Wanderer’s Return

I am home. Having slept long in my own bed, I am feeling that poetry practice should be a bit frivolous. There is a dream I need to unpick and hold like a talisman. It is not for sharing. At least not yet. Scotland was epic. But I do feel a loyalty to my mountains that are technically not  mountains, not on the same scale as the Cairngorms or Glencoe at least. But they are my  mountains, the ones I see and know that I am close to home. Scotland also has a great sense of humour and the absurd. It is also a land of makers, which was generous enough to fill my own creative well during my sojourn. Today’s poetry practice takes imspiration from a witty customer ‘polite notice’ in P&O’s toilets. My own verse version is more preachy. But any opportunity for climate change PR! 

PLEASE DON’T FLUSH



Your iFone or your maxed out credit card.

There’s a fleet of tech and plastic floating

In the sea already. It can be hard

Not to flush down your sick fears and spite.

Stow ’em! Go lash them to the for’ard spar!

Just consider the first rule of boating:

This recepticle was made just for shite.

The ocean’s not your personal junkyard.


DOWN THIS TOILET

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Prime the Poetry Pump

The road trip ends today as we ferry over to Northern Ireland this lunchtime. The final day before we journey home found me wandering happily in a museum and a creative gallery space in Glasgow. (After beaches, my second most happy place.) I wish I were gifted with the talent to make beautiful things with my hands. I am in awe of visual artists and crafts persons. Wandering around exhibitions primes my poetry pump.  One medium meets another. Today’s poem takes its starting point from work in the Glasgow Museum of Modern Art. The provenance will be revealed at the end of the blog post. The poem acts as a response to the call made by another artist working in another medium who was responding to her reading of an author. That all were women and creative artists was apt. The actual exhibit was placed in a slightly lower gallery on the fringes of larger exhibition entitled Domestic Bliss. That creative artist’s work and living space often overlap, especially for women, made its placement within the wider context especially clever.


Studio Echoes


Study me this list:

Trophy             Treason       Traitor

Friend          Acquaintance         Manipulation

Defunct

Then this:

Prize      Priceless      Imprison

Mate    Pal     Twist

Defeat

Take the salt down from the cupboard.

Cast your circle.

Step into your space.

Learn to forget dirty plates.

They are outside the magic circle,

The frenemy of creativity

Study this:

the twist

of the steak knife

in the cutlery

drawn against

blank canvas

the skin of your memory.

Copyright 2019 Bee Smith

Last Leg of the Scotland Road Trip

We’ve travelled down from the tip of Caithness from Scrabster and overnighted at Helmsdale in Sutherland (a town torally swaddled in the aroma of gorse this tome of year.) then was the long drive day, working our way southwards. There was snow flurries coming through the Cairngorms; thendash told us it was 4C. By the time we lunched in Pitlochrie it was sunny and a balmy 14C. Pitlochrie is a spa town,  a kind of Gaelic Harrogate, all weighty stone buildings, purveyos of old-fashioned sweets in jars- violet creams, Berwick cockles, Irn-Bru balls. Also an especially short, shortbread in very generous rounds. On this trip I have had haggis, Orkney ice cream, shortbread. I am going off to seek the experience of square sausage in Glasgow shortly.

But first poetry practice. We are just outside Glasgow, just past the Trossachs, but close to the base of Loch Lomond, which my travel companion tells me is the gateway to the Highlands. We are staying with her 83 year old widowed father in the house he built with his own hands. An engineer by trade he also has mad mandolins. I woke to his own music practice. He was also an avid hillwalker back in the day.

Hillwalker’s Lament



When old and sight faded,

No longer seeing hazards, crags and skree,

Unable to meet the heady heights anymore,

In morning time a tune emits

From the whistle’s lips-

A lilt, a lament, a memory

When sturdy legs reeled around dance floors

With his bonnie lassie in his arms.

But she has gone before.

The high and low notes

Tenderly render the spread and breadth

Of a life knowing love

Being loved in return 

In a tune on a sunny

Scotland Saturday morning.

Copyright 2019 Bee Smith

Road Trip Skara Brae

The point of this trip, for me at least, was to visit Skara Brae. It had been on my bucket list ever since I saw the pictures my brother-in-law took on their  trip over nearly twenty years ago. (My brother wanted to mve into Skael House, which is an impressive sight to be sure.  But the main attraction is the neolithic village that was revealed after a fierce storm, the sands swirling and parting to give us a glimpse of communal life 5,000 years ago. They reckon the village was inhabited for over half a millenium before it was abandoned. 

Perhaps one reason I find neolithic sites so appealing is tht offer themselves to our imagination. There is no one pat version of their story. History is famously described as the victor’s version of the truth. This is pre-history. They may well have had a phonetic alphabet (there were other places), but they did not leave us any examples of graffitti until the Vikings swanned in on their longboats and left runes recording their bragging rights inside Maes Howe. 


Skara Brae

When we lived

Inside a honeycomb

One cell built on

To another

The whole more important

Than the individual

Component

It hummed that tune

Making sweet honeyed tones

For nearly a millenium

From the we

Instead of the me

For some honey leaves

An indifferent aftertaste

On the palate.

Who does not want to be queen

In their own space

Or in their very soul?

To not have to bend to enter

One’s own homeplace.

Copyright 2019 Bee Smith

 

Road Trip Day 3 Orkney

It was a day to pay respects to the really ancient ancestors yesterday. Orkney is somewhere I could happily spend a week. But we have two days. Poetry practice this morning… I ❤️ rock. Especially the megalithic kind. We don’t know pre-historic motivation. So dream….

Making Megaliths


Stones

Stand you up against that tall one

In  firelight’s shadow

Lift your leg over

Stones

Grab tight, woman!

Squat and push

A world into the old wife’s hands

Stones

Carry the ancestor’s 

whitened bones

Tuck them up tight

Let in the midwinter light

To rebirth us

Copyright 2019 Bee Smith

Highlands and Island Road Trip

No more NaPoWriMo. Have to make my own poetry prompts. So a poem inspired by one site we visited on Day 2 of our Highlands and Island road trip in Scotland. If you are not familiar with the story of the Highland clearances the Badbea Clearance Village is a stark image of why migration, going away from all they knew was the only option for survival. The landlords wanted good grazing for more profitable sheep. Tenants were shunted off to marginal land. Literally marginal land as Barbea clearly illustrates.


Badbea  Clearance Village

Their new place

was made of sandstone and mica chist

Heather and ling, sphagnum moss,

barely a blaeberry.

Gorse, of course.

The sea below offered 

herring scholls, gulls eggs

to be picked from cliff nests.

But it was a sheer drop

150 feet or more.

They were made to build

their own boundary wall.

Paid to pen themselves off.

Scoured by North Sea winds

they tethered their beasts

and children, too.

Everything else

had already been snatched away.

They’d been pushed far enough.

Clear off.

Copyright Bee Smith 2019

Last of NaPoWriMo 2019

…and the beginning of Road Trip Day 2. We have the hostel to ourselves. I crept out to the common area at 5:45, all keen to crack on with the poetry practice. The final day of availing of prompts, I will have to wing it from tomorrow. Today’s prompt is all about compression – haiku, senryu or just plain micropoem. I’ve written several! Which one is your favourite?

Glencoe

Once

Where folk dwelled

Now

Only clouds

Cast shadows

Helmsdale, Scotland 

May Day Eve

Sea salt, seagull squawk

Furze clad hills smelling of tropics

46 degrees

That’s 8C for those of you who realfeel in Celsius!

Roundabout

Circling

Turns to take

Choose

And, the last one is really showing my age. Youngsters will need to Google this, but I believe in advancing education.

The TV Test Pattern

Static pattern

Single  note sound over

No transmission

We are on the ferry to Orkney Island this evening, arriving just before sunset. I have packed plenty of scarves, gloves, and fleeces.