Creative Writing Etudes

After the intensity of the past six months of work and workshops, I am taking it easy on the poetry practice for the next few days. Five finger exercises. In five lines. Back to the etudes that began this nine and a half month poem a day Poetry Daily. Which has been an adventure! I have considered keeping on, but not posting. Then a friend in the North said she looked forward to these posts and sometimes they even helped her that day. (Stroke writer’s ego. Make them feel useful. Surefire strategy to keep them on task! ) So I have doggedly perservered.  On days of when I woke with a migraine, through death bed watches, a funeral, visitations, workshop days,  and just feeling ‘meh.’ But once I make the year mark on 14th September I will have a hefty decision to make. And it will probably boil down to pulling a tarot card, asking the pendulum or flipping a coin to advise me on the blog’s fate.

Any road…I really like that five line poetry form that Ange Peita introduced this past weekend at Willowbrook’s Creative Writing Weekend Retreat.  To recap how the lines flow:

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

I know some people pose the question “What would Jane Austen Do?” as a kind of moral code or agony aunt advice. For me it is Mary Oliver.

“What will you do with your one wild and precious life?”

If you cannot procreate…then create.

Take life to your bosom. Nurse it. Re-wild it.

Know the bones of your precious nature are true.

Defend its rights. Pledge allegiance to its renewal.

Copyright 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved.

Bear its fate

Some days its hard to milk the creative cow. And it really was slow going today. And then I thought…what would Mary Oliver do? And the line of her poetry from Wild Geese came to me…let the soft animal of your body love what it loves…It set off a train of thought about one’s more basic desires,or cravings. Not just physical desires, but emotional and soul desires and a list began to emerge….butter…kisses…bear hugs…bridges..sandy beaches. And that prompted another train of thought that recalled a discussion thread about power animals or spirit animals. And so, finally, some poetry practice getting banged out on the keyboard.

My Soft Animal Body

Bear in a cave
   Paw in a honey pot
Bear in a rage
   Claw poised to give a swat
Bear hibernates
   Though time forgets me not
Bears its sweet fate
   Cubs to lick into shape
Childhood playmates
    In fairy glen landscape

Bears live it large
This is their charge
Bear’s true grace
Is in their embrace

Copyright © 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved.

Featured Photo by Marco Secchi on Unsplash

Waking Early

I am still processing that there will be no more new wise words from Mary Oliver. My sister gave me her latest volume of selected poems Devotions as a Christmas gift and it is ever present by my bedside for a quick, refreshing dip. And I am constantly amazed at the breadth of her poetic vision. I considered the early 1960s poem “No Voyage” just now. Twenty years later came “The Journey.” Now, go find those poems! And feast!

Today’s Poetry Daily is a gratitude for her being in our world, for being a veritable lighthouse during these stormy times. I am up at stupid o’clock.” But who is to say that I am not in training for waking shortly after 3am on Monday morning to experience the eclipse of the Wolf’s blood moon?

Why Mary Oliver Woke Early

” in happiness, in kindness…”
open- armed, welcoming first light.
Meanwhile, I am awake
while it is still night.

The animals and I are restless.
The old dog, the young cats –
it’s hard to gauge their happiness.
I refill their bowls for a pre-dawn bite,
make tea, wait for day’s break,
no necessity for chitchat.

Just us and the gibbous moon.
Even though the wolf isn’t bothering to bay.
The cloud is covering its clarity.
But who is to say
that we still don’t commune,

sharing our restlessness,
this waiting well past midnight
in a darkness that is also a kindness,
in a darkness that has its own brightness?


Copyright © 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved.