Two Baldwins, One Poem

I woke in the dark, but there was such a cat-cophany early on what went on the page was a litany of cat complaints. It is never a good idea to try me first thing in the morning. It is never a good idea to try and make noise before I am two cups of caffeine into the day. House rules, guys! There was also the matter that I had a morning workshop at the open prison, based around Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey. It’s always kind of rock and roll, you never know who will show up, or how many, or what sort of writing experience they will have, if any. I generally have about three different plans in my head.

When I got home I took the Old Dog for a little dander down the lane, which meant it was more like taking a toddler for a walk. We had to stop a lot for Ellie to sniff and limp along and have a little rest. Christina Baldwin’s quote “Move at the pace of guidance” popped into my head. Once inside, that collided with one from James Baldwin: “Nothing is stable under heaven.”

And so, the poem for today.


Who am I?
Where am I?
What am I doing here?

I have been known to
ask these questions
while standing inert
in my kitchen
before the open door
of my fridge.

What is lost?
Where was it found?
Who is it standing
here on this ground?

"Nothing is stable..."
(especially this thing called 'I')
"under heaven" being where
if not the ultimate why.
Where is the here  I
lost track of myself?

So go tell it on the page.
Give it some answers.
Give it your rage.
Ask some more questions.

Trace a path, line upon line.
Let them roam open
in every direction.
Try east, west, north, south
by process of elimination.

At some stage "under heaven"
You'll find your internal compass.
Your heart knows its true north.
It bypasses every delusion.

"Move at the pace of guidance"
heart and hand moving as one
across the page, teaching a great patience.
The page will become your piece of heaven,
with  signposts,  a place of grace and balance.

Copyright © 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved.

Featured Photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash

The Quest

I realised yesterday that I had got a little bit ahead of myself on the Hero’s Journey. But I woke up with the kernal of the poem for the hero’s return. Only when posting I realised there was a gap for the quest! But then, sometimes that is just how inspiration rolls. At any rate, today I am redressing that deficit to the tale of the hero’s journey.

The Quest

What beast yelps while
unborn, its mother unfound?
That stalks the deer,
while running the fox to ground?

Riddle a life.
See the tooth marks leaving scars.
What rides you more?
Beast? Or quest? What's your pole star?

When does beast
become the quest? It is not
the cup you seek,
but drink in Camelot.

Like snow falling
when caught out knee deep,
be careful! Do not
be tempted to fall asleep.

That is the beast.
It can lull. It's paw can sweep.
Be on your guard.
Do not risk falling asleep.

There are many
slips before the grail can be
put to your lips.
What's your beast? What price booty?

What villainy
or treachery can detour
a sacred trust?
Greed, envy, pride, rage, sloth, lust...

When does the beast
consume the cup? Guzzling fire
it will combust,
body ash, its heart expired.

A quest is not
a treasure chest for pirates.
The quest begins,
always ends, in God's pockets.

Copyright © 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved.

Today’s featured image found on Wikipedia is an illustation from Arthur Rackham’s Romance of King Arthur,  published in 1917.

Hero’s Return

You would think it would be all triumphal on the hero’s return. But actually, this is a really tough stage of the hero’s journey. You go back to ‘sort of’ normal. Except nothing ever will be normal again. But you need to build a new normal.

Hero's Return

You can never go home again
once you have been away.
It's just a bit scary to those who stayed.
They don't know you anymore.
They have not seen what you saw.
They don't know what to say,
do not wish to imagine
what adventure's trials wrought.

with luck
there will be one who recognises the spark
who shares your pluck
who will then set sail with you
to new horizons
who will build you a home
in both your hearts
who is your return in hope and love.

Copyright © 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved.

Featured image: Photo by Gabriel Bassino on Unsplash

Hero Initiation

The next phases of the Hero’s Journey involve meeting with a mentor – The Good Witch Glenda, Obi Wan Kanobe, Professor Dumbledore – before there are trials. It is well out of fashion now, although it still applies to some trades, but there used to be seven year apprenticeships. The etymology of apprentice reflects a legally binding agreement for a student to learn and the ‘master’ to teach a trade or craft. The old Latin root means ‘to take hold, grasp.’

We speak of ‘grasping the nettle’ and this leads on to the next phase, the road of trials. This is the initiatory phase of the hero’s or shero’s journey. They have the tools (or a trade or craft), but now they graft. And their craft is not in the service of self. A s/hero journeys in the service of the greater, collective good.


Seven years impressed,
ready to shed a skin,
slither out into the world
a fully fledged magician.

Seven years at the feet
of the learned teacher sat
beneath a bodhi tree.
Seven years of all of that,
forged and founded,
fighting the urge to flee.
Seven years bonded,
then anointed and set free

to journey on one's own path -
even if this leads into the wilderness
with all coming to nought.
Being melted down to nothingness,
being unwound and untaught.
This hammers out some new shapes.
Remade now, but not for it's own sake.

A tool is meant to be of service.
To find one's purpose, the final task
for any sorcerer and  their apprentice.

Copyright © 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved.

Today’s images are from my own deck of Joanna Powell Colbert’s Gaian Tarot, which helped inspire today’s Poetry Daily. To learn more or buy your own deck go to

No Hero

Once the call to adventure comes, Joseph Campbell writes that the next stage of the Hero’s Journey,it is not uncommon to refuse the call. Who am I to be a hero after all? Right?

No Hero

Who am I to be a hero?
After all
it was only a call...

Red pill? Blue pill?
No pill.
No. Thank you.

I want to go back to sleep...


This is too hard.
I didn't know.
I can't spell.
I am not
(fill in the blank space)
It hurts.
Other people say...
It's okay to say no
after you have said yes.

this is a differant risk.
It is not your body
or your mind.
It's your soul
that's been grabbed.

Love. Be loved.

The most courageous acts
face fear.
Fears - plural -

Sit them on your knee.
Speak to them kindly.

Do not go back to sleep!

As Rumi knew way back in the day.
For it is likely to be full
of the bad old dreams.

Copyright © 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved.

Featured image  
Photo by Gemma Evans on Unsplash

The Hero’s Journey

Joseph Campbell’s stages of the hero’s journey has been stewing on the back burner of my brain. I have been asked to devise some poetry writing workshops for prisoners on that theme on the foot of the concert my husband devised and delivered just before Winter Solstice at our local open prison. It is, I have to admit, a useful framework to do exploratory writing on one’s autobiography and spiritual journey in life.

When one considers both the Journey and the Call to Adventure the zero tarot card fashioned as The Seeker in Joanna Powell Colbert’s Gaian Tarot deck certainly feels apt. In Ellen Lorenzi- Prince’s Dark Goddess Tarot the zero card is the Sheela-na-Gig, displaying her yoni as the great portal of beginnings and endings.

Seeker, Call to Adventure, shero's journey,
From Wikipedia, the Kilpeck, Hertfordshire Sheela-na-gig that Lorenzi-Prince based her own zero tarot card.

In traditional tarot decks, this is The Fool card or The Jester. The Wild Card.

So I suspect that over the next few days I am going to poke and prod at elements of the Hero’s Journey as I pace out the hows and wherefors of a couple workshops. As always, I explore the etymological roots of key words. The roots for the English word hero are a bit uncertain – demi-god, brave, illustrious. The definition seems to cover it, although it does seem rather phallo-centric. Well, we all know sheroes, those brave, demi-goddess women, too!

Adventure, however, is waiting for the arrival.

A Hero

is not the one
who liked the adreneline rush
at the odds,
who liked the shape of the caper.

No, the hero
sensed it before it happened,
knew the risks
was just waiting for the call.

Picked it up,
listened to the message,
despite all
answered and adventured.

Copyright © 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved.

The image is from the Rider-Waite tarot deck foundon Wikipedia. To check out The Gaian Tarot’s image for the Seeker go to

The Call

Sometimes I surprise myself. I barely slept last night, kept awake after performing in a concert of story, song and poems on the stages of the Hero’s Journey. Joseph Campbell wrote extensively on this mythic journey, which is hard-wired in the human psyche despite our modern habit of dispensing with the old wisdom. My husband, Tony Cuckson, wove personal anecdote into the evening to illustrate just how relevent that old wisdom is still today. Together with myself and two other heroes, we performed it before an audience of inmates at Loughan House Open Prison last night. I was still buzzing on the adreneline rush well into the wee hours of today.

Yet, here I am writing and tapping out this post in the pre-dawn ‘ambrosial hours.’ The writing of the Poetry Daily was calling me out of a sleep that was still rocking to the memory of Claire Maguire’s amazing singing voice. 

The Call

Without a muezzin

I still rise

heeding the soul’s call

to this time

when the house is dark


How else could you hear?

The world is much too

everything other.

It is no wonder

you can go for years

ignoring the soul’s


to shake you to rise

to go


to risk

a differant


Copyright Bee Smith 2018