Humming

It is a blustery bank holiday Monday here in Ireland. After a long dry spell, we have had rain and periods of alternating chilliness and warm, sticky  intervals.  My husband was up early and out in the garden working before the first downpour. And really, all I want to write this morning is a little haiku. It is a new moon today in that most communicative of signs, Gemini. But somehow, this morning, less is more in the words department. 

What I heard through the window

A bee’s humming in the garden

No! My husband working

Blissed

I read it aloud to him when he came in and he is all smiley and pleased looking. He wants it as a meme. Or illustrated. Or hung up in a frame.

Make that your #MondayMotivation.

Books

Oh, yeah! Books are the best friends when the world is just too people-y. The real BFFS, since words on paper survive even the most awesome of authors. Even when not reading,it can be very soothing just spending time in their company. Every once and a while I have a major tidy up of bookshelves. Not just a feather duster sweep. The major vacuum cleaner and haul the book case away from the wall to really get all the dust out sweep. That kind of tidy up happened with one bookcase yesterday. This is partly as a way for me to figure out how to rationalise the book storage problem in a small house with two avid readers. We do have regular culls and give to the charity shops- usually popular fiction in the crime/mystery genre. (It’s cause Nancy Drew was my first BFF.) But even so, we need more book storage space. We are going to be given a small one, but as I was double stacking books yesterday I began to dream of another six footer for my writing room. So the Poetry Daily celebrates my besties – books! And if you pooh-pooh the power of books – and poetry – then consider the testimonials by people like Jeanette Winterson who credit them with saving their life at some stage. In that double stack, behind the current poetry volumes by Mary Oliver (who was also saved by reading books) are some of my own childhood.lifelines.

Books

Walk right in!
Behold! A world
cupped in my hands.

By the power of
imagination,
an alternate,
new universe,
an abode
bricked and mortared.
Words by the author.
Music played out
in reader's brain.

Transmission
between two covers
our own virtual
reality
for an evening
or an hour.



Copyright © 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved.

Layers

I am not feeling exactly on my game this morning. Either I have really bad hayfever, or I have a cold. This past week I guided local school children on a walk on the Cavan Burren. We are fortunate to walk on land that has been continuously, but gently, occupied for as long as humans have lived in Ireland. Most of these school children come from families with centuries long roots in this place that is very much on the map in the myths told about the first peoples of ancient Ireland. 

I was pointing out how rocks and trees were the big story of this place.  It is thought that high chieftains were inaugurated under a tree sacred to their clan. But we also have the inaugural stone for Clan Maguire not far from us.  The Tuatha dé Danaan are said to have landed first on Slieve Anieran, which is twenty miles or less from them, just over the boundary in Leitrim. The goddess Danu  is said to have married Bile,  the old Irish word for tree.  The school group in Glangevlin lives close to the Belavalley Gap, where the Tuatha’s smith forged their magical weapons. And then, because I have atrocious Irish pronunciation there was a brief discussion between the teacher and children about the word tuatha. Most often it is translated as the people, or tribe, or the children of Danu. But it also has a further nuance, which carries with it  the sense of it being the place, or land, of Danu. 

Which hit me like a big chunk of sedementary rock off of one of those glacial erratics in Cavan Burren Forest. Which also has its fair share of rock art cup and ring marks.


Layers


Once

land was the same word

for people.

It meant

belonging.

As a marriage

can be happy,

fruitful

as a tree –

bud

blossom, fruit

berry.

Just another

layer

of being,

many

and one,

but not

the same.

The land

is layer

upon layer-

sand,

granite,

lime and iron

in rock.

The first people

are the mother cup.

The rings

carve out

the generations

widening out.

Copyright 2019 Bee Smith

Dear John Ciardi

Today’s poetry practice is a new form to me. It is called the trenta sei- which bacically means thirty-six. It has thirty-six lines, six stanzas of six lines each.The first line begins the first stanza. then the second line of the first stanza is the first line of the second stanza. And then you take it from there. There is a a ababcc rhyme scheme. John Ciardi, the poem is based on a quote he is alleged to have said about women poets always wearing their ovaries on their sleeves. (Imagine steam emitting from my nostrils. Yep, that was my reaction.) Today’s poem takes his form and responds to the alleged commnet about women poets.

Dear Mister Ciardi,

I can admit to a certain prejudice
against a man who disparaged women,
for having the biological gaucheness,
not all to say, just those jumped up gibbons,
those poets who will go wear their ovaries
on their sleeves, writing brownies and babies.

Against a man who disparaged women
and that category viewed as 'poetess',
or applied arcane masculine doctrine
as to who is fit for poetry's practice,
that having a pair should disqualify
shirt sleeves unless they are styled for guys...

For having the biological gaucheness
of being the chicken with all the eggs,
it riles me up to make a fuss and cuss,
because women poets ought not have to beg
for a place in academe's pantheon
or be a glass ceiling phenomenum...

Not all to say,just those jumped up gibbons,
those who have the nerve to speak about blood,
other things all messy and feminine,
beat breasts, tear hair, wrend garments, defame studs.
That is what will become of poetry
written by people who have ovaries.

Those poets who will go wear their ovaries
spilling their ink on a monthly basis
can write, breastfeed, push the baby buggy
(sometimes with an intense, driving fierceness)
out from under the stairs, out through the door,
turning up on time, sign at the bookstore.

On their sleeves, writing brownies and babies,
the spit up and societal sickness,
is the red badge of all our popped cherries.
Women need the teeth and claws of tigress.
The gloves have come off, Mr. Ciardi.
I am out and proud of my ovaries.



Copyright © 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved.

Featured image is from Andelino’s Weblog

FOMO

Whether it is the weather, or post-menopausal insomnia, or whatever, my mind is still awake long after I am usually asleep. I am not going to try and second guess my body and will just roll with the energy and do my poetry practice in the early hours of the new day. It still counts. Write a poem a day within the twenty-four hour clock of the time zone I am living in. Partially, I think my wakefulness is due to a telephone conversation last evening after supper with a dear friend, which was a rather deep analysis of how institutions fail and how humans are too frail to live with uncertainty. So they do stuff – often ill considered things, too – to fill the vacuum of their anxiety and insecurity. (Brexit. Building walls. Shopping compulsively. Self-medicating.) And then we turned to the the subject of the will of God – or, if that sort of language disconcerts you – the will of some higher consciousness that has a wider canvas than one’s own little ego. And how for religious people, keeping faith while waiting to discern the will of of this higher consciousness is a test of courage as much as it is of patience.

Which led me on to the 21st century phenomenum of FOMO, or fear of missing out, if you have not come across this in cyber space. We may think of it as unique to the digital age, when everything is terribly fast and instant messages flash across wireless connections. (Like magic, they even call it ethernet!) However, upon reflection, it probably has been with us much longer since patterns repeat in nature and human behaviour is also subject to patterns. It has just been rebranded, an adaptation overlaid onto that impulse or sense of urgency that drives one to say yes to everything to fill a vacuum. Most often of insecurity or an inability to just sit quietly with uncertainty.


Missing

It is with relief and some elation,
that sense of freedom to pass up events,
to allow them to go on without you.
There is no need for rush or panic -
a polite 'No, thank you' to any or all
invitations is sufficient for
remedying social anxiety
of one sort - the terror of missing out.

Nothing is ever so important.
You can check your ego with your coat and hat,
never going back to show your claim check.
Stillness is a thrill. How else can you hear
the throb of your own pulse or heartbeat?
It will do without the juddering skips
when gripped by fear. And then, somehow, the world
grows larger for saying 'No.' It sounds odd,
I know, but I swear it is so. Lighter.
Freer. Or maybe the way towards joy.
Being able to slide into the sleek,
silky garment of one's own skin and know
that this is enough. It fits. Nothing missing.


Copyright © 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved.

Featured image is Photo by Pablo Guerrero on Unsplash

Fractal

I slept long and late, secure in the fact that I do not need to be in the classroom before 1pm. Our house was as still as Sleeping Beauty’s castle until nearly 10am. Certain threads of personal cogitation have tangentially found their way into the late morning’s poetry practice.  Fractals, ancient rock art, cup and ring marks….Today’s Poetry Daily is in blank verse. Sorry there is no image. I just could not get an upload to play…and I must be away into the day! (I remedied this later on.)

Fractal

Consider nature, the fractals in trees,

the ever repeating pattern growing,

growing larger and larger and larger-

the swirling out of sunflower seedheads,

the upwards spiral staircase in pine cone,

the rippling of waves on an inward tide.

We imitate the lines and curves we see.

The  cup and ring marks inspire labyrinths,

ancient showing ancient a deeper way

of seeing how the world is being made.

Just as the whorls on the palms of our hands

are regular, but unique, patterns made,

which ancient ancestors laid in ochre

on cave walls -even the baby’s – handprints

waving at us from beyond time and grave.

Copyright 2019 Bee Smith

 

hand in cup and ring marks

Zoomorphism

It is probably down to David Attenborough and the BBC wildlife documentaries he produced. I was chatting on the Local Link bus on Saturday to an elderly lady. (Who am I kidding; I am eligible for the free bus pass in three years!) Any road, she’s a fan and she shared little titbits of animal behaviour that had caught her fancy. The examples surely made animals relatable and more like us humans (or the reverse). Which pretty much defines zoomorphism. 

I am having a slow morning. The weather has changed. I woke with a “logey” head, a low grade headache that makes me feel very draggy. It has taken two cups of Earl Grey to get the poetry engine to start. And on days like today, I find senryu comforting. So – a series of zoomorphic senryu for poetry practice this morning. Senryu is like haiku, in that is only seventeen syllables. It explores behaviour- usually human foibles – whereas haiku concentrates on the cosmic quality of nature.

Unbroken chain

Signals danger’s alert

Badgers asleep 

Holding paws

Barren Aunt Meercat

Gets to be nursery maid

Nature’s stop gap.

Penguins are not shy

They let themselves

Love and mate as they like

Poor Peg!

The mourning grace

The loss of lifetime mate

Solitary swan

Sleep, eat, watch, wait

The patience of an old dog

Stalwart company

Feral feline

So decisive of desire

Unflinching focus

Copyright 2019 Bee Smith

Featured photo is of the wild cat who eventually came in from the cold and onto my lap.