As many of my readers will know, I am a great advocate for writing a poem a day. Some folk are natural rhymsters and rappers. Others are not. To those who are averse to end rhyme I commend the practice of haiku and senryu writing. It is perfect for a contemplative life. Writing poetry is very grounding. It’s like a daily internal check-in with your heart. But you are also looking outwards, noticing seasonal changes or human behavioural foibles. Haiku and senryu are gentle poems. Gentleness is what we need right now – both with ourselves and to others.
Try it. Seventeen syllables. You can do it in less, but absolutely no more. That’s the boundary on your haiku ballpark. Three lines. Although some people do two or four. The lines are flexible. For haiku you need to use a kigo, or seasonal word, that gives us a hint of the season when written. Something like daffodils to indicate spring. Oh, and another thing. No comparisons. No ‘as a..’ or ‘like a’.
Senryu is more an observation of human behaviour. Often it is wryly amused. But also it often has great affection.
What I offer to you today is really neither a classic senryu or haiku. So that falls into the category of a micropoem. But it was a very pleasing snap taken in our garden. For people who are staying in and do not have a view of spring emerging I thought I would offer this picture with a few words.
Keeping the poetry practice visual today. Partly because my sinus cavities are stuffed with what feels like wire wool. Partly because I want to play with creating words with images. I am torn between wanting to go back to sleep to recoup the lost hours spent feeling not particularly wonderful and wanting to get on with the tasks that have been left undone while I have been feeling frail, pale and uninteresting this past week. Or I could just stay in bed and read. There are options to be weighed for the day.
So here it is! A micropoem in an infographic format.
May you know your one place that is the every place of belonging.
Sorry, but out where I live nature and the seasons are really in your face. Some days, the poetry practice just defaults to haiku and senryu. It comes with the territory when you live in a geopark I suppose. Haiku, senryu and micropoems certainly work as a poetry etude for me this morning.
Earth incubates Her womb warm Even when its cold outside- Still growth
Every spring Nature's in your face Surprise!
Tweet, caw, coo-woo, chuckle Neighbour's conversation Early morning
Catkins Caterpillar fuzzy Sun bright This misty morning
It is one of those bright winter mornings where there is real fire in the sun’s rays. You can understand why Brigid’s feast day is this time of year. You can also understand why some translate her name as ‘bright arrow.’ She is also described as a ‘sun gold’ or ‘red gold’ woman. On this Irish morning I get it. It is very real and imminent.
For my poetry practice this morning I felt drawn to writing haiku, senryu and micropoems. Micropoems are little things. Haiku celebrate a (hopefully) epiphanous moment in nature; senryu look (often wryly, frequently fondly and humourously) at human nature. They do it in seventeen syllables or less. Micropoems cover the rest of the tiny poems that fulfill neither technical description. They have a wider thematic brief and also tend to have titles, whereas haiku and senyru go out into the world nameless.
This was actually how I started the day.
A thump as beak meets glass Hey! Open up the Birdy's Café!
This time of year in Celtic lore is considered a wrestling match between Mother Winter, the Cailleach, and the Maiden, Brighid.
The Last of the Cailleach
Safe in her cave Sucking marrow from bone Bright rays piece her fastness
Actually, it is often the coldest weather right at this time of year in Ireland. Often this is the the last push for snow and ice at Imbolc, so we acknowledge this by making hearty stews and mashed potato or ham and colcannon. Neeps are not just for Burn’s night either. Turnip and bacon is pure January comfort food. Making a stew from shin of beef probably inspired this.J
To fire our bellies We want to sup marrow from bone Hungry days
But then the Maiden Brigid is right on the threshold of the season and year. Spring is coming. We see it in the bulbs popping up. The gorse has bloomed again in this upland country. (And it’s scent is almost tropical! True!) This little poem is a riff on the old custom of welcoming St. Brigid into you house, opening your front door and saying the welcome aloud.
These fiery rays Melting morning's frost Brigid is welcome! She is!
This is a week where I will be giving public readings of some of my Brigid inspired poems, weaving St. Brigid’s crosses, telling Her folklore to groups and generally having a lot of fun. It is time to bake my special seed cake because we are on the threshold of new growth. It’s time! We can feel it in our belly.
I knew the day would come that I just would not be feeling it. Actually, I do feel a bit under the weather. But I have done it. I have cut myself some slack though. Let’s just say it is a micropoem. But I have spent a bit of time at poetry practice nonetheless.
The world is a worry bead everyone is rubbing.
When did so many humans begin to yearn to immolate?
While others of my kind are spinning a silken case,
Awaiting the right time to unswathe
To flutter and create another kind of chaos.
Copyright Bee Smith 2018
Featured image by Suzanne D. Williams on unsplash.com