Poetry Daily Joy

Another very late edition of the Poetry Daily. This week my writing routine has been severely taxed. And inside I am not so much Mrs. Cranky as Mrs. Discombulated. I love have early morning writing time. With the expected Second Coming of the Septic Tank Man I set my alarm. But apparently not early enough! I had some very desultory writing practice done when his truck roared up in front of the house. From then on there was no peace until I met my lift into the new Weaving/Textile Art class run by my creative colleague Morag in Dowra Courthouse this morning. Two hours of getting to grips with warp, weft, hard and handy chased all thoughts literary out of my head. (Which I do reckon to Be A Good Thing for me. Get out of my head. Do something that does not come easily so I really focus. Which is effected with much muttering to self. Sorry, fellow weavers!)

But it did make me realise how wedded I have become to this routine. It has not always panned out that I could post early, but a good solid chunk of time first thing in the morning was devoted to becoming awake (always a very tender time for me) and then writing. I need a very gentle entry time to the day to remain centred. Or so it has become abundantly apparent. And what will happen in a little over a week’s time when I will have completed the 365 days of the Poetry Daily? I experienced…not quite panic. But certainly a wobble. Which then became more real when a friend messaged with a query as to how I plan to celebrate the completion of the 365 days of Poem a Day? Not a clue…Which is denial of the real winds of change.

Not the least of which is that my husband has been on a concerted campaign of clean up, sort out and get rid of. He has been orbitting the Flat Pack universe these past two weeks constructing new wardrobes, chest of drawers and storage schemes. Like many old Irish homes there are no closets. Storage is always an issue. Our home was constructed in times when people had a lot less stuff. And that was probably a really good thing. A faithful reader, Sherri, has a very good Four Point Plan for ‘stuff.’ Can I eat it? Can I wear it? Can I read it? Can I make art from it? If not, please do not give it to me!

And even with those categories we can have too much of a good thing. These are rather narrow wardrobes to fit the dimensions of the bedrooms. The extra tall bookcase has filled up fast despite two big bags of give aways to the charity shop. So I reverted to Marie Kendo’s ‘does it spark joy?’ query for should anything stay. Has to be done to make room for more book joy and art joy. We have already had one trip to the recycling centre and charity shop. It will probably be the first of many as we methodically tidy up our act.

And as another friend observed today, when they chopped down the second half of the spruce plantation in front of our house last winter, a lot more light flooded into our living space. That certainly inspired Tony to do major reconfiguring in the garden in the spring and summer. Now with the autumn and winter he has unleashed that focus onto the house interior.

And I have not been idle either as Her Indoors has re-read the poems written over the past twelve months and more. I have put together a longlist of poems in a document for second reading and some tweaking, spell checking (blush!) and editting. There is a working title for a solo collection. The next step is to hand it over to a mentor and editor for their housekeeping on the project to pull it together for submitting to publishers.

So after lunch I had another bash at the poetry practice with results that were a bit more satisfying. (I have had enough caffeine by now. I realise that writers have a reputation – mostly fostered by Hemingway and Co. – of being hard drinkers, but the truth of the matter is that we are more probably caffeine junkies.)

Poetry Sparks Joy

Sweeping debris that is overburdensome
we slimline house and home and our routines.
We have too much stuff and too little space
to live our out lives with some simple grace.
The letting go is never easy doing,
nor the establishment of a New Regime
when burrowing up and out from beneath
my heaps and piles. Never very Zen.
What routines to keep? What ones to renew?
What sparks joy? Writing poetry. That's true.
Better go give Marie Kendo her due.
Let go with thanks. Time to feng shui it, too.


Copyright © 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved

White Noise

Apologies for late posting today. I woke late after a long sleep to make up for a couple evenings of binge knitting. Then lots of householder requirements impinged after I wrote my draft poem. But I needed coffee first, because I was sort of zomby-fied. I was wandering around the house like the waking dead for about a half hour just getting my brain in gear. This is very like the old me before I started this poetry writing on a daily basis. Though I think it has more to do with late night knitting with an ear to Netflix. At any rate, the Poetry Daily is still in business.

Although tonight I will probably be asking Marie Kendo to teach me how to fold things. Because we are deep in household reorganisation. While I am writing, editting and beginning to put together a longlist of poems for my first collection, my husband has been Flat Pack Man, sometimes vexed and perplexed as he constructs new wardrobes, chests of drawers and book shelves. (And even though we have expanded book shelf space we needed to drop off two large carrier bags of books to Oxfam yesterday. And more are due for give away…)

Also, the Septic Tank Man could not cometh today. So we will have to be up early for him tomorrow. Also, I have a weaving class…

It's All White Noise

The single note of the TV test card back in the when
of days when television closed down for the night
and nothing was 24/7.
Android radio had static and buzz.
The first kind of wireless had tubes
that whirred as you tried to tune in
to the far, far away
"This is Berlin. This is Berlin."

It's changed to nonstop chatter
from the wave upon wave of streaming pictures.
The current of click, click, click
of binary digit. Although
perhaps it is more correct to
swipe, swipe, swipe
moving the screen across
the talking heads becoming GIFs.

The talk, talk, talk
that is sending us all into
a very deep, deep sleep.
We are all now Beauties
locked up in our keeps.

Featured image Photo by Jens Johnsson on Unsplash

Sentry on the Crossroad

Well, sometimes life comes along and shakes up the morning writing routine. I was up late knitting last night, so I was not writing my poem with the dawning day. I was hitting the snooze function on my phone alarm when the Septic Tank Man Cometh. The poetry writing was on hold until later. He was early. The Poetry Daily was going to be slightly delayed.

One of the realities of living in a rural setting is that every now and then you need to have your septic tank emptied of its earthy contents. It’s a big production because our percolation is around seventy metres from the house and it is a challenge to find a provider with a long enough hose.

Anyway, it was teeming rain and it was all hands to the pump. Well, not literally. That was just Frank. His truck was as wide as our lane. One of us had to remain at the house and another needed to walk down the lane to the crossroads to warn any oncoming traffic that the way was blocked.

I volunteered for that duty to be away from the noise and activity. Way too busy for me first thing. I stood sentry at the three-way cross that in Britain they call a T-junction, but in Ireland is still considered a cross. And why not? You can have three-armed Brigit’s crosses as well as the traditional four-armed one.

There were four cars in all who passed that way, which kind of counts as rush hour for us. Three wanted to turn off the lane on to what locals call the Relic Road, since it passes by the ruins of the old Protestant cemetary. I only had to turn one driver back and he didn’t entirely believe me and wound up having to reverse into the neighbour’s barn yard and come back on himself. Perhaps, with less than one cup of tea in me, I was not forceful or positive enough in my messaging. Or maybe he’s the kind of man that never trusts a woman’s judgement when it comes to driving down a road.

I was not over perturbed. I had me a nice beech tree to shelter under as the rain teamed down. Frank, the McBreen Environmental Man, sent my husband to fetch me back into the house out of the rain. Rain not being a fitting place for a wife I suppose. I held my ground under my beech tree. Damned if I was going to have my nice poetry forming thoughts interrupted by all that busy-ness.

And as it turns out I will be on sentry duty again tomorrow morning, because the hose wasn’t long enough to reach the final chamber of the percolation. Better get to bed early tonight! Or I shall be thinking poetic thoughts under dripping boughs again tomorrow morning.

Standing Sentry at the Relic Road

Standing under dripping tree limbs
with beech mast at my feet,
the nuts hanging above
clinging on with their velcro fuzz
and me considering seraphim.

Stop and stand in a single spot
you either notice everything,
or ignore the whole lot.
It's just your thoughts and leaves
becoming a green, blurred blot.

But then I began to name the neighbours
both the relics and the living, too -
hazel, birch, alder, beech
and the red squirrels that come
to this crossroad for nuts to eat.

The fireweed has taken up residence
where the ground has been disturbed.
We're both blow-ins, fireweed and me.
Or maybe we are all emigrants.
Even the seeds of these trees
deposited season's past by passing birds.

Copyright © 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved.

Cursing Stone

There is, on private land adjacent to the ruined St. Brigid’s Chapel in the townland of Kilinagh, a glacial erratic with nine bullaun stones placed in its hollows. We live in a geopark that is littered with these large rocks that the ice age slid down off Cuilcagh Mountain back in the mists of eons bygone. They were both first tools and material, as well as a part of nascent cosmology. This particular rock formation is called St. Brigid’s Cursing and Blessing Stone, the new Christian religion taking over a site dedicated to the old god Crom Cruach. The tradition is to turn the stone the the left and leave a coin under the bullaun stone for a curse. Turn the stone sunwise and you bless.

Curses are all about deep time. They reverberate for generations. In the heroic tales of Ireland this might be for five, seven or even nine generations. A story never ends where you think it ends. The plot is thicker than any witch’s concoction and many of the characters who think they have starring roles only have cameos in the grander scheme of things.

And why should I be thinking of this as I contemplate the Poetry Daily on this morning where the sun is trying to chase the rain and keep it at bay? Maybe because we need to widen the viewfinder on our ideas of story, how it chases our tails and becomes what we know as history. That the long ago then is also are ninety-minute now.

Cursing Stone

Sometimes you know a story is not done.,
but the climax doesn't satisfy.
The lovers don't walk hand in hand toward sunset.
The mean foment more mean, no justice done.
Oh, but what if we could just simplify
life to a made for TV version?
Ninety minutes of conflict to conclusion.

In reality, bitter people
who take their ball of no hope, feuds and grudges,
go seek their redress at a cursing stone.
They leave at this altar their gall, bile's brew.
Although there is another ritual that blesses
by reversing the turn of bullaun stones.
Forgiveness remedies what needs atoned.

No story's compiled in a single tome.
It's eons of layers, all known in stone.



Copyright © 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved




St. Brigid's Cursing and Blessing Stone
St. Brigid’s Cursing and Blessings Stone

Between Seasons

There is definitely a nip. The air has gone crisp. I needed to put on a pair of socks for my walk. I am shaking out sweaters and greet them as old friends. Yes! Autumn in on its way. September is one of my favourite months – along with May. They are Goldilocks months. Not too hot. Not too cold. Just right. Cool enough for porridge for breakfast. Warm enough that the rain doesn’t chill your marrow when you get drenched during a walk. It’s a season of rainbows and intense shots of light and then a lowering dark. It is a season to believe in miracles. The Poetry Daily began in this wonderful month and it will conclude the cycle of 365 days of a poem a day in September.

The nights are drawing in.There is a greater chance that I may wake in the amrit vela, the ambrosial hour, when the day is not yet born. It is a very special time, when you can feel the pulse of the earth. And while I was up, our internet had been knocked out, but was swiftly restored by our great local, rural internet provider Groupnet.


Between Seasons

It’s not full on
like midsummer's bright
clap at the crack of dawn.
No. It’s much more mellow.
The new day yawns.
It stretches. There is a chill
 
in the air. Time to pull on
a wooly or a fleece
to drink tea. To just sit
facing the blank day,
to see if my mind
can be empty
 
of the world’s cares,
its need for prayers.
It’s not half-light nor full dark.
Soon the days
and the nights, too
will know the perfect poise
 
the betwixt, the between,
have the equilibrium
and grace of ambling spider
pirouetting capers in its nets -
this time out of time,
the bliss of not yet.
 
Copyright © 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved

Two More Weeks of Poetry Daily

Late comers to the party, back on 15th September 2018 I began to write a poem a day. That wasn’t the initial intention. I knew I could do a month. I was a two year NaPoWriMo veteran. But I decided to push the boundaries of my comfort zone. Because the news last September was making me feel really uncomfortable. The poetry making stabilised me. So I kept at it. And sometimes people would tell me that reading the poems helped them with whatever was happening in their own life. By putting the drama on the page, I somehow diluted it and took charge of part of it. In what many consider quite a passive art form, I became an actor. I persevered. Month upon month I amazed myself as the poems piled up.

Until now. I am two weeks off the the anniversary of what one friend titled ‘The Poetry Daily.” I will have completed a 365 day round of poetry practice as of 14th September, 2019. I don’t have a massive following, but I will say that they have been incredibly faithful over the past year. While I was not surprised to see readers from the USA, UK, Ireland, and Canada, I have been grateful for the handful of readers on the Indian subcontinent who have persisted in returning to the blog again and again. This has helped on days when I didn’t really feel it, or felt kind of unwell, or was busy, or had any number of potential excuses not to write. I thank you all most sincerely.

Keeping at it has been helped by prompts from NaPoWriMo.net’s 30 days of poetry inspiration last April. This August I participated in Angela T. Carr’s 30 Days of Summer Writing Challenge which I found on her blog ‘A Dreaming Skin’ on WordPress. Today’s Poetry Daily is the final one from that challenge. Then it is up to me to finish off the final two weeks.

The final prompt from the 30 Days of Summer Writing Challenge is ‘Back to School.’ And, just by the by, I did open a new ‘jotter’ in the past couple days. And placed another volume of first drafts of the poetry daily onto my bookcase shelf. So there will be new poems, just not posted daily, but weekly. I have a lot of editting to do over the next three months!

 Back to School

A new moon. New jotter. New pencil case.
New pencils, all tall, sharpened to fine point.
New pens, brimful of ink. New book bag
for new texts, their secrets and spines uncracked.
Their new book smell, sewn slick pages, book paste.

Corridors spit polished echo anew.
Thunder of footfall, the rush of 'Don't Run!'
The loneliest of crowds, cornered, corralled,
faces blank pages before magic boards.
The shock of the new, the fear of the blank.
The empty to be filled, credit that's banked.
Terror to be faced and bullies outflanked.

Copyright © 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved

Featured image Photo by Banter Snaps on Unsplash

Towards September

To the east of Ireland it is still dry and warm. Friends in England, both north and south, are melting in temperatures approaching 31C. But here in the ‘wesht’ of Ireland autumn is showing signs of arrival. While it is certainly clammy weather, the mercury is still hovering around 18C/62F. It’s close, but not overly uncomfortable. I am looking out at rain.For which I am grateful since we had quite the dry conditions until August this year. More hard rain and flash flooding and less soft rain altogether. The climate is looking less clement everywhere. Today’s prompt from 30 Days of Summer Writing Challenge is ‘Summer Nights’. I certainly have been remarking to myself the necessity of switching on the electric lights comparitively early these days. Partly this is low cloud and rain, but the nights are drawing in. From our cottage the late summer has a distinctly autumnal feel.

 Towards September

That sometimes of the summer bonus
with its daytime heat then nightly chill
crimsoning the house's creeper

Brings its surprise of electric light,
the clock saying eight o'clock
though we do not draw curtains
and windows are open for a draught

The spiders are full of industry
battening us with their silken nets
though the sunflowers stand
and face forward the setting sun

Soon equal light and equal night
the year cranking itself around
for a new season's wardrobe
shaking the sweaters out

Releasing clouds of cloth moths
the crane flies climbing the walls
legging it along ledges
watching moths flutter, beat their wings

Their sizzle, bumping and bumping against
the heat of electric light bulbs
blasting into long inky nights



Copyright © 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved









Featured image Photo by Christopher Paul High on Unsplash

Call And Response

The prompt from #30DaysOfSummerWritingChallenge visits Campground Sessions. I found myself awake in the ambrosial hours, otherwise known as stupid o’ clock, and finally gave up on sleep, cracking on with the writing prompt for the Poetry Daily. Having written, I managed to get a nap after dawn. Although I am far from sporty, I am familiar with the campground summer experience. Camping is a relatively inexpensive way to have a holiday. For over five years post-recession, we spent nine days under canvas in Ireland each year. (Never say I am not hardy. Yes, sometimes it rained hard.) Then the desire for comfort overtook the desire for campground cameraderie. But I know what it’s like.


Call and Response

Seeing you all in huddled shadows
of flickering flame,
the spray of stray sparks
as the logs crack and fall into embers.

Hands clutch hot chocolate in enamel mugs.
Smoke slowly kippers
the congregation.
The murmur of soft spoken talk at night,

it's quiet back and forth. A laugh  echoes
across the campground
where most almost sleep.
Drifts of distant infant's wails gone midnight.

The treads of late night loo visitor's thud
is muffled by dew.
Canvas zips screech loud
when the only sound is the rise and fall

of hundreds of campers dreaming under
canvas under sky
calling each other.
Their dreams are deep. Their responses in sighs.



Copyright © 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved

In three weeks time I will have crossed the 365 day poem a day finish line. I am beginning to look back in the archive for poems that need some tweaking and polish to pull together my first solo poetry collection. Do you have any memories of stand out poems you have especially liked that you read on the blog over the past year? It would help me immeasurably if you would let me know which ones were the most effective and affecting. Pop the title in the comments section, please. And thank you!

Featured Photo by Joris Voeten on Unsplash

Prayer for the Dog Days

Today’s prompt from #30DaysOfSummerWrtingChallenge is about the Dog Days of August. With the dog star, Sirius, high in the night sky, in many parts of the world (excepting Ireland) we swelter. The nights are too sticky to sleep with even a sheet. A torpor descends. I am old enough to remember these days before universal air conditioning came into play, both domestically and in work places. All that energy being expended may be cooling off the room temperature, but the planet is overheating. The globe’s green lung, the Amazon, is on fire.

Until I moved to these more temperate climes in Ireland, August was my least favourite month of the year. If you had said to me years ago that my wedding day would take place in August I would have thought you were 1) demented, and 2) did not know me at all! Yet here I am with a wedding anniversary at the tail end of the August. And, to be clear, after a very rainy, and overcast summer, the sun split the azure sky on the day.

Yet, I know too that Ireland is a bit of an anomoly. But even here we have had had record breaking high temperatures for part of the summer. Climate change is real. We can feel it.

 Prayer for the Dog Days

Now I lay me down
with the Old Dog at my feet.
We pray in these crazed days
that our souls will keep.
And if we should die
in this stifling heat,
bless the species
we shall not keep
as we lay ourselves down
to another night's restless sleep.


Copyright © 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved.

Featured Photo by Tamara Bellis on Unsplash

Departure Delayed

The theme from today’s #30DaysOfSummerWritingChallenge is ‘Flights Delayed.’ And I have a humdinger of a memory to pack into the Poetry Daily. Which, admittedly, is delayed in itself today. Somedays you just need a long lie in. The cloud is low. The precipitation is persistant. Today is a day for me lying low, since the weekend is probably going to be a bit peopley. I need me some serious nose down in a book time today.

The memory stretches back to 2007 when I missed a flight (either due to my own incompetance with online booking, or the website’s issue; perhaps we were both a bit hot flushed.) I had grabbed a cheap transatlantic flight from Knock to surprise my mother by attending her 90th birthday party three weeks after I had visited for my niece’s wedding.What should have been a five day visit doubled when the re-booked flight was repeatedly delayed due to mechanical issues; then Glasgow Airport closed down during a terror attack so no replacement airplanes were on the way. And the airline did not see fit to hire a replacement one Stateside of the Atlantic.It turned into a very expensive ‘budget’ flight. The amount of time I spent hanging around a departure lounge may be the genesis of my extreme dislike of airline travel.

Departures

I have laid my head down upon the floor of JFK
and still lived to tell the tale of four days of flight delayed,
the corporate crack up of too small an airline fleet
meets with terror alert in Glasgow. Meaning no seats.
A fellow passenger had a heart attack in the heat.
Bad free airport food. Bad Intel. Bad hotel room. Bad tempers.

An expensive alternative airline flight finally
brought me home.  Our ancient tortoiseshell cat had kept the faith.
She did not die while I was away.
She purred herself out,
departed this world twelve hours home from all delays.
Both liberated, although each took a different route.



Copyright © 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved.


It’s true. I did instruct Sophie Cat not to die while I was away. She was seventeen and she hung in there until she passed on 4th July 2007.

Featured Photo by VanveenJF on Unsplash