Stuck or Chuck?

Two poems for your this Sunday Weekly Poem edition. It’s been an interesting week to say in the least. The first poem was actually written in the aftermath of the full moon last Sunday. Because we have had a relatively clear sky at night, even the waning moon’s light has been filtering through the bedroom curtains. The second poem is really a meditation on a few telephone conversations and a social media comment. Once you do the whole feng shui, clearing out and giving away thing, why do you not feel better? What do you do with that void? Which really was a good question, an existential one that has universal application even. Off and on during the week I was in bed batting back a virus, sleeping and dreaming, and sweating physically and metaphorically. Also watching the breakneck speed of breaking news.

Sandwiched in between was a day spent in the prison’s Education Centre with a few heroes who do not recognise their own heroic status, but who did ponder, discuss, and explore in writing these heroic attributes: integrity, humanity, individuality, dedication, selflessness, freedom, happiness, companionship, loyalty, as well as the distinction between bravery and courage. It can be lonely being a hero, but they know that heroes need allies.

First, the October moon, aka The Hunter’s Moon or The Dying Moon. A quotation was another seed.

Birth and death are the most surreal events in life, and everything in between is collage, too.

Lucy Ellman
The Dying Moon

Her rays blaze out,
permeating the curtains drawn
to shut in the dark.

This is when the year dies,
when the year is at its most surreal.

She's going out
in Grandstand style
any old hunter could
pick off so
easily.

Flaunting Her light
before she wanes into
"Good Night"
"Farewell"
pondering
Her right

to be reborn
every month
but
as this year dies

at some point
on another
surreal axis

the hinges will again
creak and moan
give out a wail

it begins
as it ends
foliage bursting forth,
then falling, falling...
naked at each pole point

but inbetween
the foliage
where everything
is collage,
nothing decided,
just patched,
and pieced.

Copyright © 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved

A telephone conversation early this week led to my characterising 2019 as the year of ‘Stuck or Chuck”, which may account for the popularity of the Marie Kondo Netflix series. If we can just get organised, if we can achieve some order, if we can just be tidy…perhaps we can stem the tide of insanity of anxiety…maybe. But what happens if none of that happens?

Empty

All year
the paper mounted up and up
beseeching action...except... the final piece..
or maybe two or three...but not many..

left it languishing in paper prison,
incarcerated with no fixed term date
to look forwards towards. Or...

THE DEADLINE!

though this, too, can alter...those sticking points...

When you clean house, just try to chuck the box
propping the bed's leg up. You're in for a
collapse of more than dreams.

Is it a trap?

Chucking the baby, bassinette, water,
carving out a void, a hollow hiding
in wide open, inviting existence to
swallow.

To feel full on air instead of
stuffing, stuffing, stuffing mouths and houses,
filling, filling, filling the empty space.

And we watch Marie Kondo looking for
how to fold our fitted bed sheets on faith.
That the planet will not go down under
landfill or rising water or plastic

along with the bed and its wobbly leg,
the box holding it all up exploding
random contents, thoughts, our own nostalgia.
Our dreams.

Empty feels uncomfortable.
It is weightless. The moorings have slipped off.

Drifting in an expanse . Which may kill you.
Don't just tread water. Go learn how to swim.
Don't just space walk. Become an astronaut.

It's not good enough
a life staying stuck.
It's not good enough
to give everything
the chuck.

Or to predicate happiness
on satisfaction with your brimming plate,
a life full of love, with no tastes to hate,
guzzling fossil fuel, put our guts on fire
But still we want more
even if we all expire.

The empty space. Where once a box was placed.
It is white noise in symphany.
(Clap! Clap!)

Copyright © 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved

Featured image  Photo by Philipp Berndt on Unsplash 
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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

Gimme Shelter To Ride Out the Storm

‘Riders of the Storm’ is the prompt in the inbox from #30DaysOfSummerWritingChallenge this morning. Certainly this month has seen some uncharacteristically stormy,thundery weather, the kind of weather that broods like Heathcliff- the drama never seems to be able to hit its climax and resolve. It’s true that we have seen some extreme rain storms after a relatively dry (for Ireland) winter and spring this month. Deluges that last five minutes and can manage to make the storm drains overflow shift into bursts of sunshine. It has been close but not particularly hot, although when that sun does break through it can feel clammy. The air felt extra heavy . The old dog moped. The cats were fractious with one another. You longed for a breeze. Or a real storm to clear it all up. So the Poetry Daily starts the week with one song from my teens as the prompt and another one lending itself to the title. (It is chastening to know that you are old enough for songs that were the playlist of one’s youth are now ‘classic.’ It feels like I have been relegated to the same category as vintage cars!)

Gimme Shelter

Fickle month of flinching showers
alternating with deluges
guillotining the gladioli.
You never know where you are,
or how to dress. Who to be.
Or prepare.
Weather is the autocrat
in the oligarchy of climate change.

Though it can be, sometimes
a season of fierce sunshine
cracking through the downpour.
There have been rainbows
to wish upon...

that we may all be well,
be happy, be released
from the terror of close thunder
that shakes,
the lightening
that strikes,
making the house's foundations
shudder.


Copyright © 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved.

Featured image Photo by Max LaRochelle on Unsplash

Spirited Sunday Poems

I offer you two little spirited poems this Sunday morning in the Poetry Daily. One I wrote yesterday after seeing an item about how fireflies are in danger of going extinct. Now, I realise that species are falling like dominoes leaving holes in the trophic cascade, but this one speaks of one of the innocent delights of my childhood. In late August as the nights drew in and bedtime was still a half hour away, I ran around our yard with a jelly jar trying to capture those phosporescing flies. They were magical. I would watch them glow as I fell asleep. Of course, they never survived the night. On one hand I know that those jam jar chases after them are a thing of the past,one more pastime that is relegated to history. On the other hand I know we must compassionately offer a species some future. But gosh, kids today are missing out on so much fun that was available freely in the outdoors in the childhoods of the 1950s.

goodnight fireflies
Goodnight Fireflies!

As I was waking I seemed to have the words purpose, intent and fingerprints rolling around like pingballs in my consciousness. I wanted to find a quotation that might start a five liner. Justine Willis Toms provides the quotation line that begins the poem that I hope offers a bit more uplift after the elegy for the firefly.

heart fingerprints purpose call
The call

I hope you have a Sunday that nurtures your soul and prepares you to answer the call to your Spirit’s purpose in the week to come.

Mending

I knew at some point that the artwork I viewed when I was on Glasgow earlier this month would eventually compost down into a poem. Today’s the day for poetry practice to be sparked by an exhibit of the finalists of the BBC Women’s Hour Craft Prize.  The work that stayed with me did not win.  But it was the one that moved me most. Celia Pym uses darning as a “way to interrogate our feelings about vulnerability, care and repair”, as well as the value of mending. In the exhibit, at Glasgow’s Lighthouse, the mended garment included some biography about the maker, the wearer and the meaning of the garment. It was not just an exercise in salvaging an item of clothing; it excavated story and memory. As the old Celts believed, memory is the basis of all poetry.

Mending

It is an out of date craft,

seeing the warp and weft,

the places where it has become

all unravelled,

where a chasm or crater

opened up in the fabric.

You had your needle and yarn.

You knew how to darn.

To darn was necessity,

like plugging the hole that sprang

in a dyke – for otherwise

the sea will take all.

It’s the last defense. With yarn

weaving it all back into 

a whole piece, the story may

have alteration,

but it still holds up despite

patchwork, cast on, sounds off.

The tide goes out. The seawall

stilll holds it at bay.

Though today mending may be

a dying art. We cast off

the worn beyond easily

into a landmass,

a continent of cast offs-

poor storyless pieces of cloth

insufficently beloved,

piled high, sold so cheap.

Mending used to be a skill.

As necessary as how

to make was in the first place.

The plot’s got mislaid

The fabric’s gone frayed.

Copyright 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved.

Insects

Insects are our planet’s friends. Even if they may be really annoying to us. We are fairly ignorant of how these smallest creatures figure in the whole trophic cascade. Take them out with a pesticide and we don’t really know how unbalanced things can become. Because nature will always fill a vacuum. Something will move in for sure. This morning my poetry practice poetry form random pick comes from Wales. It is the Clogyrnach. Sorry! I have no clue how that should be pronounced! The poetry form runs to a six line stanza. Or it can be a five liner if you run the final two together; apparently, this is allowed. The syllabic scheme is 8-8-5-5-3-3. (or 8-8-5-5-6.) The general rhyme scheme is ab etc. You get the idea! The subject of poetry practice this morning is…the midge. Scotland has them, but we only saw may flies on our visit. But they are out in force now here in West Cavan. As I found this morning. If you want to read more poems on insects you can find them in Carol Ann Duffy’s poet laureate valedictory project published in the Guardian Review some weeks ago. https://www.theguardian.com/books/2019/apr/27/into-thin-air-carol-ann-duffy-presents-poems-about-our-vanishing-insect-world
To a Midge

The window left open for the cats
allowed ingress to the dreaded...
MIDGE!  It came and sat
on an eyebrow's thread
and made my face its bed.

This morning it was lumps and bumps
(like an inflattable mattress
not overall plump)
Itching is endless.
Just stop with the mug dump!

 
 Copyright © 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved. 
Featured image Photo by Neenu Vimalkumar on Unsplash

Motherland

In the land of my birth, today is Mother’s Day. Many years ago,as a Mother’s Day gift, I sent my own mother a poem written on a Donegal beach, contemplating the ocean between us that also was what bound us. Years later when we were putting items into her coffin that poem went with her into the ground. 

It is a Sunday and I am not a mother. But I do have a great deal of leisure time to spend with poetry practice. I birth other things. I actually wrote two poems this morning. Somedays it takes a while to get the poetry engine purring. And while we all have biological mothers, let us not forget the one who sustains us ultimately.

Motherland

Some mountains are mothers.

Others are the granny

Having her back while she’s

Labouring hard, panting

Into the birthing stone.

Remember the mother

Distraught, wasted away

When her daughter was snatched,

Held hostage, forced into

An unholy marriage.

There are consequences

Until you give something.

Reparation for wrongs

Done to the motherland.

For she will always

Prevail.

                 We though, may not.

Copyright 2019 Bee Smith


Body of Water


A spring is the rising well in my heart

fed deep below or far above runoff,

the cascade roaring over the rock face.

Cataracts blinding as one’s salty tears,

create countless burns, brooks, becks streaming.

Rivers form and fork like two legs meeting.

I carry the ocean in my belly.

Even now the old tug and pull of tide

still presides through the moon’s wax and waning.

An ocean bed is still an ocean bed

even when the tide has carried water

far, far out,you still carry the vessel

holding the light in phosphorescent night.

Copyright 2019 Bee Smith

Motherland mothersday
Hoy, Orkney

Featured photo ‘the naval of earth’ at Uisneach, Ireland