Posted in Poem/Poetry

Gentlemen of the Old School, poem

The Madonna in Sorrow Giovanni Battista Salvi (1609-1685)
The Madonna in Sorrow
Giovanni Battista Salvi

gentlemen of the old school
those devotees of Mary …
Mother of Christ, Handmaid of the Lord
seeing her in every woman
….. generously
even me – daughter, mother, niece, friend –
protagonist, antagonist,
on-again off-again wife
simmering slowly in the broth of the cosmos
never quite done, never quite done
…..but they were …
………they were
gentlemen of the old school

dedicated to the real men in my life from whom you will not hear “locker room” talk

© 2013, poem, Jamie Dedes, All rights reserved Photo ~ via Wikipedia and in the U.S. Public Domain

Posted in Poem/Poetry

Paradigms Shift, a poem

10551085_264625727060668_8470137909788891197_nwho are you?
The person you inherited from your parents
or the one you bequeath to your children?
Are you and you one or two?

Or have you merged like eggs and milk
into a pudding, not one or the other,
but something quite different

Do you have to break the mirror
to open fresh eyes?

Are you and you one or two?
Something more or something less.
Are you more or less than one?
Your heart is not broken,
though sometimes it feels that way.
The cells of your body are separate
but collaborative and reciprocal.
Your sight is lighted by the
ground of being, but . . .
the question remains

who are you?
Caught between the generations
their different cultures,
perspectives, values.
Their expectations are at odds
and the older made promises
the younger could never keep …
Times change.
People evolve.
Paradigms shift
and you are you, adapting.

© 2013 poem, Jamie Dedes, All rights reserved

Posted in Poem/Poetry, Wednesday Writing Prompt, writing prompt

Your Mother, a poem … and therein lies your Wednesday Writing Prompt

"The wound is the place where the light enters in." Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī

your mother

a tattered memoir in sepia tones
hanging on the wall of your office
a tiny plump sparrow of a woman
by a lone stone cottage
toothless, poor old thing
a warm shawl pulled to cover her head
an apron, worn shoes
from a time long past
from another world
my Turkish grandmother
what was her name?
you never said
i never asked

– Jamie Dedes


My paternal grandmother never made it to the United States and died before I was born.  I remember my father mentioning her only once and saying that when his father died he was sad that his mother never wore colors again. She only dressed in black. In some times and places, it’s customary for women to wear only black after the death of a husband – not just for a mourning period, but for the rest of their lives.

A sepia photograph of her hung in my father’s office.  I knew she was his mother and never thought to ask her name or to ask about her life.  That’s something I regret. Because of this I think, she comes to mind more often than the only grandparent I ever knew, my mother’s mother, Adele.

Write a poem, creative nonfiction piece or fictionalized account of a grandparent or other relative.  Perhaps there is a mystery – something specific you wish you knew and had asked about – or perhaps there’s something you wish you’d done with him or her.

© 2016, poem, prompt and illustration, Jamie Dedes, All rights reserved

Posted in Poem/Poetry


Ascent of the Blessed, Hieronymus Bosch (c. 1450-1516), Early Netherlandish Painter
Ascent of the Blessed, Hieronymus Bosch (c. 1450-1516), Early Netherlandish Painter

The road to the hospital lies under the weight of fog.
Perhaps that’s as it should be, all things considered.

I’m tempted to fuss with speculations and similes,
though it might be unwise, maybe even unkind,
to say that road is like a passage leading to salvation,
the undoing of cardiac arrest, then I’d have to
knock on wood in my mother’s way, not to jinx it,
not to jinx raising Lazarus from his hospital bed –
The quality of resuscitation is the quality of a mercy,
which might not show itself this day, so we pray.

We wonder, does consciousness survive brain death?
Will he come back from over the brink like a drunk
from a binge, ready to swear-off his bad habits,
suddenly enamored of Christ, whom he’d forsaken?
Will he change from his tech job to a confession
of sins and martyr himself in social services ~
a nouveau-saint of the died-and-came-back genus,
kin to those other types of marketers, not to be rude…

But it is a stretch, though I’d be happy if he survives
and over-brims more Light into our darkness. Amen.

© 2013, poem, Jamie Dedes, All rights reserved; Illustration in the U.S. Public Domain

Posted in Poem/Poetry


Lebanese shortbread cookies stuffed with figs, dates or walnuts (the original fig newton???)
Lebanese shortbread cookies stuffed with figs, dates or walnuts (the original Fig Newton???)

The year we shaped our lives in the redwood forest,
you brought a wounded salamander inside to heal.
We gathered woodsy things, thistles and pinecones.
We made rose-hip syrup, dried the last of the herbs.
I decorated the cabin in an ensemble of earth tones,
a spicy blend to match the fires you built in the hearth
and the scent of the East in the ma’amoul baking. Our
seasonal hibernation was swathed in sweets and books.
Our winter warmed on the gold-dust of our dreams.

© 2016, poem, Jamie Dedes, All rights reserved; photograph, mamoul: biscotti libanesi, by fugzu under CC BY 2.0 license

Posted in Poem/Poetry, Wednesday Writing Prompt, writing prompt

the century of possible peace, a poem … and your Wednesday Writing Prompt


the century of possible peace

after Muriel Rukeyser’s “Poem”
I lived in the century of world wars and
into the century of “hot spots” and “conflicts,”
those isolated regions of hostility and battle, of
choreographed shows of military cliché and the
violent disaffected eruptions of the marginalized

Every day is an homage to some insanity
Media reports are conveyed with facile intensity
by hyperkinetic journalists – they deliver easy
and ominous conclusions based on seemingly
recondite facts, quickly moving to celebrity
gossip and other insipid topics . . .

I have lived in two centuries of wars
I know what it is to be exhausted by the
vain posturing of the ruling class and
the tired protestations of tribal unity and
supremacy based on accidents of birth

I know what it is to imagine peace across
the circumference of one small blue ball
in a Universe of inestimable size and breadth
I know that darkness can descend with the
speed of light and that love is more than an
anchor and that hope keeps our dreams alive

I have lived into the century where the world is
grown small, where the peacemakers are tireless
and perhaps enough hearts have grown large …
sometimes I think I am living in the century
where peace is as possible as war

– Jamie Dedes © 2013 poem, the century of possible peace and 2016, photographJamie Dedes, All rights reserved

I lived in the first century of world wars.
Most mornings I would be more or less insane,
The newspapers would arrive with their careless stories,
The news would pour out of various devices
Interrupted by attempts to sell products to the unseen.
I would call my friends on other devices;
They would be more or less mad for similar reasons.
Slowly I would get to pen and paper,
Make my poems for others unseen and unborn.
In the day I would be reminded of those men and women,
Brave, setting up signals across vast distances,
Considering a nameless way of living, of almost unimagined values.
As the lights darkened, as the lights of night brightened,
We would try to imagine them, try to find each other,
To construct peace, to make love, to reconcile
Waking with sleeping, ourselves with each other,
Ourselves with ourselves. We would try by any means
To reach the limits of ourselves, to reach beyond ourselves,
To let go the means, to wake.
I lived in the first century of these wars.
– Muriel Rukeyser
Muriel Rukeyser (1913 – 1980), American poet and political activist. Some consider her the greatest poet of her generation. Adrienne Rich has said of her, “Rukeyser was one of the great integrators, seeing the fragmentary world of modernity not as irretrievably broken but in need of societal and emotional repair.” You can read more about this poet HERE.
© 1968, Poem, Muriel Rukeyser, The Speed of Darkness (recommended)



Literary allusion is a device by which a writer refers – directly or indirectly – to an individual, an event, or a work of art or of literature. We use this to connect our text to the greater world and the experiences, emotions and ideas that are the common human condition. In the poems above, the subject is war and the way the news of it is delivered and reacted to. I allude to Muriel Rukeyser’s Poem (it’s below mine) in the first line of my poem with “I have lived in the century of world wars.” I feel as she did and echo her observations and emotions in my own way and from the perspective of my own time.

Choose a poem that you very much relate to. Use one line of it in your own poem and explore the subject from your time, place and perspective.



Posted in Wednesday Writing Prompt

The Taste of Baklava, a poem … and therein lies your Wednesday Writing Prompt


Honestly, there are times
when the taste of baklava
finds my tongue and speaks to me
in the language of my grandmother’s hands,
when the honey and fresh mint in tea
vitalizes my very being ~
and I remember everything
. . . . . everything
even the scent of you, your eyes
the way we lingered over dessert,
tapered candles flaming wisps of hope,
your red roses wilting in a crystal vase,
dropping velvet petals like dreams
on the white damask of our forever

© 2012 poem and photograph, Jamie Dedes, All rights reserved



A singular moment – romantic or otherwise – that is etched in mind, yesterday or years ago, full of color and vigor.  Write about your moment in poem. Fill it with detail: scent and hues, setting (indoor or out), include one object that references the “other” in the scene and makes their role come evident and alive. Take your time and have fun with this.

Posted in Poem/Poetry

Awakening on Our Rocky Rebel Road, a poem

We love living in shadowlands that ride our backs,
pregnant with dream demons and rhinestone illusions ~
On such days we come crashing at the abrading edges
of narrow channels and wide-open oceans ’till we are
caught between moon-sight and sun-gold distortions
Easy then to precipitate bursts of chaos in the
hoary hibernation of our soul’s winter, denying the truth
in our own voices, the god-awful transience of our bodies
Yet here we are … Yes! Here we are
awakening on our rocky, rebel road …
serving our spiny poetry like Don Juan his peyote buttons

© 2011 poem, 2016 photograph, Jamie Dedes, All rights reserved

Posted in Poem/Poetry, Wednesday Writing Prompt, writing prompt

THAT WHITE WATCHUNG HOME, a poem … and your Wednesday writing prompt

img_1167I 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 to that sprawling place, soundly built
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 curly 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
Drawers lined with newspapers, yellow 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 i-This and smart-That

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 plum-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


I think a lot about houses and housing these days. Here in Silicon Valley there’s a critical shortage of housing in general and especially of affordable housing. I know several families who lost their homes when the housing bubble burst in the later part of the last decade. I have a neighbor who ended up on the street for two years . There are too many folks who make their way by couch-surfing or living out of their cars or trucks. We read in the papers about homeless children here and abroad and think and pray and do what we can for all those people sleeping in the rough, escaping violence in their homelands. I’ve always appreciated our homes, never anything fancy but definitely safe, clean and functional, and I remember warmly the homes and hospitality of friends and relatives with whom I stayed at different times when I was a child.

I’m sure you too have memories of the houses or apartments in which you grew-up or stayed when you were young. Maybe those memories are good. Maybe not. Either way, they probably remain vivid in your mind. Perhaps there was one thing – like the tree in A Tree Grows in Brooklyn – that had special meaning or gave you hope. Outside the complex where my mother lived there were two berry trees, Mulberry perhaps, that I thought of as guardians of the building.

Write a poem or creative nonfiction piece about the house or apartment that most stands out in your memories of childhood and tell us what it meant to you, what was special or loathsome, what dreams you may have nurtured there, or how it might have fixed your vision of the home you’d have as an adult. Take your time and enjoy the process.

© 2016, words and photograph, Jamie Dedes, All rights reserved