Zhuangzi Dreaming of a Butterfly, Ming dynasty, mid-Sixteeth Century – ink on silk

A Man sleeping …
A Butterfly flitting… 
Zhuangzi, dreamer of Butterfly,
ponders what joy there might be
in that tiny Butterfly brain

so subtle

too subtle to be perceived by I or eye

Is he dreaming me? Zhuangzi asks.
Imagine the Universe thus engaged.


a Cosmic Belly Laugh 

Ho! Ho!

Then Zhuangzi knows: He is silent,
flitting from flower to flower in eternal spring.

coming and going, going and coming

This is called the Transformation of Things.

©2011, Jamie Dedes


Zhuangzi dreaming a butterlfy, a butterfly dreaming of Zhuangzi

Zhuangzi dreaming of a butterlfy; a butterfly dreaming of Zhuangzi

I love this allegory from The Book of Zhuangzi, one of the two greatest books of the Chinese mystical Tao. (The other book is the I Ching.) The allegory is about chi (qi), the energy of creation, which some might call God. 

Write and share with us a poem or poems that illustrates your experience with or perception of transformation. It does not have to be related to religious or spiritual allegory unless that is what calls to you.

Share your poem/s on theme or a link to it/them in the comments section below.

All poems shared on theme will be published next Tuesday. Please do NOT email your poem to me or leave it on Facebook. If you do it’s likely I’ll miss it or not see it in time.

IF this is your first time participating in The Poet by Day, Wednesday Writing Prompt, please send a brief bio and photo to me at thepoetbyday@gmail.com in order to introduce yourself to the community … and to me :-).  These will be partnered with your poem/s on first publication.

Deadline:  Monday, July 2 at 8 p.m. PDT.

Anyone may take part Wednesday Writing Prompt, no matter the status of your career: novice, emerging or pro.  It’s about exercising the poetic muscle, sharing your work, and getting to know other poets who might be new to you. This is a discerning nonjudgemental place to connect.

Illustration credits: first illustration courtesy of Lu Zui and in the public domain/ second illustration courtesy of About Qigong.



  1. I have not been responding to your prompts but this one caught my eye with the forever changing weather here. Hope you are well and I enjoyed your poem.

    The Usher

    The wind bears no animosity
    nor is it fickle

    as appearances
    are always in flux

    though transformative it will be
    ushering in both life
    and death

    for the Anemoi brings forth
    all seasons
    in turn

    where one day the breadth of it
    blows clear the darkest clouds

    emanating life giving sun
    sweet scented

    the next morn could bring
    a stillness of breath
    pollution a miasma
    of death

    yet still always ushering in
    tempests and squalls
    a familiar to rain

    leaving a swath of destruction
    to change yet again
    with the softest
    of breezes

    that seem to settle within
    touching, reflecting
    life’s gentle

    Anemoi the gods of wind
    are the ushers of change
    a transformative

    © July 2018 Renee Espriu

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The Ultimate Transformation

    Seniors captured by time
    now prisoners in a body
    no longer in sync with the mind…
    A body transformed
    through ages and stages
    forming the persona that resides within…
    That persona forever in search of new dominions
    living out dreams and schemes
    reaching heights of happiness
    encompassed by depths of despair…

    The body grows weary
    eyesight becomes dim and bleary
    days flee as hearing fades…
    The bones no longer dancing
    to the rhythm of the heart…
    The bones captivated by a falling star
    shoot through the galaxy
    with a proclamation
    announcing a new soul ready
    for the ultimate transformation…

    Liked by 1 person

  3. My second contribution, first published two years ago in Ben Barnyard’s webzine Clear Poetry

    The Shell

    Yours was the first corpse I’d seen
    though I wince at the word: harsh,

    impersonal, which in a way it was
    when I stood in the Viewing Room

    that midwinter morning, half-afraid
    to kiss you, say a final goodbye.

    I recognized you at once, pleased
    they hadn’t lacquered drifts of white

    hair, replaced pink pyjamas and cardi.
    But your arctic face chilled my lip

    and I knew if I knelt close, pressed
    the curl of my ear against your breast

    I’d hear no crash of waves trawling
    the coral and driftwood of ninety years,

    no echoes of a gushing, hushing ocean
    scooping your sacred breath in its tide,

    turning at the moon’s far rim where
    your soul left its shell and took flight.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I enjoyed writing this, Jamie, thanks for the prompt.


    How would it feel
    to be you, green
    and generous fern,
    spores wind-lifted
    last winter, rehomed
    in my garden’s earth?

    In July’s humid heat
    I hanker to slip
    from my carapace,
    shrink beside ribbons
    of grass, mingle with
    star-trails of ivy.

    Would I sense
    my uncoiling,
    my spearing upward,
    fanning outwards,
    filling spaces
    of air and light?

    Would I hold
    in my spores, dream
    ancient forests where
    ferns swayed billions
    of years ago,

    grew tall, wide,
    helped shape
    the landscape?
    Patterns repeating.
    Images imprinting.
    Fossils in rock.

    Fern, you’ll outlive
    my flesh and bone.
    I high-five
    your nearest frond.
    Sun warms
    your silent nod.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Constant Change

    Everything you are made of begins
    in a gigantic transition
    as universe explodes into being
    stardust becomes everything
    transformation begets you,
    your sister, your cat, the bees,
    the tree, stones, water,
    so: stop. Cease all striving.
    Stop all struggle. Breathe: in, out,
    like a butterfly coming and going,
    to this flower, that flower.
    Rest. Stay in this tender space. Before
    you know it, without aid of will or anxiety,
    you arrive in a new place
    the right place, just the right
    place. No harm will come to you
    as your divine self
    slides gently into that personalized
    pocket on the overalls
    of The Universe of Now.

    Because what can we do but laugh?
    Because what can we do but laugh?
    Because what can we do?
    Because what?

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Hi Jamie,

    Here’s my fourth response:

    Biddy To A Young God

    You have planted fresh
    delight in these eyes
    that sprout visions again
    as when I was a young girl.

    You have breathed
    through my cold embers
    and stroked warmth
    into this thin skin.

    My face has plumpness
    and reddens
    as your hands find flesh
    for my angled skull.

    My limbs no longer bare
    begin to dress themselves
    with buds and colour
    for your lustful eyes.

    Perhaps these changes
    are only in your eyes,
    and this puddle reflection
    may be false, a false Spring.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Hi Jamie,

    My third response:

    Lass Is Stone

    Spunk sees Cruel lass from afar
    gobsmacked by her looks
    he gets smitten hard
    and determines she’ll be hooked

    Asks her mates for her mobile number,
    and all her social media pages,
    scours internet for details,
    winds himself up in rages.

    Gets his message through once
    or twice but she mocks him
    ” Fancy me. You do right. I’m gorgeous”
    and promptly blocks him.

    Finds her home and knocks
    and her Dad answers and says
    “She don’t want to know, son.
    Thinks your a stalker. Away!”

    Writes his first letter and posts
    it personally through her door,
    it tells her she’s won and he’ll be gone
    she can celebrate and more

    she can see him lose his life
    which is all he has left for her.
    Cruel scoffs at this but goes along
    for the crack and laughter.

    She sees him throw a rope
    already knotted around a beam
    put his neck in the noose
    and let out a scarifying scream.

    Then she feels herself harden
    stone thoughts
    stone mouth
    stone neck
    stone chest
    stone limbs
    stone heart

    calcified flesh and bone
    a statue.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Hi Jamie,

    Here’s my second:

    a became a river

    One day atta work,
    a goes for a skinny dip
    in a quiet stream
    a knows

    Unbeknownst to me stream
    were a lad called Whitey or Gain
    and he falls for us.

    A flits naked from his wattas
    an he changes into a fella
    an chases atta us.

    I ran until am cryin’
    an shartin fo help

    r boss covers me in a cloud,

    but Whitey, waits watches
    where ma wet footprints

    Am so afraid break art
    in a cold sweat pouring
    off of me a becomes a river.

    Whitey changes to watta
    an mingles wi us.

    (From my “The Headpoke And Firewedding” , Alien Buddha Press, 2017)

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Hi Jamie, my first response:

    The Gift

    A small dark shape on kitchen tile
    Stared at by our cat,

    Move closer, it is a sparrow bairn,
    Chest balloons out as my sigh releases.

    Scooped up, as I take it out to the garden
    It stands on the scoop.

    Over the fence our neighbour stands hunched
    in dark tears “My mam won’t be coming out of hospital”

    My breath caught.
    The sparrow flies away.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I like this very much, reminds me of a poem I wrote a few years ago about the time after my Dad’s death .Would you mind if I sent you a copy of the poem or posted it up here?

      Liked by 2 people

            1. Thanks Jamie,yes,I was responding to Paul’s comment but I’ll email the poem to you and you can both read it!

              Liked by 1 person

  10. my offering – sometimes transformation is not a beautiful process, but hard won

    Once Upon a Time

    Working with children is what I said I would do
    Eight years of higher education said I was ready
    Children from poverty, neglect, abuse
    I’d create safety to help calm the unsteady

    of their worlds where parents weren’t there –
    out searching for something to calm their addictions
    leaving the young ones abandoned and scared
    easy to make that outcome prediction

    I’ll work with the children and not the abusers –
    the parents, their friends, whoever committed
    these horrible acts – I am the accuser
    and judge and jury – against them I’m pitted

    ’til I heard their stories of their own horror
    and I realized abused children grow up
    without anyone being their restorer
    to sanity and filling their self worth cup

    imitating was all they could know
    trying to be different had no guide
    resulting in return to the old ways, though
    reassured them of something to hold on inside

    so I’ll work with the children and just their families
    but I can’t get involved in all the systems
    that confuse and contribute their own brutalities
    often retraumatizing rather than helping the victims

    But who am I kidding when I say I will not
    it’s all so related – system, child, family
    there’s no way to separate it all out
    that is what I’ve come to see

    So whoever you are, whatever’s been done
    I know there’s much to your history
    No one has to go it alone
    who can judge your journey – certainly not me.

    deb y felio

    Liked by 1 person

  11. A poem I wrote earlier this spring seems to fit.

    The Other World

    At eighteen, I stepped into the other world,
    the one that sounds fantastical but is not.
    Drainage pond at the bottom of a hill on campus,
    behind it a small straggle of winter woods,
    beyond that, a path towards the sports fields.
    Grass still green in the mild mid-Atlantic,
    twiggy dried milkweed standing and fallen.
    Plain as plain, just hidden, just waste.
    An ordinary afternoon, and I felt surfeited with reading;
    walking down the hill, I cast away my mind.
    At the water’s edge I looked at the surface;
    the water looked back at me. The world had eyes:
    perceived me as I perceived it, all the same.
    The bare treetops in the distance moved in my arms.
    I felt the cawing of the crows that rose inside my chest.
    But no crows there, no chest here, only that cawing,
    that burning and empty annunciation
    of how we too are the shine in the tufts of the cracked pods,
    falling and lifted in the wind through everything.
    All of this I could see, while I rubbed my eyes,
    as if to dislodge a film that was not there.
    This happened. I was a freshman, with no one to tell.
    Why do we seek imagined worlds? We know nothing
    of what is real, how wondrous and complete.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. After Reading How Poets Often Die, I Do Hesitate to Read
    Ou Yang Hsiu’s “Reading the Poems of an Absent Friend”

    Some old poet friends are not dead
    Yet. One even lives exiled in far
    Away Japan. Perhaps I’ll disappear
    As I’m too old to be discovered
    By any up and coming new
    Lit clique. What part of friends
    Stays in the sublime end of my
    Old mind? Sometimes when I read
    They’ve died I’d just as soon
    Close the blinds and stay reclined.
    Most all stayed up all night
    Just to finish their new lines.
    Now they’ve got their good books.
    I do hate reading what they’ve
    Spent their whole lives on
    And I hate it that they’re gone.
    Sometimes I have not written all
    Year and when I do I know it’s
    Nothing more than old oatmeal.
    It’s incredible how long I’ve
    Been drawn to this poetry life
    And how often I can’t even
    Find a word or two to make
    Anew, and wonder, who turned
    My brain into yummy worms?
    Once I found an old Pole’s
    Book of lines, left the day
    For nothing else except to turn
    More pages all the way to night.
    I never am too keen to
    Reread some old medieval
    Gore but I could pick out
    Any poem and think it’s
    Something quite new. I wish
    I knew what poets do.
    Most men wouldn’t be caught
    Dead writing with short lines
    Would rather count the scores
    Of grown men running plays.
    I told my wife the other day
    How long I’ve been devoted
    To this quiet task of digging
    Through what I already knew.
    So if I could I’d just sit
    Right here in our red room
    And gaze outside to find
    What brings such joy inside.
    In fact I’d take my old dead
    poet friends, and a few lines
    made last night, catch the next
    starry ride right out of here.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. Beautiful poem, Jamie. Love this: “Then Zhuangzi knows: He is silent,/ flitting from flower to flower in eternal spring.” Also, I like this double rhyme: “by I or eye” and the ending is very powerful with the “coming and going/ going and coming” that perfectly reflects the cycle of life with its various transformations.

    Yesterday I posted this poem plus its dancing video as transformations:

    Liked by 1 person

Thank you!

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