Pesach/Good Friday in Stroke City

As I was opening the iPad mini this morning to check out Day 19’s prompt from NaPoWriMo2019 a random tweet came up on my screen. And that changed my morning routine. There was news of riot and shooting in London/Derry City last night. There! Now you know what the Stroke City in the title refers. It was coined by the late Gerry Anderson, a radio announcer in Northern Ireland. The full or abbreviated version you choose to use tends to reveal a lot about where you stand sectarian wise. A journalist was shot in the melee and died. Right on the the 21st anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement that stopped this kind of thing making the morning news. It’s not that there have not been the odd incidents over the years, but for there to be one so close to this kind of anniversary is just not the way you want to begin your day. Truth be told, with the Brexit wrangles there has been a low level anxiety that things might kick off again. Also, a lot of denial that things will ever go back to how bad things were before the Good Friday Ageement. It all feels especially poignant since I was working yesterday on an EU Peace IV arts project that had children from both Cavan and Fermanagh in the group.Peace building is a long haul process.

So I have scrapped NaPoWriMo for today and have reverted to Poetry Daily type. Thoughts this Good Friday for the family of Lyra McKee, 29, who died in the course of doing her journalism job.

Pesach/Good Friday in Stroke City

Last night, a full moon so bright
it might as well have been daylight.

All the uncertainty has peaked.
Still, it is accord most of us seek.

The danger has not passed.
Blood on the street. But no tear gas.

It is a season of bitter herbs,
salt tears, the temple disturbed.

Once, a generation ago,
on a Good Friday the flow

of hope and history rhymed.
Today, I awake to a report of a crime

too like the past of tension and tears,
when people lived on their nerves and fears.

This was then Planet Normal.
A twenty-one year lull...

Wash her blood from the street.
Pray the Peace never becomes obsolete.

Copyright © 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved.
Imagine an island living in peace sculpture Lough MacNean Park, Blacklion, Co. Cavan

Today’s featured photo is my own of a sculpture that looks over Lough MacNean and the border between Fermanagh and Cavan, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. Imagine peace…may it be so and make it so.

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Day 18 NaPoWriMo2019 – Elegy

Often what connects people is loss. Poetry is all about making connections. They even have that slogan on the NaPoWriMo.net website banner. Losses…we have all had some, whether it is a loved one – pet or person – or a job, a home, a family. In the way that the universe operates in synchronicity a bedtime conversation last night feels appropriate for the morning’s poetry practice.

Your Daughter

Last night at bedtime
your daughter and I discussed you.
And really?
You raised your kids fine.
But they miss you.

Part of it
is emptying the family homeplace.
First, your clothes to all
your favourite charity shops.
Then the NHS patient appliances
back to the hospital. Again. But..
It's all good recycling. Still...
your daughter
flees the house absent
of your smell.
Empty now has a scent. Also,
the having to fold
your reading glasses
found on your bedside cabinet
beside the Jodi Picoult book
you will never now know
how it all ended.

Her friends are kind.
But they are young and think
the object of grief
is to forget its ache.
All she wants to do
is remember you.
So we talk
of what went right
and some of your unlived life.

Just before she leaves
before the lights go out
and kisses my cheek
saying "Night Night"
I tell your daughter how
all daughters
eventually
become their mothers.
Even if only in our small foibles.
Like the reminder notes
I post beside my purse
and on the kitchen counter
for tomorrow
just like
my own mother.
And your daughter
goes to her bed
with a smile.

Copyright © 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved.

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Day17 NaPoWriMo2019 – Notebook

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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.

Notebook

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.

Copyright © 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved.
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Day16 NaPoWriMo2019-In Translation

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.

In Translation

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.

Copyright © 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved.


Featured Photo by João Silas on Unsplash

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Breaking My NaPoWriMo Rules

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.

Copyright © 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved

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!

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Today’s featured Photo by Heather Zabriskie on Unsplash

Day14 NaPoWriMo2019

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!

Cereal Crime

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.)

Copyright © 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved.

Featured Photo by Alice Pasqual on Unsplash

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Day 13 NaPoWriMo2019-Hedgewitch

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.

Hedgewitch

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.


Copyright © 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved.
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