Day14 NaPoWriMo2019

I am a bit rushed. I have promised to bake a cake. And what do they do? They publish a serious head wrecker of a prompt! Homophones, homographs and homonyms! If you don’t remember what they are, go look up! Now I need some breakfast. And I have to tell you, this household is seriously organic!

Cereal Crime

I am serious as a plague of locusts.
The gunk they spray over cereal crops
is EU outlawed as serial crime.
Do not round up your breakfast porridge plate
with that big side dish of glycophosphate.
Do not think that jail is beyond fate
(although Brexit gaols may leave you exempt.)
Corporate cereal criminals bent
on their spree of serial crime concur
that public health can go in the mincer.
Profits before people . Seriously!
Go have a nice Sunday brunch or breakfast!
(Pray cereal criminals get busted.)

Copyright © 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved.

Featured Photo by Alice Pasqual on Unsplash

NaPoWriMo2019 GloPoWriMo2019
Bee Smith is participating in Na/GloPoWriMo2019
Advertisements

NaPoWriMo2019 Day 5

Day 5 dawns and I feel refreshed from a day of doing nothing but reading light fiction in bed with the Old Dog snuffling at my feet and the The King Cat resting lightly on my hip. My husband’s domestic prowess is greatly appreciated. His mother raised him right. (More about that later, because my mother-in-law is the inspiration for NaPoWrMo2019 Day Five’s poem.)

So…the prompt reads ” Today we’d like to challenge you to write a poem that incorporates at least one of the following: (1) the villanelle form, (2) lines taken from an outside text, and/or (3) phrases that oppose each other in some way. If you can use two elements, great – and if you can do all three, wow! ”

I wrote a villanelle on Day 1, but I have warmed to that form. I picked up the book I was reading last night at bedtime – Lee Child’s Midnight Line. I left off on page 184, but my eyes drifted to the right, almost dead centre of the page, and lighted on a line of dialogue. This, then became the lead recurring line. As to opposing lines? Well, that’s a stretch. Maybe by the final couplet it feels a bit call and response?

The second recurring line is a direct quotation of my future mother-in-law when I was first brought home to be introduced to my future husband’s parents. While I doubt that Edna ever identified herself as a feminist, she was definintely independent. But she was from a generation of women who did experience a great deal of ‘unlived life’ in the era immediately pos-World War 2.

Advice to a Daughter-in-Law

Where have they gone, do you think?
All those women who seem to disappear?
Don't go down with the bubbles in the sink!
Some, like woolens put in a hot wash, shrink.
What became of the sister of Shakespeare?
Where have they gone, do you think?
Because not all wives are smothered in mink.
They live in a far more restricted sphere.
Don't go down with the bubbles in the sink!
Loosen the chains. We are all dying here!
Where have they gone, do you think?
All those women scrubbing away stink
who have dreams that routinely are jeered.
Don't go down with the bubbles in the sink!
Stare them down. Do not be the first to blink!
Don't let that woman inside disappear.
Where have they gone, do you think?
Don't go down with the bubbles in the sink!

Copyright © 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved.


Edna Sarah holding my future husband

Featured Photo by Scott Umstattd on Unsplash

GloPoWriMo2019
Sojourning Smith participating in GloPoWriMo2019

NaPoWriMo Minus 1

NaPoWriMo, National Poetry Writing Month, aka GloPoWriMo, Global Poetry Writing Month, commences on April Fools Day. But the folk over at http://www.napowrimo.net/ have already provided a prompt to flex the poetry writing muscles. While readers on the other side of the Atlantic put their clocks forward two weeks ago,we sprang forward at 2am today. The clock ‘Spring Forward’ thing has always addled me and I feel very late with poetry practice. Given I am up and out early several mornings this week, the NaPoWriMo prompts may not get attention until later in the day.

The prompt on the website today is to write a self-portrait poem. This is my effort. The examples they give are lovely and mythic. But I have lost an hour and may be feeling a tad prosaic. However, it is something of a relief to have someone else suggest the subject or theme for the Poem A Day.

Sabbath Self-Portrait

Yeasty and doughy. No surprise.
The years' toll has given rise...

I am a Sunday loaf of bread
made with flour kept for guests.

I've a plain 'go to Meeting' face.
A glint of flint. Just a trace.

Though too smiley for piety
by some Quaker ancestry.

Generations long gone, sometimes
blood will out and ideals chime.

There's holy anger for justice
meets a pacific genus.

I keep Sabbath and most mornings
in silent allowing,

a prayer, a poem, baking
a loaf of bread offering.


Copyright © 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved.



The Sacred Centre

I needed a few days to let all the mythology and mystical feeling of Uisneach to settle and process. It was only just Saturday when I was travelling with many of my Marble Arch Caves Global Geopark guide colleagues to Ireland’s Heartland to visit what is considered Ireland’s sacred centre, a nexis of mythology and ancient cosmology.

Just to prove how we are never more than three degrees separated from anyone in Ireland, we had no sooner disembarked when I met an acquaintance who introduced me as “The Poet.” (That was very edifying Kathleen!) By the time our tour had concluded ninety minutes later I saw more familiar faces and found that they were gathered for a memorial service for Kevin Hayes whom I had not met, but perhaps only my an accident given the number of common acquaintances.

The south processional road to the King's Palace at UIsneach
The southern processional route to the King’s Palace at Uisneach. The mountains in the background are those of the southern kingdom of Munster

Uisneach is a natural gathering point since it is near as damn all the geographical centre of this island. If you imagine Ireland as a shallow bowl, Uisneach rises out of the flatland to have a 360 degree view of Ireland on a clear day. You can see all the mountain ranges east, south, west and north. There were processional roads from each direction for the gathering each Bealtaine when the sacred flame was relit in a pit as large as a footbal field. And as soon as those not present saw Uisneach’s flame, they ignited their own mountain top pyres in a unique ceremony of call and response involving and uniting four kingdoms at the central place of the High King. Last May at Bealtaine, President Higgins took the place of the High King and lit the Bealtaine fire.

The Sun God Lugh, a sculpture at Uisneach

What is remarkable is that Uisneach’s mythology and cosmology is united in celebrating both the sacred masculine and sacred feminine. Lugh is the primal sacred masculine presence at Uisneach, a solar god upon which the agricultural calendar relied. The souterain beneath the High King’s Palace, may have been practically used for food storage. But it also symbolised the womb of the earth as life giver. With the invention of agriculture there was a secure food supply and that was symbolised in the fecunditty of Mother Earth. What is now called the Cat Stone is also known as Hiberniae Umbilicus, the umbilical cord of Eriu, Ireland.

THe Cat Stone, or Hiberniae Umbilicus at Uisneach is the presence of the sacred feminine Eriu
Eriu is the sacred feminine presence at Uisneach and this is the Hiberniae Umbilicus

And so now to the poem about Uisneach from the so kindly named ‘the Poet.’ The Poetry Daily:

The Sacred Centre

If you follow the sun and stars
you will have plenty
and peace.
The earth's belly is full
so feast.

Our King Lugh and Queen Eriu
are the royal road
to the sacred centre.
Just follow the sun and stars and
keep walking towards
the centre. And do not
make of it a mere altarpiece.
You know that you owe
this peace to the plenty.

You must follow the sun and stars
sow in time, and hoe,
reap and feast - an unmarred
life follows sun, stars, royal code.
Our King Lugh relies
upon Queen Eriu.
If you follow the sun and stars,
give back to the earth
as Eriu gives all
fruit for the feast under sun, stars,
you shall have great peace
following the plenty

Copyright © 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved.

Thanks goes to Marty Mulligan, our guide and storyteller, who brought Uisneach’s ancient landscape alive. He pointed out that the original inhabitants were not a war like people. It was only with the incursion of the people we now call the Celts around 500BCE that warfare became the stuff of bardic lore. Uisneach was the seat of abiding peace and mediation of disputes at a time when under Brehon law men and women had equal rights.

Marty Mulligan tour guide and storyteller at Uisneach
Marty Mulligan, tour guide at Uisneach

Thanks also to Nuala McCann, the Cavan County Council employee for Marble Arch Caves Global Geopark programmes. She is an excellent event organiser! It was great to get an insight into how other Hidden Gems in Ireland are allowing sustainable tourism to evolve. Uisneach is a shining example.

Daytripping

I am up with an alarm call to write before catching a bus for a Geopark Local Guide Training Day that is also, as they say in the tour trade, a ‘fam trip.’ A familiarisation trip. Today’s destination is Uisneach, the sacred centre of Ireland,and Belvedere House and Gardens. And I wake with the same sweaty palmed, fluttery tummy excitement of my ten year old self about to embark on a Girl Scout trip.

Of which there were many in my youth – often to places like Gettysburg, New Hope and Washington, DC. As we headed towards our teens there were overnights to Niagara Falls and Colonial Williamsburg. Those memories of my mother waking me for 4AM starts flooded back this morning.

Daytripping

The spike of excitement
on journeying out,
the day pack filled night before,
alarm set over early,
clothes set ready. Good Scout!

Fifty years and more
flown past. Then my mother shakes
me gently awake at four
to board the bus full
of sleepy tweens, Scout leaders

bound for away from
the now familiar –
to  monuments, battlefields,
museums, the past
our charabanc holiday

We are away and
then home in a day.
A very big adventure
when you’re ten or eleven
to practice the patterns of
leaving and return.

Good Scout! The sh/hero
hears the call to adventure.
Deal with your demons
on board and on foot.
Return home, quest done.
Well done on your practice run!


Copyright © 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved



Equilux at Storm Moon

A while ago I stumbled upon the different way of describing the vernal equinox. Equinox is equal night. Equilux is equal light. Since then I have tended to think of this March state of the earth as being in equal light as the days lengthen for me in the northern hemisphere. Because astrology as we know it began in the northern hemisphere the beginning of the astrological year is 0 degrees of Aries, which occurs on the 20th or 21st of March each year, with spring’s waxing light.

This year the equilux, or vernal equinox, coincides with the March full moon. Which means that the moon in residing in the sign opposite the sun, Libra, the time of the autumn equinox. Native Americans and agrarian people who did not live their life by a twelve month calendar named each moon. The March moon in variantly knows as the Storm Moon or Chaste Moon; it is also called Worm moon as farmers would rely on earth worms to be doing their bit to prepare the soil for crop planting.

Today’s poetry practice is imformed by the earth. It’s the third supermoon in as many months, as well as the last one of 2019. That means that the moon is appearing very up close and personal, very large and looming. In Ireland, we’ve had a great deal of cloud cover. We have low cloud again today, so I have no high hopes of moon bathing tonight.

Equilux at Storm Moon

The world tree at rest
on its axis,
perfectly poised
between light and dark,
before roots and leaves
topsy-turvy
will follow sun's light.
Howsoever:
tonight it will bask
in full moonlight,
unbalancing
the sun's equilux.

On his deathbed
Goethe is said
to have cried out
with his last breath,
quote:
"More light! More light"

Copyright © 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved.

Featured image Photo by Tony Detroit on Unsplash

If you have a burning desire to learn more about the astrology of this full moon I recommend checking out a vlog by Pam Gregory of http://www.pamgregory.com . If you prefer reading to digest information, then check out the WordPress blog by Mary Pat Lynch of Rising Moon Astrology. http://www.risingmoonastrology.com/equinox-full-moon-in-libra-opening/. She also has a podcast.

Murdering People Who Pray

I am heart sick. Yet another shooting in a place of worship. Now each of the Judeo- Christian people of the Book have been picked off while they worshipped in their own way. Less than five months ago I was mourning the massacre at Tree of Life Synagogue. Today, I have written a new poem, but I am also including other poems I have written in the last thirteen months about mass shootings. But its unique this Sunday, to contemplate that there has been a massacre of worshipers now in a Christian church, a Jewish synagogue and two Moslim mosques.

I’m opening with some older poems, just to remind you.

 
Tree of Life

When God was allowed a wife
her name was Asherah.
She was the sacred tree of life –
root, branch, bud, leaf, flower,
the berry that had the seed,
the source of nature’s power.
 
When God was allowed a wife,
(before she was veiled and put into purdah)
no one would have dared or dreamed to take a life,
to even strike a blow against the sacred tree.
For she is the one who holds up the sky.
For she is the one who holds back tsunami sea.
 
When God was allowed a wife
just like prophets, or Krishna, or Buddha,
did we live with less strife?
Did we need to burn a holocaust,
to join human blood with timber?
When will this urge in us be exhausted?
 
When God was allowed a wife –
Praise be her name Asherah!-
She was axis and afterlife
She demanded no blood sacrifice.
She was root, branch, bud, leaf, flower, berry.
She was the Garden of Paradise.
 
When God was allowed a wife –
She had a name, Asherah –
we walked in Beauty. We loved life.
 
Copyright © Bee Smith 2018

The classic response to each new fresh hell of a massacre has been ‘our thoughts and prayers are with the families who are mourning.’ It’s become such a cliché it almost sounds like an insult. In spite of my pacifist leanings, if I was one among those families, I would punch any politician in the face who had the gall to say this and then vote down stricter gun legislation.

So last February I was writing this.

 
Thoughts and Prayers

Enough of thoughts
Enough of prayers
Enough of tears
 
Banish the fear
May Love disarm you
 
Enough of being bought
Enough of anger
Enough conspiracy jeers

Banish the fear
May Love disarm you
 
Enough of siege and SWAT
Enough of all coming to naught
Enough of the primacy of crackpot
Enough of the always all too sure shot
 
Banish the fear
May Love disarm you
 
Enough of cowering in closets
Enough of bandoliered bigots
Enough of ideology driven budgets
Enough of guts and gore as year-round climate
 
Banish your fear
May Love disarm you

Copyright 2018 Bee Smith

Here I am again a little over a year later, on a Sunday, the Sabbath for Christians, the tradition I was reared in. And we are having to confront that yet another person reared in this religious tradition has taken guns and ammunition and mowed down people at prayer.

First, it was the congregation of the Emmanuel African Methodist Church in Charleston, South Carolina. back in 2015. Certainly synagues and mosques were targetted for arson and attack since then, but this past five months has had the massacres of worshipers, people at prayer, first in a synague and now two mosques.

I want to stop having to write these kinds of poems. But staying silent in the face of evil is not an option. I disavow violent direct action. All I can offer are poems with the hope that hearts and minds will have the kind of metanoia where love, the agape of the New Testiment blossoms, celebrates and protects diversity in our world. That will let people live and worship the God or no God they wish as they please.

Murdering People Who Pray

They kneel.
They bow.
They sit and daven.

Some sing.
Some are silent.
Some are led

to follow a Book.,
to have words
to be read,

as they kneel,
as they bow,
while they sit

listening to
exigesis
on texts
about a deity

who might say:
why do you murder
all My People
while they pray?

Do you seek
to obliterate Deity
in human form
today?

Emmanuel AME Church, Charleston, South Carolina,  USA June 17, 2015
Tree of Life Synagogue, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA October 27, 2018
Masjid Al-Noor Mosque, Linwood Mosque, Christchurch, New Zealand, March 15, 2019
For all those massacred while they prayed

Copyright © 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved.

I saw a clip on YouTube last night from a favourite comedy, Derry Girls, set in Northern Ireland during the bad old days before the peace accord of the Belfast Treaty of 1998. In the clip there were Catholic and Protestant high school kids in a joint session being asked to list similarities and differences between tribes. (These are Christian sects after all.) The gag was that the board was chock a bloc with differences. The board with similarities was empty.

We need to address that deficit. It’s no laughing matter. People die because of it.

Featured Photo by Mike Labrum on Unsplash