A Hunger for Bone, a poem . . . and your Wednesday Writing Prompt

For Ann who died of a rare cancer of the bone and for Mary Kate who chose the day and the way.



A Hunger for Bone

we scattered your relics, charred bone
blithe spirit, to be rocked by waves,
to be rocked into yourself, the rhythm
enchanting you with sapphire spume,
sighs merging your poetry with the ether,
rending our hearts of their shivered memories,
shattering the ocean floor with your dreams
lost in lapping lazuli tides, dependable ~
relief perhaps after pain-swollen years of
suckle on the shards of a capricious grace

those last weeks …
your restless sleeps disrupted by
medical monitors, their metallic pings
not unlike meditation bells calling to you,
bringing you to presence and contemplation,
while bags hung as prayer-flags on a zephyr,
fusing blood, salt, water
into collapsing veins, bleeding-out
under skin, yellowing and puce-stained,
fetid air filled, we came not with chant,
but the breath of love, we tumbled in
one-by-one to stand by you

to stand by you
when death arrived

and it arrived in sound, not in stealth,
broadcasting its jaundiced entrance
i am here, death bellowed on morphine
in slow drip, i am here death shouted,
offering tape to secure tubing, handing
you a standard-issue gown, oversized –
in washed-out blue, for your last journey
under the cold pale of fluorescent light

far from the evergreen life of your redwood forest,
eager and greedy, death snatched
your jazzy PJs, your bling and pedicures,
your journals and pens, your computer and
cat, death tried your dignity and identity
not quickly, no … in a tedious hospital bed,
extending torment, its rough tongue salting
your wounds, death’s hungering, a hunger
for bones, your frail white bones –
but you, in your last exercise of will, thwarted death,
bequeathing your bones to the living sea

 – for Ann Emerson, treasured friend and San Francisco Bay Area poet

© 2013, poem, Jamie Dedes, All rights reserved 

A Tiny Froth of Smile and Grumble

You floated into our lives ~

an autumn leaf
edged in gold,
a tiny froth
of smile and grumble,
a lifetime
of grit and grizzle

Your mind over-larded
lost
……in the never-land
……of ninety years

such a small body
……such pain

So bravely, little autumn leaf
….you chose
………the wind
…………….on which to slip away,
…..leaving us
the emptiness of your chair
and our wistful hearts

– for Mary Kate, elderly friend and treasured role model

© 2017, poem, Jamie Dedes, All rights reserved

WEDNESDAY WRITING PROMPT

Sometimes we deny the truth that we are all living with dying. The reality may hit us with the death of a friend, a sibling, a parent, a school mate. The more fortunate, like my elderly friend Mary Kate who faced it head-on and chose to stop eating, go peacefully, but for others like my painfully ill friend Ann, my sister who committed suicide, and my mother who feared God’s judgement, that final peace is hard-earned. Tell us about your own experience and thoughts of living with dying. Serious stuff, I know, but part of life.

Leave your poem/s or a link to it/them in the comments section below. All poems shared on theme will be published here next Tuesday. You are encouraged to join in no matter the status of your career: novice, emerging or pro. You have until Monday evening, May 7 at 8:00 pm PDT to respond.

If this is your first time participating in Wednesday Writing Prompt, please send a short bio (NOT your poetry) and a photograph to thepoetbyday@gmail.com.  These are always published for new contributors by way of introduction.

Thank you! 🙂


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26 thoughts on “A Hunger for Bone, a poem . . . and your Wednesday Writing Prompt

  1. Hello, Jamie.

    I found this poem through WP Reader and wanted to say I love the lines “when death arrived/and it arrived in sound, not in stealth.” That’s a poem in itself.

    Looks like you have a neat project and web community going on here too.

    Thanks,
    Katie

    Liked by 1 person

  2. .he wanted a garden.

    have you collected seeds of many years, packed, labelled, dated.

    have you died, and left the table unprepared. i have them now in boxes, a gift.

    from those who love. they will bring me work, joy, an independent air.

    seeds need water.

    sun stays later.

    i have imposter syndrome, never diagnosed yet googled when heard on radio live .

    there may be too many additives these days not enough honesty grown.

    she said i should have something new in the greenhouse.

    i have, i said, and thought of you who

    planted the seeds.

    sbm

    Liked by 1 person

  3. .. old blanket ..

    I watch the blanket breathe,
    hope it will never stop.

    white, cellular, keeping warm,
    the one I love, so vehemently.

    scares me, this intensity of feeling,
    that never stops,

    and continues when the blanket lays quiet……

    sbm.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. My first response Jamie :

    #His dying footsteps #

    Snowfall churned the wind
    Gone through his ashes
    I called him
    None answered
    The ridges through back the echoes
    Of his dying footsteps
    A balefire lighted in
    That heath
    Recalled his funeral
    His white visage
    Shivered fingers
    Languid cheeks
    Still stare at me
    Awaiting for the
    Undesirable last breath
    On his steadfast .
    © Kakali Das Ghosh

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Hi Jamie, your prompt was the spur I needed to finish this poem about my mother’s death in 2011.

    In your sleep

    After paramedics found you
    I counted lost hours
    you’d spent alone
    becoming-so it seemed-
    more and more dead
    as the sun rose,
    curtains stayed closed
    and your telephone rang and rang.

    A nurse would have seen
    blue lips, felt no pulse,
    pulled the emergency cord
    but you refused another
    hospital stay, worn out,
    at ninety, by the chafe
    of cannulas, sticking plasters,
    starched white linen.

    You slept, one final night,
    in your own double bed;
    lay, pyjama-clad,
    beneath a brown blanket,
    the green quilt
    you still called an eiderdown
    and pink polyester sheets
    blush-bright on your body’s chill.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Hi Jamie,

    Here’s my fourth response’

    My Mam Is

    nothing if, not thorough.
    Victorian reminder on a wall
    full of telling aphorisms:

    What will the neighbours say?
    Our home shows us how
    we treat ourselves.
    Buff away grey clouds,

    bring out the blue, make every
    wood bell, crocus, daffodil
    open their flowers today,
    place a spruced up nest

    for every chaffinch, green
    and goldfinch, blackbird, dove.
    Open all windows to “freshen”.
    Clean outside and in,

    see yourself without smears.
    Tidy the memory home.
    If you can see a job needs doing,
    then do it. Why leave till tomorrow,

    something that needs doing today?
    Empty every drawer,
    cupboard, wardrobe, surface,
    scrub them clean, let spiders scurry off.

    Launder, dry on the line winter’s
    sombre deep cottons and woollens,
    neatly fold away, in freshly
    lavendered drawers.

    It shows you respect yourself.
    Rinse every item
    of crockery, cutlery,
    some unused for years.

    Return them to scoured drawers.
    Burnish copper ornaments,
    delicately brush capodimonte

    figures, feather dust top of doors,
    skirting boards, deweb high corners,
    Shine gas fire with Brasso. Polish
    tables and furniture with Rosewood

    or Lavender Pledge, all furniture pushed
    into centre of rooms, to vacuum.
    A person is what they do,
    not what they say they will do.

    Decant bookshelves,
    every book cover cleaned.
    Roll up, sling over washing line,
    slap and beat dust out of all

    rugs and doormats. Strip beds,
    turn mattresses, air sheets.
    It’s a warm spring day.
    A clean home is a clean soul.

    Bleach bath, sinks.
    Glister chrome taps. Blue toilet.
    Fragrance bathroom with Lemon.
    Defrost fridge, full milk

    bottles in a sink of cold water.
    Unload and brush out garage,
    vacuum Datsun Estate outside and in.
    Weed patio and border, cut

    straggly grass for first time this year.
    Black bag food beyond sell by dates,
    or out of fashion.
    Likewise, shine your shoes,

    pick bits off clothes,
    straighten your skirt, tie,
    tighten your belt.
    A smart person is a smart mind.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Hi Jamie,

    Here is my third response:

    I Watch Athletics With My Mam

    All house mirrors have been removed.
    I sit on her soft bed, rest an arm
    on a spare pillow. Mum’s pillows

    stacked behind her as we watch a
    tv placed where her dress mirror stood.
    Once she cried as her hair fell out.
    She cried as she gained each pound weight

    because she takes the chemicals
    to stop her dying, stop the spread.
    Once she was ‘petite’, now Mum’s fat
    jowls, bingo wings slop on the bed.

    Together we watch lithe bodies,
    sharp muscle tone dash for the end.
    Her home is spotless, a show home.
    Every day we polish, scrub,

    vacuum, she wants it welcoming.
    She nods off half way through the
    100 metres, I soft clap
    the winner as she would have done.

    I remember good times, and smile
    at her laughter, gleam in her eyes
    when she sees another winner
    dash over the race finish line.

    Meanwhile, she looks forward to Oakwell,
    a new fan of Barnsley FC.
    I never go as I don’t like
    football, regret my selfishness

    and time not enjoying her life.
    She will sit in her hired wheelchair
    yell and clap at their confidence,
    vitality, their will to win.

    Note: Mum died of cancer in 1997

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Here is another one, Jamie.

    the skull of her son

    it took a year for dna confirmation.
    there were a scattering of bones
    and a skull
    missing the lower mandible.

    the county called her
    and she came down
    from the high country
    and at her request
    they showed her
    her son’s remains.

    soundlessly weeping, smiling,
    she carefully lifted
    the bleached brainpan
    and looked into the sockets
    of the skull of her son.
    she ran her finger over
    the smooth cool top
    and murmured his name.
    she kissed her finger
    and pressed it gently
    against the skull-top.

    she wanted the bones as is
    but the law of the land said no.
    they cremated
    the sun-sterilized bones
    and gave her the ash-filled urn.

    she was astonished
    at how heavy it was.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. turnstile

    as my friend tom
    grappled with another uncle’s succumb
    to heart diease
    he emailed an assertion
    i will not forget:
    “we’re all chunking up
    to the turnstile.”

    as my friend jeff
    composed his last message,
    and anti-seizure medication
    did its eldrich thing,
    on many screens in many homes
    a horribly cheery woman’s voice
    told listeners that use of this medication
    may lead to suicidal thoughts
    or actions.

    as another day meets its midnight turnstile
    the probability that turnstile day
    for me
    is imminent
    is incrementally higher than it was
    24 hours prior,

    but i am not a bit more ready.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. Love the two poems, so poignant and heart-felt. Also, I love the combination of words that make them so musical like the waves of the ocean carrying Ann Emerson’s bones. Although pain is expressed there is some quietness and feeling of peace. I think you have been able to make a reader like me (and I hope many others too) feel the pain not physically but emotionally. I once made an attempt to write a poem also about how to accompany a beloved person to the Other World and thus make the trespassing with serenity and lots, lots of love: https://momentsbloc.wordpress.com/2016/06/14/last-moments/

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Hi Jamie,

    Here’s my second response:

    Her Fur Elise

    I awake to Beethoven as Mam taps the upright
    piano downstairs in the through lounge

    where morning light highlights dark brown dining table
    And varnished coffee table both polished

    with Pledge until you see yourself. Later
    chemo will make her petite fingers fat,

    Fur Elise break into fragments as disease progresses
    and piano sold as her hands come to rest.

    ***

    She covered the piano with Laura Ashley
    wallpaper off cuts from doing the walls.

    As I unclamp one of my late sisters trapped Chinchillas, free its feet from the piano mechanism it bites deep.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Hi Jamie,

    Here’s my first response:

    Sister’s Life

    An evangelical church at seventeen
    who say they will decide
    what boyfriends she can have,
    and when she can see them.

    A clairvoyant who tells her at twenty-two:
    “Your husband will be military,
    you will have two children,
    your spirit guide is a Native American Indian.”

    A son and daughter with her Army husband.
    He tries to control her need at twenty-four
    to sell the kid’s unwanted toys,
    have a life outside her home.

    Carboot sales where she enjoys the buzz
    and money selling at twenty-six,
    kids in tow, a profit and loss,
    a hope after she divorces him.

    A Native American Indian spirit guide
    at the foot of her bed at thirty
    tells her “You will die young,
    and join your hankered mam in afterlife.”

    A nail in her tyre, or over the limit
    after celebrating at thirty-five
    her employee’s twentieth birthday,
    her car turns over on a hard shoulder.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Sonja, can’t access this one either with the link. Not sure what’s wrong. Need this one in comments as well. Thanks … and thanks as always for sharing and participation.

      Like

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