to stay or leave, a poem

to stay or leave . . .
the tension hurts our hearts as she,
frenzied and naked, prowls the dense night,
shifting from palpable dark to a fragile light,
driving to and fro along State Route 84, she
smothers terror with a diet of lattes and sweets

she’s on the run, carrying talismans in a bag,
small figurines of angels, Quan Yin, Buddha . . .
to stay or leave … as if the choice was hers –
her posture is bravado; ‘bite me,’ she says –
‘i’m not afraid to die,’ pain-wracked and dizzy,
her bones under siege; grasping, she’s consumed –
imagines safe harbor in Home Shopping Network
……………THINGS, anyTHING!
clutching at life in the inexorable face of death

© 2017, poem and photograph, Jamie Dedes, All rights reserved


The recommended read for this week is Elizabeth Bishop: A Miracle for Breakfast by Pulitzer Prize winning Megan Marshall who studied with Bishop at Harvard. This biography is richly spun,  energetic, engaging and even inspirational despite the breathtaking depth of Bishop’s losses, her sense of marginalization and her head-long push into alcoholism. Indeed, some of the inspiration comes because with all her loses, Bishop managed to hold poetry tight. Her poems were for her a charm “against the loneliness they often expressed.” The book covers Bishop’s relationships with other poets and her romantic interests, the last was for me the singular wearisome downside, much overrided though by the book’s pleasures and values. It is laced with Marshall’s own stories and together the lives of these two bare witness to the power of words to give shape, sense and meaning to life. We come away with a strong sense of Elizabeth Bishop, one of America’s most extraordinary poets. A page-turner. A must read or everyone who loves and writes poetry.

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