Notes from #StayingHome

The reason why I participate in NaPoWriMo/GloPoWriMo every year is that the prompts really challenge me out of my poetry comfort zone. It’s important to become assured in your voice, but sometimes you really just have to get the bit between your teeth, bite and…push! Today’s prompt was like that for me. It started out with an exercise that was simple enough. Find ten words and write down ten random rhymes for them using a rhyming website’s generator. I used a combination of random dips into headlines from the Guardian Review 21st March issue and some objects that were close by. Not all got into the poem. And there were several false starts before I laboured out what emerged.

This was the brief today from

Today’s prompt (optional, as always) asks you to make use of our resource for the day. First, make a list of ten words. You can generate this list however you’d like – pull a book  off the shelf and find ten words you like, name ten things you can see from where you’re sitting, etc. Now, for each word, use Rhymezone to identify two to four similar-sounding or rhyming words. For example, if my word is “salt,” my similar words might be “belt,” “silt,” “sailed,” and “sell-out.”

Once you’ve assembled your complete list, work on writing a poem using your new “word bank.” You don’t have to use every word, of course, but try to play as much with sound as possible, repeating  sounds and echoing back to others using your rhyming and similar words.

Notes from #Staying Home
The electricity went out last night,
plunging us in candlelit mystery.
It came back again, cause for pondering
on how we define some felicity.
Our screens flicker pictures of misery
from New York City, Rome. We’re wondering
when it will come closer to home, history
landing on the doorstep. Our fear. No flight.
When will we again be able to wander?
Contemplate a life in the wild yonder?
How much longer can the end be in sight?
Will discarding erroneous beliefs
about Monsters make us any stronger?
Will we be overthrown by trickery?
When the Barrier Reef died, who felt grief?
What meaning arises from Emergency?
Meanwhile, we swap anecdotes on the phone.
Gratitude is a landline’s live ring tone,
where we each reach out from our comfort zones.
Copyright © Bee Smith, 2020. All rights reserved.

Yes, we have lost service of our landline for a couple days two weeks ago. We do live in an area where the mobile (cell) signal is at the whim of the fairies. Yes, the power went for a few hours last night. Which also means we lose internet. But I am so grateful for the engineers and technicians who are negotiating the scary outside world so those of us staying home can have creature comforts. We also have a young neighbour who is doing our grocery ‘gap’ filling runs for us. I am a really not a gifted sewer. I don’t have a sewing machine. But I hand sewed a slightly wonky face mask for him yesterday from scraps of craft fabric I have around the house. Better safer, than fashionista.

Today’s featured image is a Photo by Bill Oxford on Unsplash.


Writing Workshop Nuggets

Along with co-facilitating two identical workshops yesterday, I managed to hop into Ange Peita’s “Fundamentals of Creative Writing” workshop. Because sometimes it’s good to get yourself back to basics. I have been juggling so many projects these past six months sometimes you can disappear up your own hole. Ange is Austalian and one poetry form she introduced   yesterday was from a workshop she attended in Oz. Didn’t completely catch her friend’s name.  (May have been Les?) But it is a brilliant five liner. I got up this morning and decided to exercise it for the Poetry Daily.

This is the format. Five lines that go as thus:

  1. A quote
  2. Something about the past
  3. An action
  4. The theme
  5. The future

So I borrowed from Emily Dickinson to start.
“Hope is the thing with feathers”

Went dormant, possiblyextinct forever

Now it is the last precious to take wing

That alights after the soul takes flight

That seeks another morning after each dark night.
Copyright 2019 Bee Smith . All right reserved.


We will be heading back home at noon. Here is a poem I wrote in the workshop about home.


My home is a ship

sailing along the bog road

past hedgerows

navigating through a sea of trees.

It’s woven its sails from birds’s nests,

twigs, cat dander and dog hair.

A southwesterly breeze

is shifting us around so

we’ll not go aground on Cuilcagh,

bashed to bits on glacial erratics.

My home is tiller and cargo,

starboard and portside,

sailing through starshot skies

guided by moonlight.
Copyright 2019 Bee Smith. All right reserved.

Swan’s Down

I am still drafting the poem of the day in the darkness. By the time I pull out my laptop (because I always first draft poems in longhand), there is a rumour of brightness. I can see a patch of blue sky below a grey cloud that seems to be drifting north. Looking out into the garden, the bird neighbours are working their way through the suet balls. And waiting on a fence post is my favourite – a blackbird – its beak a real beacon, shining in the day as it slowly brightens.

I am so blessed to live in the most beautiful corner of the world, down the most beautiful lane in Europe (according to my friend Pen), close to two small magical loughs, and near the source of a mighty river, in a chunk of landscape that shows of its million year and more roots. It doesn’t boast. But it knows what it is, and that is a miracle in itself.

But…I digress from poetry practice. Somedays it can be a bit more difficult than others to light upon a subject. Today was such a day. And then I realised that there is that fund of random, weird images from dreams, ones that you can pull out of the furthermost file drawer of memory, but so potent they are never truly forgotten.

Swan's Down

I dreamed of a swan's down hut,
a little haystack mound
of feathers
that I knew was our home.

it's where the soul goes to live
in that downy house on
the hillock
that I knew was our home.

we had to turn away, though
I wanted to linger.
How I longed
to stay at Swan's Down House.

it still will always be home,
that soulful, silent place
of beauty
that I just knew was home.

Some day
I'll hear the whooper cry
flying over the lough
one winter
and fly off with the flock.

Copyright © 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved.

Featured Photo by Jan Genge on Unsplash

Hold the Space

I was travelling between 24th April and 6th May, which made the last leg of NaPoWriMo2018 a bit frantic and hectic. Travel is a bit of a brutality. Home is the reverse. Travel, however, does instruct. I was surprised by an attack of homesickness and nostalgia for Ireland that seems best expressed by the Irish word cumha. Yes, I missed my man, my very own Green Man, my Joyful Giver; but I also missed the land itself, the Celtic knottedness of home and belonging. It has happened before, but I rather discounted it. It is an identifiable pattern now.

Home is not birthplace or even where I hang my coat. It is the moss and tree limbs, stone, peat and clay of West Cavan. And as I was mentioning visiting Stonehenge and Avebury to a friend who has walked with me on the rocky Cavan Burren, he exclaimed, “What it is about you and stones?!” Cannot quite articulate a rational explanation just yet, Mick. But I have always slipped a pebble into my pocket, left them at graves even though I am not Jewish, gloried in fossils witnesed on beaches, threw an Irish pebble  into my parents’ Pennylvania grave. But wherever I go I play with stone. I found a sort of stone quern overlooking Merlin’s Cave at Tintagel. Someone had placed a shard of slate in it. I built a wee prayer cairn.

Hold the space
Travel breaks all habits. Home is the ritual space. Which includes getting back into writing routine, attending to the work diary, household chores. One can love one’s life. Being away and returning is a bit like falling in love all over again with everything that is beloved.

Hold the Space

On the page

In the room

With the body

Wholly present

Hold out your hands

Feel the atoms on your palms

Like dust motes


What is their rhythm?

Slow your heart

To beat

With them

In time

In that space


Beating in sync

The moment is the magic

Hold it, then

Release that fledgling

Into the wild

Copyright 2018 Bee Smith