Valley of the Shadow of Death, a poem

“When your time comes to die, be not like those whose hearts are filled with fear of death, so that when their time comes they weep and pray for a little more time to live their lives over again in a different way. Sing your death song, and die like a hero going home.” Tecumseh



Night makes way for morning
The clouds tumbling in like
Cotton bolls blown across a
Field of promise, sun ablaze
Tinged with crimson and saffron
Grooving to the rattle and the click
And caw of our city corvids, and
Hear too the blue jay’s whispered
Song, the mourning dove’s coo

In my kitchen, five stories up, is a
Breakfast reminiscent of my father
Broiled trout, roasted potatoes, and I
Pull cartilage from the fish, evocative
Of a trachea, and salt the potatoes
To the humming of O2 concentrators
I drag on a nasal cannula, life support
In this, my Valley of the Shadow of Death

© 2019, Jamie Dedes


Jamie Dedes. I’m a freelance writer, poet, content editor, and blogger. I also manage The BeZine and its associated activities and The Poet by Day jamiededes.com, an info hub for writers meant to encourage good but lesser-known poets, women and minority poets, outsider artists, and artists just finding their voices in maturity. The Poet by Day is dedicated to supporting freedom of artistic expression and human rights.  Email thepoetbyday@gmail.com for permissions, commissions, or assignments.

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Recent and Upcoming in Digital Publications Poets Advocate for Peace, Justice, and Sustainability, How 100,000 Poets Are Fostering Peace, Justice, and Sustainability, YOPP! * The Damask Garden, In a Woman’s Voice, August 11, 2019 / This short story is dedicated to all refugees. That would be one in every 113 people. * Five poems, Spirit of Nature, Opa Anthology of Poetry, 2019 * From the Small Beginning, Entropy Magazine (Enclave, #Final Poems), July 2019 * Over His Morning Coffee, Front Porch Review, July 2019 * Three poems, Our Poetry Archive, September 2019


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

7 thoughts on “Valley of the Shadow of Death, a poem

  1. ‘Whosoever believes in Allah and in the Last Day,
    and does good deeds – all such people will have their reward with their Lord,
    and there will be no reason for them to fear, nor shall they grieve.’
    Surah Baqara The Cow 2.62

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Every night I am taken to a place unknown
    in a state, motionless, quiet, still like
    a huge stone, unfelt, unheard, in oblivion
    not knowing light or darkness or any color,

    I cannot see the sky or stars or birds that
    fly, or clouds that float in the vast blue
    nor the sand or soil beneath my feet do
    I feel, nor dainty flowers in my view, nor

    fragrances in my senses do come, no one
    is near me to hold or hug or comfort-
    the last I remember, just a sharp pain rising
    from the back, between the shoulder blades,

    I was light as a feather, I was flying in a void
    A blurred vision of
    The softness of a pillow, a white sheet a warm
    blanket cover and the faint odor of menthol

    vaporub, fingers gripping the glowing beads
    of ‘tasbeeh’, no consciousness of time –but
    awareness of boundless dimly lit space
    a dark shadowed ethereal plain, silent,

    neither warm nor cold, no door floor or
    fold yet there was someone beside, out
    of sight, a shake a light touch and I was
    awake,where had I been ? How did I survive ?

    How am I alive? my struggle begins but
    I believe I am blessed with another day
    to work and pray, come the night,
    slow is the breath-as sleep drowns, in the

    Shadow of The Valley of Death

    Liked by 2 people

  3. And so, in the State that contains the so-called ‘Death Valley’, I wonder now how temperatures may be higher than ever. And I too find myself, as is our won’t at a certain age, sometimes cast my mind to my own mortality, Jamie, and mostly wonder if I shall have time to prepare my family for this, or should I start preparing now? Very evocative and reflective poem, it makes me think, but then you always do. Thank you.

    Liked by 2 people

    • We are perhaps fortunate that I have been seriously ill for so long and now more so and older. We have had twenty years to come to terms. At least I have felt so myself, but I’m not sure of others around me. It’s a mixed blessing, but I do think we shouldn’t be in denial. Perhaps life is all the richer when we know it is fleeting and then have the sense to enjoy all the gifts at our door.

      Liked by 2 people

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