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


Do Not Replace

So much that gets broken seems to not be able to be fixed. Even if you have some skill, some electrical and electronic goods just seem engineered for obsolesce and replacement. Which is really cluttering up land fill. And even as we are exhorted to feng shui and declutter, a third of that stuff is probably non-recyclable plastic destined for dumping somewhere not close to home. Even recycling and up-cycling have limits. Because we have guests coming for Christmas…actually because Christmas’ consumer frenzy is on the horizon, this orgy of waste and disposal in the design is preying on my mind. Even people who don’t horde have so much STUFF! Me included. In some ways we are lucky to be able to compost our food and garden waste, but there is still a fair amount that two people send to land fill each year. We consciously try to minimise it, but still…this is one part we all play in climate change.

Do Not Replace

I hate that supermarkets cradle

organic pears in styrofoam.

What’s a bruise between it and me

(or my gut)? After all, it will

Eventually compost down

Except for the plastic wrap

Which won’t biodegrade into

the sort of crap that makes roses,

that feed the bees, who pollinate

the peas and corn, the olive trees.

You can’t eat plastic or gadgets

that break and are sealed so no one

can fix them. So the replacement

cycle goes on. Until we stop

pretending plastic doesn’t end up

in a dolphin’s gut, exported

to somewhere poor where people live

quite literally off waste dumps.

So if it breaks I want glass or

wood lemon squeeze instead of tat.

I won’t replace the next bust thing-

Microwave or coffee grinder.

Just do not replace. It’s not like

we are really doing without.

Copyright Bee Smith 2018

About the Weather

climate change

Perhaps because I was talking about the haiku kigo, or seasonal word yesterday to the primary school kids, weather is on my mind. (Kids, rain in Ireland is like the evergreen tree; it is with us always. We need to be like Eskimos and have more than one word in our vocabulary to indicate the variations and grades of rain in Ireland – like mizzle, a fine mist, raining stair rods, etc.) But I digress from the point of today’s poetry practice. Weather is on one of the lists for gratitude. But perhaps because I am feeling a tad chilled and kind of Kermit the Froggy, I am more under the weather than feeling grateful for it.  At any rate, I woke sneezing and then decided I needed to try a new poetry form to mix it up.  I found a wonderful web resource for up to 86 kinds of poetry forms to try on for size at http://www.writersdigest.com/whats-new/list-of-50-poetic-forms-for-poets

So I decided to try out the decima, a ten line poem with a rhyme scheme. You get a bonus poem today, because there are two variations, one from Latin America/Puerto Rico and the other from Italy. Both are composed of ten lines with each line having eight syllables. The rhyme schemes vary.

First up is the Latino version.

About the Weather

If, like me, you shun dawn mornings

and need caffeine intravenous

to face the new day, its brashness…

If, like me, you look for warnings

(since shepherds and sailors are bust,

employed elsewhere earning their crust)

meteorologists will have

their job’s worth reckoning to salve

worries about cruellest winds’ gusts.

Copyright © Bee Smith 2018

But since I am also concerned for those Californians living in the Bay Area and Los Angeles who are experiencing terrifying wildfires, I wrote this. My friend in San Jose reports that even though they go out with breathing masks against the smoke, there is no protection for the eyes, that are smarting from the poor air quality.

CaliforniaConflagrations

Where there is fire, there is smoke.

Where there is fire, there is ash.

It consumes, belches, then it chokes

the life from what is in its path.

Something shall survive, I suppose,

phoenix-like – that mythological bird

who can rise and rise above all

mass destruction, landscape altered.

Earth, too. Turned to fireball.

And this was the fate human’s chose.

Copyright © Bee Smith 2018

Meanwhile, Nero fiddles while climate change burns.

Featured image: Photo by Matt Howard on Unsplash

A Change in Climate

I know I said that I would stick with the gratitude thing in November for poetry practice. Well, I am grateful for people who face fire and flood. But I am also impatient with those who do nothing but court further disaster. Thoughts and prayers don’t always cut it. Practical measures matter. I predict climate change is the new reality TV show of this generation. I take no pleasure in being that sort of sour Cassandra.

 

Climate Change

 

While Paradise, California burns…

Evacuations make for refugees.

Disasters can put whole populations

on the move – flood, famine, bombs, pestilence

of every description besetting

a massive caravan of desperation.

People just want to survive. Or at least

for those they love to live through complete loss.

Obliteration of past and future

doesn’t figure into the equation.

Knowing the back roads to avoid the jams

will become a strategy, like a drill.

Have your escape route mapped and your bags packed.

The emergency is happening now.

Be prepared. Stock bottled water, canned food.

It’s the apocalypse now on the move –

an End Times kind of drama, The Event,

small lives gone prime time on network TV.

Except for most the series gets cancelled.

Meanwhile, the corporate HQ fiddles

with an arsonist’s delight in the burn.

 

Copyright © Bee Smith 2018