Happy Poetry Day Ireland!

Day 26 NaPoWriMo/GloPoWriMo finds me writing while looking out into mymfriend’s inner city secret garden. Her camellia is in full flower. Yet my mind is still in West Cavan when it comes to inspiration in response to today’s prompt. And, in one of those weird turn-ups, we may well be entertaining a West Cavan neighbour for a coffee today here in Birmingham. We are enjoined to engage all five senses on this Poetry Day Ireland. And I have sen to write a tanka this brilliantly sunshiny morning.

Upland

The cuckoo calling

Prickle of gorse blossom

Acid in the eye

Tropicana balm in the air

All in my neighbour’s honey

Copyright 2018 Bee Smith

Happy Poetry Day Ireland worldwide!

LabelLit for Poetry Day Ireland

Day 25NaPoWriMo dawns for me in a different land. But I am flying the tricolour for Poetry Day Ireland by participating in Maria McManus’s Label Lit project. (Sure she grew up only up the road from me inFermanagh). Poetry Day Ireland is technically tomorrow, 26tyh April. Yesterday I was handing out LabelLit poems to staff and patrons of Ireland West Airport.

Rx for National Poetry Day

It pays to read your lit’s label.

First, prepare to be surprised.

Take a poem a day each morning,

Preferably with a little food.

First, prepare to be surprised.

Poetry takes a strong stomach, hence

‘Preferably with a little food’.

Watch out for contraindications.

Poetry takes a strong stomach, hence

The warnings to the public.

Watch out for contraindications –

Elation, possible perturbation.

It pays to read your lit’s label.

Risk raising a hue and cry.

Take a poem a day each morning.

Start each day with a little surprise.

Copyright 2018 Bee Smith

#PoetryDayIRL @LabelLit

We Learn To Love

Day 24 NaPoWriMo/GloPoWriMo and the prompt/assignment is to write an elegy, but with a hopeful note. . I am writing in haste as I have a plane to catch and LabelLit to offer to people at Knock airport. Still, I am dedicated to this self-assigned write a poem a day task.So, in brief:

We Learn to Love

 

From bud to blossom to fruit,

a tree will not give us apples

if not regularly pruned.

 

We learn to love what we love

even though it shall pass away

beyond our sight.

 

The cuckoo comes. And then it goes,

journeying back to Africa

until it comes the following year.

 

What shall pass away

will come again

if we have enough keen sight.

 

Even as standing stones eventually

fall back into the barrow of ground,

a monument to we know not what.

 

We learn to love what we love

despite leaves falling from the trees

and winter’s astringent bite.

 

We learn to love what we love,

what is beyond our sight.

 

Copyright © 2018 Bee Smith

 

 

Asbestos Mouth

Day 23 NaPoWriMo and this is my second attempt at posting. Unfortunately, my ipad WordPress app didn’t save. It looked like it published, but it didn’t. On the one day when I composed straight onto the post. You see, I am going to be on the road for the rest of NaPoWriMo. I will be distributing little luggage labels with poems on them for Maria McManus’s Label Lit project for Ireland’s National Poetry Day on Thursday, the 26th. Even though I will be outside of the country I am still flying the poetry tricolour.  I have a certain amount of airport travel anxiety (Cue a big eyeroll from my big brother Steve who has wanted to stuff valium down my throat on occassion. Even my husband wanders away from me and mumbles he will  meet me at the gate.) Now I am going to miss my trusty laptop even more than I thought!

So – to reconstruct . This was the prompt.

And now for today’s (optional) prompt! Kate Greenstreet’s poetry is spare, but gives a very palpable sense of being spoken aloud – it reads like spoken language sounds. In our interview with her, she underscores this, stating that “when you hear it, you write it down.” Today, we challenge you to honor this idea with a poem based in sound. The poem, for example, could incorporate overheard language. Perhaps it could incorporate a song lyric in some way, or language from something often heard spoken aloud (a prayer, a pledge, the Girl Scout motto). Or you could use a regional or local phrase from your hometown that you don’t hear elsewhere, e.g. “that boy won’t amount to a pinch.”

Now I used a phrase my mother would use in a conversation over a shared cup of tea with my neighbour. Winnie said, ‘Don’t let your tea grow old.” And I piped up that I didn’t have an asbestos mouth. Which I then had to explain wasn’t really a strange American phrase, probably only a Smith one and maybe only one my mother used with me who was waiting for her tea to cool or was blowing on her dinner before forking it into my mouth.

Asbestos Mouth

I guess you don’t have an asbestos mouth.

Let me eat and drink tepid,

have no need for a tin foil tongue.

Let me not sup on brimstone and fire

or inhale charcoal into my lungs.

It will not make my speech vapid

to not have to swaddle my mouth.

Let me taste the taste, savouring my own arpegio.

Let me know what I know.

 

Copyright © 2018 Bee Smith

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

Beauty and the Beholder

Day 21 of NaPoWriMo/GloMoWriMo and I do sometimes feel the tiredness of the marathon runner. I didn’t notice it so much in NapoWriMo2017. Perhaps I have kept more studiously to the Poem a Day prompts in NaPoWriMo2018? I certainly have felt stretched into less comfortable poetic places on more days than last year. I have been busier, not able to lavish as much time on the product as last year, too. I worry about being a bit slap dash or hackneyed.

Today’s prompt looks at the myth of Narcissus. Here goes:


Behold

Even narcissi
shall wither and die.

The mirror never really
lies.

It may be open
to interpretation,

bit wind ravages
even that flirtation.

The cold will bow shoulders,
making  you look older.

Sunshine betrays more detail.
it’s not  so easy to evade

the echo  of the beauty,
the cause for sighs.

They do say it’s in the ‘I’
of the beholder.

Copyright 2018 Bee Smith

The Dissident Daughter

Day 20 of NaPoWriMo/GloPoWriMo practically begs us to get out of our comfort zones. It is preaching revolution in one’s poetry practice. So what can you do to mount those barricades in form or content? I have Alice Notley’s volume Grave of Light. She practiced poetic disobedience alright.  So today I am attempting to cross all my personal poetry taboos. This means there will be rhyme. There will be form. There will be light verse! And there will be a tale of disobedience.

Here’s the prompt.

Our craft resource for the day is Alice Notley’s essay, The Poetics of Disobedience. In it, Notley advocates for a poet to “maintain a state of disobedience against…everything.” By this she means remaining open to all forms, all subjects, and not becoming beholden to “usual” methods for writing. Whenever we are sure that there is one “right” way to write, or some specific set of topics that are the “right” ones to discuss, we should ask ourselves, what part of experience are we leaving out? And why?

Our prompt for the day (optional as always) takes its cue from Notley’s rebelliousness, and asks you to write a poem that involves rebellion in some way. The speaker or subject of the poem could defy a rule or stricture that’s been placed on them, or the poem could begin by obeying a rule and then proceed to break it (for example, a poem that starts out in iambic pentameter, and then breaks into sprawling, unmetered lines). Or if you tend to write funny poems, you could rebel against yourself, and write something serious (or vice versa). Whatever approach you take, your poem hopefully will open a path beyond the standard, hum-drum ruts that every poet sometimes falls into.

The Ballad of the Dissident Daughter

 

It’s not that she’s being truculent.

Or even gives me much cheek.

It’s the silences when she goes absent

that I wish she were more shriek than geek.

 

It started when she asked if we could subscribe

to Newsweek instead of  our usual, Time.

I blame her brother, who gave her a MS magazine

subscription when she was only just turned sixteen.

 

She went off to a good enough college

that should have kept her on the right moral track.

Despite that fact,she was soon eighteen

wanting to major in aphrodisiac.

 

Liberation was the cry, and it wasn’t from Hitler.

In my time that meant celebrating  VJ Day.

Why couldn’t she be Caesar’s wife and marry a banker?

Instead of she’s off inventing some other V-Day.

 

I shudder to think of the mirrors she’s held

as she’s peered up the down below.

I taught her to sit like a lady, knees neatly parallel.

But what is a lady these days I’d like to know?

 

First, she refused to cover her head at Mass,

then acting like church attendance was trespass.

It’s the NOT going to Mass that matters,

not whether you don or doff your chaplet will cause a stir.

 

I’d speak to the priest, but he’s always terribly busy in Lent.

I’d offer it up, if that strategy were not so oblique.

I pray to St. Monica nightly, giving her my personal lament.

I feel too antique to fathom all this modern realpolitik.

Instead of being so obstinately hellbent,

why cannot my daughter manage to be a good Catholic?

 

Copyright © 2018 Bee Smith

 

Teen Bee crop