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 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.


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

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

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