Outside

I am away on a field trip later this morning that will feed the imagination of students participating in a Creative Ireland project. It is a collaboration between a ceramacist and me,my role being heritage background on place and natural heritage(trees and rocks), as well as some creative writing on both subjects. Museums fill the creative well. When it came to poetry practice this morning I turned to photos taken on my Scotland trip the first week in May. One artist, Ross Hamilton Frew, in an exhibit in Glasgow’s Lighthouse, accompanied his visual art with haiku. The opening line was “Outside My Room.” So I write a series of haiku and a tanka, using that as the opening line. 

Outside my room

The world is a play of light

Chiarascuro

 

Outside my room

Is a still and green jungle

Burgeoning summer

Outside my room

Bees sup on mallow’s nectar

The world continues

Outside my room

Is much like inside my room

Alive, untidy

We each have certain passions

That breach the boundary walls

Copyright 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved.
The original artwork that sparked this morning’s poetry practice.
The featured image today is a snap I took in the library of Skail Home Farm at Skara Brae, Scotland.

The Great Hunger

The Irish Famine might seem an odd topic of discussion over a Sunday lunch. My Husband took some mild ribbing from me because he panics if we run out of potatoes. But another of the indigenous Irish around the table admitted she shares the same syndrome. Which gave pause for thought…It is as if the collective memory of Black ’47 is engraved in their psyches. Even though today we can just run down to the Spar shop and buy a bag if the cupboard is bare of spuds. Trauma like that is drilled down in the collective unconsciousness. Epigenetics studies have shown how trauma changes cortisol levels and this is passed down to succeeding generations. Which got me considering survivor guilt – the veteran combatants who return home from war when their buddies do not,  the inmates of concentration camps who evaded the death machine and live to see liberation day, those who do not succumb to great plague or famine when millions fall by the way side.


The Great Hunger

The eternal ‘why me’

But not them…

Was it the grass I ate,

or tulip bulbs,

the raids on bird’s nests,

the soup of seaweed?

What strange kismet 

alchemised into earthly afterlife?

Why no fever pit fate?

Did I pay for my porridge pot slops

with an article of faith?

What did I pledge

to spare me,

allowing me the luxury

of having descendents?

Why do some of us persist

even if it is just

for the sake of existence?

That we will not,

cannot,

forsake the land.

We are the land.

With some of us,

that meagre band,

She will never let go of

with Her iron hand.

Copyright 2019 Bee Smith

Tanka

At some point during my sleep I briefly woke with the day’s poem all neatly configured. But I didn’t sit up and write it down then and there. So the poem was a dream. The dream was a poem…or poetry writing. It drifted back into morpheus.

I have a demanding ten days ahead. So today is my day of rest. I need reading. I am being fed by friends. But I crave a deluxe Sunday breakfast first. So I am keeping poetry practice short and sweet. Also, I am saluting the latest accessory to help me move through the next ten days. You know how there are shoe women or handbag women? Well, now you know which one I am.

I used the tanka for a writing exercise on trees with the school group on Friday. It has been awhile since I turned my pen to writing one. So for this restful Sunday the Poetry Daily gives you a tanka on a handbag. My new one is the colour of Colman’s English mustard. I was calling to me like a siren from high up a shelf in the shop. It has mock tortoiseshell handles. I am completely infatuated.

It’s my day of rest. I am feeling a bit frivolous.

The tanka is essentially a haiku or senryu followed by a couplet of seven syllables each. Like haiku there is no rhyme.

Handbag

I carry sunshine
zipped up inside my handbag
along with these things -
hairbrush, hankies, compass, pen,
pebble stones. Forget lipstick.



Copyright © 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved.

Featured image Photo by Debora Cardenas on UnsplashFeatured image

Day for Night

Living fairly far north, our day light is long at this time of year. Of course, cloudy conditions can curtail some of the light show, but as we rapidly approach summer solstice, the daylight has crept into the night time hours. Twilight is very long. With the moon waxing and set to be full on the 17th, we barely experience full darkness for very long each night. If you live in a populated area with street lighting you won’t have had the sensual pleasure of the summer solstice’s soft light show where you can see your way down a lane at midnight without the benefit of using a torch or flashlight. (Of course, the midges here might eat you alive on such a night time dander.) Daylight is long at this time of year. Of course, cloudy conditions can curtail some of the light show, but as we rapidly approach summer solstice, the daylight has crept well into the midnight hours and beyond. A friend was still awake at 2:30am the other night and marvelled as the sun began to creep over the yardarm at 3am. Twilight stretches into and becomes our night. With the moon waxing and set to be full on the 17th, we barely experience full darkness for very long each night. If you live in a populated area with street lighting you won’t have had the sensual pleasure of the summer solstice’s soft light show where you can see your way down a lane at midnight without the benefit of using a torch or flashlight. (Of course, the midges here might eat you alive on such a night time dander.)

Poetry practice today is in praise of this seasonal twilight zone. The title, day for night, is a cinematography term use to film night time scenes during daytime (sometimes because of budgetary and schedule constraints rather than artistic reasons). Francois Truffaut even had a 1973 film titled Day for Night, a film about film making which in French was called la nuit américaine (translating as the American Night.) At any rate, the long days and backlit nights of summer solstice feature in the Poetry Daily today.

Day for Night

The long hours of twilight,
their chiaroscuro
painting our world
as if filmed in black and white,
shot as day for night.

We negotiate the familiar
lines and shapes in our landscape
bleached out by moonlight
backlit by a sun barely
slipped below the horizon.
A hare shoots across our path,
a darting silhouette.
Pulses start, rise and recede
after a moment.

In this solstice season
of light sleep
and restless dreams
that come in fragments,
jagged pieces of shadow
their half-light
infiltrating the long hours
of the long light
of the night
in this solstice season
of twilight.


Copyright © 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved.

Featured image Photo by Robson Hatsukami Morgan on Unsplash

Blue Sky Thoughts

I am back to normal (mostly). I am still (always) the handmaiden of our family cats. The turbo-boost got a lot of housecleaning that really was necessary done, some laundry, ironing and even a little mending! My back didn’t seize up or my knees over complain. So, good job, Bee! But I am glad to be back drinking my tea and staring out the window waiting for the subject for poetry practice to arrive. One cup of Earl Grey down. There is still housework to do and a creative writing workshop to deliver. But its good to not be some android version of myself switched on to overdrive.

Blue Sky Thoughts

Let me sip your azure,
imbibe blue sky
thoughts salted with sunshine.
Let's race with cumulus
clouds, those unsung
'Peek -a boo', 'You hoo!' ones.
Duck! Disappear
in the fluffy slip stream
of the purring rumble
of a passing jet plane.

The tease of grasping after
air... it zips out,
through your fingers.
Never here. There!
The virgin heroine.
Untouched goddess.
So distant, yet
constantly in your eye.

Copyright © 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved.







constantly in your eye.

Not a Normal Morning

Jo! It’s happened again. Overnight the aliens abducted your friend and she is all weird and full of get up and go on rising.

As my husband, family members, or any friends who have inhabited communal space with me know, Barbara is not a Chatty Cathy in the morning. As my friend Nigel once said, ” The body has come downstairs. The spirit will arrive in another fifteen minutes.” We observe radio silence in the house in the morning. Even young children in my care learned early, radio silence is sacrosanct. You do not want to tamper with the tender and fragile early morning instrumentation in this vessel.

Except this morning I woke up like this.

Once, I did wake up all bouncy and conversational. That was after a sound bath the night before. My friend Diarmuid asked me, “Why are you so talkative this morning?” and my perky reply was, “I’ve been up since 5am.” And Jo, still nursing her first cup of coffee, was thinking “Goddess, please make her shut up! We liked the other version of her better.”

None of these circumstances apply. I had an uninterrupted nine hours sleep. I cleaned for forty-five minutes, for feck’s sake, before I even switched on the kettle for my morning beverage. Which is the morning ritual. Let dog out. put kettle on. Make tea. Let dog back in. Start writing.

I’m freaking myself out!

Switch

Mornings are not usually
turbo charged.
I'm a one litre kinda gal
without much
pick up to get up and motor
into day.

What happened overnight?
Did someone
go tinker under my bonnet?
Turbo charge
my morning engine, change spark plugs,
recircuit
my fuel injection system?

Because this is one alien
this morning
in my body, tearing into
some cleaning!
Before the writing! And that is
mind blowing,
disorienting. And just plain
so not me.

Maybe aliens abducted
the old me,
coughing engine, shoddy body work,
inserting
some weird kind of new circuitry
that make me
go all handmaiden to the cats
who really
have inherited my planet..


Copyright © 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved.

Excuse me while I just go clean my very dirty house before the battery in the robot that invaded my body overnight runs flat. Women writers are not particularly famous for being enthusiastic housekeepers.

Featured image Photo by Charlotte Coneybeer on Unsplash

Take Five Senses

In a couple of hours I am going to be evangelising about using lots of detail to describe things in writing. The project I am engaged in involves heritage and last week I introduced the ogham tree alphabet. But in some interactions I realised that even these rural school children are less than fluent in naming tree species. We live in such a biodiverse setting, too, it seems a pity. But this is what comes of losing words like acorn and willow from the Oxford Junior Dictionary. (Please see my poem on the Lost Words in my post https://sojourningsmith.blog/2018/02/18/lost-worlds/.) My creative writing facilitator/teacher and Marble Arch Caves Geopark guide roles overlap sometimes as I spread the word about our natural heritage.

Later this morning I am going to challenge some kids to get acquainted with a tree species by writing a five senses poem. This involves getting in words that describe your subject using all your senses: sight, smell, hearing, feeling and taste. Since trees are our subject the taste part may be difficult, but we’ll work on it. I figured I ought to do one in that kind of ‘here’s one I made earlier’ way, to illustrate how you might tackle it. I chose willow for my poem today. I can see one from my window. The Irish name for willow is sailleach. The Hiberno-English corruption of that is sally. Hence, the title of today’s Poetry Daily.

Sally 

There is a certain scent-
early morning raindrops on tender leaf-
that could be bottled and labeled
'Willow Water',
marketed as essence
of her special brand of dilute green.
.
Sally's fronds shiver against the wind.
Her shoulders shudder.
It's too early for such bluster.
She shooshes for quiet.
It's like the sough of waves
as the tide rushes over pebble beach.
But the sea is miles and miles away.
Besides, Sal prefers the peaty water
from the depths of ditches
that run straight in rows
along the sides of the road.

She's that slender you'd not know
how strong she really can be.
See how she turns her face
away from the wind.
She bends and blends.
I can hear her giggling glee
standing out there in a storm.
She's like one of those cheerleaders
who bobs and waves pompoms
when her team makes a score.

She can do the tumbling routines, too.
But if you bump and get bruised
Sal is the sort who would be
the first to aid.
She'd peel the shirt right off her back
to help any and all,
make some bark tea for you
to drink away every bitter ache.
That's just our Sally.


Copyright © 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved.