Only Justice

 

My rage is still chained to the USA news cycle. The he said/she said of the Kavanaugh nomination committee hearings were never designed for justice. Only more fact finding and investigation might have taken this beyond the realm of opinion and political tribalism. Then, to add more insult to compound my anger, I learn that the Dean of Social Work at my alma mater, Catholic University of America, that other D.C. Catholic education institution cross-town from the illustrious Georgetown U (you know, like the Prep) tweeted support for Judge Kavanaugh. Gee, and here I thought social workers were the last bastion of sympathy for the sexually abused. Of course, this School of Social Work had staff who thought you could cure homosexuality back in the 1970s.

I hope women are galvanised into activism. I hope that women who have been co-opted by the patriarchy in the hope of preferment (yes, that’s you Senators from Maine and Alaska) see the light. I am beyond patience with men whining about Kavanagh’s life being ruined because of an accusation. It is patently not so if he can be elevated to the Supreme Court. Without a fair, even-handed judicial process, one that does not humiliate victims, someone else’s life is always ruined. I feel my sex has been scorned. I want some Justice that has open eyes.

The opener for today’s poetry practice is a quote from Byron Ballard:

Only Justice Can Release a Hex.

Only Justice

Only justice can release my sex
from unwanted gestures,
unsought blows.
Today I cannot see beauty.
I only feel lowered and bruised.

Only justice can release my sex,
Justice with her wide-open eyes
to see the bruises from those blows.
Today I cannot see beauty.
I only feel swept in sorrow.

Only justice can release my sex,
Unbind us from this hex
of inequality and our own self-hatred.
Today I cannot see beauty.
I only feel the weight of curse.

Only justice can release my sex
from our spirit’s vexations
and the violence of misused power.
Today I cannot see beauty.
I only want to return to its sender
this centuries old hex.

Copyright 2018 Bee Smith

 

Image attributed to mygoddess.com

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Metamorphosis

Tmy creative colleague Morag Donald gives an excellent account of our joint Cavan Youth Arts Lab earlier this year.

Morag Donald Creating Healing

As a self employed woman living near the border between the north and south of Ireland, my work comes in all shapes, sizes and locations. I was lucky enough to work recently on a project with a good friend Bee Smith in County Cavan. It was part of a wider project funded by Peace IV which focuses on border towns most affected historically by the troubles.  Our project along with ten others, in diverse media, were facilitated through the fantastically creative Cavan Youth Arts Lab. Cavan is a mainly rural county of around 3500 people who’s Art’s office is passionate about access to the arts for all.

Under the umbrella of Diversity and Ambition we worked with a group of girls from the Templeport Foróige youth group aged 11-14. We wanted to look at diversity within the group as well as within each individual member, their own diverse range of…

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Summer Sunlight Potpourri

Yes, we need health services where docs will have the time to read the notes before they see patients.

We need hospital beds where people in crisis can be safe.

We need politicians with the will to make it happen. Because all the charity fund raising in the world will,not staunch the flow of suicide until we have services that are easily accessible to those in crisis.

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1200px-Illustration_Anethum_graveolens0

Due to the recent suicides of designer, Kate Spade and chef, Anthony Bourdain, many people have posted well-meant messages on social media.  For example, they urge people who are depressed to call a hotline, or they remind people considering suicide that they have value, or, well, you get it.  And I don’t think that’s a bad idea, but the ever-brilliant Athenae explains why it’s not enough.   explains why it’s not enough.  I hope she won’t mind if I quote her quite extensively here.

When I was thinking of making a hole in the Chicago river back in 2014, or 2004, or 6 weeks ago, I KNEW I WAS LOVED. I KNEW THERE WERE HOTLINES. I KNEW PEOPLE CARED. You know what I thought? “The people who love me are idiots who’ll come to realize how wrong they were.”
Depression LIES TO YOU. About everything, but especially about how smart…

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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

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.

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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.

DSCN1213

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.