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

Sojourning Smith participating in GloPoWriMo2019

NaPoWriMo2019 Day 4

I slept in this morning. Two workshops down. One more to go. Then repeat next week. Just another sprint and then it eases off a little. Except when I finally got around to looking at today’s prompt they want a poem on sad. They also suggest a sonnet. If you had asked me ten years ago to try writing a sonnet I would have have said ‘ no way!’ But since 15th September 2018 I have dipped my toes into sonnet seas a few times. But this is probably going to be my last jab at any official acts today. I need a day of rest. And some time with my head buried in a cozy mystery. And maybe happy weep over a few episodes of “Queer Eye.”

But what to title it?

Sonnet Spring 2019

It's the brittle smile, belladonna
bright eyes,that's the tell of denial.
Lids shut over eyes like tombstone magma.
What the eye doesn't see, truth cannot defile.
It's the breakdowns over crazy things.
The backed up sink. The cracked tea cup handle
unmooring you from the ballast one clings.
Lose a home, but weep  over lost baubles.
Which is easier than walking with ghosts,
feeling their hand grasp yours at the cross walk's
empty air. Most days it's just better to coast.
You are still shaken by the after shocks.
But try to gauge if your appropriate sad
has become a depression's Stalingrad.

Copyright © 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved.
Sojourning Smith is participatingin GloPoWriMo2019.

Featured Photo by Kat J on Unsplash

NaPoWriMo2019 Day 3

So I start my days by flicking over to the to get the daily poetry prompt. “Today’s prompt is based in a poem by Larry Levis called “The Two Trees.” It is a poem that seems to meander, full of little digressions, odd bits of information, but fundamentally, it is a poem that takes time. It takes its time getting where it’s going, and the action of the poem itself takes place over months. Today, I’d like to challenge you to similarly write something that involves a story or action that unfolds over an appreciable length of time. Perhaps, as you do, you can focus on imagery, or sound, or emotional content (or all three!)”

It’s a tall order for before 7am. I needed cereal first. Am off to teach nine 10-11 year olds soon, trying to facilitate their unfolding a story. But I decided to be game. As I have told the little kids, being creative means being willing to fail.


They were planning the move
while I was still in the womb.
I was born knowing how to pack.
I  can make a life in a room.

I can shed skin like a snake.
I can abandon my shell.
I was born knowing to forsake.
I was bottlefed in an hotel.

This transitory life,
roaming, more than rolling rock.
Collecting some accoutrements,
then dispersing my  householder's stock.

I have left behind plenty
changes of address notes.
I have left behind some dreams' scope.
I've crawled into a few lifeboats.

Moving felt most like home.
Being the stranger is my
inalienable right zone
of every place, or none, then one.

The nomad took a settler
to husband for all of life,
an acre and  a full quarter
to have and hold and to be wife.

It's a briary place
with roots that know to tunnel
and trap the escaping ankles
preparing to go off on travels.

The rock can rest, roll no  more.
It can remain still at last.
What is it to know a homeplace?
That all the packing is now past.

Copyright © 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved.
Sojourning Smith is participating in GloPoWriMo2019

NaPoWriMo2019 Day 2

As usual I have a dual identity going on even with NaPoWriMo and GloPoWriMo. I can claim NaPoWriMo since it is from my country of origin. But I haven’t lived there since 1982 so the GloPoWriMo tag feels more accurate. But I have settled on being both.

The prompt for today is to end a poem in a question. And I just seemed to end my poetry practice for today in a volley of questions. After yesterday’s villanelle I am back to syllabbics.

An Uncertain Climate

Then the cold returns...
fat snowflakes softly settled
on the old dog's back,
blackthorn blossom briefly
obscured on the hedge.

Will the seeds we've sown shrivel?
Will the summer turn winter
like in Black '47?
How long can denial
remain inconsequential?

Copyright © 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved.

Featured Photo by Joshua Rawson-Harris on Unsplash

Sojourning Smith Participating in GloPoWriMo2019

A Poem A Day April

Happy NaPoWritMo/GloPoWriMo 2019! I may have been writing a Poetry Daily since 15th September 2018, but I am really happy to open a website and have a prompt AND some poetry resources that are new to me to get me inspired and fired up again with the daly poetry practice. It’s not too late for you to join in. The website I follow is there are other sites out there offering daily poetry prompts, too. Just Google your way around NaPoWriMo and you will find one that suits.

Today’s prompt is all about instructions. Five years ago Clare Shaw gave a workshop I was participating in the prompt on instructions for saying goodbye. Instructions are like list poems. They are great gateway poems. mentioned IKEA. Which did get me thinking about past flat pack furniture assembly. Then I decided I had not written a villanelle in a really long time. So I challenged myself on that score.

How to Know How To 

It's hard to know how to how to
when facts and the truth are so slippery
and the flat pack arrives missing some screws.
So the furniture wobbles like tofu.
Which makes spousal types loudly disagree.
It's hard to know how to how to
when the culture is self-help and can do.
We're supposed to know how to live sanely,
but the flat pack arrives missing some screws.
The final straw to a major boo-hoo
makes you sound like a neighbourhood banshee.. .
It's hard to know how to how to
when the world doesn't want a big to-do.
There are oughts to get you caught so archly.
Why did the flat pack arrive missing screws?
Why did the wood glue not hold true?
Why can't we help feeling completely screwed?
It's hard to know how to how to
when the flat pack arrives missing some screws.

Copyright © 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved.

Featured Photo by Toby Stodart on Unsplash

NaPoWriMo Minus 1

NaPoWriMo, National Poetry Writing Month, aka GloPoWriMo, Global Poetry Writing Month, commences on April Fools Day. But the folk over at have already provided a prompt to flex the poetry writing muscles. While readers on the other side of the Atlantic put their clocks forward two weeks ago,we sprang forward at 2am today. The clock ‘Spring Forward’ thing has always addled me and I feel very late with poetry practice. Given I am up and out early several mornings this week, the NaPoWriMo prompts may not get attention until later in the day.

The prompt on the website today is to write a self-portrait poem. This is my effort. The examples they give are lovely and mythic. But I have lost an hour and may be feeling a tad prosaic. However, it is something of a relief to have someone else suggest the subject or theme for the Poem A Day.

Sabbath Self-Portrait

Yeasty and doughy. No surprise.
The years' toll has given rise...

I am a Sunday loaf of bread
made with flour kept for guests.

I've a plain 'go to Meeting' face.
A glint of flint. Just a trace.

Though too smiley for piety
by some Quaker ancestry.

Generations long gone, sometimes
blood will out and ideals chime.

There's holy anger for justice
meets a pacific genus.

I keep Sabbath and most mornings
in silent allowing,

a prayer, a poem, baking
a loaf of bread offering.

Copyright © 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved.

Trophic Cascade

Day 30 of NaPoWriMo2018/GloPoWriMo and I am crossing the finishing line of the April Poem A Day Marathon. I may have dodgy knees, metal in my ankle and aching hips, but by golly I can poetry-thlete! I did all the suggested prompts this year, which I didn’t do in NaPoWriMo2017. This was my personal challenge. Not being a game kind of gal and one who views rules as guidance only, this was the way I could get out of my comfort zone.

Today’s prompt is supposed to be fact based. Here is the final prompt of NaPoWriMo2018. “And for our final (optional) prompt, I’d like you to take your cue from Borges, and write a poem that engages with a strange and fascinating fact. It could be an odd piece of history, an unusual bit of art trivia, or something just plain weird. While I cannot vouch for the actual accuracy of any of the facts presented at the links above (or any other facts you might use as inspiration!), I can tell you that there are definitely some poetic ideas here, just waiting for someone to use them.”

I didn’t opt for history or art trivia (kind of did that with Folded Cross). It isn’t ‘plain weird’ to use a science-based fact as my inspiration for today’s poem. Except, for people who know me outside of the realm of cyber space, that is plain weird! If you have not heard of this, Wikipedia will enlighten. I first heard about it surrounding Cristina Eisenburg’s wolf studies. (The people you encounter through Sagewoman magazine!)

Trophic Cascade

No one wants to love the wolf.

Nor do they want to be the deer,

the sacrificial victim that

maintains the entire ecosphere.

You need very few alphas,

But an awful lot of bottom feeders.

It’s really a case of trickle up,

the massed power of all those omegas.

So it goes:

Wolf downs deer.

Less deer, more trees.

More trees, less erosion.

Less erosion, more beaver.

More beaver, less flood.

Less flood, more everything happy

for everyone downstream,

the solid ballast  supporting

the pyramid of eco-hierarchy.

I love the wolf’s topaz eye, how alone

thinks of the welfare of the pack.

I love the deer, who could

and would say good-bye

all for the love of those further downstream.

I love the pact that these two make

knowing  what they must know.

Which one is prey?

Which one is on the take?

Yet, we rely upon the who and what they are,

the violence of their loving,

the rough and tough meeting smooth.

One has a topaz eye on fire.

The other a velvet soft, melting soothe.

That is the imperative design in nature.

The fountain overflows,

gives  no oxygen to any lie.

It loves what it loves.

So some may live and eat,

so others must die.

Copyright 2018 Bee Smith