butterflies battling the wind

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 ocean
and only gratitude for the gift of life,
no longer scandalized by the news of
death, baptism into heaven, whatever
that may be, 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 the hungry heart

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

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

do not make war in your heart or upon your mother’s body

Cliff House from Ocean Beach

Cliff House from Ocean Beach

1.

it must be painful for them to write, those poets in tough-times and hard places
where blood and tears and poverty contaminate the air, stain the sidewalks, and consume the people

the blood must be soul-sick and rusted and tasting of acid, not salt,
and the poems meant to heal the writer and stroke the cheeks of the wounded,
to dry their eyes and gently kiss their gray heads

to poem in such places must be like walking shoeless on glass shards

perhaps the most sacred thing in the dream-time meadow of poets’ desire is Light ~
can you awaken to meet the Divine on the battlefield, in the camps, in government housing or in the ghettos?

if so, you are a saint, not simply an artist

2.

in my small world, my civilized world, people fall asleep reading or after making love or playing in the yard with their children
if they wander, it is through books or planned travel
there are luxuries
there is food
there is cleanliness and paper on which to write
no bombs are dropping to scorch and scar the Earth

there is a certain dignity

3.

in San Francisco we walk along the beach at night, near the Cliff House
we walk to the sound of the waves, the sound of the Earth chanting its joys
our feet are bare and relish the comfort of cool sand

the air is clear and cold and easy to breathe, tasting of salt and smelling of sea life ~
here is a pristine moment of peace

i want to bequeath this peace to you, to everyone,
as though it were a cherished heirloom
it is really a birthright

i want to plunge into the waters and gather the ocean in my cupped hands, to offer it to you as sacramental wine

i want to form seaweed into garlands for all of us to wear, to hang over our hearts, a symbol of affection

i want to collect pine cones from the trees that congregate along the coast and feed them to the children to remind them to cherish this Earth and all its creatures, themselves included, and to say …

do not make war in your heart or upon your mother’s body

This is my post for The Bardo Group’s Valentine’s Day event: Bloggers in Planet Love. It is an older piece that I’ve have rewritten for this occasion. Please join us HERE and share the url to a post of yours that expresses your love of the Earth and nature or your concerns about the environment.

© 2013, poem, Jamie Dedes, All rights reserved
Photo credit ~ BrokenInaglory via Wikipedia under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported

CALLING ALL BLOGGERS, a reminder about our invitation …

Rainforest_Fatu_HivaPLEASE JOIN US: Beginning at  7 p.m. PST this evening, we are celebrating Valentine’s Day with love – not the love of and for another person – but our love for our mother planet ….

WE INVITE ALL writers, poets, artists, photographers, musicians and other creatives to join us at The Bardo Group for our Valentine’s Day event, BLOGGERS IN PLANET LOVE. Link in your work that shares your appreciation for the beauty of nature or your concern for environmental issues. You can share the url to your post via Mister Linky, which will stay up for seventy-two hours. Corina Ravenscraft (DragonDreams) hosts. I’ll visit sites and comment. We hope you will also visit others and comment on their work, lending support and encouragement and making connection.

If tonight is date-night for you, remember that you do have seventy-two hours to link your work in. It doesn’t have to be a new or recent piece, just something in the spirit of the event, something that expresses your love of our planet.

See you there. Meanwhile, HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY! :-)

Photo credit ~ Tropical Rainforest, Fatu Hiva Island, Marquesas Islands, French Polynesia by Benutzerseite: Makemake via German language Wikipedia under CC A-SA 3.0 Unported license.

Roses, Homilies, and the Poetic Inspiration of Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz

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sometimes roses speak to us in homilies

with a nod to Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz

her story and her poem are below my poem

January is on the wane
leaving behind early dark and champagne hopes
for the genus Rosa. Wild or tame, they’re lovely.

Garden roses need pruning, solicitous cultivation ~
Layer shorter under taller, drape on trellises
and over pergolas, the promise of color and fragrance,
climbers retelling their stories in ballet up stone walls,
an heirloom lace of tea roses, a voluptuous panorama
rhymed with shrubs and rock roses in poetic repetition.
Feminine pulchritude: their majesties in royal reds
or sometimes subdued in pink or purple gentility,
a cadmium-yellow civil sensibility, their haute couture.

Is it the thorned rose we love or the way it mirrors us
in our own beauty and flaw and our flow into decrepitude?
They remind of our mortality with blooms, ebbs, and bows
to fate, a noble death to rise again in season, after Lazarus.
Divinely fulsome, the genus Rosa, sun-lighted reflexed ~
And January? January is ever on the wane.

- Jamie Dedes

© 2013, poem and photograph, Jamie Dedes, All rights reserved
I’ve posted this poem before but not with its backstory.

Portrait by Fray Miguel de Herrera (1700-1789)

Portrait by Fray Miguel de Herrera (1700-1789)

The work that was the jumping off point for my poem is one by the Mexican nun, Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz (1551-1695), who lived during the time when Mexico was a part of the Spanish empire. She belonged to the Order of St. Jerome.

Sor Juana was a writer, playwright and a Baroque poet. She was hungry for learning and was self-educated. From childhood, she set her own demanding educational goals. These three famous quotes of hers are telling:

“I don’t study to know more, but to ignore less.”

“One can perfectly well philosophize while cooking supper.”

“…for there seemed to be no cause for a head to be adorned with hair and naked of learning…”

I am enamored of Sor Juana’s work and find her life interesting. She was brilliant, independent and nonconforming.

Here is her poem Rosa in Spanish and in English.

Rosa divina que en gentil cultura
eres, con tu fragrante sutileza,
magisterio purpureo en la belleza,
enseñanza nevada a la hermosura.
Amago de la humana arquitectura,
ejemplo de la vana gentileza,
en cuyo ser unió naturaleza
la cuna alegre y triste sepultura.
¡Cuán altiva en tu pompa, presumida,
soberbia, el riesgo de morir desdeñas,
y luego desmayada y encogida
de tu caduco ser das mustias señas,
con que con docta muerte y necia vida,
viviendo engañas y muriendo enseñas!

Rose, heaven’s flower versed in grace,
from your subtle censers you dispense
on beauty, scarlet homilies,
snowy lessons in loveliness.
Frail emblem of our human framing,
prophetess of cultivation’s ruin,
in whose chambers nature beds
the cradle’s joys in sepulchral gloom.
So haughty in your youth, presumptuous bloom,
so archly death’s approaches you disdained.
Yet even as blossoms soon fade and fray
to the tattered copes of our noon’s collapse -
so through life’s low masquerades and death’s high craft,
your living veils all your dying unmasks.

- Juana Inés de la Cruz

Illustration and poem in the public domain. Source of translation unknown.

all bow to her magnificence

"The Kiss" original watercolor by Gretchen Del Rio

“The Kiss” original watercolor by Gretchen Del Rio

this miraculous Earth
the true unconditional mother,
the omphalos of our universe ~
forever nursing the trees,
pregnant with bees and fish,
cupping the seas in her love,
tossing up mountains and
breaking down into valleys

she flirts with the moon
and tides rise and fall;
she dances with the sun
and flowers bloom

the wind caresses her and
she paints herself in browns
and greens, a complement
to a chaste and pastel ceiling
hugged at the wide horizon

the stars guard her at night
while the frogs sing a lullaby,
gently cooing, soft white doves
offer their praises at dawn ~
and all bow to her magnificence

This piece is in response to Victoria C. Slotto’s WRITER’S FOURTH WEDNESDAY prompt at The Bardo Group. The event opens this evening at 7:00 p.m. PST (I gave the wrong time on yesterday’s post. Apologies!) Mr. Linky is open for seventy-two hours and we invite you to share your work by submitting a direct link to your piece. Victoria and I will visit and comment and we hope that you will also visit other participants and comment too. The prompt will show HERE at 7 p.m. The prompt and coaching this month are on verbs.

A poem of appreciation for our beautiful earth, this piece also provides me an opportunity to encourage you to participate in another event with The Bardo Group when we celebrate Valentine’s Day with our BLOGGERS IN PLANET LOVE event. You are invited to link in your own work, poems, stories, photographs, artwork. More detail will be offered this Sunday evening in Bardo News, 7 p.m. PST.

© 2013, poem, Jamie Dedes, All rights reserved
Illustration ~ by Gretchen Del Rio, All rights reserved, featured here with Gretchen’s permission.

The Blessing Is in the Seed

file000479090708“Nourish beginnings, let us nourish beginnings.
Not all things are blest, but the seeds of all things are blest.
The blessing is in the seed.”
Muriel Rukeyser (1913-1980), American poet

In the beginning, when we are children, everything is new and magical and we have an appetite for detail that lends itself to poetry . . .

As children, for me and my cousins, there were trips from Brooklyn to New Jersey. Sometimes we went to Green Lake (swimming) or Parsippany (relatives).  We went often to Paramus to visit my godfather and his family. In the ’60s there were still a few small family-owned farms and some unpaved roads. Back then, the now huge and famous Bergen Mall was a modest plaza. There was a diner with cream colored counters, a slate-grey floor, and watresses in bleached-blond beehive hair and pink lipstick. We ate onion rings for the first time there. They were sweet, beer battered and deep-fried to a crisp golden-brown.

No matter where we traveled in Jersey it was a good time, but Watchung was best. In those days, the population was a scant 2,000. My Uncle Charlie’s house sat tranquil on a hill layered with green lawns, tall trees and orchards. It was at his place during summer vacation one year that the writing seed planted itself in my child heart.

I wonder if that old Watchung home still stands
or has it been demolished by developers building
rows on rows of barracks-like housing where
big maples used to rise to line the roadway
·
Driving up in an ancient V8 Ford Woody, ramshakle
and well-loved, a kaleidoscope of colors greeted us -
The burnished bronze of our uncle’s skin and the
brown-black of his doe eyes and dense curley hair
The azure sky and snowy clouds tumbling down to
top the perfect juicy purple of ripe Italian plums
and the brisk reds of beefsteak and plum tomatoes
The true-green of the too-long grass feathering the
rich chocolaty shades of the well-mulched earth
·
That antique home was pristine white with green trim
and such a busy, welcoming, wrap-around porch,
often with bushels of fruit and vegetables standing
in the company of freshly cut flowers piled and tossed
All waiting . . . for what and for whom?
The airy rooms were waiting too with windows
and doors thrown open to children like me breezing
in from the The City with our pallid skin and eyes
burning to see our uncle and some untouched nature
·
Well-worn carpets, Persian and Arabian, brushed bare feet
as searching room-to-room for hidden treasures and history
I marveled at the accoutrements of other decades -
the water pump, the dumb-waiter, the pull-chain water closet
Each room was a marvel of furnishings, fine wood and hand-turned
Dresser drawers lined with newspapers, yellowed and dissolving with age
advertising corsets, questionable cures, and other ephemera of this
same place in times mostly forgotten except for stale news
telling its stories to the silence in chests mostly empty and untouched
The mammoth tables in the large, white, high-ceilinged kitchen and
the stately dining room with its chandelier and heavy drapes spoke of
more formal multi-generational dinners before these days of greater
mobility and the tech distractions of iThis and smartThat·

The peaceable, sturdy safe-haven of that white Watchung home
matched the steady embrace of its woods and orchards
where a child like me could lie on the hardy ground,
sun blinding bright, browning spindly arms and legs, small body
soaking in rich damp earth, mind yawning, stretching, awakening
Imagination rising in mists of violet-grey shot with silver stories
and flaxen poems finding their way into the pages of a notebook
Such plump-sweet visions set free by that mystical place -
I wonder if it still stands in Watchung, if it remembers me
And how I loved it - I still do

This is an old, old poem with some minor modifications, an update (changing TV for tech toys), and an intro. 

. . . and thus we begin another week . . .

©2007, 2008, 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