Posted in Wednesday Writing Prompt, writing prompt


Eel River, Humboldt County, California
Eel River, Humboldt County, California

The Wiyot lived in the Humboldt Bay area of Northern California and they live in my dreams. For about a year-and-half we made our home in Humboldt County, an area about 200 miles north of San Francisco on the far North Coast. It’s a place dense with redwood forests, wild rivers, and creeks that run dry in the summer and overflow in the winter. If you live in a rural area or grew up in one, you might take such things for granted. Having lived in paved-over cities all my life, they seemed magical to me.

Our four acres were rich with sequoia, madrone, oak, and twenty-eight fruit trees. Blue jays flew in to feed in the morning. Quail families visited at night. They marched down our drive in orderly formation. Hawks and hummingbirds put on air shows. Rosemary thrived unattended. There was a beautiful lush 100-year-old rosebush. There were wild roses too. They gifted us hips for homemade cough syrup.

Scotch Broom
Scotch Broom

The colors there were brilliant and varied: smog-free blue skies (you could see the stars at night!), rich brown earth, a population of purple iris in a grove of California bay laurel, orange cosmos and red dahlias, yellow scotch broom lining our creek-side in the company of cascading Japanese quince. The Japanese quince provided ample housing for Rufus hummingbirds. Nearby, Queen Ann’s lace stood unbent by the wind. When it went to seed we collected the seeds for cooking. They have a taste somewhere between carrot and caraway.

The spread of blackberry bushes was both wonder and wealth. They seemed never to run out of fruit. I gathered some almost every morning for breakfast and every morning I thought of the women in buckskins who preceded me more than a century ago. Perhaps there was a mother who stood on this spot, picking blackberries for her son too.

I think the peace, quiet and simplicity of that place made it easy to imagine the first peoples as they might have lived there in other times. I could see them tending fires, boiling and drying acorns and then grinding them for flour, bathing in the river, raising their children, gathering wood, hunting and enjoying sacred ceremony. I knew the very same ancient sequoia that watched over us had watched over them.

Humboldt Bay near Eureka, traditional Wiyot lands
Qual-a-wa-loo (Humboldt Bay) near Eureka, traditional Wiyot lands, The 1860 Wiyot Massacre happened on Indian Island

Finally, I did some research. I was sad but not surprised to find that the area was once inhabited by an indigenous people –  the Wiyot people – who were decimated in a genocide ~

Wiyot Mother and Child
Wiyot Mother and Child

“Eureka newspapers of the time exulted at the night massacres conducted by the “good citizens of the area”. Good haul of Diggers and Tribe Exterminated! were 2 headlines from the Humboldt Times. Those who thought differently about it were shut up by force. Newspaper publisher and short story writer Bret Harte called it “cowardly butchery of sleeping women and children” — then had to flee ahead of a lynch mob that smashed his printing presses.” MORE [Wiyot Tribal Council Page]

Note: Originally written in 2012, I’ve posted this today as a an acknowledgement of Indigenous Peoples’ Day, October 12. More than 40 US jurisdictions celebrate Indigenous Peoples’ Day; the majority of these have replaced Columbus Day with this holiday, but some jurisdictions celebrate both Columbus Day and Indigenous Peoples’ Day.

In addition to reading here, please also treat yourself to Michael Watson’s post Silence, Story, and Healing, a short and thoughtful piece.

© 2012, Jamie Dedes, All rights reserved; Photo credit ~ Eel River by Jan Kronsell and released into the worldwide public domain; Scotch Broom by Danny S. – 001 under CC BY-SA 3.0; Humboldt Bay near Eureka by Tony via Wikipedia and Licensed under CC A 2.0 Generic; Wiyot Mother and Child, Humboldt State University


Perhaps you too grew up in a time and place where the history books taught a one-sided view of the land you live on and the people who originated there. Perhaps, like me, you had to get out of school and meet new people, read books that weren’t sanctioned by academic authority and do your own research to learn about the devastation that was  and is rained upon indigenous people all over the world … the violence, the slavery and the genocide. Perhaps you are a descendent of the original people who suffered so and know the truth from the stories of your elders. Perhaps your roots are in the nations of empire and you are saddened that they perpetrated or were complicit in such unimaginable injustice.

We can’t change what happened in the past but as writers and poets we can make sure that lies aren’t propagated and that the truth is told and shared. Write a poem, short story, essay or article that illustrates some aspect of colonialism, racial bias and stereotype, or the modern complications of colonial history.

Posted in Environment, Nature, Photograph/iPhoneography, Poem/Poetry

Monsters Rose, a poem

IMG_3835Monsters rose from scenes gone by
And things once green lie down and die
While hoary sighs from glaciers stream
Mountains shiver in warming steam
Bays, gulfs and oceans wealth abort
As oil spills spew, smother and thwart
And man leaves earth in sad deface
His husbandry a vast disgrace

“…the care of the earth is our most ancient and most worthy and, after all, our most pleasing responsibility. To cherish what remains of it, and to foster its renewal, is our only legitimate hope.”
Wendell Berry, The Art of the Commonplace: The Agrarian Essays

Note: I generally dislike rhymed poetry and don’t particularly care for this. No idea why it came out this way but it does say what I want it to say. 

© 2016, poem and illustration, Jamie Dedes, All right reserved

Posted in 100 000 Poets for Change, 100TPC, Nature, Poem/Poetry, Wednesday Writing Prompt

the smell of wood, the scorch of fire, a poem … and Your Wednesday Writing Prompt

stumpsthis rough-barked sequoia stump, sitting in majesty
in its coastal home, victim of wildfire, burned down
to its gnarly roots, its nicks, holes and char, eons
of scars, life seemingly cut off, goddess snake alive
inside the concentric circles, the smell of wood and
scorch of fire, at the verge of our infinity, in its truth ~




haunted by the geometry of limbs, the calculus of green,
the algebraic eloquence of a world within a world  ~

So present.

So essential.

So primal.

it sings to itself in the marrow of our bones

– Jamie Dedes


In preparation for The BeZine 100,000 Poets (and Friends) for Change

Saturday, Sept. 24, 2016

Theme: Environment/Environmental Injustice

This poem was originally written in 2014 for Wilderness Week. There were then and are now a number of fires raging in the western United States. Wildfires are a natural occurrence but since the 1980s they’ve been increasing due to human-caused climate change. According to the Union of Concerned Scientists . . .

Wildfires in the western United States have been . . . occurring nearly four times more often, burning more than six times the land area, and lasting almost five times as long (comparisons are between 1970-1986 and 1986-2003) ….. many of the areas that have seen these increases—such as Yosemite National Park and the Northern Rockies—are protected from or relatively unaffected by human land-use and behaviors. This suggests that climate change is a major factor driving the increase in wildfires.” MORE

We tend to look at these fires in terms of the expense incurred fighting them and the cost of lives, homes, habitat, wild life and so forth. However, there’s one consideration we may forget: Nature teaches us, comforts us, feeds us and is the ebb and flow of our spiritual and physical lives. The loss – the environmental injustice – is profound on more than a material level. This is what the smell of wood, the scorch of fire seeks to illustrate. “Nature” is who we are. Nature is us.

Write a poem or creative nonfiction piece on what the natural environment means to you and perhaps the sense of loss you feel as you note plants, animals, insects and wilderness that you’ve seen damaged or destroyed by climate, industry, overpopulation and whatever else has effected the area in which you live.

© 2014, poem, Jamie Dedes, All rights reservedPhoto credit ~Bay “The Bay Nature Institute, based in Berkeley, California, is dedicated to educating the people of the San Francisco Bay Area about, and celebrating the beauty of, the surrounding natural world. We do so with the aim of inspiring residents to explore and preserve the diverse and unique natural heritage of the region, and of nurturing productive relationships among the many organizations and individuals working towards these same goals.” Read more HERE.

You are invited to join The Bardo Group Beguines at The BeZine blog on Saturday, September 24 for 100,000 Poets (and friends) for Change.  Below is a list of more features to provide you with information. We hope you’ll join us.


Posted in Art/Artists/Phographers, Poem/Poetry

On Regetting Its Death by Drowning, a poem

It’s always interesting, this business of feeding each other with our art and poetry . . . 

Paula Kuitenbrouwer (Mindful Drawing), a Dutch nature artist, told a story one day, a sweet tale of the near-death of a beetle at her home in the Netherlands.

The tranquil garden-drawing Paula completed to commemorate the day is lovely and the first line of her post is both an homage to her unutterable respect for life and absolute poetry filled with the promise of story.

“I found a Carabidae beetle in a bucket with water and regretted its death by drowning . . . “

The line put me in mind of Isak Dinesen‘s unforgettable opening for Out of Africa,

“I had a farm in Africa, at the foot of the Ngong Hills . . . “

Something about those perfect sentences lets you know there’s a good story to come. And there was.

“It lay there for at least an hour and I hoped so much it would give a sign of life. Then I did the most crazy thing imaginable; I turned it on its back, squeezed it gently, and gave it heart massage (don’t ask). Three drops of water came out. I have no clue why I did such a weird thing. Would somebody tell me he or she had given cardiac massage to a beetle, I would have laughed out loud.” Paula Kuitenbrouwer

And so the inspiration for this poem ~

the garden floating in violet and ruby hues,
by the side of the house, a beetle floats too,
so jewel-like, amethyst and brilliant against
the dull gray water, it does not move

it lies there still as the dead of noon across
a bone-colored desert, and her hand so white,
wing-like flutters against its rigor, laying it
on the table, by a pad to sketch with pencils

that minuscule life, no will to release it
into whatever beetle heaven there might be,
laying tender finger to knead a tube-like heart
holding her breath, willing air into spiracles

wishful thinking? a flicker from the antennae?
slight movement of a leg? perhaps, perhaps
some healing pressure, one gentle push,
three drops of water, success in late hours

to heal a beetle, to sketch in varied colors
with time to hug the child and sip hot tea …
a creature saved from a sad death by drowning
and cherish the mindful drawing for a memory

© 2012, Jamie Dedes, All rights reserved; Photo credit ~ David Wagner, Public Domain

Posted in Poem/Poetry

cloud watching, a poem

file0001128026195the open sky

,,,,tufts like spun sugar . . .

white with sunlight

layered on an endless blue blessing


and unbounded

.       idly floating . . . waiting on nothing

not the brightness of day

nor the cool calm night

….present with our pleasure

 . . . we eye one another

my silent mind . . . t]

their silent flow

. . . . . . occasional storms 

. . .mostly languid though . . .


. . . as the blue upon which they rest . . . .cresting

. . . . . . . …………………their charism weightless as sea foam,

they brush my imagination

at the matrix of our shared meditation

©2013, poem, Jamie Dedes, All rights reservedPhoto courtesy of morgueFile

Posted in American She-Poets, General Interest, Poem/Poetry, Writers/Poets

CELEBRATING AMERICAN SHE-POETS (14): Mary Oliver, “I got saved by poetry. I got saved by the beauty of the world.”

Mary Oliver (b. 1935)
Poet & Essayist Mary Oliver (b. 1935)

I love the line of Flaubert about observing things very intensely. I think our duty as writers begins not with our own feelings, but with the powers of observing.

AWARDS: Mary Oliver’s fourth book, American Primitive, won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1984. She  received the Shelley Memorial Award; a Guggenheim Fellowship; an American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters Achievement Award; the Christopher Award and the L.L. Winship/PEN New England Award for House of Light; the National Book Award for New and Selected Poems; a Lannan Foundation Literary Award; and the New England Booksellers Association Award for Literary Excellence.

When it’s over, I want to say: all my life I was a bride married to amazement. I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.

How often we turn to certain poets for certain healing, to those greater “technicians of the sacred” (to borrow from Jerome Rothenberg): Jane Hirchfield for her gentle Buddhist sensibility, John O’Donohue for his lilting Celtic reflections, W.S. Merwin and his deep ecology. Not the least among the greater technicians is Mary Oliver. Our hunger for spiritual healing is underscored by her popularity. The New York Times declared her the best-selling poet. Poet, activist and critic Alicia Ostriker writes of Oliver that she is as “visionary as Emerson.” Where there is criticism, it tends to be among feminists and others who feel she idealizes the feminine connection with nature.

51-N2B0NtNL._SX327_BO1,204,203,200_Mary Oliver’s work is deeply rooted in nature and a sense of place, the Ohio of her childhood and the New England of her adult life. More recently Florida, where she moved to be with friends after her partner of forty years died.

Influenced by Thoreau and Whitman, she’s a keen observer. She has said that she found healing in nature and the greater beauty of the world. Nature was her refuge through a difficult childhood and from an abusive father. She writes about her experience of her father in Rage from Dream Work (the Atlantic Monthly Press, 1989).


You are the dark song
of the morning…
But you were also the red song
in the night..
When the child’s mother smiles
you see on her cheekbones
a truth you will never confess
and you see how the child grows
timidly, crouching in corners…
In your dreams she’s a tree that will never come to leaf..
in your dreams you have sullied and murdered
and dreams do not lie.

However dark Rage might be, Oliver’s poems are more often filled with light and encouragement. Journey is one such:

You strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do,
determined to save
the only life you could save.

excerpt from The Journey, in Dream Work

and Wild Geese 

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves. […]
The world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting-
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

excerpt from Wild Geese in Dream Work 

When we want to breathe the clear air of nature and the best of the human spirit, we turn to Mary Oliver and the singular meditative grace of her poetry.

– Jamie Dedes

© poems Mary Oliver; photo credit, Rachel Giese Brown, 2009 – that and lists of awards are from Mary Oliver’s Amazon Page; book cover design, publisher. 

Posted in Flowers, Trees & Gardens, General Interest, Religion/Spirituality, Spirit

sleeping with the moon, a poem

isnessgarden speaks through its flowers ..
a dharma talk on cosmic truth, its syntax
is the rush of joy in different hues
written on the harmony of loam,
on sturdy leaves and gray rock ~
an elemental symphony

a webbed raiment as transient as foam, a
feral scent flirting with a lilting breeze,
a few sleepy stepping-stones along the path
and then the budding, the blooming, the
falling into decay, undisturbed by worldly
cares, a green nirvana of prickly branches

and cherry trees, the wildish thorned
rose and the innocent daisy, palm fronds
and color spectrums, no burdens, just an
isness of small beings embracing the earth,
dancing in the sun, sleeping with the moon

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

Posted in General Interest, The Bardo Group, The BeZine

THE Be ZINE, March 2016, Vol. 2/Issue 6 ~ Theme: The Joys of Nature: Wilderness, Gardens and Green Spaces, Table of Contents with Links

March 15, 2016

With this issue, we bring to center stage a relationship in which we are all engaged in one way or another – our relationship to this Place. Call it Nature or Earth or Gaia or Creation, this is where all of us are born, where we will live our lives, and where we will die.

Does this place have a Spirit of its own? Does it have a will? How does it relate to us?

Those are some of the questions behind the pondering, the exploring, the dreaming and the planning that is communicated here in our writing, in our songs, in our art, and in our work.

Taking the lead in preparing this issue has been a great adventure for me. It has challenged me to hold the lens of Place in front of my eyes more intentionally and to listen more closely to the voices of those who look through different spectacles. It is my hope that the contents here will encourage sharper focus on this relationship for all of our readers.

I am delighted to have Michael Watson’s piece “The Gift of Relationship” to launch our journey. The essay “I Love This Place!” follows and establishes the Lead Features. John Anstie offers “An Alternative View of Nature” so that we might ponder not only joy, but also humility and personal cost in this relationship. This piece also ushers in our first Poetry section for this month. Nature provides so many metaphorical images that bloom into greater understanding as we ponder our interaction with the world. We have a marvelous cornucopia of poems from Zen-like to Romantic from our core members and newcomers to our group, a true garden of delights, broken into two sections: shade and full sun. (Can you tell I enjoy running with a theme?!)

So often the weight and depth of a crucial relationship is handled most gracefully in a good story. Naomi Baltuck is one of my favorite storytellers! She makes me feel the magic of my purest attempts to make meaning, the ones I began as a child. And she always includes great pictures! She offers a selection of her tales in our Story Corner.

Art and Photography are natural mediums for portraying this beloved Place. In this section, Michael Dickel will challenge your assumptions about the Holy Land and show you the true Nature of that country in personal photos…and then invite you to examine your perspective further in “Capturing and Interpreting Light”.

Two exceptional Essays put some real heartwood into this issue. “Staying Wild: How the Wilderness Act Changed My Life” by Annick Smith describes living the idea and practice of wilderness and illustrates a real alternative to human ‘trammeling’.  “Let’s Hear It For The Bees! (Parts 1-3)” by Tish Farrell provides some important information about a current environmental crisis – a wake-up call to the vulnerability of Nature.

Liliana Negoi next surrounds us with Green Light – two creative non-fiction essays to stimulate luminous musing.

After the Full Sun section of our Poetry garden, we offer some cool Music with tight harmony and a timeless message.

In More Green Light, we gaze on “Life in Ordinary Time”, “Unseen”.  Finally, “Who Is She?” introduces our Getting To Know You subject, the poet Joseph Hesch.

Variety, diversity, fecundity, liveliness – yep, this issue looks like Wilderness, Gardens and Green Spaces.  I hope you enjoy exploring and engaging in this small space and that it inspires you to deeper and broader and higher interaction with the larger Place where we all live. –

Priscilla Galasso
Contributing Writer/Associate Editor

c Michael Dickel
c Michael Dickel

The Joys of Nature: Wilderness, Gardens and Green Spaces

Lead Features

The Gift of Relationship, Michael Watson
I Love This Place, Priscilla Galasso

Poetry (Shade)

An Alternative View of Nature, John Anstie
flies, Michael Dickel
Gardens, Ampat Koshy
Green Spaces, Ampat Koshy
Noctune, Sharon Frye
Rock Quarry, Corina Ravenscraft
Wilderness, Ampat Koshy

Story Corner

Monkey See, Monkey Do, Naomi Baltuck
Birds of a Feather, Naomi Baltuck


Holy Nature Land, Michael Dickel
Capturing and Interpreting the Light, Michael Dickel


Staying Wild: How the Wilderness Act Changed My Life, Annick Smith
Three Bees, Two Bees, One Bee (Bees, Part 1), Tish Farrell
Let’s Hear It for the Bees – Hooray! (Bees, Part 2), Tish Farrell
Bee-ing Bee-Minded (Bees, Part 3), Tish Farrell
Nothing More, Liliana Negoi
Gardening Tools, Liliana Negoi

Poetry (Full Sun)

Haiku, Liliana Negoi
Lackadaisy, Sharon Frye
Nemeton Unfaded, Corina Ravenscraft
purple fates, Liliana Negoi
The Republic of Innocence, Jamie Dedes
Watching the World, Sharon Frye


Let There Be Peace on Earth

More Green Light

Life in Ordinary Time, Virginia Galfo
Unseen, Tiramit
Who Is She, Joseph Hesch

Getting to Know You

Interview with Joseph Hesch

IMG_1750Connect with us …

Beguine Again, Spirtual Community and Practice

Facebook, The Bardo Group Beguines

Twitter, The Bardo Group Beguines

Access to the biographies of our core team contributing writers and guest writers is in the blogroll to your left on The BeZine site along with archived issues of The BeZine, our Mission Statement and Submission Guidelines.

Posted in General Interest, Photograph/iPhoneography, Poem/Poetry, spirt

Not Afraid of the Light

FullSizeRender. . . . . .Resting. . .

in that place where endless sky meets ocean wave,
where plump blue berry meets thin green leaf,
where illumination gifts fifty shades of joy.

. . . . . Breathing and breathing and never minding

the house begging for repair, the tree wanting a trim.
Never minding the floors awaiting the broom,
the accounts begging for their balance . . .

. . . . . . Only joy …

from the quiet mind and the still hand,
Joy! dancing on sunbeams and resting
on the limb of a moonlighted tree . . .

. . . . . .Joy! Only joy …

. . . . . . . . . . .in Light!

. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .more Light

“We can easily forgive a child who is afraid of the dark; the real tragedy of life is when men are afraid of the light.”  Plato

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