Invisible Woman

Lady Liberty

Happy International Women’s Day! And if anyone feels like grousing about there actually being an international women’s day at all, please move on now! And try and work on your empathy. I can see male oppression, too, just not today. Today, at least for one day of 365, women are visible. After I post this, I’ll shower and get ready to go to a Women in Business networking event in Enniskillen, where women making it happen in Fermanagh and Tyrone can meet up and get to know they are not alone.

So the Poetry Daily is all about International Women’s Day…and the reason why there is one at all in the first place.

Invisible Woman

The day that woman could be free...
of cat calls, forcing a smiley
face when really? It's all fake.
Just the habit of pleasing for safety's sake.
Except, when is it ever really safe
when you put on your armour every day
just to walk across a dark car park.
It's hard being prey...wolf whistles, cat calls.
We are ever vigilant not to blunder.
You can be a fox whose chased by horse and hounds.
Is it small wonder that sometimes a strategy
of invisibility seems really sound?

If you say we are everywhere
then today, please take note.
Women have so much flair, but
how often do you see them outside
the context of your care?
Feeding, cleaning, washing, nursing...
Do you see them building?
Do you see them calling you out
commenting on you nicely formed bum?
Token women breach the glass ceiling.
You can count them on your thumb.
(It must be exhausting always being the only one.)
Oh, and by the way, I don't really want a world
where I'll ask you to smile and compliment your bum.

It would be fairer if all of us
could actually look and really be able to see
the light that shines so brightly
inside souls with a female body.
To not live in a world where there are still
male theologians who even make that query.
That half a viewpoint can never be a whole.
It would be a wonderful world if we all rolled
with you seeing me and I would see you, too,
the light that shines oh so divinely -
water to air, earth to sky,
the yin to yang, woman to man,
the yang to yin, man to woman.
I see you. You see me. Honestly.
No need for invisibility.

Copyright © 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved.

Featured Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Majestic Difference

If you don’t live in a universe populated with bookstores, it may have passed you by that today is World Book Day. And why wouldn’t you have a day to celebrate what to many a lonely child was where the first friendships were forged?! For the shy and introverted, novels are a kind of ‘how to’ navigate the world of people and relating to them. Poetry especially, and for me discovering Emily Dickinson in particular, made the world feel less lonely and myself better understood. So do go by a bookstore today and avail yourself of making friends with some author’s wild mind, the world their imagination manufactures in book form.

Today’s poetry practice is not about a book, although I could wax lyrical about the books that have been life altering. Today’s poetry practice is a riff from a phrase used by my niece as we were journeying in the car back from some very body and soul satisfying massages in Sligo Town. Writers can be thieves sometimes. Or, maybe, more accurately, we are all magpies that pick up the glittering words and phrased that others conveniently drop in our paths.

Majestic Difference

Labels name things.
It is comforting to know
that purple flower is an iris or aquilegia,
to be able to distinguish between
the song of robin and blackbird.

In museum glass cases
they curate found things.
They mark their era and location.
They mount interpretive boards
with their speculation.
They take their joy
in their explanations.

We like to name things.
To identify, sort, code, safely label.
display in a box, interpret
the found,
explain away the mystery.

Every neighbourhood and town
has its 'odd bod'
the boy-man or Boo Riley
still living at home
with Father and Mother
too frail is some indefinite way
to go out into the world.

The sort that when a baby fails
to make its landmarks
when Mother takes them for their checks,
a worry is sowed, a fear that this child
will be one with some form of
majestic difference.

One that experts will want to poke and prod
and explain that it will never go away,
that they will try to identify and label,
what is not easily categorised. They'll
maybe medicate, maybe enable,
but rarely just sit with the inevitable
awe at the mystery
of majestic difference.

Which is not meant
as an object of fear.
Or needing to be shut away in a glass case.
They are simply subject
to their majestic difference.

Copyright © 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved

Featured Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

The Long View

One of the joys of growing old(er) is seeing a life from the virtual start and following the story arc along the way. It truly is the long view, a perspective you simply cannot claim, I feel, until you are over sixty years of age. Your adult memory may be reliable when their infant memory is a blank slate. I love how my older sister, nine years my senior, has memories of getting the news over the phone of my birth. (This was in the days when Dads were banished to the waiting room or were at home watching the children that had already been hatched.) But it is also highly instructive about how we author our own stories from the point of view of narrators other than ourselves.

Poetry practice is influenced by this long view.

The Long View

In the morning
she still perches on the end of the bed
all chatty and lively
I nod and remember
the bounding in
on Christmas Day
fourteen going on four.

It's not all
Ground Hog Day
like it is
for most grown ups
even ones like her
now everyday
never the same old
same old

But a day
which presents itself
as a gift.

Copyright © 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved.

Everyone Needs Someone

Call it one of the realisations that comes with aging. Or remembering the day that you both knew you had become one of those couples sitting in a car in the rain looking out at the ocean. Consider the truth of Michael Harding’s book title “Staring at Lakes”. Perhaps I am under the sway of too much Scandinoir. This was the turn poetry practice took today.

Everyone Needs Someone

Everyone needs someone
(and not only a dog -
a dog or a cat is an
optional extra)

who will sit with them
(and they don't need
to talk or even
touch hands often)

when you are getting old
(to witness your staring
at the horizon,
share the flask of coffee)

to watch over your soul
(that etheric substance -
part angel, part vital animal,
that will depart)

if you believe in that kind of thing
(call it animating force then
whatever it is that leaves
the building or a corpse)

Everyone needs someone
who will sit with them
when they are getting old
to watch over your soul
if you believe in that
of thing

Copyright © 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved.

Featured Photo by Sasha Freemind on Unsplash

Big Bang

” Let the mind off its leash.” I wrote that at the top of my notebook just to give me a little Monday jump start. Then this morning I read a poem by A. R. Ammons called Continuing. Which filled me with utter awe. That man really does know how to do wild mind! I found him in the anthology “The Poetry of Impermanence,Mindfulness and Joy.” (ed. John Brehm, Wisdom Publications.) Ammons really does know how to let him mind off the leash. His career was a confluence of science and literature in a life that began in rural North Carolina. I feel like someone just threw me a poetry stick at me and said “Go Fetch!”

Anyway, to the keyboard. I have unpoetic missions to fulfill today. But first a little limbering up, letting my mind be a little looser. I was never a natural maths and science student. So reviewing the definition of prime numbers was pretty wild for a Monday morning. And all of this because the cats are cooped up and feeling cranky.


The divisible formula:
sometimes it takes only one,
on the other hand, some
mystical prime -
one and itself -
to break it all down,
form a crowbar
to lever the whole
leaving pieces.

Oh, maybe it is how the stars align
some days when an angry planet
slings an Attitude toward
some other neck of the cosmos
where they collide -
say it smacks the moon's ass -
or a drive by dying star
frazzles a black hole's edges.
Maybe that's the whole point
of the Big Bang.

It was not to divide to rule,
but to divide and create.
Done in a massive fit
of cosmic irritability.

Copyright © 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved.

So How Was Your Week?

We had a storm yesterday and the wind howled around the southwest corner of the house, which kept me awake. So I slept in. Walked the little dog first. Just because. I’d like to say it was mostly for his benefit, but there may also have been an element of writer’s displacement activity. The morning’s fresh and not very cold. I saw blackthorn blossom a few miles down our lane yesterday. Very early, just as last year I thought it would never arrive.

Once I had a cup of green tea (one friend asks why I drink grass!), and after opening a tin of tuna for some of the cats, I got down to poetry practice. I warmed up a bit with a haiku.

Daffodils face down
Lick the mud
Deep roots
Weather wind rock

That took all of a half hour of tooling around with two line, three line, then four line format for the total of fourteen syllables! But then I had another thought.

Week at a Glance

Sunday - recreate

Monday - revise and remake

Tuesday - learn and teach


Thursday - words' far read

Friday - mess obliterate

Saturday - bake cake.

Copyright © 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved.

So how was your week?

Featured Photo by Emma Matthews on Unsplash

This Ruined House

As I was easing into poetry practice this morning I was minded of what the late Dermot Healey said in a poetry masterclass I attended many years ago. “Reading is also writing.” We go to other writers for inspiration and reflection. (Maria Popova’s blog “Brain Pickings” is a little oasis to visit.) That is what I did this morning. I picked up the anthology “The Poetry Pharmacy” (ed. William Sieghart, Particular Books) and dipped into it at random. I read two short poems, one by J.R.R. Tolkien, which has a killer final line, “Deep roots are not reached by the frost.” (All that is Gold Does Not Glitter). But the one that captured my imagination was a short poem (Although the Wind) by Izumi Shikibu, translated by a poet I much admire, Jane Hirshfield, together with Mariko Aratami. The title of today’s poetry practice is taken from the final line of that five line, tanka. Living in the Irish countryside this had a particular resonance.

Of  This Ruined House

Ivy is a strangler.
Once let into mortar
it's the last in a series
of assaults.
Once there was passion
here, and thunder.
Then duty went derelict.
The roof caved in,
though the chimney
still stands.

Stone flagging and slates
long ago did
a midnight flit.
They whisper family secrets
still in some suburban
patio floor.
They've planted ivy
in some plastic tubs,
training it to climb
up the back gable wall.

Copyright © 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved