The Bearded Lady

Poems are full immersion experiences. Sometimes the symbols or extended metaphor may make you feel out of your depth. But if you can stay afloat long enough with a doggy paddle, it can feel more like a natural habitat. Friends who are clinical psychologists may send out a life raft. (Thank you, Bláthaín! And you, too, Tony!) It is true of our dreams, too. It can take a while to fathom their depths when you are swirling in the currents of culturally defined masculinity and femininity.

Bearded Lady

She's a freak,
a circus sideshow combing
her facial hirsutism
on display for all to see,
which feels so wrong
in so many ways.
She inspires pity and terror,
(the ancient Greek formula
for pure tragedy)
that she may never know love
or the safety
of a good husband.

I have sprouted the blonde beard
of a Viking sailor,
but without the moustache,
which comes out looking
disconcertingly Amish,
pacifist Anabaptist farmer
meeting Scandi noir-ior-
marauder, raider, rapist,
coloniser, usurper,
appropriator, trader.

No, no, no, no!
I cannot have that!
There is not enough beard oil
in the world
that can soften all that bristle.
I do not want to identify
with that!

Get out the trimmer.
Consider the strap and the blade.
Pour on the chemical
depilatory cream to disable
any stray traces
of masculine shade.

But when I look in the mirror
what I see
is that Viking sailor
with that weirdly Amish
and I now have the task
of masking my bearded lady
who is still there
without her whiskers

living with the knowledge
I am only the circus' sideshow
while the main event
is happening out
in the Big Top tent,
where the only women
who get to perform
are certain speciality acts.
They balance on the high wire.
The only ones who get to fly
swing on the trapeze.
Both without a safety net.

Copyright © 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved.

Today’s featured image is of a vintage circus poster which can be found and purchased from

Dreams of Perfection

dreams perfection poem

Sometimes our thoughts, as well as the myriad things on our ‘to do’ lists are like those pidgeons in today’s featured image. “It’s just your thoughts, watch your thoughts,” my husband mutters sagely But not very helpfully at that moment.  Because there is a lot more to my life then the Poetry Daily. Especially, at this time of year. Like most other people. But, most especially, most other women who don the persona of Mother Christmas. And like the photo, that feels like what is happening,at least in my head – a hundred birds flapping their wings simultaneously clammering for my attention.

Christmas is coming and many women will be lashing themselves with activity to prepare to perfection the holiday plans for family and friends. The reality is often end of day exhaustion and an uphill battle to get all those items ticked of the list. And if they don’t get a tick, I feel like I am going to be added to Santa’s Naughty List. 

Brené Brown writes about how what foils a woman being able to come into the power of her vulnerabililty is a cultural ideal of perfection. You know, how women can do it all and have it all!  (We do know this is tosh, but still some of us gamely get suckered in to it, especially this time of year.)  Never more than in the holiday season, do many women (including me) feel the brunt and weight of that lash of perfection. The reality is that I am running a marathon with a few sprints to 19th December. And this morning I feel knee-capped. Although astrology pundits advise once Mercury goes direct and the New Moon begins to blaze things might feel different.

But I got up and got the notebook out for the Poetry Daily. Nonetheless, she persisted…at least, with the poetry. That can be written in bed, with a cup of tea and some Ibuproen close to hand.

Dreams of Perfection

All night she dreamed
that the tip of her tongue
was scalded,
chili pepper hot soup licked
by someone else’s ideals
of perfection.
In the morning,
a tentative check –
no scar tissue.
But still. True,
there’s a ghost
of sensation,
the sting of cayenne.
Copyright © Bee Smith 2018

Featured image: Photo by Ali Arif Soydaş on Unsplash

On Point

I rarely remember my dreams unless I wake up out of them in that witchy time of night before dawn between 4 and 5 am. Today’s prompt  dives into dream dictionaries for inspiration. Here is Day 14 of NaPoWriMo for you.

Dream dictionaries have been around as long as people have had dreams. Interestingly, if you consult a few of them, they nearly always tend to have totally different things to say about specific objects or symbols. Dreams, unlike words themselves, don’t seem to be nicely definable! At any rate, today’s prompt is to write entries for an imaginary dream dictionary. Pick one (or more) of the following words, and write about what it means to dream of these things:




Ballet slipper


Wobbly table



Happy writing!



On Point

every little girl’s dream – almost –

tuile skirt, limned figure,

hair done in chignon.

So grown up. Limbering.

Bend. And Hold

before the mirror.

Move like a swan to the orchestra.

Collect your nutcracker.


Then the slippers pile up stage left.

Not singletons like Cinderella’s.

They never mention

the daily mending of splits and frays

the cost of bandaged toes

the bloody feet enpointe

anointed by performance art.


Copyright © 2018 Bee Smith


Featured image:

Photo by Krys Alex on Unsplash