Thoughts and Prayers

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I respect thoughtfulness. I respect prayer and I practice it often. But I admire most a phrase that I think I encountered in some Quaker literature – Love in Action.  Which simply restates the adage ‘Walk Your Talk’- but with the addendum of walk in love. In a week where there have been a lot of thoughts flying around the interwebs, and most surely a lot of prayer, I have crafted a spell. And since auld Samuel Beckett said “all poems are prayers” this is my weekly poem. Which is also a heartfelt spell working. There have been too many Parklands, Pulses, Sandy Hooks. And may the little children lead us. They certainly are demonstrating a raw fearlessness in the face of tragedy. May they be surrounded with Love as they take action.
Thoughts and Prayers

Enough of thoughts

Enough of prayers
Enough of tears

Banish the fear
May Love disarm you

Enough of being bought

Enough of anger

Enough conspiracy jeers

Banish the fear
May Love disarm you

Enough of siege and SWAT

Enough of all coming to naught

Enough of the primacy of crackpot

Enough of the always all too sure shot

Banish the fear
May Love disarm you

Enough of cowering in closets

Enough of bandoliered bigots

Enough of ideology driven budgets

Enough of guts and gore as year-round climate

Banish your fear
May Love disarm you
Copyright 2018 Bee Smith
Featured image is a painting from a photgraph of Samuel Beckett by Barry Hodgson,  owned by the author.

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Lost Worlds

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Fellow blogger, Traci York of  www.traciyork.com, spotted the anniversary even before WordPress sent me a notification. Four years ago, I started this WordPress blog on the back of an amazing opportunity to travel and learn and write at Lumb Bank, Yorkshire and in Manchester. I was travelling with a company of strangers cum creative colleagues and tutors; the whole travel package was courtesy of Cavan Arts Office and the Cavan Office for Social Inclusion through EU funding programmes. (If anyone bad mouths EU funding projects, I passionately defend them because this one certainly renewed the lease on my creative life and mental health. ) Living in a remote rural area I had had a few of my own creative wilderness years. That trip and blog changed everything. So was born Sojourning Smith, sometime tour guide, writer and creative writing tutor. Exploring the world one word at a time. For within a word, there is a whole world. And some are being lost.  You might think it odd then that the title for this anniversary issue is Lost Worlds, when what happened  for me personally was a world regained.

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This Week’s Poem

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In a flick of a couple calendar pages it will be NaPoWriMo2018  in April. Despite being focused on workshop delivery and still having some brain fag/flu hangover, I decided to get in training for NaPoWriMo2018 in earnest. My personal challenge is to post a weekly poem in the run up to NaPoWriMo2018. Sunday is my usual posting day, but this week I had other things to communicate. So consider this a bonus post.

Two images/ideas forged the poem. You might easily figure the principle one. Thank you, Martha, Terri and Helen for our online interaction that seeded this poem.

Paper Dolls

 

Little girls’

Flat and flimsy

Auditions

Of adult interaction

 

Cut out and colour

Personae

Dress designed

To order by whim

The whimsy of childhood

Ordering plot action and reaction

Doing all the dialogue

Being every character

In the costume box

Of an eight year old’s

Imagination

 

The first flutterings

That every story

Ultimately

Is about

The adventure of love

While still staying outside the lines

With our safety scissors

No teeth

Required to cut the cord

Holding up

The scenery flats and flys

 

© 2018 Bee Smith

Featured image found on http://www.topdownloadables.com

National Poetry Days

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The UK usually celebrates a National Poetry Day the first Thursday in October. So I was caught off guard and the September 28th festivities completely passed me by.  Ireland used to join in with that but this year did a break away to April, which coincides with the USA’s National Poetry Month. At least World Poetry Day is set in stone on 21st March each year. But maybe even UNESCO will wobble on that date.

This basically makes me feel like a grumpy, grumbly old person. We like our routines, our schedules to rely upon and heaven help  you if you move the tinned baked beans to another aisle in the supermarket!

But I digress…

Belatedly, I note that the UK theme for Poetry Day is Freedom. Which is a big theme. So two poems,one based on Biblical story inspired by the plight of refugees. The other is practically a manifesto for social introversion.

Two ways to be free…in poetry

The Zamzam Well

Hagar, did you flee?

Or were you cast out,

left for dead in the desert

with your infant son Ismail

wailing and kicking in his swaddle clothes?

 

In a place where his mother’s milk

would soon dry, withering

like the thorn tree berries,

your inconvenient son Ismael

keening and kicking

 

at sand and stone, kicking, howling,

kicking, hollering until –

miracle of miracles! –

in answer to his mother’s prayers

her son, or some angel

 

directing his little heels

unearthing

the spring

the Zamzam

the well open to all.

 

They lived and made no one strange

where all were strangers.

 

They were blessed and praised

Hagar and her son Ismael.

They came like pilgrims

supplicants

making the Zamzam  holy

 

until even Abram came,

acknowledging his seed.

 

Hagar, did you flee the wife’s envy?

Did you fear the power to harm?

Were you cast out by weakness, or fear?

Were you left for dead for some

inconvenient truth?

 

Your son

the spring of surprise and salvation

a blessing

even as his mother was cursed

cast out, forced to flee

 

to make a new tribe

those who wander but are no strangers.


A Way to Be Free

 

getting the top deck

of a London bus, front seat, all to oneself,

soothed by intermittent ding-dings,

conveyed in stops and starts,

looking out the front window,

sulphur street light freckled with rain…

 

immersing

into the womb  of cheap stalls

a rainy Saturday afternoon

mesmerised by the actress singing

all for me down in the matinee dark

the sound of

the fourth wall falling…

 

browsing

an art gallery

especially those with portraits

with whom I can play talking heads

making imaginary friends with Francis Bacon

or  Gwen John’s

implacably impassive face

 

the bliss

of never ever to be at the beck and call

of flower arranging rotas

or deciding a room’s colour scheme

or the hell of formulating a policy

by committee

 

finding

a way to be free

to go about unmolested,

undeterred

uninterrupted

invisible

subversively

solitary

NaPoWriMo2017 Day 29

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The penultimate morning of a month of writing a poem a day, NaPoWriMo2017.  Today, the prompt asks us to take our favourite poem (what, only one?) and pick a noun. Free write around for five minutes. Then, construct.

It had to be a Mary Oliver. But which one? In the end, I realised the one that sings in my heart most is The Journey. And the noun I chose is the title word, since I have always had a fondness for those words with that jour syllable within. And I have also always loved the Irish farewell of ‘Safe journey, safe home.’

Sojourning

 

Stillness within movement

Encased in the metal jacket

A bullet train, a jet plane

Propulsion towards barriers

Speed, customs, immigration

But now is the in between

Neither here nor there.

 

The day opens, a fresh page

The hand moves across it

In transit

As plodding as Shank’s pony, sometimes

Loud and crowded as the Port Authority

Everyone everywhere is making

Their connection, like poetry.

Safe journey. Safe home.

NaPoWriMo2017 Day 27

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It is ironic that on Poetry Day Ireland today’s prompt threw me right back to my origins. That Proustian madeleine for me is a Hershey’s Dark Special chocolate bar. You can take the girl out of PA, but apparently  the woman’s stomach is still ensconced there. Like many translocated people, what we miss is the food of our childhood. I have resided in three countries, so today’s prompt “to explore the sense of taste” was pure nostalgia.

Happy Poetry Day Ireland, from Ireland, even if my stomach is still in PA (that’s Pennsylvania for those of you not raised in state.)

Do You Miss It?

 

Do you miss it?

they ask. And I say, No!

 

Which is not entirely

a lie. Here’s why.

 

I may not be

a PA shoofly pie

 

kind of woman.

And please! Hold the scrapple!

 

But here’s the thing…

Streusel topping.

 

On apple pie.

Cinnamon. Butter. Sugar

 

It takes me home. Well,

no more. Maybe 40 years ago.

 

I don’t miss it.

Or birch beer. Or Rolling Rock.

 

But it lingers

On the palate.

 

Like the taste of chawed

curl of silver birch bark.

 

Penn’s Woods. And orchard

apple butter on toast.

 

When they have me

on the slab, opening me

 

they will find Marcellus

rock seam. It tastes

 

of green. Or did,

before they got a craving

 

for gas. Which spoils

the appetite for your supper.

 

So no. I don’t miss it.

Except, I guess, I do.

NaPoWriMo2017 Day 26

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Only a few more days left to NaPoWriMo2017.  I have written twenty-eight poems to date, having decided to dedicate April to etching a poetry writing groove in my neural network.  What I witnessed on the dog’s evening exercise was crying to be recorded.

Today’s prompt is to write about what might future archaeologist would make of our civilisation.  And although there is nod to the topic, I went off on a tangent, as is my wont. So this is sort of antidote to paleology.

Without Object

 

I did not lift my smartphone

capturing that twilit glimpse –

a cygnet pair honking

their elation. First flight:

wings’ strength, sinew testing

their new form, span and rhythm.

Flap and landing plunge. Then glide

across lough towards sunset.

 

If in future time they crack

the code of ancient silicon,

chip away all the data,

construct story around all

the photos, diary notes-

“Dentist, 3pm, Tony” –

excavating this midden

of the digital era,

what meaning will overlay

the absence of a record?

 

This maiden flight of two swans

still wearing sooty plumage:

sunset, shoreline, springtime, soul,

the sound of their wild joy.

The old dog’s response to their

call. Their lunge at lough water.

Moment without artefact.

Without object, what story?