It’s a Wise Woman That Knows Omens

writer's life Ireland

“Go forth and make poetry,” I proclaimed at the end of my creative writing workship at the 2017 Wise Woman Ireland Weekend.  This year’s gathering of wise women was at Newgrange where we were able to view both the Brú and Dowth from the field beside our accommodation.  The Boyne meandered on the opposite side of the road. The theme for this Bealtaine Wise Woman Weekend was Passion, Purpose and Purity. All very timely and seasonal for the Celtic wheel of the year.

On Sunday morning ten women from around Ireland joined me on a hunt for omens and auguries using symbol and metaphor.  By the end of the two and a half-hour workshop several women had completed their very first poem.

I set us the task of creating a Treble Elevenie  using the themes Passion, Purpose and Purity as either the beginning or concluding line of the elevenie.


Black lace

Starlight and moondust

With body I worship




The points

Let magic begin

Tricking around with words




An urn

Complete in itself

Scenes from a life



Over the course of the weekend I attended two other ‘word’ workshops. In one there was a collective poem created using the ‘cut up’ method.  In the other we looked at lines of poetry in a deeply spiritual context and how it resonated within.

And did I get an omen? Yes, of a sort. But I won’t say exactly what it was, but it is summed up in this quotation from Rumi

May the beauty of what you love be what you do.

I love this writing life. I love living in Ireland. I love the deep nurture of nature and living deep in the silence and solitude of wildish West Cavan. I love how the land speaks. It makes me a wise woman and a very grateful one, too.

NaPoWriMo2017 Day 28


I have no stomach for the terse I told myself. I don’t want to do Skeltonic verse. It feels like writing with two left metrical feet.

So this is not Skeltonic verse, but somehow the words still came out a bit terse. Damn, those dipods! Anyway, the last of my notebook’s pages were filled today. I will have to open a new one for the last of NaPoWriMo2017.

To My Notebook


Nearly full

First draft

Authoring of my life

Between Autumn Equilux ‘15

And Bealtaine ‘17


Four square, blank pages

Covered in inimitable scrawl

Graffittied book of days

Spontaneous sputterings

With ink


Some stressing, some blessing

Some poetry

This is prayer

So Sam the Man

Says, in short


Full, with lists

Of Martha’s musts

And Mary’s musings

Her always tricking around

With words


All those

Beautiful words

Which, I hope

I will never ever




Keep them safe

Aide memoire


Poet prentice


All filled

With the ragbag random

Like a Lifer

Marvelling at the crunch

Underfoot of fallen leaves

NaPoWriMo2017 Day 25


I am not strictly on prompt today. This is the set task for NaPoWriMo2017. “In 1958, the philosopher/critic Gaston Bachelard wrote a book called The Poetics of Space, about the emotional relationship that people have with particular kinds of spaces – the insides of sea shells, drawers, nooks, and all the various parts of houses. Today, I’d like to challenge you to write a poem that explores a small, defined space – it could be your childhood bedroom, or the box where you keep old photos.”

It’s doubtful this poem would qualify, but it did spark the conclusion for how to address a subject I have wanted to introduce to a poem for years. And I have got a serious crush on the elevenie since Sunday’s challenge.  A new way of “tricking around with words,” as my friend Christine beautifully describes the process.

I do still have those gloves in a box. They will probably make their way into an art project at some stage. The right collage are just crying out for them. Not even children have hands that small anymore. And this from a woman who has to buy kid’s ‘magic gloves’ so that winter woolies will fit her own abnormally tiny hands.


My Grandmother’s Kidskin Gloves



Kidskin tight

Inherited from Mom

They would only fit




Outgrew them

As did I

No one wears kidskin




Keep close

Those left behind

On my many travels



Grandmother Uncle Charlie c 1955

My Grandmother and her brother photographed around the time I was born

NaPoWriMo2017 Day 24


Day 21 NaPoWriMo 2017


This is today’s challenge:  “I’d like to challenge you to write a poem that incorporates overheard speech. It could be something you’ve heard on the radio, or a phrase you remember from your childhood, even something you overheard a coworker say in the break room! Use the overheard speech as a springboard from which to launch your poem. Your poem could comment directly on the overheard phrase or simply use it as illustration or tone-setting material.”

Which had me schussing back to childhood, down the pneumatic tube of memory.



Pink is for girls. Blue is for boys.


Such was the wisdom

of my four year old playmate

who, like Barbie™ Doll,

was born in 1958.


Which confused me

as he lorded over

our snack time choice

of plastic juice cups.


I wanted the blue.

It was my colour.

My mommy said so!

I argued vehemently.


It was the colour

of my eyes you see.

We loved blue

my Mommy and me.


Pink just was not

in our palette.

Just open the door.

Look inside our closets.


There was orange in

The bodice of my carrot dress,

seed pearls stitched on navy taffeta

1961’s Sunday Best.


There was peach  – once-

in organza

for a wedding.

Pink wasn’t even


Branded Barbie ™ yet

She and I, last progeny

of the Baby Boom years.

But even when Ken


Came on the scene

they shared blue.

Odd in pre-feminist 1950s

that, in future, pink


Would paint and dominate

all things Girl today.

Just like Richie Good

said before 1964.


But my mother and I

she with the royal blue

chiffon scarf in the drawer

she never wore,


her paste sapphire

lapel broach last worn

on utility grey

power suit post-war –


I lift  it from

The Pinkie and Blue Boy

Embossed jewellery box

I inherited from her.


Turn the broach

over in my hand

Will I wear it?

Do I dare yet?


We are not pink. Blue is for girls.



Day 20 NatPoWriMo2017


Games…sport. I cringed this morning. Smith’s are not known for their sporting prowess. My sister and I have had conversations about how rules of the game makes a part of our brain freeze. Somehow or other, we have still managed to navigate this world. Although I have no clue what I can use for a featured image today!

Play Up


I was never good at games

The rules numbed my brain

The part preventing own goals

Slipping on autmn wet playing fields

Getting tackled by Charlene Bjueno


The rules of flirtation:

The nod, the feint, the fumble.

Opaque, just as pointless.

Fool that I was, without hesitation

I homed in, disposing of the banal


Which worked out okay –eventually.

Disposing of talk of rules and balls

(except those of your anatomy)

Even without understanding the game

I was not without wherewithal


So why care that I was lousy at darts?

That cricket, golf and tennis were a snore

I was born with arms too short to box

That I would only ever be Olympian in metaphor

I  was fluent in reading the human heart


Which comes without instruction manual

Ignores all the collected works of rule books

The whistle  blown calling  whatever – time or time out

It defies all that gaming gobbledegook

With its definite tendency to play up

Day 18 NaPoWriMo2017


Today’s poem prompt was to use neologisms, made up words like Lewis Carroll used in Jabberwocky. Well, I never much appreciated Jabberwocky anyway. The prospect of  making up compound words made me feel I was back in German class. Frankly, on less than one cup of tea it was a challenge too far. So, this is what I wrote instead.



If I could juju the world

I would give you all deep peace

of suffering survived –

that greening and leafing feeling

when the sap rises again

after leaf fall,

winter’s annual shut down,

the trees still as standing stones

all spine and spindle,

shorn like a convict’s bad haircut.

Well, we have all done

some time. But we are paroled –

a subtle pulse, birdsong,

the flutters of family making.


If I could juju the world

I would give you all the hope

each spring brings.  And then have you

not judge it false, foolhardy,

a sentimental sop,

yet another cruel mocking,

thwarting of you. Don’t take spring

quite so personally. The world

will go on in its suffering

with or without you. Just for this moment

look out your window. See

the luminous green in each new leaf.

That is food. Take it and eat.

Remember. And rise.