In a chat with someone this week I characterised 2019 as the ‘Stuck or Chuck’ year. Many complain of feeling stuck and not achieving lift off. Meanwhile, others, including ourselves, have had a huge over haul of ‘stuff’. And while it has been hard to get things to completion on some tasks, or a real struggle to, on balance I would say this is the year of ‘chuck’. We have been through so many drawers and cupboards. Yes, there are some boxes remaining. Yes, the kitchen cupboards need their annual overhaul still.
No subject is too mundane to not be potentially transcendental. At least in the early hours of the day, when you really are a night owl. But it was still dark when poetry practice called.
Everyone has got one. That drawer full
of catchall, untamed, uncategorised
bits, bobby pins, bats, half-chewed rubber balls.
I heard a psychiatrist on the radio recount
strategy with a a suicidal patient’s call
during another client’s fifty minutes.
She said just go an tidy a drawer until
She’d ring back in twenty.
He was calmer on the call back.
He had dispensed with death
as a persuasive option
when appraising the matched and folded array
of an ordered sock drawer.
We all have that drawer.
Sometimes we empty the contents
into a box
and slide it under the bed,
or to the back of a closet,
out into the shed, or the far cobwebbed…
Trawling through the archive it is interesting to see how the news cycle may have gone around and around, but that still certain reactions to past news can feel current. We had the new moon this weekend and this was my response to the 2018 Libra New Moon
There was a fashion in creating ‘found poems’ or ‘cut-outs’ from sometime back in the mists of poetry time. Probably the late 60s when those who were there can’t remember. Today I decided to create a chorus of women’s voices, taking direct quotes from articles or newsletters I have read this morning. It is a New Moon today in Libra, ruled by that most feminine of goddesses, Venus. Sky and astrology watchers will have noted that Venus is currently retrograde, seemingly stationary, or moving backwards (rapidly towards the Dark Ages.) Today’s poetry practice, or journalling as I am coming to think of it, is playing with a different kind of cut and paste. Also, I want to celebrate women’s voices. We want to be heard.
I won’t keep my chorus Greek, masked and anonymous. The quotes are not in order, but feature the words of Barbara Kingsolver, Jude Lally,Chani Noble…
We are travelling to Mayo tomorrow for a funeral, which prompted me to seek out this poem from the archive. Irish funerals, especially those in rural districts, are highly ritualised. As the final rite they are very moving.
In Ireland, death is highly ritualised. Wherever a person dies, almost invariably ‘the remains’ are brought home. There is the wake with neighbours, friends, and extended family visiting the deceased, who is usually laid out in the best room, all coming to say goodbye, praying the rosary, drinking tea, eating sandwiches. Then the house may go private to family only before ‘the removal.’ The remains are removed from home to the church the night before the funeral and a service is held to welcome the coffin. There are forms of words and people who may not have visited the funeral house line up to sympathise with the family, shake hands, say “I am sorry for your loss.” Then the funeral, the commital for burial or cremation. Over three days, the bereaved waver on that liminal place of letting go. Each sympathiser dins the reality home. You have lost a loved…
Poetry practice was delayed until evening today. But I have kept up with a poem a day now for a week. Wouldn’t Miss Mildred be impressed if I had been as diligent with my piano etudes as I have been with pounding out words.
The sunset last night was inspiration for today’s offering. Yesterday was very rich in countless ways. Wholly, a gift. The Haiku PoeTree Walk on the Cavan Burren had a relaxed group. A frog hopped out at us at the Calf Hut Dolmen, which felt like I little benediction from the haiku master Basho. (Who was a cat man if his haiku on Love and Barley is to be believed. Given that that this week a certain cat has often hovered close by during poetry practice. I suspect he is auditioning for the position as muse.)
But it isn’t haiku, but a kind of elation that came…
Ireland is a country of many seasons. Many, as the joke goes, all in a single day. But there are two months out of each year that are hard to beat whether the rain falls or it is dry. May is a close runner up, but for me, September is the month you cannot beat. It may partly be that I took up residence in Ireland in 2001 just at the autumn equinox. While Spring is fun, it can also feel a bit frantic. Autumn has a much more ‘Hey, man!’ vibe to it. The sunflowers still nod, but they don’t have to put any more energy into growth. They are tall enough. While it may not be relaxing for people herding children back to school, or workers returning from a late summer vacance, the earth energy is mellow. I saw my first puffball a few days ago. The only growth now is fungi. They are incredibly discreet about it. But what slays me most is the slant of light at this time of year. So that is what the Poetry Daily offers you on Day 361 of the 365 poem a day.
The Way the Light Falls
Like no other time of year... This. When dark clouds joust with javellins of light searing September sky.
Happy tears fall in sunshine before brooding, petrol clouds. See! It's Cathy calling Heathcliff or Tristan to Isolde.
Then the meeting on the bridge. Rainbows grow double Come quick and look! What's your dearest wish?
The theme tune for today’s #30DaysOfSummerWritingChallenge promp is ‘Sentimental Journey.’ We were asked to reconsider places of fondest memory or where we feel our best selves dwelt, or places of pilgrimage. But, nope! Maybe it is because I hitched my wagon to a man who likes to explore new stars. We have never been a couple to go back to the same places, unless we are visiting family. Even then you are tracking the changes since the last time. What’s new? Perhaps the haze of golden memory is the only place for sentimental journey. Today’s Poetry Daily reveals just how hard-hearted (or hard-headed) I can be.
There's more wow in now than in nostalgia. The costumes change since when, not to mention that scenery shifts happen. I cannot revisit a shabby London Town where love struck me again. They've gentrified the old neighbourhood. It's gone all hipster beard, flash rail links. Coffee bars replace Turk's Working Men's Clubs. We have all moved on and out. There's no one left. They've even changed the library's name where we first met and you knew that I'd be your wife (as strange as a thought as that). No, it's better to not look back. So concentrate on this precious moment - the rain's soft pattering on the gladioli. There's more wow in the now than in nostalgia.
I was searching for Thursday quotations for inspiration, being in a bit a flap after sleeping a solid eleven hours. (Guess the rest schedule is still being imposed even if this is summer staycation time.) After yesterday’s flirtation with Mercury, I went researching Thor, he who gives his name to Throwback Thursday! Given the quotation I picked for the Poetry Daily it probably does qualify for the hashtage #ThrowbackThursday. Because I offer you words accompanied with images from winter! Amidst all the quotations referencing a cinematic and comic hero of the name, I came across these provocative words by one of my youthful heroes, the author of Civil Disobedience and On Walden Pond, Henry David Thoreau.
(Literary reference aside: the Isle of Innisfree, that is not twenty miles from where I live, is thought to have been inspired by Thoreau’s Walden Pond. Yeats imagined living there. Thoreau lived it. And it probably was not all that comfortable.)
There are no hammers in the Poetry Daily today. But there is an homage to the Thoreau quotation and his philosophy of non-violent direct action. Which requires the patience of a spring thaw after a New England winter. And some year’s that can take up to six months of patience! At least according to reports from friends who live in Maine.
All these images of ice and references to thaw may seem counterintuitive for a post on the first of August. But then we are in the dog days of August, when staying hydrated is really important!
The dog days of August are nearly upon us, where we will be at the mercy of the barometric pressure and ambient temperature. It’s midweek, Wednesday, day of Woden and Mercury. We have another week of Mercury being retrograde and we can begin to inch forward on projects. The eclipses of July are about to roll out the effects of their causes. The Poetry Daily in closing in on the six weeks to the first anniversary of the poem a day post of what has become The Poetry Daily.
I have two little quotation poems on infographics to sing out the month of the July. The first is from British dramatist David Hare, which includes the title in the quotation. The second first line comes from Irish Nobel literary laureate Samuel Beckett. They have been celebrating him just over the border from us in Enniskillen in their Happy Days Festival.
So this is where my mind was when it came to take up my pen this morning.
This is Us This Being Both
I can hold more than one thought in the same minute. Like checking the weather for the weekend, what to pack, remember to buy toothpaste, sparing a section of my brain for some little brown child in Clint, Texas who doesn't have a toothbrush, much less soap, toothpaste, or bed. It's bedtime and some talking head says, " This isn't us!" Except, friend, it is. We can be both high-minded and complicit in low-down deeds. What has anyone of us done today for that child with lice, snotty nose and a dirty diaper more than days old? No. We are not very nice.
Everything is conspiring to make us choose just one thing, like toddlers offered a treat. UK passport? Or Irish one? As if hundreds of years of being both will be erased by making everyone squeeze like sausage meat into a single, someone else's skin. Will those little brown children now ever want to identify as American?
We betray no one by being complicated or even as conflicted as love. Most just want to do the day, running down their list with someone who might want to touch them in kindness, if not love. Even if that someone is full of contradiction, like the kindly grampus who pared apples for you when his missus babysat, but also said the N word which Mommy said was very bad.
Maybe then someone who might just look past all those labels not demand single brand loyalty. This is not who you think we are? But this IS us. Yes, this is us.
Midweek. Humpday. My last in a long series of story making Cruinniú na nÓg (Creativity for Kids) workshops today with the nine of the most creative kids in a tiny upland school in West Cavan. Working with them has been wholly a pleasure. With sixteen classroom hours, I have had the leisure to get to know them pretty well and have grown fond of them and their school. Each time I visit one will ask if I wrote a poem today, or its title, or what its about. Not all of these kids are naturally fluent writers. Some prefer maths. One is only nine years old. Some have admitted the brief was a bit hard. But I will say this. Whether any becomes an artist or writer is irrelevent. All are incredibly creative. They have proved that over and over. Even when its has been hard and they felt it didn’t work every single one kept trying. They did the research. They got excited. They got down to the page.
Can’t let the kids down. Got to face the blank page. I turned to a new short poem form I’ve never tried before called the tricube. Each line has three syllables. Each stanza has three lines. There are three stanzas. Yet another new poetry form to experiment with in poetry practice today.