Last Sunday Poem of a Decade

It is the final Sunday of 2019, not just the final Sunday weekly poem of the year, but also the final poem of a decade that marked my most solid commitment to improving the art and craft of poetry writing. I woke up early because I am especially excited to be going to see the new cinematic version of Little Women today, with some of my favourite women friends. And also, it feels appropriate to close off the year with a homage to two of the most formative women writers. Because I encountered them in childhood, I learned that writing was a fit occupation for women. I also grew up in a household with an elder sister who was a writer, so even though there was a dearth of women poets in anthologies or studied at school, I had these 19th century role models.

I first read Little Women in an abridged form when I was around eight or nine as I recovered from one of those childhood illnesses that kept you in quarantine for a fortnight. I became a rabid Alcott fan and over the years acquired Little Men, Jo’s Boys, Eight Cousins, Rose in Bloom. I found An Old Fashioned Girl at a library book sale. A Garland for Girls and Cornelia Meig’s Alcott biography, Invincible Louisa appeared under the Christmas tree. By the time I was twelve I could have had an MA in Alcott. I had all but her Gothic early fiction, which was still out of print in the 1970s. In my early teens I was a devout transcendentalist and had moved on to Thoreau and Hawthorn’s Blithedale Romance. One summer vacation my brother, mother and I had a little pilgrimage to Orchard House where I bought the pamphlet Transcendental Wild Oats. I drew a little water from Walden Pond as I would from a holy well. Alcott made me.

Louisa May Alcott, Little Women
Louisa May Alcott, literary shero

Emily Dickinson was my literary sister from another mother. I discovered a biography of her in the public library when I was about eleven years old and began to read her poetry and write cryptic ones in her style as a tween. Very fitting that my brother in Brooklyn should include some Emily Dickinson Divination cards in my Christmas box this year (many thanks, Steve!) . I have been drawing one daily, along with a Susan Seddon-Boulet Animal Spirit card for clarification.

Omen Days
The Omen Days – Day 4 draw

I will be doing this daily during this Christmas season that is ‘time out of time.’ From St. Stephen’s Day (or Boxing Day) on 26th until Women’s Little Christmas (or Epiphany) on 6th January, it was custom to scan nature for omens of the year to come. But these literary divination cards were just begging to be used for the Omen Days. There are twelve months in the calendar year and twelve days of Christmas. Hence, looking for signs and portents of the year to come during these days that were considered, and still are, a gateway time of endings and beginnings. There is more about them in this post from last year. https://sojourningsmith.blog/2018/12/26/the-omen-days/

But now to the final Sunday Weekly poem of 2019. I played around with a five line format a lot in July this year that takes a quotation as its first line. To find out more about the form, check out this post https://sojourningsmith.blog/2019/07/06/all-poets-can-do/.

In this case I have used Dickinson’s own words for the first and final lines.

This Being Mortal

Mortality is fatal.

Grief becomes our work in progress,

constantly hunting for what’s been lost –

The love that so eludes us,

The Soul there – all the time.

Top and tail lines by Emily Dickinson

Copyright © 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved

I will do a quick New Year post mid-week. Then it will be back to the Sunday Weekly poem schedule.

Omen Days 12

Epiphany: feast of the three kings. Lyrical, ecstatic Joysian reverie. Also, Women’s Little Christmas in Ireland: Nollaig na mBan. This is a license for all the Mother Christmases over the world to loll about, be waited on, fussed over, as just reward for doing most of the heavy lifting over this hospitable Midwintertide. The less clement weather is a perfect excuse to while away the day with a cozy mystery.

The last of the Omen Days is also a day of a solar eclipse here in Ireland. It occured from 1:38 am here. So haphazard is my sleep pattern these days I woke up for it and was awake and writing in its wake before getting in another couple of naps. I last roused in daylight and found that the long run of dry days has ceased.

Rain - dry spell over
Alder has its feet wet
A season for prophets


Copyright © 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved.

Today’s featured image is a snap from my Celtic Tree oracle divination deck. The artwork is © 2019 Jimmy Manton. I love this deck and you can get one for yourself at http://www.blueangelonline.com.

And because I had some hours in the darkness around 3am to while away, I contemplated the word eclipse and finally gave way to some word play with it. I looked up as many synonyms for eclipse to work into it. And yes, that final line in in the the list of synonyms! Eclipses have traditionally been viewed as portentious events in ancient times. So an eclipse on an Omen Day is a bit of a double whammy.

So a double helping for today’s Poetry Daily.

Occultation

Lilith flies in dark moon sky
Riding her mate on the fly

She covers he - one body
Shroud of dark beauty

Dark moon night, no light
Wisdom in hindsight

Spare our blushes
cover faces

Virago
o'ershadows

Outrage
Upstage

Stump
Trump



Copyright © 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved.

Omen Days 11

The penultimate day of Omen Days. And, later today or the early hours of tomorrow depending upon your time zone, a New Moon eclipse. For the first time in what feels like weeks I missed the pre-dawn call to poetry. I woke to daylight, having slept nearly eleven hours. Not waking in the darkness does add a new dimension to omen seeking. So after the pets paraded outside to do what they needed to do, I opened the curtains to see another steady parade of seekers at the bird feeder.

Two friends have commented on some of my…well, let’s just call it thematic continuity for me. Mick asks “What is it about you and rocks, Bee?” Patricia arches an elegant brow and queries, ” What is this compulsion to feed, Bee?”

I could not settle until I had hoked out the wild bird seed and refilled the feeder just outside the window where I am now typing this. Hence, a haiku for today’s Poetry Daily.

The blue tit and robin
perch on the feeder
cock heads, stare
hopefully

Featured Image: Photo by Jan Meeus on Unsplash

Omen Day 8

Suspended

Some pass before us through the portal space

Leaving others on the other side place.

Call it curtain. Call it porous door.

But we will not see what’s loved anymore.

Our mother laboured to deliver us.

Labour’s also death’s midwife accomplice.

Yet we stand suspended at world’s end edge

Using rites to make our final pledges.

The curtain closes. We step back once more.

No longer hanging by the lintel door.

Copyright 2019 Bee Smith

Featured photo of author by Jane Gilgun

Omen Days 7

Oh, imsomnia. The interrupted sleep cycles of the post-menopausal. Those of you who know…know! How my 2019 has started. The cold doesn’t help facilitate a good sleep either.

Vigil

When I wake too early
and sleep evades
Rumi shakes my shoulder
"Do not go back to sleep!"
Oh, those weary hours
spread blank, silent and still
staring into the dark
when the soul frets and lists
and finds no comfort zone.
Pages turn and are read.
Finally, pen in hand
I face blank paper wall,
my own kind of zazen.
Then, I can catch some rest
from my own restlessness.


Copyright©2019 Bee Smith
 

Featured image Photo by Ben Blennerhassett on Unsplash

Omen Days 6

I woke this morning thinking of the Word of the Year. This is an inspirational or motivational word that you adopt for the upcoming year. I’d not considered any, but it certainly was on the edge of my consciousness enough to make me want to scurry to the etymological dictionary once I had a cup of tea.

Word of the Year is less onerous than a New Year’s resolution, more flexible and less likely to break. But I will say this for it; it can keep you on point. For instance, last year I adopted Focus as my Word of the Year. It really did help keep me at things when I faltered. I even found an essential oil for a burner to pep me up when I was feeling overwhelmed.

So there was a word in my mind as I semi-snoozed in the ambrosial hours that, upon rising and partaking of tea, sent me to our etymological dictionary. The quote is from a Marianne Moore poem.

Word of the Year

Manifest/Manifestation/Manifesto

Noun, verb, adjective
A list
What we hold
In a ship's body
In one's hands
In heart of hearts
The demonstable
The undeniable
spirit
even as it shifts shape
Predestined
word made flesh
"Real toads in
imaginary gardens"

Copyright © 2018 Bee Smith