Join us for Writers’ Fourth Wednesday …

Join us on The Bardo Group blog tomorrow for Writers’ Fourth Wednesday. This event is hosted by Victoria C. Slotto, novelist, poet and writing coach. We hope you’ll join us and link in your own work, which may be prose or poetry. Mister Linky will remain open for seventy-two hours, so you’ve plenty of time. Victoria and I will visit, read and comment and we hope you will make visits as well to lend one-another support and encouragement.

Prince Arthur and The Faerie Queen by Johann Heinrich Fussili c 1788

Prince Arthur and The Faerie Queen by Johann Heinrich Fussili c 1788

Just to give you a jump start on Victoria’s writing prompt for this month: it’s allegory …

I’ve been taking a peek at Edmund Spencer’s The Faerie Queene, so that came to mind immediately. I’m not conversant with Tudor England and Elizabeth I, hence I know that much of that work is lost on me. Clearly though … and famously … this epic poem is filled with allegorical device. Each knight in the story represents a virtue. Allegory is after all simply a metaphor with a broad scope. Think of Plato’s Cave as another example.

In the following prose poem, the protagonist’s journey home from work is implied and I used the plight of cattle, a real neighborhood and the sacrifice of the Mass to represent the crushing aspects of life … As a sort-of subtext, I also wanted to make a point about the suffering we cause by using animals for food.

From the Butcher’s Blade

Arriving at our stop, it would spit us out … so much cattle, regimented and ragtagged, tired and numb.  Once dumped, the rail-car doors would close behind us and we were whirled in the windy wake of the train rushing to the next station. Then, a sudden silence, and we were free to plod our way home, a final few blocks in Gravesend, a new ‘s-Gravenzande*, if you will, but an old irony. I’d stop at the bakery first and go on to Paul the butcher and his merchant’s rictus. His beef, he told me, “is like butter,” perfect for my carnivore husband. Paul’s face seemed bloodless to me, as if in some moment of devotion he chose to infuse the dead. Still more child than woman, I would study the varied cuts waiting to be bought, waiting to be devoured. I’d fancy their missing eyes, bones, and very lives crying out. These offerings of body and blood from Paul’s steel blade to my tattered tin chalice fed me for two years on the futility of hope.

Gravesend / ‘s Granvenzande –  Gravesend is a neighborhood in Brooklyn, New York. It was originally settled by the Dutch. The name is thought to come from ‘s-Gravenzande, a Dutch province in South Holland, Netherlands.

Thanks for bearing with me in this experiment with prose poems: “a piece of writing in prose having obvious poetic qualities, including intensity, compactness, prominent rhythms, and imagery.”


© 2013, poem, Jamie Dedes, All rights reserved; photo of the Faerie Queene painting is public domain; cattle photograph courtesy of morgueFile

as writers it’s all a gift, all grist for the mill …

Unknown-2“A writer – and, I believe, generally all persons – must think that whatever happens to him or her is a resource. All things have been given to us for a purpose, and an artist must feel this more intensely. All that happens to us, including our humiliations, our misfortunes, our embarrassments, all is given to us as raw material, as clay, so that we may shape our art.” Jorge Luis Borges (1899-1986), Argentinian poet, short-story writer, essayist and translator, Twenty-Four Conversations with Borges: Interviews with Roberto Alifano, 1981-1983

Time of Orphaning

Jamie Dedes:

One of my short-stories on The Bardo Group blog . . .

Originally posted on THE BARDO GROUP:

file0001349463653It’s tough when you are orphaned at seventy. I say that without rancor or irony. I’d known Mrs. O’Donall and her daughter for fifteen years, which at the time of this story was the entire length of my life.

The ladies – as everyone called them – were fixtures in our parish. Each morning they arrived at St. Anselm’s at precisely six-fifty for daily Mass. Their consistency was such that my mom said she could tell time by them. They generally made their way into church arm-in-arm and always sat in the first pew.

While the younger lady was fragile, tentative and wide-eyed, the older one was stern, sturdy and quick-minded. With her daughter in tow, she worked on the Annual Church Carnival Planning Committee and in the Women’s Auxiliary as well, relied upon to help the nuns clean the sacristy, press altar cloths and arrange flowers. Over time they left…

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sleeping without walls

photo-19the fields that year taught the art of sleeping outside,
sleeping without walls, watching the stars and moon,
harvesting dreams from sunsets and morning dew

we slept in bedrolls configured of old white sheets
and army surplus blankets made of khaki wool
Did my uncles have those during the war?
i wondered, i pondered on many things, and

those months held sundry delights, climbing trees
and eating cherries without washing them . . . oh!
and there were blueberry bushes and fig trees and
i lined the path to the food hut with Sunday stones,
my own bare prayer while the big girls were at Mass

i marveled at my middle-aged mother’s plump knees
and marked her spirit for wearing shorts, joining
in children’s games and singing ‘round the fire

now i wonder at summer camp morphing into metaphor ~
all her life Mom lived with her yield of dreams,
an outsider artist sleeping without walls . . .

© 2014, poem and photograph, Jamie Dedes, All rights reserved


photo-16“Red is the great clarifier – bright and revealing. I can’t imagine becoming bored with red … it would be like becoming bored with the person you love.” Diana Vreeland (1903-1989), American fashion editor and columnist.


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© 2014, photographs, Jamie Dedes, All rights reserved. If you are viewing this from an email subscription you will likely need to click through to the site to see the slideshow.

Providence or Folly?

photo-13Lacking discretion . . .
she mistook agenda for wisdom
and suffering for sanctity.
She confused sex with intimacy
and saccharine with sincerity.
Because she endured,
she thought she was strong.
She fancied pain was her Cross
and treasured the confines
of her dark, singular world,
mistaking the fallout born of folly
for her God’s perfect plan.

© 2014 poem and photograph, Jamie Dedes, All rights reserved