Two More Weeks of Poetry Daily

Late comers to the party, back on 15th September 2018 I began to write a poem a day. That wasn’t the initial intention. I knew I could do a month. I was a two year NaPoWriMo veteran. But I decided to push the boundaries of my comfort zone. Because the news last September was making me feel really uncomfortable. The poetry making stabilised me. So I kept at it. And sometimes people would tell me that reading the poems helped them with whatever was happening in their own life. By putting the drama on the page, I somehow diluted it and took charge of part of it. In what many consider quite a passive art form, I became an actor. I persevered. Month upon month I amazed myself as the poems piled up.

Until now. I am two weeks off the the anniversary of what one friend titled ‘The Poetry Daily.” I will have completed a 365 day round of poetry practice as of 14th September, 2019. I don’t have a massive following, but I will say that they have been incredibly faithful over the past year. While I was not surprised to see readers from the USA, UK, Ireland, and Canada, I have been grateful for the handful of readers on the Indian subcontinent who have persisted in returning to the blog again and again. This has helped on days when I didn’t really feel it, or felt kind of unwell, or was busy, or had any number of potential excuses not to write. I thank you all most sincerely.

Keeping at it has been helped by prompts from NaPoWriMo.net’s 30 days of poetry inspiration last April. This August I participated in Angela T. Carr’s 30 Days of Summer Writing Challenge which I found on her blog ‘A Dreaming Skin’ on WordPress. Today’s Poetry Daily is the final one from that challenge. Then it is up to me to finish off the final two weeks.

The final prompt from the 30 Days of Summer Writing Challenge is ‘Back to School.’ And, just by the by, I did open a new ‘jotter’ in the past couple days. And placed another volume of first drafts of the poetry daily onto my bookcase shelf. So there will be new poems, just not posted daily, but weekly. I have a lot of editting to do over the next three months!

 Back to School

A new moon. New jotter. New pencil case.
New pencils, all tall, sharpened to fine point.
New pens, brimful of ink. New book bag
for new texts, their secrets and spines uncracked.
Their new book smell, sewn slick pages, book paste.

Corridors spit polished echo anew.
Thunder of footfall, the rush of 'Don't Run!'
The loneliest of crowds, cornered, corralled,
faces blank pages before magic boards.
The shock of the new, the fear of the blank.
The empty to be filled, credit that's banked.
Terror to be faced and bullies outflanked.

Copyright © 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved

Featured image Photo by Banter Snaps on Unsplash

Harvest Horn of Plenty

The prompt from 30 Days of Summer Writing Challenge today is ‘Harvest Moon.’ That actually would be a full moon and today, as I write, we have a new moon, a super new moon, at that opening the season of harvest, foraging and preserving. I love the word cornucopia. (Is anyone actually still weaving those wicker horns of plenty do you think? It must be a very niche market or an artisanal practice.) I am a keen cook and greedy, grateful eater of delicious food. It has been noted that I have a tendency to want to feed others. I try new things and am never afraid of a recipe failure. It’s just an adventure. I fall in and out of love with particular tastes and foods. After about twenty years of spurning the aubergine/eggplant I am again wanting to cook recipes not brought out for thirty years. I am an omnivore with strong vegetarian leanings and no known food allergies. One thing we do try to do is eat organic and we source the majority of our food from a variety of sources that supply organic produce and products. We also grow some of our own food and plan to grow more in raised beds that my husband built this year.

 Cornucopia

The hazels in the hedges along our lane,
the heritage apple trees we planted -
both their fruits still green. But give them sunshine
and, like the blackberries, they will ripen.
Just hold your breath. It's time. Hold out your arms.
Watch the elderberry heads nod and fall

right into the jelly pan, with sugar
and pectin. A cookery chemistry
laboratory for glut. Recipes
invented for one last zucchini.
Squash the blackberries for jam. Wrap apples
in newspaper for winter use. Squirrel
chutney to give as midwinter presents.

It's all a gift this full horn of plenty:
mushrooms, berries, nuts and fruit all for free
to forage, for picking and preserving,
filling larders, cupboards, hungry bellies.


Copyright © 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved
harvest horn of plenty
Three years ago, a glut of pumpkins came my way and ended up as delicious chutney.

Featured image Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Lead into Gold

The prompt from 30 Days of Summer Writing Challenge is ‘gold’. And while you might think of any sort of combination -both autumnal and metaphorical – that gold might inspire, what really was front and centre was the weather. The sky was low and very grey and the rain was persisting. It was fairly breezy, too. This happens sometimes, I have noticed, here in the west of Ireland. It may be entirely unconnected, but when a really forceful hurricane is bashing the Carribean, we get squally, drenchy days. The forecast seems set for the next four days.

So I thought of the alchemists of old instead. And just as I finished the draft, the cloud cleared momentarily and a very frail sunbeam lit up the monbretia just outside my window. Briefly. Very briefly.

 Alchemy

The morning sky is pewter.
The clouds are crying, the wind set to keen.
The bees do not hum, nor does
the day run with amber honey, or seem
auspicious of anything.

Outer and inner worlds chime.
There is weariness, the day full of lead.
What years of trial made chemists rhyme
base metal with glistening gold lumps,
experiments a dead loss?

They were considered clever,
though may have been quite literal boffins.
Some souls are a bit dimmer.
Where there is gold, they only see failed lead,
their experiments nothing.

Driven. Mad. Sad. A failure.
Everyday and hour full of lead,
a life obsessed with turning
base metal into something else instead
that might glisten as does gold.

To feel precious, worthy to behold,
to be as bright and shiny as that gold.



Copyright © 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved

Featured image Photo by MUILLU on Unsplash

In the Garden

Gardens are the theme for today’s 30 Days of Summer Writing Challenge prompt. Which is kind of appropriate since today is our wedding anniversary and I often refer to my husband as Gardener Cuckson. Certainly over the past three years he has developed a wonderful vision for our garden and has transformed it. We have an acre and a quarter and keep it wildish, which is much more environmentally sound. We are rewarded by the many wild bees, butterflies and dragonflies that stop by while we sit and take ‘tea on the terrace.’ Which sounds very grand. Imagine it as a much more rustic version. But with homemade cake on offer.

 In the Garden

Love's labour's never lost in the garden
with a spade and a fork, compost and blade,
Seeds that will fruit and seeds that will flower
into bumpers harvests to distribute.

In the garden, sweat and hard work are fun
(because amateurs never do get paid.)
Every gardener knows their blunders.
Humility wears big Wellington boots.

Even without a lot of sun the garden,
like a crayon box of a hundred shades,
broadcasts light's full spectrum, its augmenter
of dreams sleeping deep and digging in roots.

Those dreams are wild, to the hum of bees.
Like our home's garden, where we are trustees.


Copyright © 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved

Towards September

To the east of Ireland it is still dry and warm. Friends in England, both north and south, are melting in temperatures approaching 31C. But here in the ‘wesht’ of Ireland autumn is showing signs of arrival. While it is certainly clammy weather, the mercury is still hovering around 18C/62F. It’s close, but not overly uncomfortable. I am looking out at rain.For which I am grateful since we had quite the dry conditions until August this year. More hard rain and flash flooding and less soft rain altogether. The climate is looking less clement everywhere. Today’s prompt from 30 Days of Summer Writing Challenge is ‘Summer Nights’. I certainly have been remarking to myself the necessity of switching on the electric lights comparitively early these days. Partly this is low cloud and rain, but the nights are drawing in. From our cottage the late summer has a distinctly autumnal feel.

 Towards September

That sometimes of the summer bonus
with its daytime heat then nightly chill
crimsoning the house's creeper

Brings its surprise of electric light,
the clock saying eight o'clock
though we do not draw curtains
and windows are open for a draught

The spiders are full of industry
battening us with their silken nets
though the sunflowers stand
and face forward the setting sun

Soon equal light and equal night
the year cranking itself around
for a new season's wardrobe
shaking the sweaters out

Releasing clouds of cloth moths
the crane flies climbing the walls
legging it along ledges
watching moths flutter, beat their wings

Their sizzle, bumping and bumping against
the heat of electric light bulbs
blasting into long inky nights



Copyright © 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved









Featured image Photo by Christopher Paul High on Unsplash

Road Trip

The prompt from 30 days of Summer Writing Challenge today is ‘Road Trip.’ Which brought back fond memories of my most recent week long one to Scotland this past spring. The Road Trip began at the tail end of NaPoWritMo2019. To see the road tripper’s log in full, dial into the archive starting here: https://sojourningsmith.blog/2019/04/29/day-29-napowrimo-road-trip-day-1/. It seems appropriate to dedicate the Road Trip poem today to my fellow tripper, Morag. We were never Thelma and Louise, but we sure were good buddies on road and off.

 Road Trip
(For M.D.)

Journeys take you where they will. Like Ireland.
Or India. Or a man. Or even woman.

Ideally, these ought to come full circle,
with stops that can have glee and be peaceful.
We resurrect the passenger pigeon
before its decline and ultimate extinction.

Clamped in a moving metal box, we talk.
Not just about the moving scenery, the hawk
overhead, its omniscient eyes' view,
not just of what we know but what we have been through.

It's important to take unscheduled lefts.
Whimsy will not leave itinerary 's bereft
of edge. Or serendipity. Spellbound
by surroundings, this being lost is being found.


Copyright © 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved

The Emperors of Ice Cream Vans

Who wouldn’t think of Wallace Stephens on a Sunday morning? But it’s not intimations of immortality, but that catchy line ‘the emperor of ice cream.’ The prompt for today from 30 Days of Summer Writing Challenge is all over ice cream. Or other cold, sweet treats. Did I consider a sonnet to Vienneta? Or an ode to a root beer float? No.

Many years ago in Scotland there were ice cream van turf wars. That is the inspiration to supplement Stephen’s.

 The Emperors of Ice Cream Vans

That summer warred with itself
and anyone caught in its crossfire.
The jingle tinkled over
whole neighbourhoods, crossing their borders,
offering to make it sweet,
to guarantee smooth, cool from the heat.

It's hotter than Hell's Kitchen.
Give us ice! Make it with sugar, cream!
Put it in a wafer teat. Ohhhh!
Mamma! Save us from the emperors,
the fires they have unleashed,
the fury in the jangle of their speech.


Copyright © 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved

Featured Photo by Florencia Viadana on Unsplash

Prayer for the Dog Days

Today’s prompt from #30DaysOfSummerWrtingChallenge is about the Dog Days of August. With the dog star, Sirius, high in the night sky, in many parts of the world (excepting Ireland) we swelter. The nights are too sticky to sleep with even a sheet. A torpor descends. I am old enough to remember these days before universal air conditioning came into play, both domestically and in work places. All that energy being expended may be cooling off the room temperature, but the planet is overheating. The globe’s green lung, the Amazon, is on fire.

Until I moved to these more temperate climes in Ireland, August was my least favourite month of the year. If you had said to me years ago that my wedding day would take place in August I would have thought you were 1) demented, and 2) did not know me at all! Yet here I am with a wedding anniversary at the tail end of the August. And, to be clear, after a very rainy, and overcast summer, the sun split the azure sky on the day.

Yet, I know too that Ireland is a bit of an anomoly. But even here we have had had record breaking high temperatures for part of the summer. Climate change is real. We can feel it.

 Prayer for the Dog Days

Now I lay me down
with the Old Dog at my feet.
We pray in these crazed days
that our souls will keep.
And if we should die
in this stifling heat,
bless the species
we shall not keep
as we lay ourselves down
to another night's restless sleep.


Copyright © 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved.

Featured Photo by Tamara Bellis on Unsplash

Departure Delayed

The theme from today’s #30DaysOfSummerWritingChallenge is ‘Flights Delayed.’ And I have a humdinger of a memory to pack into the Poetry Daily. Which, admittedly, is delayed in itself today. Somedays you just need a long lie in. The cloud is low. The precipitation is persistant. Today is a day for me lying low, since the weekend is probably going to be a bit peopley. I need me some serious nose down in a book time today.

The memory stretches back to 2007 when I missed a flight (either due to my own incompetance with online booking, or the website’s issue; perhaps we were both a bit hot flushed.) I had grabbed a cheap transatlantic flight from Knock to surprise my mother by attending her 90th birthday party three weeks after I had visited for my niece’s wedding.What should have been a five day visit doubled when the re-booked flight was repeatedly delayed due to mechanical issues; then Glasgow Airport closed down during a terror attack so no replacement airplanes were on the way. And the airline did not see fit to hire a replacement one Stateside of the Atlantic.It turned into a very expensive ‘budget’ flight. The amount of time I spent hanging around a departure lounge may be the genesis of my extreme dislike of airline travel.

Departures

I have laid my head down upon the floor of JFK
and still lived to tell the tale of four days of flight delayed,
the corporate crack up of too small an airline fleet
meets with terror alert in Glasgow. Meaning no seats.
A fellow passenger had a heart attack in the heat.
Bad free airport food. Bad Intel. Bad hotel room. Bad tempers.

An expensive alternative airline flight finally
brought me home.  Our ancient tortoiseshell cat had kept the faith.
She did not die while I was away.
She purred herself out,
departed this world twelve hours home from all delays.
Both liberated, although each took a different route.



Copyright © 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved.


It’s true. I did instruct Sophie Cat not to die while I was away. She was seventeen and she hung in there until she passed on 4th July 2007.

Featured Photo by VanveenJF on Unsplash

Summer of Love

Today’s prompt on #30DaysOfSummerWritingChallenge is all about summer loving, or a summer of love, holiday romance. Summer does seem to make us turn to thoughts of … And it’s not all sun and sand in the mix. It’s true I did fall in love with the one I (still) love in summertime. So memory lane is coming to my rescue in the Poetry Daily again. But then, the Celts thought that poetry was all memory.

First Summer of Love

He set out on a Magic Bus
bound for his best mate's first wedding
in Nice. In London, I got sick.
Feverish. Lost my voice. Languished.
Thought he might be lost forever.

He came back on a Magic Bus
brandishing a bunch of sunflowers
(artificial) bought in the Med
where all the bodies beautiful
lay out, topless, on their sun beds.

But he thought of me
and I had missed him
equally. We both
got on a Magic Bus
we drove together
for all seasons, and
every weather.

Copyright © 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved.

Featured Photo by David Preston on Unsplash