Sojourner and Stranger, a poem . . . and your next Wednesday Writing Prompt

rain-1340354630BEa“And she bore him a son, and he called his name Gershom: for he said, ‘I have been a stranger in a strange land.'” King James Bible, Exodus 2:22



something foreign, today’s rain
rat-tat-tating the roof and windows,
ping-ponging the sidewalk below
in rhythms oddly dissonant

the trees seem foreign too in their
huddles against the wind and damp,
abandoned by birds and squirrels
and even by the children at play

in a moment dark will fall with its
ghostly and pockmarked moon,
i’ll see its face without a smile and
sad, yet i won’t frown in this rain,
in this alien and hollow place,
though sojurner and stranger am i

© 2019, poem, Jamie Dedes; Photo credit ~ George Hogan, Public Domain Pictures.net

WEDNESDAY WRITING PROMPT

I think everyone has had those moments when they feel like “a stranger in a strange land.” The triggers for that perseption are probably varied. Maybe weird weather, a new landscape, a relocation, or a new house or apartment. I have a friend who says he thinks that after his birth he was sent home from the hospital with the wrong parents, so out-of-place does he feel in the context of family. Has that happened to you, that sense of being a sojurner in an alien environment?  What precipitated the experience?  How did it feel?  Was it a passing thing or does the sensation remain with you still?

Please share your thoughts and experiences in your own poetry on this theme, stranger in a strange land.



NEW RULES

  • please submit your poem/s by pasting them into the comments section and not by sharing a link
  • please submit poems only, no photos, illustrations, essays, stories, or other prose


Poems submitted through email or Facebook will not be published.

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

PLEASE send the bio ONLY if you are with us on this for the first time AND only if you have posted a poem (or a link to one of yours) on theme in the comments section below.  

Deadline:  Monday, July 1 by 8 pm Pacific Daylight Time. If you are unsure when that would be in your time zone, checkThe Time Zone Converter.

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, showcasing your work, and getting to know other poets who might be new to you.

You are welcome – encouraged – to share your poems in a language other than English but please accompany it with a translation into English.


ABOUT

Recent in digital publications: 
* Four poemsI Am Not a Silent Poet
* Remembering Mom, HerStry
* Three poems, Levure littéraire
Upcoming in digital publications:
* Over His Morning Coffee, Front Porch Review
* From the Small Beginning, Entropy Magazine (Enclave, #Final Poems)

A mostly bed-bound poet, writer, former columnist and the former associate editor of a regional employment newspaper, my work has been featured widely in print and digital publications including: Ramingo’s Porch, Vita Brevis Literature, Connotation Press, The Bar None Group, Salamander Cove, I Am Not a Silent Poet, Meta/ Phor(e) /Play, The Compass Rose and California Woman. I run The Poet by Day, a curated info hub for poets and writers. I founded The Bardo Group/Beguines, a vitual literary community and publisher of The BeZineof which I am the founding and managing editor.


“Every pair of eyes facing you has probably experienced something you could not endure.”  Lucille Clifton



 

48 thoughts on “Sojourner and Stranger, a poem . . . and your next Wednesday Writing Prompt

  1. Hello Jamie,

    Here’s my seventh response:

    Strangers And Pilgrims On The

    earth. My first avowed intent
    to be a pilgrim. I’ll not relent,

    each breath a step, an oar in watery graves
    pushes against the unremembered waves

    “How can you go abroad fighting for strangers?”
    I am a thankful passenger.
    I see the bright and hollow sky
    I ride the how, what, where and why

    to reach the final breath, final shore,
    Nothing new here, stolen words restore

    ancient thought and image, rearrange
    the mundane to confront raw rage,

    at the lights lit on the headland brighter
    with each exhalation my body lighter

    as the last place we embarked
    gets darker and darker and darker.

    (From my collection “Port Of Souls”, Alien Buddha Press, 2018)

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Jamie,

    Here’s my seventh response:

    Strangers And Pilgrims On The

    earth. My first avowed intent
    to be a pilgrim. I’ll not relent,

    each breath a step, an oar in watery graves
    pushes against the unremembered waves

    “How can you go abroad fighting for strangers?”
    I am a thankful passenger.
    I see the bright and hollow sky
    I ride the how, what, where and why

    to reach the final breath, final shore,
    Nothing new here, stolen words restore

    ancient thought and image, rearrange
    the mundane to confront raw rage,

    at the lights lit on the headland brighter
    with each exhalation my body lighter

    as the last place we embarked
    gets darker and darker and darker.

    (From my collection “Port Of Souls”, Alien Buddha Press, 2018)

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hello Jamie! This was a hard one to write for me. So many feelings about this!! Below is a “surface” poem I wrote – meaning one that I felt comfortable sharing only because it wasn’t “too deep”. Those deeper poems I might have to post at a later date. This prompt definitely brought up a lot of thoughts and feelings! Thank you for pushing and promoting!

    “What it’s like for an Asian woman to live in a predominantly White community” – A Villanelle

    Whenever I enter a place
    My insides search to belong
    I cannot see my face

    Can I take up this space?
    There’s times that I’ve been wrong
    And need to leave a place

    Those times I’ve felt displaced
    An unwanted tagalong
    I paste a smile on my face

    I try to handle it with grace
    So the discomfort won’t prolong
    When I need to stay at a place

    But why can’t you embrace
    The me inside that’s strong
    Can you look beyond my face?

    I will not be erased
    I’m not one of the throng
    I cannot leave this place
    I cannot change my face

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I LEAPT FROM THE WOMB

    You brought me in hard
    distancing me from the
    start a cold memory

    You brought me in hard
    A child left alone
    Crying for its mother,

    You brought me in hard
    I was yellow, black haired
    You turned me away

    You brought me in hard
    No loving touches, no soft
    murmuring moments.

    You brought me in hard
    I forever seek comfort
    warily afraid.

    Soon there were only cries
    at night unanswered
    disguised by a starlight
    serenade from a radio
    Rhapsody soothing my blues
    Bethoven’s 5th
    Op.67:1. Allegro con brio
    Ravel: Pavanne for an infant
    Defunte
    absorbing the lesson
    unintentionally taught
    engraved in memory

    Liked by 2 people

  5. “The Service Revolver”
    (Raanana, May 22, 2009)

    Sixty-six pounds of snarling anger
    In the only path to safety
    For six pounds of cold fear.
    A chain squeezes suddenly around the honey-colored throat
    And the anger moves on,
    At first reluctantly, and then
    Loping along at a goodly pace
    Wet nostrils flared and quivering,
    Ready to sift and scoop up
    Anything of taste or interest
    Along the dark and lamp-lit way.
    Walking my dog Daisy
    Whose name belies her vigor and strength
    Barely controlled by a pact initialed
    But never formally ratified,
    She leads me through the valley of my loneliness
    Which I measure in the scrape and echo
    Of footsteps having no place to go.
    Walking under an archway of sparse leaved bracken
    And thick limbs of eucalyptus
    Thoughts swarm around us
    In no particular rhyme or meter,
    Like the personal black hole
    Pulling me towards an eventual horizon
    In gossamer strands of infinity,
    And another: at what point in our lives
    Does it become reasonable
    To contemplate suicide,
    To feel the coolness and weight of one’s service revolver
    Against the weight of continuing to be?

    Liked by 2 people

  6. “Bookstore”
    (Raanana, May 30, 2015)

    So this book walks into a store.
    It’s dark inside after the bright sunlight of outdoors.
    There are shelves upon shelves of books,
    Their backs facing him impermeably.
    He spots The Great Gatsby chatting up
    Lady Chatterley’s Lover
    In a particularly umbrous corner
    And moves on into the darkness.
    A thin volume sitting by herself
    Catches his attention.
    He sits down next to her unobtrusively,
    Trying to be a fait accompli
    Before the fait has been accompli.
    He looks at her more than just a glance.
    Haven’t I read you before, he ventures.
    I wouldn’t think so, she closes his book on him.
    Why wouldn’t you think so?
    Because books don’t read other books, she says.
    Only humans do.
    Have you been read by humans? he asks.
    Yes, actually, by quite a few, she answers smugly.
    I’m sorry for not recognizing you,
    He says softly after a while.
    May I ask your name?
    I’m the unabridged journals of sylvia plath, she says,
    But you may call me unabridged.
    I’d prefer to call you Sylvia if you don’t mind.
    Haven’t you heard of me?
    Almost everyone who’s anyone has.
    Well, no.
    Books can’t read, remember?
    So you don’t know my story? she asks.
    It ended in a scrumptious but silly suicide.
    Don’t feel bad, she consoles him.
    I guess I only know my own story, he says sadly.
    They both are quiet,
    Absorbing the ambiance of the musty old bookstore
    For a long time.
    So what’s your name, she asks brightly.
    I’m The Uncollected Works of Mike Stone,
    But you can call me Mike, he says.
    I’d rather call you uncollected,
    She says with a deficit of attention.
    There is another long silence
    That roars rather deafeningly.
    After a while he suggests
    It is getting terribly stuffy here.
    Why don’t we go out into the sunlight?
    She says you go ahead,
    I’ll join you in just a moment.
    He gets up and walks to the door,
    Opens it and steps out
    Into the fresh air.
    He looks around him
    At the shiver of tree leaves
    In the thin breeze
    Hopefully
    Somewhat.
    Time passes
    As it is wont to do
    But no Sylvia.
    He opens the door,
    Walks once more into the darkness,
    And finds the thin volume of her,
    Another volume beside her now,
    The Great Gatsby, he thinks.
    He walks outside
    Once more into the sunlight
    Crosses the street
    Into the small garden
    Made quiet by the wrought iron
    Fence and gate bounding it.
    He sits down on a bench
    Facing the tree he had noticed
    Just outside the bookstore
    For the longest time
    Until a young girl
    Freckle-faced, he thinks,
    Sits down beside him
    And picks him up,
    Amazed at her good luck.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. “Memories of Strangers”
    (Raanana, October 19, 2013)

    Autumn crisp as crackling leaves
    Slakes the thirst of summer with its rains.
    Clouds portentous in their dreaming
    And the tangy sweetness of green-skinned clementines.

    The streets and sidewalks beside the coffee houses
    Are washed and the posters on the kiosks are cleansed
    The bitter coffee in the smudged glass
    Slows scalding the fingers and the lips.

    You sit two tables away from me
    Reading a dog-eared book of poetry.
    You look up, I look away,
    And are unaware you are in my poem.

    You will remember the first day of autumn
    And I’ll remember you.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. “The Ticket”
    (Raanana, November 19, 2017)

    Do you know what kills me,
    What really kills me?
    All that beauty in this world,
    That shocking totally unexpected beauty
    One right after the other
    Everywhere you look
    Even when you’re not looking
    Morning afternoon and night
    Right next to you and far as you can see,
    You just want to stand near it
    Feel its warmth, hear its loveliness
    Touch it just barely, hold it hard and long
    Smell its sweet pungence, taste its tang,
    But you can’t because you don’t speak its language
    And you don’t have the coin to buy a ticket
    To pass through that gate.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. “Captive Audience”
    (Raanana, December 21, 2016)

    I watch you through the cage bars,
    Stupid creatures pointing, throwing popcorn,
    Pulling faces and taunting
    From distances you think are safe,
    If you think at all.
    We are a captive audience,
    I am the captive
    And you are the audience,
    But sometimes I imagine
    I am also the audience.
    At night after the Parc Zoologique de Paris is closed,
    My imagination slips through the bars,
    Floods over the iron entrance gate,
    Walks through the empty Avenue Daumesnil
    To the Rue de Seine and looks through
    The windows of the Alcazar
    Where you sit daintily cutting a slice of meat
    With your little finger poised heavenward
    Your teeth too dull and weak to tear the flesh apart.
    No wonder you’re afraid of me –
    You know my spirit can’t be caged.
    Only one of you imagines me
    Walking in your empty streets at night
    And he sits alone at a small table
    By the smudged glass window
    With a pen and dog-eared notebook,
    Only he imagines me uncaged.
    Toward dawn I tire of you and your empty streets.
    I slip back over the iron gates
    Through the bars and close myself
    In the dreamless sleep of tigers burning bright.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. “Every Man Is an Island”
    (Raanana, May 28, 2016)

    Alas the words of Donne
    No man is an island
    His words are done.
    No longer breathed or thought
    For every man is an island
    Universe whose stars spiral
    Slowly without purpose
    Nobody served by them
    With a gravity that keeps meaning
    The knell of our tolling bell
    From crossing its horizons.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. “A Delicate Balance”
    (Raanana, April 18, 2019)

    I open the window beside my desk
    To let in the breeze and children’s noise.
    I take a sip of bitter coffee, cold already.
    The dog comes in, as always,
    And rubs black jowls against the bedspread.
    There is a certain music loneliness makes
    That gives rise to the thought that
    Being alone is a delicate balance
    Between solitude and loneliness,
    The one, a turning inward,
    To let the soul guide one’s hand,
    To hear the Muse’s whispered words;
    The other, an inability to turn outward,
    To touch or be touched,
    A hell we call forlorn,
    A death in life
    That beckons Death’s enfolding.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Hi Jamie,
    I’m sorry to read that you are mostly bed-ridden these days. You and your poems deserve to be outside in an eternally gentle summer with butterflies and other sentient beings preceding you on your path. Just a wish from an old poet.
    Here are a few of my poems, hopefully on theme.
    Mike

    Liked by 2 people

  13. Once Again…

    once again a cold mist surrounds ,
    once again quietude deafens the
    senses, how soon the wheel comes
    full circle, how soon music is silenced-

    where have all the musicians gone?

    so many walked the garden paths,smiled
    at colored fragrances, but once, wheeled
    past the rows of pansies,frail they looked
    but happy, placed in the soil, enriched,

    where have all the gardeners gone?

    with all alike, the daffodils and carnations
    all green stemmed, all in a row,all trees
    brown and green all a dense shady forest
    all grass a velvet blanket ,spread for rest

    where have all the green forests gone?

    all clouds grey dark thick soft and white,
    all carry water,drop raindrops, shade,change
    shapes,all birds fly and nest,all nightingales
    sing, all distances vanish with friendship and love

    where have all the happy birds gone ?

    migrations immigrations borders barriers
    bayonets bullets boundaries blasts
    protests partitions partings patrols pellets
    separated segregated sold sunk swept

    where have all the good promises gone?

    once again I a stranger, in time, in silence
    no bell rings, no more will it, so I need not
    wait nor hope nor smile,distances do return
    they are ever present,only the sojourn ends-

    where have all the peace makers gone?

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Aaron

    when our palms met
    that balmy Chinatown night
    a little lost canary
    from the corner pet shop
    sang a melancholic cord
    switching his little face
    from right to left
    he looked at me
    and flew away
    i had fallen in love
    the kind of love
    that makes you scrutinize
    your breath your weight and even your thoughts
    the kind where
    you leave your beloved
    friends pets and dishes
    behind just to think about him
    the kind of love
    that makes you check your phone
    fifty times at two in the morning
    you know the kind you lose
    your soul to in the encasing darkness
    and nothing feels the same
    distilled death and i churn my spirit
    but you danced with me
    for a few years
    you are no longer Aaron
    i am no longer me
    i don’t recognize my smile
    its erased forever in your cusp
    my heart has melted away in your hypocrisy
    my common sense buried under your peach tree
    and Aaron he no longer lives here
    and i don’t recognize
    the song of the canary anymore

    peace from LA thanks for the opportunity

    Liked by 5 people

  15. All the world is a foreign state
    hate growing at a faster rate
    reasons unknown, unshared
    unexplained or is it just fate

    I, a stranger to myself, more
    today, passing a routine sojourn
    in moonlight while it stays, am
    not surprised nor feel betrayed,

    unseen unknown stranger still
    are relationships, travelers are
    companions momentary, smile
    go, each to his own destination

    what respect is shown what love
    expressed in soul and spirit stays
    invisible, unfelt, vanishes in a void
    silently as it reaches, soul’s inlays

    Foreign is the birthplace unknown
    enemy occupied, singled out in a
    class of younger age, in a college
    of a different faith,segregated

    alienated in culture caste and
    creed, better it is to be romantic,
    turn to nature in a forest, be the
    ever green tree, gifting fruit in

    return for stones, shades cool
    protect weak bones comfort
    hug sing and cover, listen
    assure never to desert or fool

    All the world is a foreign land
    All people living like strangers
    All here for a purpose, a duty
    All life a brief stay,a short sojourn

    Liked by 3 people

  16. Once, as a girl, I met grass and sky on my way.
    Since then, with each year, I’m longing to come closer
    To their fresh smell and enveloping vastness.
    There’s a thin border of questions between us
    About undercurrents and the wind,
    About the things I only feel
    They come to me in strangest shapes
    How can I recognize them.
    Will they recognize me?

    Liked by 4 people

  17. Much he tried. He kept his eyes, “May be that time is coming soon”
    Brown grass. Dry lips.
    She knew what he meant when
    he said *refugee*
    I watched a smile.
    Sojourner and stranger, a poem make to next trip.
    INFILTRATE
    Much he tried. He kept his eyes:
    Border wall ….yeah
    One thing, that (he) would never hurt.

    Liked by 2 people

  18. Matthew 27:45-50 21st Century King James Version (KJ21)
    45 Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land until the ninth hour.

    The sixth hour

    He opened the door and walked in
    in the familiar room.
    Stranger.
    Talking to him is meaningless.
    He has no words.
    There are only eyes.

    Or flights.

    You will not understand it.

    The sixth hour has come.

    Liked by 4 people

  19. ::other fridays::

    are good here, while some are not.

    not here or other places. we

    listen to the news and wonder

    at all the things that happen.

    we wonder why, and why, and why

    repeated.

    yet no one answers with a comment

    or a hash tag.

    reacting seems to be a new thing

    now.

    the bear sleeps, while we do

    not.

    sbm.

    Liked by 3 people

  20. #rr

    it is with difficulty i write this.

    the bear was correct, yet he

    is not the only one in the village.

    i met another yesterday.

    it is with difficulty as the keyboards

    stick, while others have no empathy

    how deep it goes.

    many have drowned, drowned

    dead.

    sbm.

    Liked by 3 people

  21. Hi Jamie,

    Here’s my sixth response:

    Beside Yourself

    If you could be beside yourself,
    grab the ectoplasmic umbilical
    and emerge as a space cadet
    on the seat beside you,
    appear as a stranger who sits
    down, invades your space,

    for whom you politely make space,
    smile quickly and absorb
    yourself in your phone,
    a book, a tablet,
    and pray the unknown

    doesn’t speak to you,
    then the realisation,
    that all your hesitancy
    movement, smile, absorption
    has been sharply mirrored

    by them and you ask yourself,
    are they taking the piss,
    are they the one who stabbed
    your wife, raped your children,
    set fire to your home and sat
    on the wall outside to see it burn?

    And see a cord between both of you,
    and wonder if you touch it,
    would it get their unwanted attention.
    How could you cut it and have done
    with this uncalled-for connection?
    And wish you still had the knife.

    (From my chapbook “The Spermbot Blues”, OpPress, 2017)

    Liked by 3 people

  22. Hi Jamie,

    Here’s my fifth response:

    Our Massacre

    Always portray the killer as deranged,
    abnormal, an aberration of society.

    Their actions are not those of us
    ordinary decent folk, though we arm

    ourselves to the teeth with the same
    firepower we are reasonable.

    Their geography is not ours. We must
    distance ourselves. This person

    is not an old friend, a neighbour.
    They are a stranger who acts

    strangely. We must stress, though often
    this behaviour is rare, an anomaly.

    We do not know this person
    who kills our friends and neighbours.

    Liked by 3 people

  23. Hi Jamie,

    Here’s my fourth response:

    Insecurity Is Life

    Taught how to spam, phish and hack at school.
    Make sure your private details are sold on

    to companies you’ve never heard of. Take money
    from strangers accounts as they take cash from yours.

    Privacy is a crime. Troll other’s social media
    as they troll yours. Locking doors and windows

    is forbidden. Transparency is paramount.
    Let strangers use your home, car and food

    as you use theirs. This is a life of trust,
    but accidents happen and your life maybe broken.

    Liked by 3 people

  24. Hi Jamie,

    Here’s my third response:

    How Much

    time has it been?
    Has it been
    so much time?

    I have left me.
    No, he has left me.
    No, they have left me.

    I’m single, aren’t I?
    I feel I’m single.
    Are you here
    for a date?

    Are we staying long?
    Do I have a room?
    This is my house.
    Is this my house?

    I recognise that furniture.
    It’s mine. Have we just
    moved in ? Why do you
    make me confused?

    Forty two years
    and now he’s left me.
    Twenty six years
    we’ve lived here.

    I thought we’d just
    moved in. I don’t
    want strangers
    in my house.

    Eyeing up my furniture.
    Carers are strangers.
    I don’t know who
    everyone is.

    Liked by 3 people

  25. Hi Jamie,

    Here’s my second response:

    A Fact Losing

    mission.

    Somebody sent me out
    to collect something somehow
    somewhere.

    over a rainbow. I stand
    in a street I knew once
    I am sure. It is familiar.
    I can’t understand why.

    A list of things is on a piece of paper.
    It certainly is my piece of paper.
    No one else is holding it.

    The hand writing is unfamiliar.
    Somebody wrote this.
    I want to ask passers by,
    but I do not know them.

    They are strangers, even more
    than the writing on the paper.

    I want to cry.
    I don’t feel safe.
    Where is safe?

    Liked by 4 people

  26. My Strangers

    are friends who haven’t been estranged yet.

    All my mates are strangers.
    I keep them at a distance.

    Chat to them in third person.
    Internet on my mobile tells me

    when I’ve to give them best wishes
    for a special occasion like anniversaries.

    They inspire closeness and loyalty.
    I can trust them.

    They know me.
    What I eat, sup.

    laugh at.
    Strangers are more intimate than friends.

    (From my chapbook “A World Where”, Nixes Mate Press, 2017)

    Liked by 3 people

  27. Hi Jamie,
    Here’s my first response:

    My Strangers (From “A World Where” chapbook)

    are friends who haven’t been estranged yet.

    All my mates are strangers.
    I keep them at a distance.

    Chat to them in third person.
    Internet on my mobile tells me

    when I’ve to give them best wishes
    for a special occasion like anniversaries.

    They inspire closeness and loyalty.
    I can trust them.

    They know me.
    What I eat, sup.

    laugh at.
    Strangers are more intimate than friends.

    (From my chapbook “A World Where”, Nixes Mate Press, 2017)

    Liked by 3 people

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