Cossetting the Common Cold

A hacking cough had me up in the wee hours which I whiled for some writing, before dropping off again. Not sure it qualifies as poetry. But I have tried. Meanwhile, I am resting and binge watching Netflix like any sensible sick person in the Western World. What has preoccupied me from the fastness of my bedroom is the importance of comfort and how it ought never be taken for granted. Today, the poetry practice is a kind of list paean. It may not be a cure for the common cold, but it seems to be working for me. Along with naps.

Creature Comforts

To cosset the common cold
please take:

one bound notebook,
cream pages with grey lines
begging to be stroked by a pen's nib
to course and flow with jet ink

one very large cup
(rather like a small bowl)
with circumferance wide enough
to cool hot tea to an ideal

unfevered temperature. Yes to the
Earl Grey with a touch of lavender.
Yes, a slice of lemon and, also,
yes to some sugar. Please.

I know! I know! It's bad for me.
Just like that stack of undemanding reads,
books that are not necessarily
literature, schlocky comfort reads,

not too sad or over-exciting,
with a happy-ish ending or a
satisfying solution dished out
with a dollop of creme anglaise.

Also, the hot water bottle wrapped
in its handknit  wooly jumper,
the balmy brand of tissues just to hand.
And the accompanying waste barrel.

The living, breathing,
yawning, farting, yowling,
meowing. snuffling, gently snoring,
dreaming dogs and drowsy cats

who settle in with me to binge watch
old TV shows from my youth,
or the monochrome world
of silver screen 30s and 40s movies

all in the comfort of my darkened room
It's like taking honey with my nostrums
and having my dinner served on a tray -
nothing at all like any old school day.

Copyright © 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved.

Featured Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

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Mercury – Retrograde

Of course I am late with poetry practice! It’s lunchtime and I’ve lost sleep overnight with the feverish cold and sinus infection that blossomed over the Sabbath. For different reasons, like Jeffrey Bernard (RIP), I am unwell. Unlike Mr. Bernard, I have no substitute article to run. Besides, it would feel like cheating. I am wrapped up warm with my laptop in bed. Let’s just leave it at a slight disruption of normal services. Which is a foreshadowing of the astrological phenominum known as Mercury Retrograde.

Of course, no planet’s orbit ever does turn back on itself. It’s just an optical illusion from our point of view on earth. However, astrologers have collected enough data to now correlate certain circumstances happening when Mercury goes retrograde. These include: technological breakdowns and glitches, transport snarls and hold ups, messages get mixed up, weather events that create stoppages. Mercury mayhem. We are advised not to buy cars, major appliances, or sign contracts during the three weeks when Mercury is retrograde three times a year.

On a more positive note, it is said to be good for anything that begins with ‘re-‘ – rewind, review, revisit, remember, requite. Editting old poems is an activity that should be well-starred.

However, there are additional weeks that foreshadow this mini-era of gremlins, tricksters and general frustrators. In 2019, I counted up twenty-five weeks out of the fifty-two that involves the run up and playing out of Mercury retrograde. And the foreshadowing of 2019’s first Mercury retrograde technically begins tomorrow. But I have seen some foreshadowing already in my inability to access some websites. The real McCoy Mercury Retrograde happens from 5th March. Plan for plans to change and change and change.

Meanwhile, resuming poetry practice…even if it is on a ‘Go Slow.’In between sneezing fits, sputters, coughes, and nose honking.

Mercury Retrograde

You can't go forwards
for going backwards
when its a full stop...

It's like you travel on
the local train and the express
flashes past

It makes you feel like
you are caught in a freeze frame.
Remember

the women in white swimsuit
caught mid-dive
in the Tampax ad?

That son of a So and So
trickster, who had a mother
fittingly called Maia.

It's all a con,
a sleight of hand,
conjuring trick.

Part myth and
part major irritation,
Mercury retrograde

winds you up
just like a clock.
And then it stops.

It's a pie in your face.
It's a spanner in your works.
Both designed to irk.

Unless you are in on the joke.
Unless you don't mind
an extended mending time

into the more timeless.
It's never a stop, just
a press on to pause.


Copyright © 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved.



Featured Photo by David Menidrey on Unsplash

How to Hold Quicksilver

It’s dawn. The dwarf narcissi and iris are out. The white crocus I planted last September is flowering. But I have such a sore throat this morning you would have thought I had been quaffing vitriol in my dreamtime. Meanwhile, the weather is blustery. There was rain overnight. I probably need to have a traditionally restful Sabbath. But, as my dear husband told a friend he bumped into in the supermarket yesterday morning, “Since she started writing a poem a day, nothing happens in our house until it gets written!”

May today prove restful for you, too! May we all be well! And may there be a bit of poetry.

In the meantime, poetry practice…

How to Hold Quicksilver

The thermometer glass
shattered
and its elemental being
scattered
like ball bearings
just not all one way.

They got away
everywhere all at once
a sunburst.

Hermes is truly god-like
in every sense
of the catechism's
definition
of God.


A solid enough
elemental presence,
but fleet as wings,
or hope, yet not
evanescent.
It's moodily
inscrutible,
a being completely
bewildering.

How can you hold
quicksilver?
How can you hold
that man-god
who made you
fall in love?


Copyright © 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved.

Featured Photo by DAVIDCOHEN on Unsplash

Keep the Music Playing

Five months have passed since I started to write a poem a day and posting it on this blog. It started as poetry practice, the etudes of my youthful piano playing. It’s Saturday. When I was ten or so that would have found me in Miss Mildred’s upstairs room for a piano lesson. She was the one who gave me the etude sheet music. I was an indifferent piano scholar and intermittant with half-hour daily piano practice. Here I am fifty years on, finally getting the hang of it. Kind of…

In truth, my mother later confessed that I really ought to have had singing lessons with Miss Laura, the downstairs sister who taught voice. But she was a termigant, or reputedly so. My mother didn’t feel that talent should be an excuse for volunteering her sensitive child for trauma. But Mom came from a musical family and wanted to pass on that lore to her youngest child; Miss Mildred seemed the lesser evil. Both sisters had been Juilliard trained and promised more value for money than the nun who taught piano at our school at the time.

But I digress…. the five months of faithful daily poetry etude-making. But I did wonder this morning…how much longer can I keep this up? It is forty-five days until NaPoWriMo in April, when there will be poetry prompts for the daily taking. I woke up in a bit of a funk. Perhaps my bowels are disordered. Perhaps not. And yet, I picked up the pen…eventually, if a bit reluctantly.

Open Window

There are some mornings
where I would rather
listen to the birds sing
than pay attention to
my off-key musings.
Their notes need no lyrics.
Polyphony rings
round the townland, no words
to their offerings
heard through open window.
I can't stop looking.
There's two magpies. What joy
there is some mornings
where I would rather
listen to the birds sing.


Copyright © 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved.

Featured Photo by Dolo Iglesias on Unsplash

Spring Flow

Irrefutably, it is springtime. At least in our far corner of West Cavan Spring has arrived. The narcissi Tete a tete have flowered, not just in the pots, but out in sheltered parts of the garden. The first croci and hydrangea are starting to bloom. Of the wild flowers, the bold aconite has been out for a couple of weeks, outfacing the snow and frost at Brigid’s Day. The hellebores are in flower. The first of the primroses are flowering, too, again in a sheltered corner of the garden.

Yesterday was the first of what my husband terms ‘laundry days!’ Mostly sunny, mild,and with a breeze that promises it will dry your washing if you hang it on the line outdoors. Given the humidity in Ireland, outdoor drying is something of an art and whim of nature. Yesterday was the first time in many months that I chanced pegging out washing on the line.

We have now had the official opening of spring in my part of Ireland. Which happens to be a stunningly beautiful area. So much so that UNESCO recognises its significant natural and built heritage by naming it as a geopark. I live in a geopark community on the first village on the River Shannon after it pokes its head out from underground caverns and begins to flow towards the Atlantic Ocean.

Poetry practice may have an element of spring fever to it today. But indulge me a little as I have been up since dawn’s earliest suggestion of light. The dawn over the Playbank was a full on kiss this morning.

Arteries

Peachy rose gold threads
brocading the light
coming up over the Playbank.

The throated notes of waking up song
Is it a robin?
I do not know for sure.

The trickle of the flow-
ditch, spring, stream to out from, feed in
the River Shannon down below.

A clear light. A song's note.
Springtime.
A rise in bloodheat.

The snow on the Playbank
melted ages ago,
a cataract tear

flowing down the drumlins
sculpting  the karst below over ages
with the seasons' flow.


Crossword and (Cat) Cross Words

This is not how poetry practice should go. Poetry practice time should be a time of silence and reflection, with the rest of the household snoozing amicably and peacefully. It ideally begins with Earl Grey tea with a slice of lemon. But here I am playing cat monitor and chief peacekeeper as the fourth member of the pride of small lions gradually ventures out his isolation post-op and vaccinated.

The oldest cat, who is fifteen if she is a day and crotchety, is growling menacingly without moving a muscle. None of them mess with the matriarch. The second in succession tries to speak sense to the formerly feral street fighter and is biffed in return for her efforts. She slides under the sofa and yowls pathetically. I scoop up the glowering third in line of feline succession and am lacerated for my trouble. And not for the first time today. There was a 3am interaction when I took a toilet break and No 4 escaped. No. 3 let out a cry like some ancient Celtic warrior prior to battle. In the end, it was my pygammaed leg that was caught in the line of fire.

So as I type this there is the rhythmic rise and fall to cat yowls in various volume. A little night music it is not.

I only got around to doing the Saturday newspaper crossword last night. Figured I would do a bit of a crossword inspired acrostic poem this morning, taking two clues that intersect and write something. That’s been a challenge this morning. I may need a dose of valerian tincture before this is over.

fCrossword Crosswords

22 Across

To mop up...
Reducing to a used nose wipe,
Or limp tulip,
Useless for all of its hype.
Never go
Courting being cavalier
Ere you get left on your rear.

16 Down

Sea bourn duck,
Common also
On freshwater loughs,
Trounce a few
Eiders with luck.
Rebuked retinue.

Copyright © 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved.

Imagine me as the cat in the

Featured Photo by Andrew Umansky on Unsplash

This is Just Life

It’s not pitch dark at 7am now. Sunrise is technically 7:50am this morning, but it was already a sort of twilight prelude to sunrise when I let Ellie out this morning. The Poetry Daily poetry practice happened. The first effort was discarded as having no “real toads in imaginary gardens” as Marianne Moore describes poetry making. Posting the second effort was delayed because we needed to head out early to get the foster cat to the vet. (The vet cooed at him ‘Oh what a handsome boy!”; which seemed just a bit rich given that he’s in to be castrated today).

But I realise not posting straight off from the handwritten page puts me off my rhythm. All of a sudden those urgent life laundry missions take you over. And the clock is ticking. Lunch passes. And here I am, slightly dazed, snatching a semi-hour in the day before I ring the vet to see if the foster cat is fit for collection this evening and we do the second forty mile round trip of the day.

This is Just Life

Like toast and tea in bed.
Or the cat looking outside
from inside
at the birds flocking
to their feeding station.

I made this bread
for my buttered toast,
slapped the dough
with my own hands.
This is just life.

What grows in the garden
gets pulled. It comes away
with its peck of dirt.
The celery leaf, washed,
goes into the pot.

This is just life,
a round of meals,
a slow cooking butter chicken
and the blessing said
before it lost its head.


Copyright © 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved.

Featured Photo by Jordane Mathieu on Unsplash