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

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

to be reborn
every month
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?


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...


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

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 

Everyday Objects That Make You Smile

The Great Cull to make our house much more zen continues. It begins to get compulsive as you plow through drawer after drawer full of stuff that has been cached there out of sight and mind. I think I may have found the camera lead a friend who visited mislaid two years ago! It’s good training for the days after the 365 poem a day routine. Because then editting begins. You need a certain ruthlessness on what needs to go. (Oh, beautiful line, you need to go now. You do not really have a home in this poem. Good bye!)

But the Great Cull has concentrated me on objects that may not necessarily spark joy, but do make you smile. I think this is the great appeal for kitch items. I have to say I have a wee jug of a topless blonde woman who has bare knockers that jiggle; she makes me smile. It is patently silly, but the whimsy wins everytime. These everyday objects, which may not be art, are the stuff that make you smile. For some it might be a pillar box red fridge. Or it could be a seashell.

I reckon that those of us born in the post World War II Baby Boom generation have a special quandary around stuff. We were raised by parents who had known the privations of global economic depression and world war. Some lost everything. Others had next to nothing. We were raised by parents who horded rubber bands and saved gift wrapping paper scraps. You saved everything because you never knew when it might come in handy. And there was always the fear of shortages. We are also the generation that experienced the consumer boom and free global trade. You can get just about anything from anywhere. And it tends to constitute clutter until you cull. But there are still the objects that make you smile to contend with. Those are the tough choices.

Everyday Objects That Make You Smile

Two centuries ago I would be lucky
to own an everyday dress
and one for Sunday best.
They would have hung on pegs
in a narrow room
along with a linen bag
full of handknit stockings and night shift.
There would be two pinafores
to drape overall
to stay the dust, mop up the grime.

What would have made that long ago maid smile?
Was it a length of pretty ribbon,
cherry red or sky blue?
Perhaps some lace to lay on her throat
when she had her one day a month day out.
Or was it the yeasty rise of a loaf of bread?
A tune that kept going around in her head?

Would it be some wheat and poppies
she gathered and placed in a cracked jug?
That cracked jug...
sitting on the windowsill
catching the morning light.
What made her smile in her everyday
of short rations,
with her still hungry eye
for beauty,
that went over and above

Copyright © 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved

Featured image: Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Poetry Daily Joy

Another very late edition of the Poetry Daily. This week my writing routine has been severely taxed. And inside I am not so much Mrs. Cranky as Mrs. Discombulated. I love have early morning writing time. With the expected Second Coming of the Septic Tank Man I set my alarm. But apparently not early enough! I had some very desultory writing practice done when his truck roared up in front of the house. From then on there was no peace until I met my lift into the new Weaving/Textile Art class run by my creative colleague Morag in Dowra Courthouse this morning. Two hours of getting to grips with warp, weft, hard and handy chased all thoughts literary out of my head. (Which I do reckon to Be A Good Thing for me. Get out of my head. Do something that does not come easily so I really focus. Which is effected with much muttering to self. Sorry, fellow weavers!)

But it did make me realise how wedded I have become to this routine. It has not always panned out that I could post early, but a good solid chunk of time first thing in the morning was devoted to becoming awake (always a very tender time for me) and then writing. I need a very gentle entry time to the day to remain centred. Or so it has become abundantly apparent. And what will happen in a little over a week’s time when I will have completed the 365 days of the Poetry Daily? I experienced…not quite panic. But certainly a wobble. Which then became more real when a friend messaged with a query as to how I plan to celebrate the completion of the 365 days of Poem a Day? Not a clue…Which is denial of the real winds of change.

Not the least of which is that my husband has been on a concerted campaign of clean up, sort out and get rid of. He has been orbitting the Flat Pack universe these past two weeks constructing new wardrobes, chest of drawers and storage schemes. Like many old Irish homes there are no closets. Storage is always an issue. Our home was constructed in times when people had a lot less stuff. And that was probably a really good thing. A faithful reader, Sherri, has a very good Four Point Plan for ‘stuff.’ Can I eat it? Can I wear it? Can I read it? Can I make art from it? If not, please do not give it to me!

And even with those categories we can have too much of a good thing. These are rather narrow wardrobes to fit the dimensions of the bedrooms. The extra tall bookcase has filled up fast despite two big bags of give aways to the charity shop. So I reverted to Marie Kendo’s ‘does it spark joy?’ query for should anything stay. Has to be done to make room for more book joy and art joy. We have already had one trip to the recycling centre and charity shop. It will probably be the first of many as we methodically tidy up our act.

And as another friend observed today, when they chopped down the second half of the spruce plantation in front of our house last winter, a lot more light flooded into our living space. That certainly inspired Tony to do major reconfiguring in the garden in the spring and summer. Now with the autumn and winter he has unleashed that focus onto the house interior.

And I have not been idle either as Her Indoors has re-read the poems written over the past twelve months and more. I have put together a longlist of poems in a document for second reading and some tweaking, spell checking (blush!) and editting. There is a working title for a solo collection. The next step is to hand it over to a mentor and editor for their housekeeping on the project to pull it together for submitting to publishers.

So after lunch I had another bash at the poetry practice with results that were a bit more satisfying. (I have had enough caffeine by now. I realise that writers have a reputation – mostly fostered by Hemingway and Co. – of being hard drinkers, but the truth of the matter is that we are more probably caffeine junkies.)

Poetry Sparks Joy

Sweeping debris that is overburdensome
we slimline house and home and our routines.
We have too much stuff and too little space
to live our out lives with some simple grace.
The letting go is never easy doing,
nor the establishment of a New Regime
when burrowing up and out from beneath
my heaps and piles. Never very Zen.
What routines to keep? What ones to renew?
What sparks joy? Writing poetry. That's true.
Better go give Marie Kendo her due.
Let go with thanks. Time to feng shui it, too.

Copyright © 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved

What Gives You Joy?

Hello Darkness, my morning friend. I’m up with you again…listening to the rain and the wind and contemplating the blank page. My poetry creative colleague and collaborator, Helen Shay, sent me a meme in an email yesterday. It was jolly and very funny and was a riff on Netflix’ feng-shui evangelist Marie Kondo. Her tagline, for those who have dodged that pop culture meme, is Does it spark joy? Well, my plastic lemon squeezer does the job, but would a wood or glass one spark more joy? I ask you? I like lemon, so I guess it does spark joy…kind of. Although a wood or glass one would be more aesthetically pleasing.

But my contemplations became more existential as I listened to the rain. I can live with my heaps and piles. And her edict about only owning thirty (30!) books still has me reeling back with disbelief and distaste with such a noisome notion. I’d rather be untidy.

Nearly thirty years ago I was listening to Irish poet Eavan Boland on a BBC Radio 4 programme. She had been ranging around Ireland teaching women poetry writing in the community. She asked one group if they would now go back home to their villages and townlands and proclaim themselves poets. And one woman piped up, “Sure, they would think I was the kind of woman who didn’t wash her curtains!”

Dear Reader, I have aspired to and now achieved that status. I cannot remember when I last washed my curtains!

But back to the more existential concerns for the Poetry Daily.

What Gives You Joy?

Let's not pretend
that this isn't the hot button
question of the day.

How all our stuff,
this accumulated junk
is no more than
unwelcome toys
of mass distraction,
barricading us off from more
existential annoyances.

None of it
we'll be able to keep.
It's just leftovers of life
that executors will have to unheap.
A coffin can only hold
so many grave goods.

Pack me off with
a conch shell I have hauled around
three countries
along with
a lump of Marcellus rock.

I kept them with me
this long lifetime.
I know where I come from.
I know where I'll go to.

As for joy...

it is the plinking of rain on a tin roof,
the sea sighing as the tide recedes,
the chuffing of wind as it meets
the resistance of trees.

Joy is nothing
one can ever keep.

Copyright © 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved.

Featured Photo by Preslie Hirsch on Unsplash

Feng Shui the Poetry

feng shui poetry

Hi! My name is Bee. And I am messy.

I know all about the theory of feng shui. It really appeals to me philosophically. It’s just – I’m messy. Or lazy. Or more interested in reading.Or writing poetry. Or cooking. Than cleaning and sorting out stuff. There is more living to be had.

Until one day even I can no longer stand the chaos. I hit another wall with poetry practice this morning. I was up before dawn and I just was not feeling it. I just felt achey from eleven weeks of it. But I kept pushing the pen and then realised that afterwards, I need to start clearing up the rubble that has accumulated while I have been doing other stuff.  I have a friend coming over. I will do a mea culpa about the mess. Fortunately, I am secure in her love and non-judgement. Yeah, I’ve been busy. But so is everyone else.

Anyway, this was what finally emerged after I started pushing the pen across the notebook’s surface.

Feng Shui the Poetry

I am a heaps and piles kind of gal
and was a heaps and pile kind of kid.
It was my mother’s frequent plaint –
to clear the bureau top, to dust its patina.
So I have been having this urge recently,
to purge all the house’s cupboards and drawers,
to do a proper inventory of everything in stock –
foodstuffs, craft materials , old crocks.
I need to organise this almighty jumble –
maybe even invest in some labels-
instead of being a rummage sale poet
who is burrowing through heaps and piles.
I feel like I am living in a rummage sale
happening in some church’s basement.
I can’t see wood from tree let alone patina.
Maybe I need to be like those forestry guys.
The one’s across the lane culling the plantation.
They are stacking timber at 8pm
following a klieg light and revving their engines,
clearing at dawn and organising in darkness.
So maybe I should feng shui the poetry
and start by collecting my three sacks –
the one for keeping, the one for rubbishing,
the ones worth re-cycling to the charity shop.
But first I have a lot of heaps and piles
and too many over-stuffed drawers.
I’ll tackle them now before Christmas
and start anew with immaculate conceptions.
Copyright © Bee Smith 2018

Featured image Photo by John Weinhardt on Unsplash