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 American History, Poem/Poetry, poetry history

I, too, sing America … Langston Hughes poem at the opening of the Smithsonian Museum of African American History and Culture

National Museum of African American History and Culture, opens September 24, 2016
National Museum of African American History and Culture.  Opens September 24, 2016

AMERICAN POETRY: Langston Hughes’ I, too, sing America will be used in the opening ceremonies on Saturday for the National Museum of African American History and Culture at the Smithsonian in DC.

The poem predates the Civil Rights Movement by about ten years:

I, too, sing America.

I am the darker brother.
They send me to eat in the kitchen
When company comes,
But I laugh,
And eat well,
And grow strong.

I’ll be at the table
When company comes.
Nobody’ll dare
Say to me,
“Eat in the kitchen,”

They’ll see how beautiful I am
And be ashamed–

I, too, am America.

– Langston Hughes

The website with details on the grand opening is HERE.

The photograph is by Fuzheado under CC BY-SA 4.0 license

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

There Is Pleasure in the Pathless Wood … and therein is your Wednesday Writing Prompt

IMG_0046There is a pleasure in the pathless woods,
There is a rapture on the lonely shore,
There is society, where none intrudes,
By the deep sea, and music in its roar:
I love not man the less, but Nature more,
From these our interviews, in which I steal
From all I may be, or have been before,
To mingle with the Universe, and feel
What I can ne’er express, yet cannot all conceal

Gordon George Byron, Lord Byron
from Childe Harold, Canto iv, Verse 178


It’s important – and it’s often a relief – to get out in nature where the quiet is healing and the beauty helps us to feel our connection with the whole of the Universe.  Byron writes here of the woods.  Where do you go for solitude and solice, refreshing your soul? Woods. Garden, Lake. Ocean. Wilderness lands. Perhaps a park like the one in the photograph above. Tell us about it and how you feel, how it draws you in and wakes you up spiritually. Do it by way of poetry or creative nonfiction. May this be a meditative exercise for you.

© photo, Jamie Dedes

Posted in Poem/Poetry, Writers/Poets

Blind like us … Two by Charles Hamilton Sorely

Charles Hamilton Sorely (1895 – 1915)

A version of this post that I put together several years ago and published elsewhere keeps coming up in the stats for that site, a few people each week popping by to read it … and so I read the poems again myself.  Seems we have to learn the same lessons over and over. What Sorely writes still applies …


Such, such is Death: no triumph: no defeat:
Only an empty pail, a slate rubbed clean,
A merciful putting away of what has been.
And this we know: Death is not Life, effete,
Life crushed, the broken pail. We who have seen
So marvellous things know well the end not yet.
Victor and vanquished are a-one in death:
Coward and brave: friend, foe. Ghosts do not say,
“Come, what was your record when you drew breath?”
But a big blot has hid each yesterday
So poor, so manifestly incomplete.
And your bright Promise, withered long and sped,
Is touched, stirs, rises, opens and grows sweet
And blossoms and is you, when you are dead.


You are blind like us. Your hurt no man designed,
And no man claimed the conquest of your land.
But gropers both through fields of thought confined
We stumble and we do not understand.
You only saw your future bigly planned,
And we, the tapering paths of our own mind,
And in each other’s dearest ways we stand,
And hiss and hate. And the blind fight the blind.

When it is peace, then we may view again
With new-won eyes each other’s truer form
And wonder. Grown more loving-kind and warm
We’ll grasp firm hands and laugh at the old pain,
When it is peace. But until peace, the storm
The darkness and the thunder and the rain.

– Charles Hamilton Sorely

Charles Hamilton Sorley was born in Aberdeen in 1894. He was the son of a professor of moral philosophy at Aberdeen University.  When the First World War was declared in August 1914, Sorley enlisted in the British Army. He joined the Suffolk Regiment and after several months training he became Lieutenant Sorly was sent to the Western Front. Sorley arrived in France in May 1915 and after three months was promoted to captain. He was killed by a sniper at the Battle of Loos on October 13, 1915, leaving just thirty-seven poems completed. Sorley’s posthumously published book, Marlborough and Other Poems was as popular and critical success when it was published in 1916. [A more comprehensive bio is provided by the Poetry Foundation HERE.]

Photo credit ~ Charles Hamilton Sorely dated c. 1914/1915. The photo was first published in 1918. The poems came out in 1919 and are excerpts from Marlborough and Other Poems by Charles Hamilton SorelyYou can read the entire book on or download it from Internet Archives HERE.