Keep the Music Playing

Five months have passed since I started to write a poem a day and posting it on this blog. It started as poetry practice, the etudes of my youthful piano playing. It’s Saturday. When I was ten or so that would have found me in Miss Mildred’s upstairs room for a piano lesson. She was the one who gave me the etude sheet music. I was an indifferent piano scholar and intermittant with half-hour daily piano practice. Here I am fifty years on, finally getting the hang of it. Kind of…

In truth, my mother later confessed that I really ought to have had singing lessons with Miss Laura, the downstairs sister who taught voice. But she was a termigant, or reputedly so. My mother didn’t feel that talent should be an excuse for volunteering her sensitive child for trauma. But Mom came from a musical family and wanted to pass on that lore to her youngest child; Miss Mildred seemed the lesser evil. Both sisters had been Juilliard trained and promised more value for money than the nun who taught piano at our school at the time.

But I digress…. the five months of faithful daily poetry etude-making. But I did wonder this morning…how much longer can I keep this up? It is forty-five days until NaPoWriMo in April, when there will be poetry prompts for the daily taking. I woke up in a bit of a funk. Perhaps my bowels are disordered. Perhaps not. And yet, I picked up the pen…eventually, if a bit reluctantly.

Open Window

There are some mornings
where I would rather
listen to the birds sing
than pay attention to
my off-key musings.
Their notes need no lyrics.
Polyphony rings
round the townland, no words
to their offerings
heard through open window.
I can't stop looking.
There's two magpies. What joy
there is some mornings
where I would rather
listen to the birds sing.


Copyright © 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved.

Featured Photo by Dolo Iglesias on Unsplash

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An Etude…one more time!

It was like pulling teeth to get down to poetry this morning. Partly it was distraction. We are introducing a new cat into what must now be a pride of little lions…a fourth cat in the household, in addition to one large, old dog who behaves like a cat. But then Ellie was born under the sign of Leo…

I thought if I fed myself a grand cooked Sunday breakfast inspiration would arrive with digestion. But no. I looked at the usual blogs (Brain Pickings is a favourite), but the poem on that post just made me feel haggard and not up to the stuff. (Auden will do that to you.) Nothing much was triggering much of anything…

Finally, finally, finally…a word posted in a comment by Patsy a couple days back. A lovely word. But one I had to go look up! (Well played, Patsy!) This is more a five finger exercise, the etude stuff my piano teacher would have me at to warm up. That’s what started at the beginning of this writing a poem a day lark back in September 2018. Apologies to Daphne du Maurier fans. But I simply couldn’t help my self!

Eidelon

Last night I dreamt of Eidelon
its misty drive,
shady demesne,

dreaming that it was whole again,
not burnt out shell,
bricks loose, gap toothed.

I dreamt I was its chatelain,
or some fresher
version,

loose tressed, a little bit wanton-
not Guinevere
or Isolda -

more Beltane belle in Avalon-
without dire
consequences.

Last night I dreamt of Eidelon
rising above
oh so perfect.

Not wraith or spectre - an engine-
memory of
idolatry,

a mechanism long past sprung
with its pity,
and terror, too.

I once thought its acres heaven,
but its sad form
has gone rotten.

Though not in dreams of Eidelon.


Copyright © 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved.

Bear It

I feel as if I am back to poetry etude land today. I slept for twelve hours, right round the clock, with only one little interval breaking into the all those REM cycles. But not waking early has addled me some. But I suppose I needed the rest.

So bears have been in mind. Partly because it cropped up as a image on a friend’s Facebook page (Angel Dance Transcendance Arts). But also, partly because bear is one of the lesser known animal totems for the goddess Brighid (as opposed to St. Brigid). In the run up to Imbolc in January, I plop my Brigid Bear onto my altar to honour that ancient association.

The model for today’s featured image is the creation of Anke Morganroth’s Bear Essentials https://www.bearessentials.ie/ She is a limited edition Cuilcagh Bear, Cuilcagh being the mountain that dominates the West Cavan horizon.

But in terms of the Poetry Daily, I settled on some word play today. There are elevenies and octets. So I decided to write six lines of six syllables each on bear.

Bear

We place terrible strength
into a toddler's arms.
Now into each night's sleep,
its sweet, plush fur embraced,
there the young soul to keep.
Watch, bear! Your charm life's length.

Copyright © 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved.

If you are interested in exploring more about the myth and spiritual presence of the goddess Brighid and St. Brigid, there is my Kindle book of poems “Brigid’s Way: Reflections on the Celtic Divine Feminine” on sale on Amazon.

Some Poetry Making Etudes

Mostly I have been filling the creativity well this month. Sometimes you know something is not ready. You need time to pray at holy wells. Or stare at the birds perching in the sunflowers outside your window. To ponder locked room mysteries and the people inside them. To watch and gather one’s strength for a renewal, or a beginning.

As a child I was a piano scholar, and not a terribly gifted one. Essential piano practice came in the form of a book titled Etudes. They were five finger exercises to limber up the fingers, to get you stoked for the ivory so to speak.

I welcome autumn, the nights drawing in, the soulful click of knitting needles in the evening. It heralds the richest vein for writing. Like mushrooms that have had to follow the long, underground tracks before they can emerge, finally the words begin to pop up and patterns discerned. But start the practice, as Miss Mildred instructed, with the etudes.

 

Out on our lane one September morning

 

Approaching

A humming in the distance

Coming from the south – probably

(But sound carries in odd ways in the country

The wind can play hard and fast)

 

A bee swarm

Of human speech

Rising and falling

Babel bearing down

Upon us

 

All at once

A sound not unlike

Once heard outside a Stamford Hill Hassidic synagogue

Where inside the men

Daven at their prayers

 

Then

Inexorably moving towards me

Coming down the lane

Shaded by its shaggy hedges

The trees

 

A huddle of helmets

A lycra clad choir

Bent double

Constantly chattering

As pedals creaked, gears moaned

 

An all male

Tenor Baritone Bass

Fortissimo

Words spilling

Over each other

 

Then

One broke ranks vocally

Acknowledging me

In passing

Not missing a beat

 

(Also, the day –

How it was good

For drying the washing -)

A throw away line

Fluttering to my feet

 

The peloton rolled past

Pedalling north

Uphill and not so fast

Becoming echoes

Pegged to the washing line

Copyright 2018 Bee Smith