Day 29 NaPoWriMo- Road Trip Day 1

Something meditative and tranquil they want for the penultimate poem of NaPoWriMo2019. Also Day 1 of my Road Trip in the Highlands of Scotland.


At the beginning

a seagull wheeled in from the Clyde.

All the way up and across , a rib

of  blue reflecting cloudless sky

in Highland waters –

Loch Lomand on our right,

Loch Ochy on our left,

Loch Ness on the right,

Kinlochleven on the left.

Bridges crossed.

Lochs  and locks

on the Caledonian Canal.

Bridges crossed

at the Moray Firth,

at the Donach Firth

until finally rusted iron rails

ran beside the North Sea

looking all


tropical turquoise

the gorse on the hills

sending its Malibu cocktail scent

through the car’s air vents,

its acid yellow following all the way

from Strathclyde,

through Loch Lomond and the Trossachs,

Argyll and Bute,


Ross and Cromarty,

into Sutherland.

The blue and yellow passage,

seagull call,

the raven beside the road in Glencoe,

the crows scavenging seed

in the downy dales of Easter Ross.

From west to east.


Copyright 2019 Bee Smith 


Day 28 NaPoWriMo2019 Why Poetry?

The challenge today is to write a metapoem, or poem about poetry. AKA and Ars Poetica. Archibald Macleish has done this so well that I could weep over my own paltry effort this morning. I commend to you also Marianne Moore, Wallace Stephens and Emily Dickinson. I have considered the nature and purpose of poetry before in this blog here.

I begin the first leg of a what will be a week long road trip later this morning. I hope to find wifi along the way to be able to post a Poetry Daily each day. But who knows what the wilds of the Highlands and Islands of Scotland will provide – other than astonishing beauty and inspiration. So, although there may be delayed posts the actual writing of a poem a day will still happen. I have a smaller notebook. I won’t have my magic fountain pen. But travel is supposed to rattle you out of your comfort zone.

Why Poetry?

It's a way to see
360 degrees,
outside and interior.
Or interrogate
tastes, feelings in words, sound
the heart's echoes in the round.
It's a way to be
free - within lines  that unbound.
You can never be lonely
with some poetry.
Not while it talks with your walk.
It's turnkey and Houdini
unshackling the locks.

Copyright © 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved.

Featured Photo by Trust “Tru” Katsande on Unsplash

Bee Smith is participating in GloPoWriMo2019

Day 27 NaPoWriMo2019

Today’s prompt is to do a “remix” of a Shakespearean sonnet. Sonnets used to scare me, but since this poem a day lark started last September I have had a bash at them a few times. Some of my efforts I even like (especially the one where Brooklyn Bridge features). Today I chose Sonnet 116, the one that begins

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,

William Shakespeare, Sonnet 116
Riff on 116

Love does not rock and roll when the key shifts.
It's more like jazz - improvisational.
Love keeps making the music that lifts.
Phone home and they always will take your call.
It doesn't matter what dive you are in
some far flung corner of the unknown earth.
They love you famous or has been
or have had repossessed your house of mirth.
Yeah, they know your whole story, chapter, verse,
the back when, the first dance, all your bold hopes,
the down and dirty hours when you cursed
any and every person. But nope!
Love did not flinch. Even when called a fool.
Love knows its mind. And music has its rules.

Copyright © 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved.

Feature Photo by Jefferson Santos on Unsplash

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Day 26 NaPoWriMo2019

The prompt for today is to use repetition. The villanelle and pantoum use it to great effect. However, I have written a couple villanelles already this month and the pantoum is not a favourite form. I am on the fly this morning as I have a workshop that I need to be out the door to in a little over an hour. Feeding and washing need to also get factored into that time. So I took the quotation that was the jumping off point by my poetry creative colleague Helen Shay. She used a translated quotation from the Anglo-Saxon Exeter Book. “How cruel is sorrow as a companion to one with few dear friends: the path of exile holds fast such a one.”

The Path of Exile

Hold fast to the path of exile,
you with few dear friends.
Keep moving
past your own solitude.
Past the ruined house
your grandfather built
for his new bride.

Hold fast to the path of exile.
Keep moving.
The past is just a blur of scenery,
a babel of white noise.
Take refuge in your solitude.
Expect no pity.
Hold your face up to the rain.

Hold fast to the path of exile.
Keep moving
past your own solitude,
you with few dear friends
and finding no mercy
for the ghosts that travel
with you along the path of exile.

Hold fast to the path of exile.
Keep moving
past the present. Place
one foot in front of the other.
Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.
Hold fast to the  path of exile.
One country is much like another
so long as you can still breathe.

You with few dear friends
hold fast to the path of exile.
Keep moving
with your cavalcade of ghosts
packed in your lone carrier bag
full of what was once a life
you had loved.     Let us walk together.

Copyright © 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved.

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Bee Smith is participating in GloPoWriMo2019

Day 25 NaPoWriMo2019- Bealtaine

Wakening to bright sunshine and blue sky after a nighttime that brought welcome showers on our acre plot. NaPoWriMo’s last Thursday prompt is:

I’d like to challenge you to write a poem that:

  • Is specific to a season
  • Uses imagery that relates to all five senses (sight, sound, taste, touch, and smell)
  • Includes a rhetorical question, (like Keats’ “where are the songs of spring?”)

So the season I am writing about is just around the corner. In Ireland we call May Bealtaine. It is pronounced Be-ahl-ta-nah round where I live. Or you can have it as Beltaine in English. It’s also the name for one of the four cross quarter days of the pagan wheel of the year. It marks the six weeks up until midsummer . Or, the three month period up until harvest, or Lunasagh, at 1st August. Seasons are a bit flexible like that in Ireland. Call it late spring. Call it the official opening of summer. Beataine is the most sensual time of year. Living as I do in the West Cavan part of Marble Arch Caves Global Geopark, nature is providing plenty of sensory inspiration.

Bealtaine Galore

I heard the cuckoo calling
its plaint for a mate quite faint
last Easter Sunday,
but full throated and hearty
the evening of Tuesday.
It will carol the uplands until
the longest day when nights
are shortest and dawn does not delay.

But today...well the bluebells are still out
in the shade, mingling in with
the aromatic of wild garlic,
(which sharpens the appetite.)
its star white flower crowding into
the bluebell dell on the forest floor
along with the white bells of wood sorrel,
that  not-shamrock tasting of lemon spinach.
A munch quenches thirst on walks
through this wooded glen,
the river in full conversation
rolling over the rocks from another epoch,
the fallen trees downed

or bent like the crick in my back
from sowing beans and carrots.
I have an ache in muscles unused
to industry, gone slack
during the dark months.
We mimick all these nesting birds
who already have some hatchlings,
or the energy of gamboling lambs
ridiculous and bucking up their heels.
Calves are appearing in neighbours' pastures
sporting their new eartags.
And the weeds!
Everything is rushing towards being.
The bees are at the nectar.
The butterflies have been released
from self-made cocoons.
The blackthorn blossom is floating down
butterfly kissing our foreheads.
It's a benediction. It's a glory.

Bealtaine Go leor!
Is everything not plenty?
Is everything not enough?
is in a rush
towards its blooming and being.

Copyright © 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved.

Beataine Galore
My townland, bog cotton blooming in pasture

Bealtaine Galore

Bealtaine galore
Wood sorrel in flower

Bealtaine galore
The Playbank. The sight that always means I am getting close to home.
Bealtaine is the Irish for the season of early summer. NaPowriMo's daily prompt allows me to riff on the the sensory pleasures of living within Marble Arch Caves Global Geopark.
Bee Smith is participating in GloPoWriMo2019

Day 24 NaPoWriMo2019 Lexical Slaw

The daily prompt from NaPoWriMo2019 asks us to take a reference book and choose words from two pages in front of you and go from there. I mixed this up a bit, since it is a bit like an exercise I do in Word Alchemy that I call “Word Salad.” But I choose up to six words that pop up at random and then go about trying to make a connection. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it’s a stretch. Sometimes it’s hilarious. For the purposes of today’s NaPowriMo2019 exercise in poetry writing I left the OED on the shelf and picked up the Chamber’s Dictionary of Etymology, which always makes for fascinating reading. The random words I picked out were spike, exemplary, protest, detest, nomad. They are all in there in some form of their etymological definition.

This was great fun! Who doesn’t love a lexicon?! I’ve loved the word ever since I found it in an Emily Dickonson poem age 11.

Lexical Slaw Word Alchemy

So many versions of how
to know the word universe
in the mind of God
in just about any language

which may be somewhat helpful
to the venturing nomad
searching and incurring
on new pasture

yet even words can splinter
language deflecting into dialect
so dense the origins
get swallowed whole

but something sticks in the throat
like a vow to dissent
that then regurgitates
like a solemn curse

Source document as reference
is public testimony for all to see.
Yet time will free the redactions
of agreed meaning, as necessity
or adventure into word alchemy.

Copyright © 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved.

Bee Smith is participatingin GloPoWriMo2019

Day 23 NaPoWriMo

First off, apologies for the rat’s nest of a format on Day 22 NaPoWriMo. I was typing it in the WordPress block form in Safari on my iPad Mini. It looked okay, but obviously not! I have reservations about the the WordPress app I have on my device because before blocks came into WordPress it played havoc with any kind of poetry formatting. I needed to practice for my road trip, which starts on April 28th. At least now I can try and rectify or update the app before I go. And if not, then I just have to deal with the limitations because I am not lugging my laptop all around Scotland.

Today’s NaPoWriMo daily prompt is about animals. Living where I do I figured that what I see on a daily basis needed to be front and centre. And I don’t mean dogs or cats. They get enough attention in this blog already. These are Irish cows by the way. They are quite conversational and like to come up to the field’s perimeter to ask for gossip. Therefore, I have salted the Irish for white cow – bo fin – to alert the reader that this is not just any old calf.

White Calf

Wee Bo Fin in the field,
looking outside it
under the watchful eyes
of your massive mammy,
would you look at your knobbly knees?!
For all your half-ton weight
you kick up your heels
as gleeful as the little lambies
in yonder pasture.
A sweet wee heffer they would say
of ye, eating spring's sweet new grass
seasoned with buttercup
and cow parsley.

When they load you into the trailer
to go off to mart
you may never hear
your mother's keening moos.
But I will.
For days afterwards.

Copyright © 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved.
white calf

Day 21 NaPoWriMo2019

It has been a gloriously sunny Easter bank holiday weekend so far. I’m itching to get out and do a bit more gardening. With nature doing its happy dance you might think that the NaPoWriMo Day 21 prompt might have been a bit cheerier. But no! Fairy tales! Those dark little folkloric cautionary tales. Or I could have chosen myth, but I have poems that touch on them, too. The prompt is to tell it from a minor character’s point of view. I was really resisting this prompt. And I have not completely fulfilled the brief, but…

Nevertheless She Persisted
Nevertheless she Persisted

And so when I was flagging this morning and thinking I could just eat breakfast and get on with sowing climbing beans and radishes, I counted up how many days I have been at this poetry practice.

218…two hundred and eighteen days.

And I needed a jolt of encouragement from a review of Richard Russo’s essays “The Destiny Thief: Essays on Writing, Writers and Life. ” It notes that in his essay Getting Good, he notes this:

Writing, like life, is difficult. Many truly talented people give up everyday.

Anthony Quinn’s The Guardian Review, 13 April 2019

Talent is important. But practice is what sees you through to the next level. Some of us are less precious about sharing our flops in public. Because if I didn’t have to turn up on WordPress I could not prove to myself that I really had not funked on the practice.

But back to NaPoWriMo2019, where I have semi-fulfilled their spec for today. I chose the witch’s point of view from the fairytale Hansel and Gretel. Hansel and Gretel has featured in this blog before. I have no clue why I opted for this fairy tale over other less gory ones. But I try to operate on the “first thought, best thought” principle and just run with it with this practice.

Gingerbread House

I only do what you have not
the imagination to do.
My house is no mirage.
It is an oasis of surprise.
And at the very least,
Hansel and Gretel were made
to feel welcome at my table.

What parents send wee childer out
to wander alone in a dark wood?
Wolves! Bears! Brigands!
(I shudder at the prospect of the latter.)
We who have known hunger
and danger and survive
have to keep our wits about us.
But I grew old. And rather blind.

The little boy just bemoaned their fate
from inside his cage of bones.
But his sister, now that little girl
did have her wits about her.
She was never going to be one
to end up in a cast iron pot.
Tricking the Cannibal Hag,
freeing the feeble boy,
they plucked jelly beans
right from the chimney breast.
The Vandals! They licked the icing
from the gable end and ripped out
the gingerbread roof slates
until my whole sweet
Gingerbread House caved in.

They never went home.
They'd  met the Cannibal Hag.
Now they are my own.

Copyright © 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved

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Featured Photo by Randalyn Hill on Unsplash

Day 20 NaPoWriMo2019

Whole Nuther

Ye know, that's a whole nuther
sit-u- ation
we don't want to think about,
kiddo. Tarnation!
Gimme that! Ye know, we don't
have to go see
the ships come in at Buckhorn.
It's like Santa.
And Santa's a whole nuther
thing. Thanksgiving!
We got everyone here.
I hate potluck.
Velma insists. I don't want
to hurt feelings,
but...her pierogi is a
whole nuther entirely.

copyright 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved.
Bee Smith is participating in GloPoWriMo2019

The prompt for Day 20 NaPoWriMo 2019 is to not use fancy pants poetry speech. Well two phrases from my Pennsylvania childhood leapt out of my hypocampus. It’s not so much monologue as a mall walking stream of consciousness.

Day 18 NaPoWriMo2019 – Elegy

Often what connects people is loss. Poetry is all about making connections. They even have that slogan on the website banner. Losses…we have all had some, whether it is a loved one – pet or person – or a job, a home, a family. In the way that the universe operates in synchronicity a bedtime conversation last night feels appropriate for the morning’s poetry practice.

Your Daughter

Last night at bedtime
your daughter and I discussed you.
And really?
You raised your kids fine.
But they miss you.

Part of it
is emptying the family homeplace.
First, your clothes to all
your favourite charity shops.
Then the NHS patient appliances
back to the hospital. Again. But..
It's all good recycling. Still...
your daughter
flees the house absent
of your smell.
Empty now has a scent. Also,
the having to fold
your reading glasses
found on your bedside cabinet
beside the Jodi Picoult book
you will never now know
how it all ended.

Her friends are kind.
But they are young and think
the object of grief
is to forget its ache.
All she wants to do
is remember you.
So we talk
of what went right
and some of your unlived life.

Just before she leaves
before the lights go out
and kisses my cheek
saying "Night Night"
I tell your daughter how
all daughters
become their mothers.
Even if only in our small foibles.
Like the reminder notes
I post beside my purse
and on the kitchen counter
for tomorrow
just like
my own mother.
And your daughter
goes to her bed
with a smile.

Copyright © 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved.

Bee Smith is participating in GloPoWriMo2019