Pigs Can’t Fly?

That is one of the prompts for Day 22 of NaPoWriMo/GloPoWriMo. Yesterday’s balladeering has me careering off to the rhyming dictionary. I think I have swallowed it. But seriously, today’s prompt made me immediately think of the Dowra folklore about the relic of the Black Pig’s Dyke in the village. I even showed the alleged site (yet to be archaelogically sanctified or verified) to travel writer Paul Clements last summer. I was actually having a cuppa with my neighbour Winnie and her son yesterday and we were talking about it. Today’s poem is based on a tale I heard on Richard Morris tell onYou Tube. Pigs can’t fly? But I do promise that Pigs will fly!

The prompt will explain this.

And now for our daily prompt (optional as always). I’ve found this one rather useful in trying to ‘surprise’ myself into writing something I wouldn’t have come up with otherwise. Today, I’d like you to take one of the following statements of something impossible, and then write a poem in which the impossible thing happens:

The sun can’t rise in the west.

A circle can’t have corners.

Pigs can’t fly.

The clock can’t strike thirteen.

The stars cannot rearrange themselves in the sky.

A mouse can’t eat an elephant.

On the Black Pig’s Back

 

I live in a landscape

of willow wand and hazel stick

when men and women could nimbly re-shape

a little girl to minute tick

or little boy into a Barbary Ape.

 

There once was a magician

who ran his own hedge school.

He had his pupils hard driven,

but at recess they could go out and play the fool.

However, this became cause of some local friction.

He changed his pupils into hares and hounds

so they could lose the run of themselves,

racing around the recess playground.

Their parents, those who paused to delve,

took exception, thought it way out of bounds.

Might he take to turning the children over to elves?

It was a wise woman to whom they turned

to figure out what would fix his trick.

So the children told Master that they all yearned

for him to given them some new antic.

Perhaps he could perform his own skinturn?

Well, of course, no magician could manage to resist

any opportunity for this sort of show and tell.

So, he said, mock-modest, If you insist.

What shall it be? What animal spell?

A PIG! they roared. So he made himself all contortionist

and became a great tusked black boar.

Delighted they all were that recess time

as he snuffled for truffles, acting all cocksure.

But he could not lift the bell and make it chime,.

With hooves instead of fingers he snorted and swore.

He could not lift his magic wand. He let out an enormous  roar!

Enraged, he rampaged up and down and all around,

children fleeing in every direction.

He tore up hedges, scarring great ditches into the ground.

Cussing and swearing and promising he’d fix ’em,

he pounded so fast they swear he left the ground.

True! They all will have Given their oath that day

that they’d seen that black pig fly,

so intent was he in hunting down his prey.

So hot was his rage, so impotent his cries

he dug the Black Pig’s Dyke right into folkloric way.

 

Eventually, the dyke was seen to be

useful for warding the cattle

from northern raiders and unscrupulous mart traders  to make free.

The shuck had them stuck for that boar had been artful

to furrow with both tusks in his fierce frenzy.

 

Now, magicians can, you see, skinturn

and be all interspecies.

They can also manage to craftily spurn

the logic of physics. Now this I will guarentee.

That old black boar quickly learned

how to get off the Black Pig’s Dyke.

He didn’t run with the hare or even the hound,

and would absolutely never mess with parents of tykes.

And one fine day he began to rise up off the ground

balloon like, with the wise woman flying him like a kite.

 

Copyright © 2018 Bee Smith

Featured image from en.wickipedia.org

Pirosmani._Boar

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The World Outside My Window

NaPoWriMo2018 Day 19

NaPoWriMo Day 19 and today’s prompt is on a topic that I have addressed many other times, although not addressing it in the crafty way they suggest. ‘Erasure’ basically starts with prose and erases words back to some kind of poetry.  Although I am not sure that my own offering has achieved the intended repetitive effect.

I have been avidly watching what goes on outside my window now for nearly sixteen years. Only last week I was setting the table for supper when I spotted a stray sheep munching on the primrose flowers in the pots set outside the front door.  I ran out in my pinny doing my best imitation of one of those Dowra mart fellows to chase them down the lane. Except I didn’t have a stick. Only my hands.

To quote today’s prompt:

Our (optional) prompt for the day takes it cue from Brady’s suggestion that erasure/word banks can allow for compelling repetitive effects. Today we challenge you to write a paragraph that briefly recounts a story, describes the scene outside your window, or even gives directions from your house to the grocery store. Now try erasing words from this paragraph to create a poem or, alternatively, use the words of your paragraph to build a new poem.

Early Morning

 

The world outside my window

silent

except for birdsong

 

Overcast

but no mist to obscure

the wind turbines on Corry Mountain

 

I can see three counties

a streak of sunshine

lights up the willow and ash

 

Turning everything

Crayola crayon

spring green

 

Except the sky

a watered down ink

There shall probably be rain

 

But back to the now

the streak of sunlight

jewelling

 

tits and robins flit

a solitary blackbird

perches on the apple tree

 

that slants at

a forty-fve degree

from the wind blowing in through the gap

 

Copyright © 2018 Bee Smith

Words for Wednesday

Every once in a while someone blogs or points me in the direction of a new poet. This is a translation from the Irish into English and is so dense it will offer new nuances with each new reading. The poet is long dead, but though he lived in the 19th century, this poem offers a rich reading from our place in the 21st century.

hecatedemeter

Tivetshall_St._Mary_church_ruin_2_-_geograph.org.uk_-_741711

The Ruins of Timoleague Abbey

TRANSLATED BY TONY HOAGLAND AND MARTIN SHAW
I am gut sad.
I am flirting
with the green waves,
wandering the sand,
feeding reflection
into the seaweed foam.
That Shaker’s moon
is up.
Crested by corn-colored stars
and traced by those witchy scribblers
who read the bone-smoke.
No wind at all —
no flutter
for foxglove or elm.
There is a church door.
In the time
when the people
of  my hut lived,
there was eating and thinking
dished out to the poor
and the soul-sick in this place.
I am in my remembering.
By the frame of  the door
is a crooked black bench.
It is oily with history
of the rumps of sages,
and the foot-sore
who lingered in the storm.
I am bent with weeping.
This blue dream
chucks the salt
from me.
I remember
the walls god-bright
with the…

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Surprising

what might turn up on the page after flexing our fingers and moving the pens across the page in workshops.

For various reasons (probably mostly the naysayer in my head) I’ve not tried my hand at fiction very often. But Mark Iliss’ workshop yesterday prompted an afternoon producing over 1,000 words of a short story.  When we met for our tutorial he mostly asked, “what happens next?”  Off I went back to the laptop to figure out the destiny of the family of characters that had turned up in my head.

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The biggest problem was moral.  I felt bad about wanting to kill one of them. And worse if any of the others murdered him.

All of this was revelation, the words spooling out from what was quite a sketchy character exercise in the morning, the characters taking life in my head (was this how Zeus felt when he birthed Athena?), the morality of plot decisions (this may be why not many Quakers are counted amongst top fiction writers.) One of the biggest mind blows this week was that I need to  completely reassess how I see myself as a writer.

The poetry workshop with Carola Luther was stimulating without exciting any  of the short fiction moral dilemmas.  My walks around Lumb Bank have me pondering geology, rock and water.  The well stocked library can’t answer these queries.  One thing I will be checking on Google when we get to Manchester wifi land.

One exercise took me rather nostalgically back to my own lane.

Arvon Lumb Bank

Hag’s Chair

You think of me

Not at all

Just another

Piece of limestone

Furniture.

Glacial erratic.

Both true.

Skidding in on ice –

A one off.

Distinct.

Impervious of weather.

Imperious to some.

My view.

My sun. My moon.

My chair.

You know nothing,

Mortal!

For as long or longer

Than these mountains last

Here I’ll sit.

Bee Smith is travelling in March 2014 with the Leonardo da Vinci Life Long Learning Programme “Developing Creative Practice Across Borders” to Yorkshire and Lancashire organised by the Cavan Arts and the Social Inclusion Unit offices.

Landing

is not quite the same as arriving.  Muscles sore from pulling wheely cases and toting laptops finally come to rest at Heptonstall. I unpack. My office for the next week. My business is writing. That is what the Arvon Foundation provides. Space for writers.

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And it is Perfect. Private. Ground floor. Sensitively providing a wetroom for the slightly lame and halt. Arvon’s  Lumb Bank could not be more astute in providing me with made to order writing space.

The train pitches up at Hebden Bridge where we disgorge  and decant our plethora of baggage before exploring the nearest ‘big town’ to Lumb Bank.

Which is a town that seems to be the product of Posy Simmond’s magical thinking. Not only has it a Little Theatre, a Picture House, a Quaker Meeting,enough organic bakeries and cafes to fodder an army of hippies, you can also buy yourself some bamboo or hemp socks and get a recycled cycle. It has buses and trains  with posted schedules. Which appear to run on time! It is like a sustainable living model village with Fairtrade written in its stick DSCN1170of candy rock.  It feels almost Scandinavian.

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It has the Calder River and  the Rochdale Canal. The soot has been blasted off the mellow sandstone facades mostly.  There is some soot about though to authenticate its mill town past.

Not only is it certified hippie haven it’s also dedicated to dog comfort.  We need caffeine, wifi and lunch.  We find a cafe with wifi that also makes muffins for dogs that are gluten, salt and sugar free.  There are dog beds scattered around the cafe as well as water bowls and little tether points where you can hook your leash. Various dogs come in with their owners for lunch and both chow down.  I eat a puy lentil and butternut squash salad and have the best brownie east of the continental US. Not for dogs since chocolate is toxic for them. So The Lamppost likes two leggeds, too.

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I have landed in a place designed by English Eccentrics. But it works.  I buy a pair of socks. And some incense.  I can work this look.

I’m definitely not in Ireland anymore.

Bee Smith is travelling in March 2014 with the Leonardo da Vinci Life Long Learning Programme “Developing Creative Practice Across Borders” to Yorkshire and Lancashire organised by the Cavan Arts Office.