hay-ed.” With a hard Brexit looming and living in border lands we may all be needing to go shower our heads more frequently. In a little over a week I will be escorting a group of school childrenthrough a sliver of territory that will cross international boundaries twice. This is just to take them for a guided walk in Cavan Burren Park, which is part of a cross-border global geopark. It’s supposed to be a fun day out during a Easter Holiday School doing arts and crafts.

I just realised I may have to pack my passport since I don’t have a photo ID driver’s licence. I have to ride on the bus to fulfill the mandatory number of adults for Child Protection Policy.

The point is that nobody knows what all the implications will be. To have called a referendum without a plan was just plain wicked and so disruptive of millions of lives. Blast Brexit! We all need to go shower our heads over this.

Go Shower Your Head 

"I need to shar me hay-ed,"
she said.
Not the power shower sort
of head.
A break from all the stress
forcefed
living with an army of occupation and
hotheads
A soft day cannot wash away
bloodshed.

So go shower your head
in a cascade.
Change your weather channel
in glen and glade.
We all need to shower our heads
 to biodegrade our dismay.


Copyright © 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved.




GloPoWriMo2019
Bee Smith is participating in GloPoWriMo2019

NaPoWriMo2019 Day 9

Today’s NaPoWriMo prompt turns for inspiration to a long gone Japanese woman poet, Sei Shonagon, famous for her Pillow Book of astute, acute observations of court life. She was a great one for doing list poems on rather grand themes like Things That Have Lost Their Power. Never say I am not ambitious!

Earthly Powers

The depradations of age...
the body has arrived at the stage
of being the creaking gate,
the wobbling fence post. It's fate.
Words escape. Occasionally,
object or subject vaguely
becomes 'thingy.' Context is the template
that helps us negotiate.
Until they have all gone on
we lean on those sharing this Rubicon.
Oddly, despite 'thingy', things matter
less and less. We live gaunter
in every way- our bones brittle,
hair thinning around the skull.
However, others' opinions
matter naught. They're spent canons.
Sometimes wisdom finally arrives.
Fear's vanquished, deprived
all its power to manipulate.
Women can luxuriate,
stroking their moustaches and goatees.
A man can eat only cheese.
Age denudes us of our vanity.
For some it takes sanity,
makes crappy, cranky, crumbly, crusty.
Age makes the brave. Oldies are toughies.


Copyright © 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved

Featured Photo by Cristian Newman on Unsplash

GloPoWriMo2019
Bee Smith is participating in GloPoWriMo2019

NaPoWriMo2019 Day 8

Today’s NaPoWrMo2019 has challenged us to use some sort of professional or business jargon and then run with the metaphor. I cannot say that this prompt is sparking much joy in me, but then I am feeling the weariness of a marathon runner at mile seventeen. I did dip into the resource pages suggested, but still felt uninspired. Nonetheless, I tell my kids that failure is part of the creative process. Things don’t always work, but the only real failure is not to try. Gotta walk the talk, teacher!

So I dipped into a past experience of working in a call centre. Our cubicles were called Pods. Which was company jargon. So…I’m trying…We also had to do some sort of personality test in the training. I was a dolphin. Apparently our modus operadi is to help people.

Pod Life

Others may school or herd,
but here, intelligent
animal life listens
from a 2x2 cubicle.

The point of these
conversations is to
reach cooperation
with the high risk funking
on the credit card company.

So let this nice dolphin
give you some peace of mind.
Because if you don't
very shortly
we will sell you out to sharks.

Here in Pod Land
we flip and leap and play
each day, smile on the phone
to get you to give more money
in call after call after call.

Copyright © 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved.

Featured Photo by darin ashby on Unsplash

GloPoWriMo2019
Bee Smith is participating in GloPoWriMo2019

NaPoWriMo2019 Day 7- Gift

A week down on NaPoWriMo2019. “Today, we’d like to challenge you to write a poem of gifts and joy. What would you give yourself, if you could have anything? What would you give someone else?

You could spin this theme a hundred ways. I was reading a blog post over on http://www.traciyork.com about a PowerHouseCreatives challenge on Five Things That Make you Smile.. That could have been the way I went with today’s poems (the fuzzy notebook with a llama on it that made me smile in Tescos, so I bought it and sent it to my brother in Brooklyn where he did the literal LOL on receipt.) There may still be a poem in it for another day.

But this is where the morning writing practice decided to go. It’s later than usual. With a busy schedule of workshops I need to have sleeping in days to recoup and re-centre.

Gift

For Us

I see you. You see me.
That time we woke and beauty
was in our eye. There was a rose
in a glass on the mantel.
We were in the initial throes
of our love.

I see you. You see me.
We woke. We saw the beauty.
From which we sipped and still drink.
It is a glass forever full
of our love.

I see you. You see me.
Changed in that blaze of beauty,
it doesn't disappear in a blink.
It stays. That scent which arose
from our love.

I see you. You see me.
Now we look around. Beauty
surrounds. Because when you saw me,
I saw you, we saw the world.
The grain of sand became the pearl
of our love.


Copyright © 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved




GloPoWriMo2019
Bee Smith is participating in GloPoWriMo2019

.

What If…NaPoWriMo2019’s Day 6

So this is where the NaPoWriMo2019 Day 6 prompt collides with some of my teaching. I am currently doing creative writing work with 10-12 year olds in the Cruinniú na nÓG programme sponsored by the Cavan Monaghan Training Board. We are working on story, in the first instance letting their imaginations roam free, then with story based in fact. I’ve started them in group work as a confidence booster and to just observe how they work. True to their age stereotypes, they divided along gender lines for the group work, as I gently nudge them towards skills for individual pieces.

What really has struck me was how the boy’s group immediately began to create a war story. The two girl’s groups could basically be classified as falling into crime/thriller and romance genres, although violence also permeates their stories, too. It’s as if the only narrative in town in destruction. I turned to the teacher at playtime and mused, “How can we change this narrative?” When I talked about this with my husband, saying my little boys were having a war between Cavan and Fermanagh (please no Brexit!), he responded that at that age, inspired by 1950s American telly, he and his friends in Armagh were playing cowboys and Indians. “Of course, we didn’t know then that Colonel Custer was the baddie.”

And, of course, changing the narrative is not exactly in my remit to fit into sixteen hours of classroom time. This is where NaPoWriMo2019’s Day 6 prompt enters my stream of consciousness. ” Today, we’d like to challenge you to write a poem of the possible. What does that mean? Well, take a look at these poems by Raena Shirali and Rachel Mennies. Both poems are squarely focused not on what has happened, or what will happen, but on what might happen if the conditions are right. Today, write a poem that emphasizes the power of “if,” of the woulds and coulds and shoulds of the world.”

So here is a sonnet to possibility.

I was an anxious child with a mother who had many worries. On many a car journey I peppered her with so many “What If…” scenarios I probably fed her own anxieties.

What If

What if little boys did not toy
with the glamour of war,
the thrill of massive destruction?

What if boys did not deploy
into male avatars,
ComicCon  cut-outs of action?

What if they dreamed not of cowboys
as played by movie stars
gunning down Native Americans?

"What if..."  - asked by anxious boys,
ones already so scarred,
our small hostages to fortune.

What if we raised boys into men
where peace made them sovereign?


Copyright © 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved.

Featured Photo by Rosie Kerr on Unsplash

GloPoWriMo 2019
Bee Smith is particpating in Na/GloPoWriMo2019

NaPoWriMo2019 Day 5

Day 5 dawns and I feel refreshed from a day of doing nothing but reading light fiction in bed with the Old Dog snuffling at my feet and the The King Cat resting lightly on my hip. My husband’s domestic prowess is greatly appreciated. His mother raised him right. (More about that later, because my mother-in-law is the inspiration for NaPoWrMo2019 Day Five’s poem.)

So…the prompt reads ” Today we’d like to challenge you to write a poem that incorporates at least one of the following: (1) the villanelle form, (2) lines taken from an outside text, and/or (3) phrases that oppose each other in some way. If you can use two elements, great – and if you can do all three, wow! ”

I wrote a villanelle on Day 1, but I have warmed to that form. I picked up the book I was reading last night at bedtime – Lee Child’s Midnight Line. I left off on page 184, but my eyes drifted to the right, almost dead centre of the page, and lighted on a line of dialogue. This, then became the lead recurring line. As to opposing lines? Well, that’s a stretch. Maybe by the final couplet it feels a bit call and response?

The second recurring line is a direct quotation of my future mother-in-law when I was first brought home to be introduced to my future husband’s parents. While I doubt that Edna ever identified herself as a feminist, she was definintely independent. But she was from a generation of women who did experience a great deal of ‘unlived life’ in the era immediately pos-World War 2.

Advice to a Daughter-in-Law

Where have they gone, do you think?
All those women who seem to disappear?
Don't go down with the bubbles in the sink!
Some, like woolens put in a hot wash, shrink.
What became of the sister of Shakespeare?
Where have they gone, do you think?
Because not all wives are smothered in mink.
They live in a far more restricted sphere.
Don't go down with the bubbles in the sink!
Loosen the chains. We are all dying here!
Where have they gone, do you think?
All those women scrubbing away stink
who have dreams that routinely are jeered.
Don't go down with the bubbles in the sink!
Stare them down. Do not be the first to blink!
Don't let that woman inside disappear.
Where have they gone, do you think?
Don't go down with the bubbles in the sink!

Copyright © 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved.


Edna Sarah holding my future husband

Featured Photo by Scott Umstattd on Unsplash

GloPoWriMo2019
Sojourning Smith participating in GloPoWriMo2019