Turning Pain Into Beauty … Deena Metzger, a triumph of tattoo and poetry over mastectomy

c Jamie Dedes

My mom had her first mastectomy in 1949 when she was pregnant with me.  Things were different then. Mom and her contemporaries had no support after mastectomy. They had the surgery, were sent to get fitted for prostheses … and that was that. There were no hospital or clinic classes in art and poetry for healing. There were no support groups, no talk therapy. Perhaps worst of all, there was no privacy about medical records. My mother actually turned down a promising job opportunity because the firm’s board members wanted to review her medical records before hire.

Things have improved since Mom’s day, thank goodness. Privacy and rights are better protected. There’s patient support available before, during and after mastectomy. There are more options after recovery then chosing between having or not having prostheses. I’m artsy enough myself, I guess, that I love – and am touched – that some women choose to cover their scars with gorgeous, colorful and creative designs like the one below, which triggered this post. Allegedly Facebook kept taking this photograph down, seeing it as offensive. Who knows? Maybe they do. Maybe they don’t. I can’t image why they would. This is a brave and beautiful thing. There’s nothing obscene about it.

Tattoos over breast-surgery scars started – as far as I know – with a poet and writer, Deena Metzger:

c photo by Hella Hammid
c photo by Hella Hammid

Deena (b. 1936), the proud Amazon. This photograph of her is iconic and became – with the addition of the verse below – “The Poster,” which was designed by Sheila Levrant de Bretteville.

I am no longer afraid of mirrors where I see the sign of the amazon, the one who shoots arrows.
There was a fine red line across my chest where a knife entered,
but now a branch winds about the scar and travels from arm to heart.
Green leaves cover the branch, grapes hang there and a bird appears.
What grows in me now is vital and does not cause me harm. I think the bird is singing.
I have relinquished some of the scars.
I have designed my chest with the care given to an illuminated manuscript.
I am no longer ashamed to make love. Love is a battle I can win.
I have the body of a warrior who does not kill or wound.
On the book of my body, I have permanently inscribed a tree.

© Deena Metzger

If The Poster had come out when my mother was alive, I’d have bought it and had it framed for her.


Deena Metzger is a American writer and poet, essayist and screenwriter, an advocate and counselor. Her book Writing for Your Life: A Guide and Companion to the Inner World (Harper One, 1992), is ideally suited for those of us who see writing as a spiritual practice. Her website is HERE.

Appropo our upcoming June issue of The BeZine, I particularly appreciate Deena’s essay, The Language and Literature of Restoration..  I think the quotation (below) is relevant to our concerns for our earthly environment, which is the focus of the June issue.  Deena is holding us – lovers of nature, writers, poets,  and lovers of the arts – accountable for our part in what comes next, extinction or survival.

“Extinction stalks us. Not an act of God, but a consequence of how we have chosen to live our lives. Such choices are handed to us by language and literature. Literature that is reduced to media, obsessed with violence, conflict, sensationalism, nationalism and speciesism. We are each responsible – we participate – no exceptions. The antidote for extinction is restoration. Languages and literatures that lead toward restoration are essential. So we have to try ….” MORE

Note: The BeZine is a publication of The Bardo Group Beguines.

© 2016, words and mother/daughter photograph, Jamie Dedes, All rights reserved; © Deena’s photograph and poem Deena Metzger.

“THE BeZINE” CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS thebezine.com is open for the upcoming June edition to be published on June 15, deadline June 10. This is an entirely volunteer effort, a mission. We are unable to pay contributors but neither do we charge for submissions or subscriptions. The theme is sustainability. We publish poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, feature articles, art and photography, and music videos and will consider anything that lends itself to online posting. There are no demographic restrictions. We do not publish work that promotes hatred or advocates for violence. All such will be immediately rejected. We’d like to see work that doesn’t just point to problems but that suggests solutions. We are also interested in initiatives happening in your community – no matter where in the world – that might be easily picked up by other communities. Please forward your submissions to bardogroup@gmail.com No odd formatting. Submit work in the body of your email along with a BRIEF bio. Work submitted via Facebook or message will not be considered for publication. We encourage you to submit work in your first language, but it must be accompanied by translation into English.

– Jamie Dedes 

The Annoyance of Flies … and other poetic responses to the last Wednesday Writing Prompt

Once upon a time at the San Mateo Country Fair Grounds

Who Has Seen the Wind?

Who has seen the wind:
Neither I nor you.
But when the leaves hang trembling,
The wind is passing through.
Who has seen the wind?
Neither you nor I.
But when the trees bow down their heads,
The wind is passing by.

– Christina Rossetti, The Complete Poems (Penguin Classics)

The last Wednesday Writing Prompt, Foraging for Blackberries, May 8 was a call to write about observations of climate change. It’s a timely topic in a sadly constant way.  Gary W. Bowers, mm brazfield, Paul Brookes, Irma Do, deb y felio (Deb Felio), Jen Goldie, and Sonja Benskin Mesher have risen to the occasion and deliver a conscious compilation. 

Readers will note links to sites if available are included that you might visit these stellar poets. The links for contributors are always connected to their blogs or websites NOT to specific poems. If the poets have no sites, there’s a good chance you can connect with them on Facebook.

Do join us tomorrow for the next Wednesday Writing Prompt, whether you are a beginning poet, emerging or pro.  All are welcome – encouraged – to come out and play and to share your poems on theme. All poems on theme will be published here on the following Tuesday. You are also encouraged to share your work in your first language, but it must be accompanied by an English translation.


weather fickler
than a fratboy
teaser tickler
doff yer hatboy
pack maniacal
if you’d venture
through varietal
storm’s indenture

witch by threesome
micro coven
preheat gleesome
solar oven
then go breezy
cool and steady
due to easy
whorly eddy

species halving
oceans rising
ice sheets calving
ill advising
earth the icebox
earth the griddle
close the spice box
solve the riddle

© 2019, Gary W. Bowers (One With Clay, Image and Text)

As some of you know, Gary is multi-talented, combing visual art with poetry or prose narrative.  He is also a potter. A sample of his work is pictured here. Gary’s pottery is available for purchase.  Further details HERE. Note the business care. We appreciate Gary’s wry humor.ter. A sample of his work is pictured below. Gary’s pottery is available for purchase.  Further details HERE. Note the business card. We appreciate Gary’s wry humor.

Werdin Alley



the walls

are brick and

yet have witnessed many things

the stains of age are in the page

of the city’s palm the angels speak and demons kick out in laughter

i walk on thorns the books are long and i can’t see anything that breaks the spell of misery’s iron grasp

the worried sunrise comes and shines a light that fades into the cracks of time in the monuments to lethargic progress and flowers bloom in screens of doom and shots are too quickly taken

unlike Tokpella this alley way has finite space and we all walk in crippling slumber John Wayne won’t get me here

amongst this man made thunder the blood is thin and made of ashes

as i lay the east escapes from me

Pahana you are over due

canyons fell down

life out



© 2019, mm brazfield (Words Less Spoken)

The Cost Is Prohibitive

to refreeze the poles,
bury carbon dioxide beneath the oceans,

to save our fellow animals extinction,
the death of insects.

We have to watch the pennies
to manage this extinction event.

The cost will be too high.
We could bankrupt ourselves
to save the earth.

Is it worth becoming paupers
to save this planet?

Count the pennies in your purse.
Count the lives in your hands.

© 2019, Paul Brookes (The Wombwell Rainbow / Inspiration. History. Imagination.)

The Annoyance Of Flies

Is the thing I miss most.
A buzz of irritation landing
Like a single tickle
On the skin,
Not even a continuous tickle
Then the awful thought of where
It landed last where it accumulated
Potential disease so you swat,
And it returns and returns
Till now when it never returns.
And spiders die, birds die.
Never to return. The annoyance
Of things that will never return.

© 2019, Paul Brookes (The Wombwell Rainbow / Inspiration. History. Imagination.)

Your Damned Anthropocene

“We are as gods and might as well get good at it.”
as Stewart Brand said, and you agreed.

O, your presumption did not account
for the delicacy of flesh and bone,
the death wish of the human soul,
even in this supposed transhuman age.

You had an impact on my future,
I’m not sure I forgive you.
There is your clear signature
in the fossil record , an observable
sudden decline

in the abundance and diversity of plant
and animal life. Perhaps we should
define your time from here.

Did it start when we traced your pulse
at the start of the Industrial Revolution?
Your carbon-dioxide pulse that underlay
what you thought was global warming.

O, your dreams to guide mankind towards global,
sustainable, environmental management.
How could you see
the juggernaut was unstoppable?

And as we move our minds
from this body to that,
we do not lose the terrors of being lost,
the night sweats of our own death.

From Paul’s collection The Spermbot Blues (Oppress, 2017)

© 2019, Paul Brookes (The Wombwell Rainbow / Inspiration. History. Imagination.)

Prolific Yorkshire Poet, Paul Brookes

FYI: Paul Brookes, a stalwart participant in The Poet by Day Wednesday Writing Prompt, is running an ongoing series on poets, Wombwell Rainbow Interviews. Connect with Paul if you’d like to be considered for an interview. Visit him, enjoy the interviews, get introduced to some poets who may be new to you, and learn a few things.

The Wombwell Rainbow Interviews: Jamie Dedes

  • Paul’s Amazon Page U.S. HERE
  • Paul’s Amazon Page U.K. HERE

More poems by Paul at Michael Dickel’s Meta/ Phore(e) /Play

Climate Schlimate

Animals dying
Habitats going
To pot
The ice is melting
Oceans are rising
It’s hot
Countries are drowning
Yet people thirsting
For what?

Science believing
Your eyes deceiving?
It’s not
Deniers lying
Oh so frustrating
The lot
Stories need sleuthing
Do some researching
A thought!

Our earth is crying
Who here is trying
To stop
Cars keep polluting
Factories spewing
The rot
More than recycling
Money resolving

Now what’s our ending?
The land needs tending
We ought
Who are we saving?
People not caring
They’re taught
World’s for the taking
No one is sharing

Another Lai Poem, this one written for Jamie’s Wednesday Writing Prompt at The Poet by Day. Her request: What are your everyday observations of the fallout from climate change. Or, maybe you don’t think climate change is for real. Tell us why.

I believe that climate change is happening at an alarmingly fast rate due to the negative impact of human consumption and disregard for conservation of our natural resources. We try to do our part to lessen our carbon footprint, however we can only do so much within the systems that don’t support this mission. For example, where we live they have stopped recycling paper except for cardboard, stopped recycling plastics and only recycle glass and metal. These recent changes have been due to China’s refusal to take garbage from the United States (read about it here, here, here and here).

Are we destined to become like the society in the movie “Wall-E”? As a mother, I do worry about the condition of this planet that my children will inherit. You would think that other parents/grandparents would feel similar however the prioritization of profits and a “not my problem” shortsighted attitude seems to derail this concern. At this point, if we don’t actively combat climate change, our future doesn’t seem that great.

©️2019, words and illustration, Irma Do (I Do Run, and I do a few other things too)

What is Climate

temperatures boil in hot headed shooters
caring ices in well financed legislators
floods pour into memorial services
droughts claim childhoods

man/woman/ somewhere in between

right/wrong/somewhere in between

family/stranger/somewhere in between

leaders/liars/ somewhere in between

freedom/fatality/ somewhere in between

protector/predator/ somewhere in between

school classroom/shooting gallery/ somewhere in between

future/funeral/ somewhere in between

climate change / everywhere

climate change / nowhere

climate change / always in between

© 2019, deb y felio (Writer’s Journey)

Letter to Bluejay

Peanuts no longer lure
your cries I used to hear,
I long to see your aquamarine,
your cerulean presence.
It is the time of year, yet
no elder firs, nor ancient
maple lure you back to nest.
Perhaps you’ve found
a cooler place to rest
with your cousin Cardinal.
P.S. they say:

© 2019, Jen Goldie (Jen Goldie and Starlight and Moonbeams … and the Occasional Cat )

.…early summer…

we noticed it that day and found it omninous.

february 2019

the sea is quiet as we have never seen it

sun as hot as it gets

like summer

they gloried in it

the bathers

the media

we watched

while the ice melted.

© 2019, Sonja Benskin Mesher

.. clearing the jungle..

google, i get pictures of the amazon and related places,

being scoured, and a dead

horses head.

he said that some are lying on their ages.

I expect sir if you were there, so would


the politician.

the jungle in calais.

© 2019, Sonja Benskin Mesher

                Photo Credit : Anjum Wasim Dar  © CER   2019

Clouds Cry

Say, “Have you considered? If your water drains away,
who will bring you pure running water?”

For long, now we hear ‘something is happening
valleys shrinking, rivers running dry, green trees
vanishing, insects dying, snows frozen,  melting
sun seems closer, worries of bees and the breeze

who has cut the trees and blocked the waters
and built houses and plazas in every quarter
who has increased the dumps n heaps of waste
now are holding seminars for solutions in haste

The earth seems tired of turning and spinning
making day and night warming and cooling
and now when air is so blackened n thickening
mankind is screaming that climate is changing’

now when I see clouds gathering in the sky
they come rumbling  I wonder why they are
grumbling? raising a storm , hue and cry!
are they showing a fire, frowning on a

sinful desire? warning of The Heaven’s Ire?
or  to cool the bonfire? I wonder if their thunder
is a song a celestial choir? praising moist sapphire,
dust we see, dust we are yet the particles conspire,

to relieve us from our misery cooling comfort
we do require, I know they come to admire
and blessing us, will soon retire to  the ocean
home entire,leaving a message, a purifier !

be at peace and mercy,be not a crier or a liar
be like us without any fuss, a graceful high flyer-
in rain we sing n shout n play but break the law,
then face the bolt, stormy weather is Gods’ Wrath ?

remember the rains and the flood!  beware when
deserts will be green, sandy regions will be rivers
Change is ordained Change will come, time and age
make life’s stage, cut short by man or by divine nature

Oh Clouds Gather in the sky ! And I don’t wonder why
they are lonely up in the sky, does it rain or do they cry
they cry when water is not used as it should be, it is not
saved, it is not stored, it is ignored, it is wasted…day by day,

when it is polluted hour by hour, and  stolen moment by moment ,
drop by drop and when it is controlled by selfishness and possessed
by power, when allowed to flow away,becoming a cause of quarrels
when  used as means of showing aggression and stressing suppression

Clouds cry then, they are  on duty for the plants and living beings
to spray water to wash away the filth and clean the atmosphere
to quench the thirst, fill the ponds, make land fresh again, Stop’
I say think  and  become aware,waste not,  the danger lurks near…

Clouds cry for they  have fears,
should we try now, to wipe away their  tears ?

© 2019, Anjum Wasim Dar

“POETRY PEACE and REFORM Go Together -Let Us All Strive for PEACE on EARTH for ALL -Let Us Make a Better World -WRITE To Make PEACE PREVAIL.” Anjum Wasim Dar

Find Anjum here: