The Bearded Lady

Poems are full immersion experiences. Sometimes the symbols or extended metaphor may make you feel out of your depth. But if you can stay afloat long enough with a doggy paddle, it can feel more like a natural habitat. Friends who are clinical psychologists may send out a life raft. (Thank you, Bláthaín! And you, too, Tony!) It is true of our dreams, too. It can take a while to fathom their depths when you are swirling in the currents of culturally defined masculinity and femininity.

Bearded Lady

She's a freak,
a circus sideshow combing
her facial hirsutism
on display for all to see,
which feels so wrong
in so many ways.
She inspires pity and terror,
(the ancient Greek formula
for pure tragedy)
that she may never know love
or the safety
of a good husband.

I have sprouted the blonde beard
of a Viking sailor,
but without the moustache,
which comes out looking
disconcertingly Amish,
pacifist Anabaptist farmer
meeting Scandi noir-ior-
marauder, raider, rapist,
coloniser, usurper,
appropriator, trader.

No, no, no, no!
I cannot have that!
There is not enough beard oil
in the world
that can soften all that bristle.
I do not want to identify
with that!

Get out the trimmer.
Consider the strap and the blade.
Pour on the chemical
depilatory cream to disable
any stray traces
of masculine shade.

But when I look in the mirror
what I see
is that Viking sailor
with that weirdly Amish
non-tache
and I now have the task
of masking my bearded lady
who is still there
without her whiskers
nonetheless.

living with the knowledge
I am only the circus' sideshow
while the main event
is happening out
in the Big Top tent,
where the only women
who get to perform
are certain speciality acts.
They balance on the high wire.
The only ones who get to fly
swing on the trapeze.
Both without a safety net.



Copyright © 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved.

Today’s featured image is of a vintage circus poster which can be found and purchased fromhttp://garageartsigns.com/product-tag/vintage-circus-posters/

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Everyone Needs Someone

Call it one of the realisations that comes with aging. Or remembering the day that you both knew you had become one of those couples sitting in a car in the rain looking out at the ocean. Consider the truth of Michael Harding’s book title “Staring at Lakes”. Perhaps I am under the sway of too much Scandinoir. This was the turn poetry practice took today.

Everyone Needs Someone

Everyone needs someone
(and not only a dog -
a dog or a cat is an
optional extra)

who will sit with them
(and they don't need
to talk or even
touch hands often)

when you are getting old
(to witness your staring
at the horizon,
share the flask of coffee)

to watch over your soul
(that etheric substance -
part angel, part vital animal,
that will depart)

if you believe in that kind of thing
(call it animating force then
whatever it is that leaves
the building or a corpse)

Everyone needs someone
who will sit with them
when they are getting old
to watch over your soul
if you believe in that
kind
of thing

Copyright © 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved.

Featured Photo by Sasha Freemind on Unsplash

When the Well Runs Dry

I finished making my brídeog (Biddy Doll or St. Brigid’s doll) yesterday. The festival of Brigid (or Brigit or Brighid or Bride) runs from 31st January to 2nd February and coincides with Imbolc, the ancient Celtic festival that heralds spring time. And the return of the goddess Brigid in her maiden form. And the Feast Day of St. Brigit, Abbess of Kildare, one of Ireland’s three national saints. What you need to know about me is that I celebrate the coming a springtime (even though the upcoming Wolf Moon is also known as the Snow or Ice Moon) with as much fervour as most people reserve for Christmas, Thanksgiving or Halloween. I prepare, decorate and bake. And if there is snow that is no bother. The point is that the days are getting much lighter. When you live in Ireland that is is something to celebrate. Winter is on the wane. Wey-hey! The light is returning!

So I have been considering the many associations of both the goddess Brigid and St. Brigit. They are both fire and water women. This year I am feeling all ‘watery’. So today’s Poetry Daily celebrates sacred springs and holy wells. Of which Ireland has many. The poem is an octet -eight lines of eight syllables each. Eight being the number of infinity, it seems to be suited to water.

I was seeking inspiration when I started the day feeling a bit blank as my page. But the patron saint of inspiration never runs dry of ideas. She is also the patron saint (matron saint?) of poets.

When a Well Runs Dry

What to do when the well runs dry?
You dig a new one, so you do.
Where's the cure gone when the well's dry?
It flees into nearby tree. See
the clouties tied, where all wishes vie?
Wells may crumble, silt up, dry.
Water stays holy, cannot die.
Water will ever sanctify.

For those living outside of Ireland I will treat you to photos of crumbling wells, clouties and the shrines that surround many of them. All those pictured are within a ten mile radius of where I live. It’s limestone country. Springs are everywhere. And everywhere are sacred.

St. Brigids Holy Well
Killargue, Leitrim St. Brigit’s Well
Holy well
My local holy well at Tubber before restoration
Holy Well
Holy Well, Belcoo, Fermanagh
Cloutie Tree Holy Well Leitrim
Cloutie Tree at Holy Well, Leitrim
Badgers Well
The Badger’s Well, Glenfarne, Leitrim
Brigids Way Bee Smith poems
Poems celebrating Brigid in all Her glory
Available as a Kindle on Amazon.com

The Omen Days

The Omen Days are upon us. These are the classic twelve days of Christmas from today, St. Stephen’s Day to Epiphany, the feast of the Three Kings. These are the in between days of the winter feast, that include the liminal time of the New Year.  This whole winter tide is a threshold place, from pale glimmering of dawn on winter solstice until Epiphany. Oh, how I love that word. Would that we would all have a healing or self-improving revelation.

But I digress. The Omen Days. In former times, it was the custom of folk to look for portents of the future year.  I expect they would be looking at how the birds and beasts were behaving to judge weather patterns and consider harvest yields.  So seeing snowdrops in flower in our raised beds yesterday, did make me wonder if that would count as an omen.

Now that we are no longer mainly an agrarian society (although the masses depend upon them for the food they consume) we look at tarot cards, or read runes, or take a line from a poem or the Bible, and figure out the omen from them.  What I like to do is see what random thing crops up early in the day. Even what first occurs. So waking to a cat on your lap (even if you had dreamed of her the night before) does not quite cut it. Although, Sparkle is really my dear husband’s cat, but we are seeing a subtle realignment of cats with Felix is gravitating towards Tony and Sparkle attaching herself to me. But that has been happening over the past week, so doesn’t quite qualify I feel.

In the end it was early rising well before dawn and using a new Christmas present from a friend, bought explicitly to respect the velvet darkness of the amrit vela, these ambrosial hours when our soul calls to us. It is a pen with penlight for writing in the dark.

Two poems for the Poetry Daily today, since I reckon that my Omen Day offering will probably take the form of haiku over the next twelve days. Although that may change. One must respect the random. Also, I may be posting later than usual. It is all down to how the omens roll.

Omen Days

Read the runes!
What's in the cards?
How will the clouds form our future
from the present shards?
Collect the portents
in fevered times where fear
and uncertainty foment.

The old is not quite done.
The new not yet begun.

We feast and slumber in dreams
where we feature as heroes
just like those we watch
in our holiday films.

Deep down, we are all listening
for our call to adventure,
but we want to be heroes
without fear of any censure.

The old is not quite done.
The new not yet begun.

Collect the portents.
We are heroes all,
even if we think
we are only small.

Mighty oaks begin
with acorns who fall
on fertile ground.
They gain strength and girth
straight from Mother Earth.

The old is not quite done.
The new not yet begun.

Copyright 2018 Bee Smith

Omen Day 1
St. Stephen's Day, 2018


Writing in darkness
Wand - without phoenix feather
Illuminato!

Copyright 2018 Bee Smith

May the omens be with you!

Featured image Photo by Nikhil Mitra on Unsplash

Poem Prayer

Samuel Beckett has a quote that is often truncated to all poems are prayers.  The late Patricia Monaghan spun it to include spells. Spells and prayers are often petitionary -for protection, for love and to be loved in return, for the wherewithal to survive or thrive.

It is a sunny day here where I live. But it also feels like a day to keep prayer ceaselessly in one’s heart to cast out any dark.

Today marks the beginning of the fourth week of my writing and posting a poem a day. I feel it is evolving into a journal with the poetry practice plotting my preoccupations. We shall see how long I can keep up with this practice. I am surprising mself a bit.

Sound and Fury

Signifying nothing.
We mean nothing.
We, with less ambition,
less malcontent
than his Lady MacBeth.
We are idiots
condemned
to suffering singly,
singularly alone, alien
in the homeland,
living with the din, aggrieved.

Power confers a cursedness.
Blessed are the powerless
for the day they inherit
the kingdom of heaven on earth.
It will come.
And may they then evade
becoming one among the cursed.

Copyright 2018 Bee Smith

Featured image is a portrait of Samuel Beckett by Barry Hodgson, owned by the author.