Beachcombing

The prompt for today’s #30DaysOfSummerWritingChallenge is ‘Surf’s Up!’ Counterintuitively what flashed into my mind was an image of beachcombing one January back in 2011. That became the basis for today’s Poetry Daily.

The beach is my happy place. I’m not sure how I have managed to remain so inland or landlocked all my life when my heart and soul yearns for the ocean. Recently in Bundoran one steamy day I saw a toddler racing towards the water’s edge. I was getting ready to run interference when dad did a rugby save, scooping her up just before she touched down toes in the sea. But it reminded me of an anecdote my mother told me about my infant experience of the seaside. I, too, ran straight for it. I was likely 18 months old at the time. She regretted not teaching me to swim then, because I never really got the hang of it when I finally had lessons at the local pool. The Y pool also gave me one awful ear and sinus infection. I never took the final test for the certificate. And I am still loathe to put my face into pool water. But I don’t mind being smacked by an ocean wave. I can still fondly remember my brother Steve instructing me in how to ride the waves when I was probably about four.

We went to the beach every summer of my childhood because my mother’s beloved sister lived half a block from the Atlantic Ocean. It had also been where my mother lived out her teen years before she trained as a lab technician in Philadelphia and began a career that took her to West Virginia, North Carolina, the US Coastguard and then the Bronx, before she married and had a family.

Which segues into the Poetry Daily poem for this Monday. It’s not about Sligo-side surfers, but my favourite beach pastime – beachcombing.

Beachcombing for Gravegoods

My sister and I paced the Atlantic's fringe
in January's arctic wind. Show had frozen
on the boardwalk. We paces with eyes on the ground
for seashells strewn on F. Street Beach.

Just as in summers after supper was done
my mother and I walk the beach in setting sun.
One year my brother, some yards behind,
laughingly pointed out our footprints in the sand,
mother's and daughter's gait being the same
rhythm and kind.

Not that that would be true untill the end of her time.
No. But each summer we foraged
for ocean's treasures to take hom.
We made a display in an old cookie tray -
sand saved, some razor clams and scallops,
mussles, sand frosted shards of glass,
bits of old cord and driftwood.

One year my sister scored a giant conch.
I have it still. When I am six feet underground
it will accompany me.
Just as I made a posy of F Street seashells
to sail with my mother when she set out
into the fathomless sea.


Copyright © 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved.


F Street Beach
F Street Beach c. 1960

Summertime

Cue up Ella and Louis and think of life as easy. Day 3 of the #30DaysofSummerWritingChallenge gave us this prompt “What does it mean to take your ease in summer?” But all you have to do is mention the first bars of the Gershwin classic and I am back in the summers of my salad days. I was in Washington, DC. and, to semi-quote Noel Coward, never is there a more tropical zone even in September. But what can you expect from a city built on reclaimed swamp? The Mall used to be a canal, but when Abraham Lincoln’s son Willie fell in and then died of malaria he order it to be filled in.

It has to be said that I was in DC at the height of the disco craze. And Saturday afternoon Soul Train was on tv. The title is also borrowed from the sound track of my youth.

Summer in the City

Summertime is all slow saxophone
or rocking up to the Soul Train beat,
hopping on to the swing of the song.
It's shimmy, shiver. You sweat your bones
in humidity and vapid heat.
But we danced, damn it! The whole night long.
We were young, single and feeling sexy.
Prowling. Not enough drink in the land
to quench a summertime thirst or lust.
The night cools. It gets loud and boozy.
Talk turns to beach drives, sun up on sand.
We dance out the dog days of August.
Summertime high on testosterone.
And its swan song on lone saxophone.


Copyright © 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved.

Apologies for late posting. My circadian rhymns are all over the shop at the moment. Antihistimenes may also have their part to play.

Featured image Photo by Meg Barnett on UnsplashFeatured image

30 Days of Summer Writing

With only six weeks to get me over the year milestone of writing a poem a day and posting in here as the Poetry Daily, I signed on to Angela T. Carr’s 30 Days of Summer Writing Challenge. The writing is never usually the problem. Plucking an idea out of the ether each morning is often the challenge. So I cut myself some slack and signed on to Carr’s challenge posted in her WordPress blog A Dreaming Skin. The challenge is to take fifteen minutes of fast writing and ‘GO!’ on the prompt of the day. Today’s challenge is ‘Schools Out!’

We were asked about what we liked about summer. Well, not much in my case, being a spring and autumn kind of woman. The midges like to breakfast, lunch and dinner on me. My pale skin burns easily. I hate sweating and I wilt in the humidity and heat. At a pinch I offered the long light of the days as one good, likeable thing about them.

But this prompt did remind me of the long school holidays of my youth. We had three months in my particular corner of Pennsylvania back in the 1960s and 1970s. Which felt much longer in child time terms. Also, I grew up in a time before blanket air conditioning in homes and businesses. The Berwick Public Library was air conditioned and I spent a great deal of time there in my tweens and early teens.

Temporary Release

A light-headed feeling from lilac's blooming
in morning's dewiness before the heat.
The chalk board erased: a blank slate presents.
Time is one's own, a loosened regime.
Heat will soon relax all of our routines.
What shall I do today? What kind of play?
What worlds to visit in the books I read?
All considered as I languished in day's heat,
its oppression my freedom, in retreat.


Copyright © 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved.



Featured image Photo by Aubrey Rose Odom on Unsplash

Thawing Thursday

I was searching for Thursday quotations for inspiration, being in a bit a flap after sleeping a solid eleven hours. (Guess the rest schedule is still being imposed even if this is summer staycation time.) After yesterday’s flirtation with Mercury, I went researching Thor, he who gives his name to Throwback Thursday! Given the quotation I picked for the Poetry Daily it probably does qualify for the hashtage #ThrowbackThursday. Because I offer you words accompanied with images from winter! Amidst all the quotations referencing a cinematic and comic hero of the name, I came across these provocative words by one of my youthful heroes, the author of Civil Disobedience and On Walden Pond, Henry David Thoreau.

(Literary reference aside: the Isle of Innisfree, that is not twenty miles from where I live, is thought to have been inspired by Thoreau’s Walden Pond. Yeats imagined living there. Thoreau lived it. And it probably was not all that comfortable.)

Thaw Thor Thoreau

There are no hammers in the Poetry Daily today. But there is an homage to the Thoreau quotation and his philosophy of non-violent direct action. Which requires the patience of a spring thaw after a New England winter. And some year’s that can take up to six months of patience! At least according to reports from friends who live in Maine.

Spring thaw icicle

All these images of ice and references to thaw may seem counterintuitive for a post on the first of August. But then we are in the dog days of August, when staying hydrated is really important!

Some #WednesdayWisdom

The dog days of August are nearly upon us, where we will be at the mercy of the barometric pressure and ambient temperature. It’s midweek, Wednesday, day of Woden and Mercury. We have another week of Mercury being retrograde and we can begin to inch forward on projects. The eclipses of July are about to roll out the effects of their causes. The Poetry Daily in closing in on the six weeks to the first anniversary of the poem a day post of what has become The Poetry Daily.

I have two little quotation poems on infographics to sing out the month of the July. The first is from British dramatist David Hare, which includes the title in the quotation. The second first line comes from Irish Nobel literary laureate Samuel Beckett. They have been celebrating him just over the border from us in Enniskillen in their Happy Days Festival.

 wednesday, mercury
earth

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.

Day 27 NaPoWriMo2019

Today’s prompt is to do a “remix” of a Shakespearean sonnet. Sonnets used to scare me, but since this poem a day lark started last September I have had a bash at them a few times. Some of my efforts I even like (especially the one where Brooklyn Bridge features). Today I chose Sonnet 116, the one that begins


Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments. Love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,

William Shakespeare, Sonnet 116
Riff on 116

Love does not rock and roll when the key shifts.
It's more like jazz - improvisational.
Love keeps making the music that lifts.
Phone home and they always will take your call.
It doesn't matter what dive you are in
some far flung corner of the unknown earth.
They love you famous or has been
or have had repossessed your house of mirth.
Yeah, they know your whole story, chapter, verse,
the back when, the first dance, all your bold hopes,
the down and dirty hours when you cursed
any and every person. But nope!
Love did not flinch. Even when called a fool.
Love knows its mind. And music has its rules.

Copyright © 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved.



Feature Photo by Jefferson Santos on Unsplash

NaPoWriMo2019 GloPoWriMo2019
Bee Smith is participating in GloPoWriMo2019

Day 23 NaPoWriMo

First off, apologies for the rat’s nest of a format on Day 22 NaPoWriMo. I was typing it in the WordPress block form in Safari on my iPad Mini. It looked okay, but obviously not! I have reservations about the the WordPress app I have on my device because before blocks came into WordPress it played havoc with any kind of poetry formatting. I needed to practice for my road trip, which starts on April 28th. At least now I can try and rectify or update the app before I go. And if not, then I just have to deal with the limitations because I am not lugging my laptop all around Scotland.

Today’s NaPoWriMo daily prompt is about animals. Living where I do I figured that what I see on a daily basis needed to be front and centre. And I don’t mean dogs or cats. They get enough attention in this blog already. These are Irish cows by the way. They are quite conversational and like to come up to the field’s perimeter to ask for gossip. Therefore, I have salted the Irish for white cow – bo fin – to alert the reader that this is not just any old calf.

White Calf

Wee Bo Fin in the field,
looking outside it
under the watchful eyes
of your massive mammy,
would you look at your knobbly knees?!
For all your half-ton weight
you kick up your heels
as gleeful as the little lambies
in yonder pasture.
A sweet wee heffer they would say
of ye, eating spring's sweet new grass
seasoned with buttercup
and cow parsley.

When they load you into the trailer
to go off to mart
you may never hear
your mother's keening moos.
But I will.
For days afterwards.

Copyright © 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved.
white calf

NaPoWriMo2019 Day 2

As usual I have a dual identity going on even with NaPoWriMo and GloPoWriMo. I can claim NaPoWriMo since it is from my country of origin. But I haven’t lived there since 1982 so the GloPoWriMo tag feels more accurate. But I have settled on being both.

The prompt for today is to end a poem in a question. And I just seemed to end my poetry practice for today in a volley of questions. After yesterday’s villanelle I am back to syllabbics.

An Uncertain Climate

Then the cold returns...
fat snowflakes softly settled
on the old dog's back,
blackthorn blossom briefly
obscured on the hedge.

Will the seeds we've sown shrivel?
Will the summer turn winter
like in Black '47?
How long can denial
remain inconsequential?

Copyright © 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved.

Featured Photo by Joshua Rawson-Harris on Unsplash

Sojourning Smith Participating in GloPoWriMo2019

Writing Room

As many emerging poets gear up for writing a poem a day during NaPoWriMo/GloPoWriMo 2019 from April 1st, they may want to consider the space they occupy while writing. Virginia Woolf wrote passionately for the woman writer’s need for a room of her own. Which may sound like a recipe for writing as an occupation open only to the middle classes. However, solitude is a requirement. The lack of solitude is eloquently documented in Tillie Olsen’s “Silences,” and the deleterious effect it can on on writer productivity. A dedicated writing space can be hard to find if you share living quarters with many people, some of whom may be needy. Other’s may be time famished, hounded by the clamour of unpaid bills. Carving a place for creative work and thinking can be an act of creativity in and of itself.

This morning I was perusing a past Christmas present from my sister, a book titled “Carolina Writers At Home,” where writers living in North and South Carolina described their living and writing spaces. Cassandra King confesses that for years her writing room had to be an academic office with a door open for students to interrupt her at any time. Women often lack dedicated space for writing. They also often need to overcome the guilt for shutting out all other claims upon their attention. Women, especially those of certain past generations, were conditioned not to be selfish. The solitary nature of writing can look an awful like selfishness to people who do not appreciate the writing process.

Finding a place of solitude for regular writing can be problematic, especially since writing is not always remuneratively rewarding. That is why library closures are so heartbreaking. They are public spaces available for free, offering many of the resources writers need – a space for a laptop or use of a computer, free internet access, books for reference and refreshment, quiet. Libraries are the Democratic Republic of Books and writers are their most needy citizens. The Public Library has often been a haven for a nascent writer, myself included. (Thank you, Jean Walters!)

I started poetry practice this morning thinking that it would go one way. And then it took a sharp left turn. What emerged is a kind of ‘not a sonnet’. It has fourteen lines of ten syllables, but the rhyme scheme would not go to traditional order. So it’s a bit of a mish mash.

Writing Room

A place to look out from - also, within.
An old dog's breath is no interruption
as she gently snores and snuffles in sleep.
Otherwise, it's all silence that will keep
me undiverted, solitude replete.
That is necessary as a heart's beat.
Reading is "that selfish activity"
some would say, yet  reading is writing's key.
Find me a writer who does not worship
at the Temple of the Book, We are trollops
awaiting the penetrating insight,
the ecstatic divinely inspired light.
The writing room's holy sanctuary
is womb incubating life abstractly.


Copyright © 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved.

Featured Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash