Joy

I am minded today of the Arundrati Roy quote to seek joy in the saddest places. We need to be reminded of joy and a prison qualifies as a sad place, but my husband and I and about fifty souls witnessed it yesterday in our local low security prison. I feel it warrants memorialising in my poetry journal. As backstory for you to understand the context of how it came about, I need to explain that they run a coffee shop that is open to the public, as well as having a car wash and polytunnels where you can buy plants. This is a bank holiday weekend in Ireland so there were a lot of visitors about the campus on a Sunday. The barristas in the coffee shop had been chatting to some of the regulars who work with a group of disabled young adults locally.  They cooked up the idea of throwing a bit of a Halloween party for them, got the chief’s blessing and threw themselves into having a wee kareoke yesterday afternoon.

Since I am both an adult and and American born, they had no problem in getting me to dust off my witch’s costume (complete with cauldron as purse and besom – oops, forgot the flying ointment!). My husband has a wizard’s cape and another member of the public dressed up as Queen of the Night to add to the atmosphere. One of the guys bought decorations while out on temporary release. Paid from his own pocket I may add, from his €2.20 an hour wages as barrista.

We need to spread the joy. No photographs since that is an Irish Prison Service no-no. The jackolantern has to speak for us all.

Joy

 

You wouldn’t have believed it

to know that years ago

Steven had seized and seized and seized,

a ceaseless neurological event

that nearly extinguished him,

that left him in hospital a full year.

But here he is growling out Breakfast Roll,

stamping his feet, knowing all the words,

giving it as much soul

as any Motown microphone ever heard.

He didn’t bring the prison down – quite.

He raised its roof though. I saw so many doors

swing wide open and so many smiles that

went right straight to the eyes for the first time

in too long. We all grinned so much our jaws ached.

And then Steven switched it up,

crooning a song. Megan and Mary mimed to the words.

Heart for love, empty arms as language for lonely.

Fifty pairs of eyes beheld them mistily.

And clapped and applauded. And still everyone smiled.

No matter they sang a bit off key. So don’t all of we.

But heart and soul and being inside the song.

You don’t see that so very often.

Later, when the bus had taken them all home,

the barristas mopped the counter, did  the washing up.

One of the guys, a lifer, gave out a little sigh,

said, Today was a good day, smiling again at the memory.

Steven and Megan and Mary and Michael,

naked of your medical labels

are the joy givers.

We bow to you,

those who show us all how to.

Copyright © Bee Smith 2018

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Fox and Mother Winter

We had our first flurries of snow this morning just after dawn. And it made me feel happy. Just as I realised that making sure that I write a poem a day – good, bad, indifferant – that I keep at the poetry practice – also makes me deeply happy. It has become the stake in the ground that is keeping me centred in this Crazy Train world, where who knows what will happen where and to whom.

I woke up just as dawn was breaking, which is a rare occasion for me.  And I had more leisure to doodle on the page. I posted a haiku on Facebook for my friends. And then two poems emerged, which I will share. Neither are profound, but they do act as a poetry journal entry for what is happening in my world. Which is real to me, woo woo and all. I have kept at a daily entry now for six weeks and this just feels so right. It gives me joy.

 

Fox At Twilight

 

At twilight as we drove along our road

we saw it stop, stilling on the lane’s verge –

tail erect, tip a snowball or pompom,

head turned towards us, eyes glittering.

Then, a graceful duck and dive into hedge.

It was an instant’s benediction.

Be aware. Stay wise. And wild, quick and free.

 

Copyright © Bee Smith 2018

 

Mother Winter

 

Crept over our threshold

trailing pink cloud

and the shadow of ghostly moonset.

She arrived with a flurry of crystal pebbles

that glimmered on my dog’s coat,

making it into an old girl’s Princess cloak.

It’s official when you send up smoke signals

from the chimney with a morning fire.

With ceremony, the purple gloves,

the hand-knitted cowl come out from

their special seasonal drawer full of

ritual winter gear.  Even the hot water bottles

have knitted sweaters to keep us all cozy.

The light shall fail early now,

the chill beginning to seep in at three.

Mother Winter breathed it ice cold

at dawn with that ghostly white moon set.

 

Copyright © Bee Smith 2018

Featured image:

Photo by Nam Hoang on Unsplash

The Woo

Okay, I realise that I need to explain the title. You know when you have odd, random experiences, that are not necessarily readily explained by the physical laws of the universe? They feel laden with portent, but not in a meaningful coincidence kind of way. That’s WooWoo. Or for short, The Woo. It can feel a bit spooky or actually leave you feeling a tad spooked. So with Halloween not a week away, I thought I would poetry journal today’s random weird experiences. (No! Don’t judge them weird! They are just woowoo!) They tend to come in threes (like clichéd buses), so I promise I will report back if there is a further instance of The Woo. And if I ever figure out what I am supposed to be looking at, or figuring out. Still at the head scratching stage in this household.

‘Tis the season for the veil between the worlds to be mesh thin. It is definitely permeable. And out where I live this feels like Planet Normal.

In the interests of full disclosure I will confess that I was the child who was declared to have worryingly fey tendencies. Or putting a positive spin on it – was imaginative.

The Woo

 

Setting off the smoke alarm

at 1:50 AM-

but no smoke, no fire,

new batteries in just this week,

everything switched off,

(including the alarm doing it for itself!)

not before waking the whole house up…

 

Then this morning the pebble dashed itself

against the windscreen

on smooth highway

with no oncoming traffic

to kick up any loose chippings…

 

So you definitely have got our attention now

(Whoever you are) playing at being the Great Oz

speaking from behind the curtain

only without using words.

Will a winged monkey swoop in next?

Does my poppy seed cake have an opioid kick?

 

You riddle and simile it.

Jeese Louise! What is the metaphor for?

It’s not even Hallowe’en – yet.

But the clocks are winding back this weekend

and we’ll soon be pitched into the dark.

Which no one likes to navigate alone.

Just please don’t leave any ambiguous messages

on the answer phone.

 

Copyright © Bee Smith 2018

 

Featured Image:

Photo by Maud CORREA on Unsplash

Drawer

No subject is too mundane to not be potentially transcendental. At least in the early hours of the day, when you really are a night owl. But it was still dark when poetry practice called.

Drawer

Everyone has got one.
That drawer full
of catchall, untamed, uncategorised
bits, bobby pins, bats, half-chewed rubber balls.

Once
I heard a psychiatrist on the radio recount
strategy with a a suicidal patient’s call
during another client’s fifty minutes.
She said just go an tidy a drawer until
She’d ring back in twenty.
He was calmer on the call back.
He had dispensed with death
as a persuasive option
when appraising the matched and folded array
of an ordered sock drawer.

We all have that drawer.
Sometimes we empty the contents
into a box
and slide it under the bed,
or to the back of a closet,
out into the shed,
or the far cobwebbed corner of the garage
where all our memories go.

There go the night terrors.
There are the dreams where clocks melt,
mildew thrives,
animals speak, along with long-lost loves.
Dislodged identities fly out
with the moths
that camphor could not combat.

I once found my long dead father
in a drawer.
It was good to visit
the ineffable
just for a little while.
I did not open my parents’ love letters.
They were left unread.
It was good to know they were there.

Fifteen years later
when I checked
they were gone.

When all the drawers are emptied,
or the house burnt down,
the storage unit lease run out,
then
with photos gone, the phone mislaid,
the collected memorabilia of lifetimes
lost…

What will be the last talisman
to touch and stay the rising confusion?
Would it be bric-a-brac or bone china?
Mine would be seashell and stone.
One to worry in my pocket or line my purse.
One to put to my ear
to hear the tide roll by.

Copyright 2018 Bee Smith

Magpie

Writing practice had to wait. The sun was shining. There were (and still are) garden tasks that need to be done that are a much greater pleasure administered without wet and wind. I grew up on a continent that called these autumn days ‘Indian summer.’ The phrase caught on in the British Isles, which I find patently perplexing. Or perhaps it is just another case of cultural colonisation. Or misappropriation. It was the Columbus Day holiday in the States on October 8th. There has been a movement in past years to rename the holiday Samoset, or Indigenous People’s Day.

Such is the day. It may be a last opportunity to throw all the windows open. So at 3pm I pause and take up my pen today. When I finish there are some tulip bulbs, crocus and narcissi that need my attention.

Magpie

There is nothing particularly
Indigenous about
sultry, sunny days
with clear azure sky
in October
in Europe

on a day we wish
we had not been so precipitate
in packing away
the short sleeves
the ankle socks
on this day
with the mercury pointing
to 20 degrees C

unseasonal, yes
a little surreal, yes
(given wooly blankets already on beds)
but nothing subcontinent
to the east
or Amerindian
to the west
at all

A solitary magpie
sits in the willow tree,
sermonising the suet ball feeder.
One for sorrow –
that it’s no longer just
a change in weather.
It’s the climate.
Our over-hearing planet
Is all.

Copyright 2018 Bee Smith

Venus Dives Deep

There was a fashion in creating ‘found poems’ or ‘cut-outs’ from sometime back in the mists of poetry time. Probably the late 60s when those who were there can’t remember. Today I decided to create a chorus of women’s voices, taking direct quotes from articles or newsletters I have read this morning. It is a New Moon today in Libra, ruled by that most feminine of goddesses, Venus. Sky and astrology watchers will have noted that Venus is currently retrograde, seemingly stationary, or moving backwards (rapidly towards the Dark Ages.) Today’s poetry practice, or journalling as I am coming to think of it, is playing with a different kind of cut and paste. Also, I want to celebrate women’s voices. We want to be heard.

I won’t keep my chorus Greek, masked and anonymous. The quotes are not in order, but feature the words of Barbara Kingsolver, Jude Lally,Chani Noble, Mary Pat Lynch, Brené Brown, and Sara Galactica. Thank you for your words, your speech, your voice. I hear you.

Venus Dives Deep

She goes from bright evening star
to invisible
to bright morning star

If like me you
feel
overwhelmed, angry and betrayed

Keening
is an ancient
women’s tradition

…Invest
a reasonable amount
of time
attending to fears and feelings

It feels like
we are living through
the end of the world
as we know it

We embark on a dark journey…

…unravel the path that you took to this very moment

Stare into truths
of Who We Thought We Were
and see
What We’ve Become

The moon calls us
to release
as She does.

Copyright 2018 Bee Smith

Featured image is based on an original photo of me by Jane Gilgun.

A Red Dress

Poetry practice happened as it should on its daily  basis, but even trying to squeeze the pips of the day to post, I was foiled by a storm.  The internet would not play, pics would not upload, the format went squiffy. So I waited it out and in the early hours the signals steadied, the storm stopped gusting it away.

Such is the reality of life in rural Ireland. I am still old school with fountain pen, Quink and notebooks. But the digital post is an important part of the process,too.  Bit it does not always go to plan.

Today’s offering posted was actually sparked by an item arriving in the post.

A Red Dress

Is meant to inspire confidence,
to gird your loins
donning battle dress
in every sense.

It’s a flag,
a declaration of independence.
It’s no way a surrender
so get off that picket fence.

And I surely like purples,
and  all the teals and green,
but wearing red with a slick of lippy
makes a clear difference

So howdy, Emma Goldman!
I’ve got the dress to dance.
Let’s go make that revolution.
Let’s go plot our deliverance.

Copyright 2018 Bee Smith