just toking O2 … Hallelujiah! It’s a Leonard Cohen kind of day.

The view from my window of my new place, a Japanese Tea Garden

A Japanese Tea Garden, the view from the window of my new apartment in senior housing

it’s a Leonard Cohen kind of day,
walkers lined up by the dinning room
like race horses at the starting gate …
the Asians worship the Lord, Jesus Christ
the Europeans embrace Vipassana

at three they’re viewing Brokeback Mountain
but i’m staying in my room, playing Halleluljah,
my compressor humming in the background …
just toking O2, enjoying the complexities,
savoring the ironies, Hallelujah, Glory be

“Hallelujah is a Hebrew word which means ‘Glory to the Lord.’ The song explains that many kinds of Hallelujahs do exist. I say: All the perfect and broken Hallelujahs have an equal value. It’s a desire to affirm my faith in life, not in some formal religious way but with enthusiasm, with emotion.” Leonard Cohen (b. 1934), Canadian muscian, singer/songwriter, poet and novelist

© 2014, poem, Jamie Dedes, All rights reserved Photo via Panaramio

haunting the years

silhouettes-of-childrenthere’s little i’d want to live over
but a few moments, with special people,
their memory held safe, gently wrapped,
with affection, like a
gift waiting to be touched,
opened and savored …

ribbon tugged
….. paper unfurled

the scent of other children, brothers,
the timbre of their voices, those early days,
the freshness playing in my mind,
in flickering light, like

an eight-millimeter film
…..t of toddlers and youths

haunting the years until today
when i found you again

i reached out 
…..and you reached back

© 2014, poem, Jamie Dedes, All rights reserved
Illustration ~ courtesy of George Hodan, Public Domain Pictures.net

my feasting heart . . .

1385915381i0p98like butterfies battling the wind, these
the quiet afternoons pulsing peace,
Bach on the radio, sustenance simmering
on the stove of my tranquility, the days
chasing night, the nights chasing day,
rhythms caressing my face, love-bites
armouring the leg of my being, heart
beating at one with the sighing Pacific
and only gratitude for the gift of life,
no more scandalized by the news of
death, baptism into heaven, whatever
that means
, but the reports center on
confusion, Kiev, Syria, Afghanistan

easy to foment flash-points for horror,
even easier to forget just how sweet it is
to breathe with the moon and sun and
to grow with trees bending in the storms,
obeisance to the seas and sky and
living on the edge of eternity, time to
give it up, to give-up strife for lent . . .
to never pick it up again, moved only
by the gentle breeze of butterfly wings,
color and transport for my feasting heart

© 2014, poem, Jamie Dedes, All rights reserved; photo courtesy of morgueFile

drawing the world back into ourselves … celebrating Lung Leavin’ Day

“Breathing involves a continual oscillation between exhaling and inhaling, offering ourselves to the world at one moment and drawing the world into ourselves at the next…” David Abram, Becoming Animal: An Earthly Cosmology

469px-Lungs_diagram_detailed.svgBreath: So necessary to the maintenance of life and so often a metaphor for life and spirit. Every year around this time, I take advantage of my blog to change the subject and write about diseases that harm the mechanism of breath, our lungs. I don’t do this to draw attention to myself. I do it to draw attention to the lung disease. I want people to be aware because Interstitial Lung Disease (ILD) can go undiagnosed or misdiagnosed and unattended for too long adding even more devastation to what is frankly horrific.

This year I was contacted by Heather Von St. James who wrote to me saying, ” I am an 8-year survivor of mesothelioma – a rare cancer caused by asbestos exposure. When I was diagnosed, I had just given birth to my little girl and was told I had 15 months to live. After undergoing a risky surgery, which required the removal of my left lung, I beat the odds and created Lung Leavin’ Day as a way to commemorate this day that changed my life forever.

“Lung Leavin’ Day is now used to encourage others to face their fears! One important thing cancer taught me is the importance of acknowledging these apprehensions that prevent us from living life to the fullest extent. Each year on February 2, friends and family gather at my house for a bonfire where we write our fears on plates and smash them into the fire.

“This year, we are asking bloggers to face your fears and raise awareness of this event by virtually participating in Lung Leavin’ Day! I have created an interactive page that tells the full story of this special day, which can be found here: Lung Leavin’ Day

“I would love it if you would check out the page and share it on your blog to help spread the word about Lung Leavin’ Day!”

800px-Kitchenware_Melamine_Plate_RezowanAnd so I encourage you to visit Heather’s blog. Learn about Mesothelioma. Face your fears – whether they have to do with lung issues or other challenges – and break a virtual plate by way of symbolically breaking your fears.

“Every damn breath hurt like hell, but I kept Breathing too. I told myself it would be a privilege to breathe through pain like that for the rest of my life – just knowing each breath was a gift.”  Rachel Van Dyken, American Romance writer

LLD-TalkingPlateIn the video below, Heather tells her story – or so I assume. I have to admit, my own experience with ILD is such that I can’t watch the video or read Heather’s entire story. I am, however, one of the lucky ones. I was diagnosed with Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF) in 1999 and given two years. This condition turns lungs into scar tissue and scar tissue isn’t permeable enough for breathing.  IPF is fatal, usually within five years of diagnosis. As it happened, I responded to drug interventions and it became clear to all of us that I don’t have IPF.  

We went for years with the diagnosis-of-the-month or year. Now, thanks to my fabulous physicians, my condition is “managed.” I am considered chronic and stable and have a precise diagnosis: Hypersensitivity Pneumonitis, one of the many different kinds of ILD. I have an oxygen compressor and portable oxygen and medications that do not heal but do slow disease progression. I am in an excellent (99% success rate) pre-transplant program at a renown research and teaching hospital.

Heather lives with one lung. I live with two damaged lungs. Neither of us are going to run marathons, but we’ve both beat the odds. We’re both still here with our families and friends and we both live rewarding lives. The age of miracles is not dead and however imperfect our healthcare system is, people like Heather and me would not be alive without the advantages it does offer. Thanks to a combination of the best health care providers, our own internal resources and our families, we experience big and small victories and major love every day.

Please read about and be aware of the symptoms of lung disease and if you have any doubts about your lung health, see your doctor. Take advantage of the tools and expertise available for diagnosis, help and care. Remember that in these matters, timely action improves your chance of survival and the quality of your life as a survivor.

Illustration and photo credits ~  lungs/Patric J. Lynch, medical illustrator under CC A 2.5 Generic license; dish/Rezowan via Wikipedia under CC A-SA 3.0 license

My Year of the Horse

17th Century Mongolian Bronze, photo courtesy of the curator of The Buddha Gallery

17th Century Mongolian Bronze, photo courtesy of the curator of The Buddha Gallery

2014 IS THE YEAR OF THE HORSE IN CHINESE ASTROLOGY, which promises adventure. (Okay, I made that last bit up, but where is it written we can’t hope?)

I’ve adopted Horse as my guiding spirit. In the ethos of the Chinese people, the spirit of Horse is marked by unrelenting effort. It is characterized by intelligence and ability. The ancient Chinese thought of an able person as Qian Li Ma, a horse that travels a thousand li a day, about 360 miles or 500 meters.

A thousand li according to Lao Tzu writing in the Tao Te Ching is the journey that “starts beneath our feet.”  We would say the journey begins with a single step. My first step is this: my first post of the year and my current re-reading of Isaac Asimov‘s autobiographies, In Memory Yet Green (1920-1954) and In Joy Still Felt (1954-1978). They present the opportunity to re-experience a time and place I have in common with Mr. Asimov (the ’50s onward) and also to immerse myself in  Pulp Era of Science Fiction (magazines, 1920s/30s) and the Golden  Age (“Hard SF”- linear, 1950s) and New Wave Age (“Soft” – artistic, literary, experimental, 1960s/70s). One cannot live by poetry alone.These books also provide the chance to observe the skill and absorb the wisdom of one of the finest, most versatile and most prolific of American writers. Some say his life was dull. I don’t agree. Isaac Asimov had many adventures in life but his adventures were of the mind.

“We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak”. Epictitus

Another way to express my plan is that this will be a year of listening (reading) more and talking (writing) less. My father – not unlike Epictetus – used to say, “You have two ears and one mouth. That’s God’s way of telling human beings how important listening is.”  So this year – my sixth blogging – there will be fewer of my own poems posted here, far fewer posts, and significantly more reviews of books and collections.  As Stephen King said:

“If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write. Simple as that.”

I’ve posted a small poetry collection on the Home page (My Poetry Sampler).

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… and thus the journey continues …

May this be your best year yet for intellectual and artistic adventures.

© 2014, Jamie Dedes, essay and the rose photograph, All rights reserved

squeezing a penny

my mother never knew the names for things
the trees were just trees, the flowers just flowers,
but she knew life as a sigh and love as a linchpin
and how to get to work and maneuver in the dark,
she could squeeze a penny and was known to force
tired feet into worn shoes, she could make them dance
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© 2013, poem, Jamie Dedes, All rights reserved, licensing for online publications is nonnegotiable and requires permission, attribution, link to this site, my copyright, no modification, noncommercial only and does not imply permission to include the work in the site’s printed collections or anthologies.
Photo courtesy of morgueFile

from the shadow of the moon

file0002109015389like lucid dreaming, like light-infused rain drops  and
the untarnished silver stars above country terrain,
my mother calls to me from the shadow of the moon
my father beams his smile at me from the milky way
gone and gone, still their essence scents my nights

©2013, poem, Jamie Dedes, All rights reserved, licensing for online publications is nonnegotiable and requires permission, attribution, link to this site, my copyright, no modification, noncommercial only and does not imply permission to include the work in the site’s printed collections or anthologies.
Photo courtesy of morgueFile