Waiting Room

I have been perusing the archive of the poem a day over the past year to begin putting together a longlist of poems for my first solo collection of poetry. Bits of my life are layered in. So it came as no surprise that I have drafted the Poetry Daily at least once before in the waiting room of our GP’s surgery. It was routine blood taking today and they start very early. You have to fast. So it was without benefit of caffeine that I penned the first draft of the poem for today as I waited my turn for the blood letting. (Never easy. Just use the left, Audrey! The veins on my right routinely collapse. As the daughter of a laboratory technician I am pretty blasé about this. Four tries later the single vial needed for the thyroid check was accomplished. I have written so much about rock and stone over the year I did begin to ponder ‘getting blood from a stone’ and its applicability to me.)

Sparing any thoughts of Godot, there is also the next breathless twist in the Brexit scenario. Which, in the eventuality of a no deal crash out will have implications for all of us living in border country. Our GP’s surgery is a few hundred yards from the border. Just over the bridge that is the border is the nearest pharmacy to get your prescriptions. We go to and fro with ease without a hard border these last twenty years. But a no deal Brexit could change all that. There has already been one bomb on the border defused already. Although the good news is that Peace V will carry on the twenty year journey working towards peace and reconciliation on this island. Because it takes a generation to really make change.

So millenials in Northern Ireland, make sure you are registered to vote. A general election is coming and the majority in Northern Ireland wished to remain in the EU.

 Waiting Room

That taut air of held breath
in the space where we wait
for the other shoe to drop.

Some drum their fingers.
Others fold their palms
and temple their thumbs.

The studied yawn.
Staring at phones.
What's the news this dawn?

Some stare straight ahead,
seemingly can't blink, but
maybe we all need their kind of meds.

In balancing on the high wire
Don't look up! Certainly,
don't look down!

It saps your inner fire
does waiting - for a birth. Or a death.
Just anything definite.

Though long-term you acquire
a grace and patience
that furrows even the smoothest brows.

But better the bad that you know
than the worse that might come.
Waiting is never ever any fun.


Copyright © 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved

Featured image: Photo by Martha Dominguez de Gouveia on Unsplash

Don’t Frack With The Fairies

It has been ten years since we were first alerted to the fact that this pristine area of the world, a large part of which has the UNESCO recognition for its unique international significance for its natural, as well as built, heritage was under threat from fracking. A good chunk of the what geologists call the Lough Allen Basin lies within the Marble Arch Caves Global Geopark. It is an international, cross-border venture. As was the initial campaign to prevent drilling in Fermanagh, in Boho back in 2014. At the eleventh hour it was discovered no planning application had ever been made on the quarry drill site. Mark Durkin, the Northern Ireland Secretary of the Environment, ordered that drilling was not possible.

In the meantime, in the Republic of Ireland, activists put through the first ever private member’s bill to ban fracking in the Republic. Just last week the Republic of Ireland was the second nation in the world to declare a Climate Emergency. Much research concludes that the fracking process is catastrophic to the environment. Not only that. Our natural gas isn’t even that good quality.

This week Fermanagh’s newspaper The Impartial Reporter, announced that Tamboran, the corporation vanquished five years ago, has begun the planning application process to frack 600 square kilometers of southwest Fermanagh.https://www.impartialreporter.com/news/17631493.fracking-licence-to-cover-over-600-square-kilometers-of-fermanagh/

This application covers miles of boundary with the Republic. If the whole Brexit worry over the border wasn’t enough, now we have to worry about genocide by enviromentocide. This move feels provocative to me, coming at this time while the Brexit negotiations grind on and the wrangle about how to handle the contentious boundary.

But be in no doubt. Fracking has a well-documented adverse effect on public health, and a negative impact on agriculture and tourism. That’s the backbone of our economy for the many and it will be destroyed. Fracking is another 1% move on destroying people in the name of profit for the very, very few.

But what was miraculous in the campaign against the frackers five years ago, is that it united the population and cut across the sectarian divide. Because everyone here loves the land. And the land herself was under attack. It is again.

So poetry practice meets agitprop today. The new poetry form I found is, appropriately, an Irish one, the treochair. It is made up of tercets, or three line stanza of 3-7-7 syllables. The first and third lines are meant to rhyme and alliteration is strongly encouraged.

Whether you are a fairy agnostic or not, be in no doubt that they helped us upset the Tamboran plan last time. We are allies in this fight.

Don't Frack With the Fairies

Fermanagh
Don't frack with the fairies!
It's a toxic formula.

Forsooth! Frack
at your peril. Don't let loose
cracking egomaniacs.

Believe you me,
Tamboran will have no luck
tampering with those tinies.

Just listen!
It's just never healthy
to snort, give out derision.

Not so wee
The Good Folk. Or the Auld Ones.
Call them as they may be.

Whatever
your position on fairies
this is a doomed endeavour.

Fermanagh
The planet needs patching up.
Join the Fairy Fianna!

Mother Earth
Needs all of us as allies
protecting purity's worth.

Frack fairies?
The truth? Their revenge will mean
apocolyspe, catastrophe.

Not just for
us, or you, or family.
Fracking is forevermore.



Copyright © 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved.

NaPoWriMo2019 Day10

I am playing fast and loose with the NaPoWriMo2019 prompt for today. “Today, I’d like to challenge you to write a poem that starts from a regional phrase, particularly one to describe a weather phenomenon.” I have a cracker of a regional phrase, one from County Armagh, Northern Ireland. Which makes this very GloPoWriMo2019 and gives me a chance to vent about Brexit.

“Shar me hay-ed” is what it sounds like. This translates as “shower my head”. Or could even be used as “go shower your head.” It’s more to do with internal weather than external low and high pressure systems. My late sister-in-law came over to us in England from Armagh back in the late 1990s for her fiftieth birthday to “shar me hay-ed.” With a hard Brexit looming and living in border lands we may all be needing to go shower our heads more frequently. In a little over a week I will be escorting a group of school childrenthrough a sliver of territory that will cross international boundaries twice. This is just to take them for a guided walk in Cavan Burren Park, which is part of a cross-border global geopark. It’s supposed to be a fun day out during a Easter Holiday School doing arts and crafts.

I just realised I may have to pack my passport since I don’t have a photo ID driver’s licence. I have to ride on the bus to fulfill the mandatory number of adults for Child Protection Policy.

The point is that nobody knows what all the implications will be. To have called a referendum without a plan was just plain wicked and so disruptive of millions of lives. Blast Brexit! We all need to go shower our heads over this.

Go Shower Your Head 

"I need to shar me hay-ed,"
she said.
Not the power shower sort
of head.
A break from all the stress
forcefed
living with an army of occupation and
hotheads
A soft day cannot wash away
bloodshed.

So go shower your head
in a cascade.
Change your weather channel
in glen and glade.
We all need to shower our heads
 to biodegrade our dismay.


Copyright © 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved.




GloPoWriMo2019
Bee Smith is participating in GloPoWriMo2019

Look Out

Perhaps it is because I have young people much in mind that my Poetry Daily writing mind turns to youth and their future. Yesterday, I began what will be a whole Springtime’s co-creation of story with a number of 10-12 year olds from Curravagh National School. This is part of the Cruinniú na nÓG Creativity for Children program being run by Cavan Monaghan ETB. Then again, I am giving lunch today to an over 35 year old that I first met when he was about their age. I am old enough now to see both the beginning and the middle of some stories, as well as witness the endings of others. That is the privelege of age.

The feature photo today is one I took of a youngster in our party, the son of one of the Geopark guides standing in the window of the dining room of Belvedere House on Saturday. These past twenty years we have known peace in our border counties. I pray that Brexit does not spoil their young adulthood and lives, the way the Troubles stained so many in the previous thirty years.

Look Out

Offer yourself to the world
beyond this glass.
Imagine!

Crayon yourself outside the lines
of boys' dreaming
bayonets.

Girls, do not be confined to
polishing glass,
just looking.

No, offer all of yourselves.
Re-wild your dreams.
See the toads

in the garden someone made.
That was their toil.
Plant your own.


Copyright © 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved.


A River Runs Through

We are no clearer as to what will happen to our border come 29th March, 2019, the Brexit deadline. Teresa May was hoarse and shouted down in Parliament the other day. Still the only movement seems that the penny dropped that No Deal is really a very bad deal for all concerned. Four centuries of British invasion and colonialism have come home to roost. It’s a knot they made for themselves. Well, their ancestors made for them. For those who feel no ancestral connection, who believe that post-moderns are beyond history, this is where history, ancestral decisions and actions brings us. Victors may get to write the official history. The land and the ancestors know the whole story.

As an aside, today marks six months since starting to write a poem a day and posting it on this blog. I had done the month long NaPoWriMo in April 2017 and 2018, but I felt the itch to challenge myself. I had no idea that I would still be here. You can see my flops and the successes. But at least I am having the courage to write on a daily basis.

I am really grateful for my faithful readership (you know who you are. And so do I!) and my faithful Twittership Traci York (check out her blog http://www.traciyork.com). The blog has evolved with poetry writing as a spiritual practice and as a journal. Not so much of outward happenings – there have been momentous occurances – but of my inward response to them, or even my deflection of them.) I do at regular intervals wonder how long I can keep this up, especially as I start juggling teaching and three different projects over the next three months. That will be a real test of the practice.

A River Runs Through

Borders may shift
but the land stays still.
Rivers demarcate
the only sure
lines you can cross
on maps.
 
                   No matter
the tribe you subscribe,
they can deny
you, throw you to
hell or Connaught, out
beyond the Pale,
into schtetl,
township bulldozered.
Relocated
you can become
a Them, a Not-Us
so easily.

                 Who
do you love?
                 Will
they love you at
your last moment?
                Would
the earth reject
your lifeless form?

The land knows you, that
you are their own.
Where your bones rest
it calls you its own.
No maps or border,
no tribe ever
will describe all
the story the land
tells us.
                 Listen. Here.
A river runs
through like blood.


Copyright © 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved.

Featured Photo by Drew Coffman on Unsplash

Certainty

Some days I just have to mix it up to get going at writing the Poetry Daily. So instead of picking up the pen immediately – well, after making a cup of tea, letting out the old dog, feeding the ravenous, demanding tribe of cats – I changed my routine today. So I read Saturday’s Guardian instead. I made sure my blood sugar levels were up by actually eating breakfast before writing. And it did provide inspiration when I woke up feeling a bit blank and post-nasal drippy.

What I got from the paper was all Brexit and uncertainty. Hadley Freeman was flagging how groups like Epilesy Action and diabetics are worried that necessary, life saving, drugs may go in short supply if there is a no-deal Brexit. The news was full of cataclysm, decline, crumbling institutions. Also, the obituary of Majenta Devine, who I found out was almost exactly a year younger than mean. That always brings one up short. But I digress from the Brexit hand wringing that is the main topic in the headlines.

Heck, when Leavers revel in the potential of a Blitz community spirit outcome, it has sent some friends to the supermarket to hoard toilet paper. (Shortages are always a gift to the criminally entrepreneurial types. See also US Prohibition.) However, hoarding items which may go short is just a way of handling the anxiety of the uncertain outcome. No one, even the negotiators, knows how this is all going to shake down. Since we live so close to the border, which may remain soft, or suddenly go cold and hard at month’s end, I am just keeping my ear to the ground.

It made me ponder how anxiety is fueled by uncertainty, which then made me contemplate certainty. What is absolutely certain? Other than the pathetic meows of hungry cats in the morning, what could I list? This then was how poetry practice turned out today.

Certainty
For H. S.

Sun rises,
the moon, too.
Each in their turn shall
set and rise
all over
again. This we trust.

In between,
in the gaps,
particles of dust
shall dance and
will be glimpsed
in a spot of sun.

Trust that we
are stardust
vaccuumed up in bags,
collecting
in pockets,
with our shed skin cells.

It's just that
this is it.
Inevitably,
there is sun.
There is moon.
There is dust - and us -

the wild cards
exerting
free will. Or is it
predestined
emotion
causing commotion?

Trust then in
sun and moon,
their rise and set. Also,
dust - always.
In between,
the uncertain us.

Copyright © 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved.

Brexit: A Breach in the Peace

Reading the papers this past few days, two things have been on my mind. First, the Irish Tanaíste, or deputy PM, has been rushing through legislation in advance of a No-Deal Brexit. Which will almost inevitably mean a hard border close to where I live. Then, reading on what the implications are on certain details of life in post-Brexit Britain, I read that the EU pet passport will not longer apply to holidaymakers who want to take their pets on European vacations. Now that doesn’t sound terrible, but it did make me wonder about people round where I live who take their pets to the vet in Enniskillen. That would be taking a pet out of the EU into a non-EU state. So where does that leave doting pet owners. Moreover, where does that leave the vet with a sizeable cross-border clientele? And if more had been made of not being able to take your hound on holiday, maybe the Brits would have voted Remain.

But what makes me really sad is that for me the EU was always about trying to create some justice, peace and reconciliation on a continent shriven by terrible, terrible wars. There was sectarian and ethnic strife, but for the most part, they were contained and were addressed. For the past twenty years the EU has funded four different phases of the Peace and Reconciliation process in Ireland.It’s not perfect, but it has made a huge difference. Who would have thought you could create the first cross-border Geopark on the planet in a place that had previously hosted army patrols not ten years earlier? Or, when fracking was threatened that all communities cross border united to see off the companies who wanted to drill. Frackers have a modus operandi of divide and conquer. In this cross-border area they cemented are sense of common cause.

A Breach of the Peace

It was not for cheap olive oil
or surplus sugar beet.
It was never the point
to build a butter mountain
even if that was the byproduct.
It was to stop making killing fields
generation upon generation.

Kids now having kids
in Northern Ireland today
can barely remember the army patrols
marching in full battle dress
past Boots the Chemists,
the bakers, the butchers.
Their ears don't pop to bomb blasts.

Lest we forget,
it was never about
oceans of surplus dairy fat.
It was to level the playing fields
built over a continent pitted
with century old bomb sites.
To stop the blood shed.


Copyright © 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved.