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.

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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It is an out of date craft,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

NaPoWriMo2019 Day 2

As usual I have a dual identity going on even with NaPoWriMo and GloPoWriMo. I can claim NaPoWriMo since it is from my country of origin. But I haven’t lived there since 1982 so the GloPoWriMo tag feels more accurate. But I have settled on being both.

The prompt for today is to end a poem in a question. And I just seemed to end my poetry practice for today in a volley of questions. After yesterday’s villanelle I am back to syllabbics.

An Uncertain Climate

Then the cold returns...
fat snowflakes softly settled
on the old dog's back,
blackthorn blossom briefly
obscured on the hedge.

Will the seeds we've sown shrivel?
Will the summer turn winter
like in Black '47?
How long can denial
remain inconsequential?

Copyright © 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved.

Featured Photo by Joshua Rawson-Harris on Unsplash

Sojourning Smith Participating in GloPoWriMo2019

Daffodil Ministry

About thirty years ago I attended Quaker meetings in Leeds. Every springtime there was one elderly member who could be relied upon to rise to offer ministry which began, ” I was walking to Meeting today and saw the daffodils…” Etc. etc. In our household this annual event became known as Elderly Member’s Daffodil Ministry Sunday. It marked the official opening of springtime in Yorkshire, which can be cold, dreary, and arrive late.

Where we live now in Ireland within both Marble Arch Caves Global Geopark and the Atlantic Area, we enjoy the balmier effects of the Gulf Stream. Even so, when we first moved here an old farmer neighbour told me there was a proverb, “A fair February crushes the rest of the year.” This piece of folklore was followed by the comment of a colleague (who was also a farmer’s wife) -” I don’t know that the old signs hold anymore.” Which is sort of code for the effects of climate change, I think.

We have enjoyed a fair February this year. The bulbs are out in the pots and raised bed for weeks now. The daffodils I planted sixteen years ago are also blooming now along the laneside. So, too, are they at the back of the house. At any rate I am not wandering lonely as a cloud when a daffodil turns up in my poetry practice.

 Daffodil Ministry

A fair February crushes the rest of the year
...but who can say
the old signs still hold.

Daffodils are remarkably resilient.
Narcissi, too. Seeing as they
only have  to look out for themselves.

But if the cold should descend again?
What of the birds?
Their early pairing, nest building...

It's creatures of the earth sold out because
we - you and me - feel so empty
we have made sordid landfill of our hordes.

Meanwhile, the grape hyacinth and croci unfold
their petals. The seasons shall survive
even when the old signs do not hold.

Meanwhile, the cool morning air, sun washed,
blows across the daffodil's face, shaking her awake.
The oldest - eternal - story every told.


Copyright © 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved.

Featured Photo by Anthony Young on Unsplash

In Case of Emergency

emergency climate change

In news we have more instances of climate change creating natural disaster. Earlier this year California was consumed in wild fire.  Hurricanes wracked the Atlantic coast. Alaska had an earthquake, which set off anxieties about a coastal tsunami swell. The Appalachian faultline is rumbling. So, too, is the earth being fracked in Lancashire. So my Poetry Daily addresses emergency strategies. Which may be a bit of a Job’s comfort as my late friend Jan used to say.


In Case of Emergency
 
There may be little point
in smashing glass…
 
In a quake:
it is recommended you
hang in a threshold place.
 
In a twister:
climb into the bath, pull a mattress over
if you haven’t got a cellar.
 
In a nuclear attack:
a bunker
won’t much matter.
 
It will be a matchstick world
full of hologram men
and women.
 
Now what do you hold onto
when all around you is shifting?
 
Some grapple faith, while
others grasp onto hope.
Still others reach for what they love.
 
It may be a tangible thing – another human,
a dog, a cat, even a pet rat.
We’re hardwired for protect and survive.
 
In case of emergency,
our ancestors knew the importance
not to panic.
 
Evolution may favour the fittest.
Worry may not.
Darwin did not stop and consider
 
the kinked calculus of fortune
in his equation
or definition of fitness.
 
Hold onto the magic.
It will show its harrowed face.
It may say it has a name.
 
Faith, it may say.
Hope, it may be called.
Love, it may answer to.
 
It may be courage.
But it will turn up
when most unexpected.
 
Hold fast in that moment.
It is the old magic that knows how
to shift with every shift and tide
to face the giant wave of time.
 
Copyright © Bee Smith 2018
 
 

Featured image Photo by Torsten Dederichs on Unsplash