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.
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.
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.
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.
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.