Love and Work in Poetry

Another day and another poetry form in the Poetry Daily. Some mornings I am stuck. Then I refer to a wonder article that lists 100 Poetry Forms on http://writersdigest.com. At random I pick one I have never heard of before. I was feeling a bit jaded this morning so I plucked the Dodoitsu from the list. I have long played with haiku and senryu, so another Japanese form seemed perfect for a morning when I wanted to write in brief. With the dodoitsu you have the broad expanse of a further nine syllables to play around with! Yes, a rash ration of a whole twenty six syllables arranged in four lines. Like haiku and senryu, there is no rhyme. The first three lines have seven syllables each. The capping line has five syllables. The poetry form tends to take ‘love and work with a comical twist’ as its subject according to the website article.

So I flexed my fingers and finally got out my notebook and pen for poetry practice. I do find Japanese poetry forms kind of zen. Face the blank page, instead of a blank wall. But often poignant. Also often very funny.

Another Kind of Zen

First, the poet awakens
Pause for tea ceremony
Then takes up her fountain pen
Bows to the blank page

Creative Process

The creative process is
a building skip full of flops,
retakes, almost but not quites
But still. Keep trying!


Long Love

Well! we can still huff and puff
Argue the toss all bluster
Lower lip bound to quiver
Then kiss "Goodnight, Love!"


Copyright © 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved.

Featured image Photo by Simson Petrol on Unsplash

Advertisements

Gratitude

They say it is an attitude and I suppose they speak the truth. I woke this morning late, after a night of broken sleep. The phone rang, which interrupted my morning contemplations. Yet, these did not toss me off centre. What filled me with wonder amidst so much that is shadowy and just plain wrong in the world was a thankfulness . Perhaps I am just one of those glass half full kinds of people. Or, perhaps gratitude is the anchor that keeps me centred amidst small trials and gives courage in the face of major tribulation. Regardless, I woke up full of the amazement that is core of gratitude.


Gratitude


It’s a small cup

forever full,

an unseen hand

pouring from a teapot

that never needs

replenishing.

“Just like that!”

But it’s no

sleight of hand trick.

Though just as magic.

It makes us “Oh!” and “Ahhhh!”

We applaud.

Bravo! Brava!

We appreciate the show,

the ticket to ride

home to the small cup

of hot tea

at the ready

by our elbow.

Copyright 2019 Bee Smith. All right reserved.

Senryu Saturday

Over the next two weeks I will be teaching three workshops each week. So I am relieved that NaPoWriMo will be providing daily poetry prompts from tomorrow. Because  this little engine that could is running our of steam. And I do seriously think that April will be the end of my Poem A Day writing. At some point I need to address editting…

However, the brief sweetness of senryu suggested itself for today as I prepare to deliver a workshop on creative non-fiction.

Today would have been my sister-in-law’s 65th birthday. She died just after last Christmas and her funeral was the day after New Year’s. My husband will be memorialising her today planting sunflower seeds, a flower they both favour and have adopted as a family symbol. Gardening, as his late mother knew, heals all.

The scent of hyacinth consoles

He knew to plant many last autumn

Copyright 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved.

Certainty

Some days I just have to mix it up to get going at writing the Poetry Daily. So instead of picking up the pen immediately – well, after making a cup of tea, letting out the old dog, feeding the ravenous, demanding tribe of cats – I changed my routine today. So I read Saturday’s Guardian instead. I made sure my blood sugar levels were up by actually eating breakfast before writing. And it did provide inspiration when I woke up feeling a bit blank and post-nasal drippy.

What I got from the paper was all Brexit and uncertainty. Hadley Freeman was flagging how groups like Epilesy Action and diabetics are worried that necessary, life saving, drugs may go in short supply if there is a no-deal Brexit. The news was full of cataclysm, decline, crumbling institutions. Also, the obituary of Majenta Devine, who I found out was almost exactly a year younger than mean. That always brings one up short. But I digress from the Brexit hand wringing that is the main topic in the headlines.

Heck, when Leavers revel in the potential of a Blitz community spirit outcome, it has sent some friends to the supermarket to hoard toilet paper. (Shortages are always a gift to the criminally entrepreneurial types. See also US Prohibition.) However, hoarding items which may go short is just a way of handling the anxiety of the uncertain outcome. No one, even the negotiators, knows how this is all going to shake down. Since we live so close to the border, which may remain soft, or suddenly go cold and hard at month’s end, I am just keeping my ear to the ground.

It made me ponder how anxiety is fueled by uncertainty, which then made me contemplate certainty. What is absolutely certain? Other than the pathetic meows of hungry cats in the morning, what could I list? This then was how poetry practice turned out today.

Certainty
For H. S.

Sun rises,
the moon, too.
Each in their turn shall
set and rise
all over
again. This we trust.

In between,
in the gaps,
particles of dust
shall dance and
will be glimpsed
in a spot of sun.

Trust that we
are stardust
vaccuumed up in bags,
collecting
in pockets,
with our shed skin cells.

It's just that
this is it.
Inevitably,
there is sun.
There is moon.
There is dust - and us -

the wild cards
exerting
free will. Or is it
predestined
emotion
causing commotion?

Trust then in
sun and moon,
their rise and set. Also,
dust - always.
In between,
the uncertain us.

Copyright © 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved.

Brexit: A Breach in the Peace

Reading the papers this past few days, two things have been on my mind. First, the Irish Tanaíste, or deputy PM, has been rushing through legislation in advance of a No-Deal Brexit. Which will almost inevitably mean a hard border close to where I live. Then, reading on what the implications are on certain details of life in post-Brexit Britain, I read that the EU pet passport will not longer apply to holidaymakers who want to take their pets on European vacations. Now that doesn’t sound terrible, but it did make me wonder about people round where I live who take their pets to the vet in Enniskillen. That would be taking a pet out of the EU into a non-EU state. So where does that leave doting pet owners. Moreover, where does that leave the vet with a sizeable cross-border clientele? And if more had been made of not being able to take your hound on holiday, maybe the Brits would have voted Remain.

But what makes me really sad is that for me the EU was always about trying to create some justice, peace and reconciliation on a continent shriven by terrible, terrible wars. There was sectarian and ethnic strife, but for the most part, they were contained and were addressed. For the past twenty years the EU has funded four different phases of the Peace and Reconciliation process in Ireland.It’s not perfect, but it has made a huge difference. Who would have thought you could create the first cross-border Geopark on the planet in a place that had previously hosted army patrols not ten years earlier? Or, when fracking was threatened that all communities cross border united to see off the companies who wanted to drill. Frackers have a modus operandi of divide and conquer. In this cross-border area they cemented are sense of common cause.

A Breach of the Peace

It was not for cheap olive oil
or surplus sugar beet.
It was never the point
to build a butter mountain
even if that was the byproduct.
It was to stop making killing fields
generation upon generation.

Kids now having kids
in Northern Ireland today
can barely remember the army patrols
marching in full battle dress
past Boots the Chemists,
the bakers, the butchers.
Their ears don't pop to bomb blasts.

Lest we forget,
it was never about
oceans of surplus dairy fat.
It was to level the playing fields
built over a continent pitted
with century old bomb sites.
To stop the blood shed.


Copyright © 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved.

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

Extraordinary Lives

I happened upon an episode on Ben Fogle: New Lives in the Wild, a BBC Channel 5 broadcast. It happened that the episode in Ireland visits with an extraordinary woman, Judith Hoad, a woman who completely walks her talk – and does so directly. Check it out here https://www.my5.tv/ben-fogle-new-lives-in-the-wild/season-8/episode-7. Hoad lives completely off grid, up a hill not far from the Wild Atlantic Way, down a track in a remote part of County Donegal in the northwest corner of the Republic Ireland. She has lived there since 1981, and alone since 1999 when her husband died. She has supported herself teaching medical herbalism and traditional handcrafts.

I’ve met her through Leitrim’s Organic Centre and Wise Woman Weekend, which she co-founded with a number of women in Northwest Ireland back in 2004. I posted about the final Wise Woman Weekend back in 2017 https://sojourningsmith.blog/2017/05/09/its-a-wise-woman-that-knows-omens/. What you see in the documentary is completely unvarnished Judith. I once met her at a horticulture fair. Spotting that I was having a menopausal hot flush she very simply barked, “Cold sage tea!” And left me to fan myself slightly helplessly. Hoad is a force of nature.

Today’s Poetry Daily trigger comes from the documentary. Living alone at age 80, Judith practically leaves an envelope with instructions to whomever discovers her body after her death. It reminded me of my late sister-in-law, too, who was terminally ill, and left her instructions in a red box file boldly emblazoned with My Kick the Bucket Box.

Ordinary Extraordinary Life

Let's be matter of fact about it.
One day I will be dead
and why leave behind a mess
for whomever should find me stiff
in a chair, on the floor, in bed?

Rest what is left of my
meat and bones buried in my own
ground. Plant a tree. I fancy one.
An oak. But, of course, I will not
be around if you plant
a hazel or rowan instead.

Let's be matter of fact about it.
It's never easy not
to have what is beloved around.

Less haste. Less waste.
                       It's not  magic.
In mortality we are all bound.
Let's be matter of fact about it.

Live lightly on the land because
at the end, in earth
we are all homebound.
Dust back to dust
                        someone else will
sweep at the last.


Copyright © 2019 Bee Smith. All rights reserved.

Featured Photo by Michael Shannon on Unsplash