We flew along the freeway yesterday under
a cold coastal expanse of cerulean ceiling.
It reminded me of you and how we dusted
the vaults of our minds to rid them of fear
and the old lexicons of grief and guilt, the
whalebone girdles of unfounded faith and
common conventions, saccharine and sticky.
I thought of that one sea-green day we spent
under just such a sky in a land far away and
how we changed your name then, reframed
your story to tell of hope and not despair.
You sketched flowers blossoming in the dust
of a spring that promised but never delivered.
Now we don’t speak of men but of cats with
their custom of keeping heart and claws intact.
We tell ourselves stories in rhythms that resound
in deep sleep. Soon now the ancient calls to
feral festivals will still and the time’s arrived when
our only play is in the margins, fate hanging
from our skeletons like Spanish moss on old oak.
It pleases me that life’s passage spins into poemed reliquary and
a memory of the pink peau de soie I wore to your prom that June.
© 2017, prompt, poem and photograph, Jamie Dedes, All rights reserved
This particular poem was inspired by the memory of a day when my high school boy friend and I went from Brooklyn to Staten Island and found a obsure Tibetan monestary in the hills there. The monks were kind (and I suspect patient) and showed us their flower and vegetable gardens and an old well-loved version of the Book of the Dead. This later was most intriguing to us: a Catholic and a Jew steeped in their respective traditions.
We were young and cock sure and probably our own deaths seemed more hypothetical than real; but we speculated on Buddhism from our positions of profound ignorance. In its way, it was a good exercise. It made us begin to seriously examine the received wisdom of our traditions. For me it was the beginning of an adventure that was to last a lifetime. I did leave behind the grief, guilt and superstition; but here were some aspects of the tradition of my childhood for which I gained a respect that probably never would have evolved without examination.
What about you? What were the beliefs and enthusiasms of your youth? How have these (religious or not) been modified over time? Tell us in a poem or short creative nonfiction. If you are comfortable, leave the piece in the comments section below or a link to it so that I and others might enjoy it. Thank you!
The recommended read for this week for children, Pizza, Pigs and Poetry: How to Write a Poem by Jack Prelutsky, named the nation’s first Children’s Poet Laureate by the Poetry Foundation.
Pizza, Pigs and Poetry, How to Write a Poem is ideal for children grades 3-6. He engages by sharing funny stories, light poems and creative technique, not forms. This seems entirely perfect for encouraging – not discouraging – this age group. Fun and funny Pizza, Pigs and Poetry would make great summer reading – and writing – and is perfect for a birthday gift or a gift for some other occasion.
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