I am less rebellious today. But I also realised that I picked up the daily prompt yesterday from another year.(I thought it felt a bit familiar! I know there is recycling, but really…!) Anyway. Day 17 of NaPoWriMo2019 has dawned and the #APoemADay prompt is “Today, I’d like you to challenge you to write a poem that similarly presents a scene from an unusual point of view. “ Hmnnn…my notebook is nearly full. So I thought I might allow the notebook to have a voice from its perspective.
There are only two pages left fully blank. I am nearly full of your ink your squinky handwriting that smoothed across me day after day since just before New Year.
You began me on the first day of official mourning the restlessness after relief of suffering, in the exhaustion after bedside hovering.
Nearly four months you have massaged your mind across each page every morning. In two days time, at most three, you will fill the last blank space in me. I will be full of your preoccupations. Or not. What deflections and elisions have not been confessed? After all it is not just a case of commission.
If a daily practice is for the good of your soul leave some imprint. What is the shape of your spirit? Ink blot and flow, crossings out, re-routes of line breaks, countings out of each syllable in pitch black Quink to match my cover and the ribbon marker and the elastic arm band that surrounds.
I broke my rule yesterday. I looked at the prompt today and felt similarly rebellious. The challenge is to take a poem in a language you don’t know and see what you can make of the words to do a translation that is not a translation. I did have a bash at it, but felt very flat and uninspired. The resource they offer includes translations into English, so there is a temptation to peek. That feels like a cheat. Nor can I get my head around rhyming nonsense verse this morning. Which might be one way of tackling the challenge. So I took my poetry practice today on my own merry way again this morning. Maybe there is something rebellious in the air. I am feeling all wayward this week. I did, however, stick to the theme.
Sitting in the classroom with my two-way dictionary, I still can smell stale fumes- chalk dust, adolescent bodies - hear the sing-song droning of foreign vocabulary, verbs that are transitive, or intransitory.
No one knows anyone speaking this way everyday. It's like ancient Greek, or snatched ancestral language. Who can match sounds of lost voices long in graves to words on this page?
The sounds of lost voices with words in translation. How much is lost? How much is gained?
We seek new connections in words on a page gone two ways. Of walking in the world that can be both. Of course, in translation we hear a new conversation.
Body spray overlaying sweat of curious adolescent. Do ancestors clap, stamp, dance at this new version? Some will. Some won't. You can be both.
Some days a combination physical tiredness and the demands of the daily diary meet poetry and something has got to give. My personal NaPoWriMo rule for 2018 and 2019 is to write a poem according to the prompt.Today’s prompt is a dramatic monologue. I’ve written a few. It’s not a new challenge. Also, they take a bit of time to write. What I don’t have this morning is a lot of time. This is when Poetry/Life/Work balance goes all crunchy.
So I have written a poem. Not a dramatic monologue. Because I do want to keep a the daily poetry practice I started last 15th September. To prove that I actually CAN write a dramatic monologue I will append one after the new one. Just to show off…probably. It’s in video format.
Breaking My NaPoWriMo Rules
When time in the finite realm of this continuum in space one occupies... and poetry infinite in universal place... Finite meets infinite. The rules of physics bend. Sometimes they even break. The boundaries have blurred. It is now all multiverse which is a new frontier. I am alone in here.
That was always the point. The voice in the head sings pentatonically, or not, as may be. The hand moves across the blank page, cuniform graphs messages sent from a new found land in some new language just found across the line.
The dramatic monologue poem I am including in the blog today is something of my party piece. It is popular with John Wilmott, the Woodland Bard, oat many gatherings over the years. I have read it better than at this event when it had it’s maiden voyage in 2011. Danu is a goddess and Bile was her husband. Bile, in Irish, translates as tree. Enjoy!
I am a bit rushed. I have promised to bake a cake. And what do they do? They publish a serious head wrecker of a prompt! Homophones, homographs and homonyms! If you don’t remember what they are, go look up! Now I need some breakfast. And I have to tell you, this household is seriously organic!
I am serious as a plague of locusts. The gunk they spray over cereal crops is EU outlawed as serial crime. Do not round up your breakfast porridge plate with that big side dish of glycophosphate. Do not think that jail is beyond fate (although Brexit gaols may leave you exempt.) Corporate cereal criminals bent on their spree of serial crime concur that public health can go in the mincer. Profits before people . Seriously! Go have a nice Sunday brunch or breakfast! (Pray cereal criminals get busted.)
I could relish NaPoWriMo’s Day 13 poetry prompt. It’s all things witchy and magical.” Today, we’d like to challenge you to write a poem about something mysterious and spooky! Your poem could be about something that is mysterious and spooky in a bad way (like a witch), or mysterious and spooky in a good way (possibly also like a witch? It depends on the witch, I guess!) Or just the everyday, mysterious, spooky quality of being alive. ” Now I don’t really do spooky, but I do do WooWoo. I do live in the liminal space where magic can and does happen now and then.
My eye also fell upon a random note. My nickname and nom de plume (Bee) is derived from the Old English for been, or bean, meaning “a prayer, a favour.” It then became associated with working parties like sewing or quilting bees. And, by way of synchronicity the other day I arrived in the classroom just as the kids were closing their Irish books. I flaunted my minute Irish vocabulary, mentioning that I was nearly late because my husband was doing meitheal with his mate. Meitheal is the Irish for a working party, neighbours helping each other get work done (“many hands makes light work”), especially at harvest or hay making time. Even the teacher hadn’t heard this one. And I did spell it right! (I checked when I got home. Preen moment.)
As to the featured photo of the white calf…well, it is standing before a fairy fort. And any pure white animal with a single red part is in with the fairies.
This is what the black bird said: You can slip between worlds through this gap in the hedge. Each tree's knot, knarl and burl makes you wise to ways nigh forgotten, all but for those of us who fly or crawl. But The Good People like to make allies with some of the Other Crowd who've no knack for stomp and stalk. They like silence, but can sing loud. Because you need to know how to dream a world into being.
It's like this,the blackbird continued, saying: Magic is made of many parts- prayer, song, a pure intention backed by your flora and fauna friends, done by the movements of the moon. It's the knowing when to sow, the time to reap, the way to keen. Magic is in neighbourly exchange of hedgerow jelly in autumn time and the collecting of sloes to flavour Yule wine. It's shooing lost sheep back to their fold and helping mend fencing strong enough to hold any gleeful lamb who leaps too high too soon like the calf that jumped over the moon.
And then there is this: A hedgewitch keeps herself well only so long until someone else can spell her and assume her magical work between the blackthorn and the hazel trees, to ken the mending of what has been rent between the folks that stamp and stalk and have lost all good sense, those who simply cannot see what lives in the woods, what lives in the trees. Or The Good People, living beyond yon hedge, in the gap where there is a magical screen. They who work all the magic yet are never not seen.
Despite the sunshine I am feeling lacklustre about the poetry practice this morning. I have rules for myself. I really, really need to do it in the morning because my energy is likely to run out of puff by the evening. Evening is either a full flop or dedicated to interactions with friends, often telephonically or video linked. Mornings are for the poetry making, no matter how incomplete. And writing fast, playing the scales up and down, I realise I do need to find time to go back and see if the poem is an actual whole. Am I writing fragments? Are they poems at all? Writers can funk. even when the sun is shining and the blackthorn blossom is adorning all the hedgerows around.
One of rules for NaPoWriMo is to actually do what the prompt says. I know the website says it is optional. It’s a self-imposed rule. “Today, we’d like to challenge you to write a poem about a dull thing that you own, and why (and how) you love it. Alternatively, what would it mean to you to give away or destroy a significant object?” I am not a materialistic person, but having dragged various objects with me through three country moves it is fairly easy to designate objects of significance. Mine is a conch shell. Provenance: Long Beach Island, NJ. Found by: sister Given to: sister.
You can put it into the box with me. Place it so my ear rests against the conch. They say hearing is the last sense to go. Let me go out with music from the sea as the casket solemnly slides to launch toward the cremie's flames red hot glow. Let us face together eternity ashes to ashes love's ocean and me.
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.
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.
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.