the hawk has flown, a poem … and your Wednesday Writing Prompt

black and white
“Fighting for peace is like screwing for virginity.”
― George Carlin

a ghostly memory
of damask roses
night-booming jasmine
olive trees, heavy with fruit

reimagined into white and
gone the fear of bombs
gone the crumbled buildings and crushed hearts
the abandoned cities, the empty streets
now the children play, they study
the houses stand and the gardens grow
hope towers, a moral high-ground
the ghost is the dove
and the hawk has flown

© 2016, poem and Illustration, Jamie Dedes; All rights reserved; the Bleeding Heart Dove photo below is courtesy of morgueFile.


Times and places of peace leave no scars to jog our memories and stoke the fires of our hope. Remember peace or imagine it: What would a world at peace look like?

If you feel comfortable, leave your poetry or prose or a link to it in the comments section below.  All work shared in response to this prompt will be published in a post here next Tuesday.

Jamie’s THE WORDPLAY SHOP: books, tools and supplies for poets, writers and readers


abridged. and other poems in response to the last Wednesday Writing Prompt

“I think that we’re beginning to remember that the first poets didn’t come out of a classroom, that poetry began when somebody walked off of a savanna or out of a cave and looked up at the sky with wonder and said, ‘Ahhh.’ That was the first poem.” Lucille Clifton (1936-2010)

Celebrating American She-Poet (8) Lucille Clifton, homage to my hips

LAST WEDNESDAY’S WRITING PROMPT June 14, 2017 What are you’re thoughts on soulmates? Tells us in prose or poem.

Thanks to Sonja Benskin Mesher and Paul Brookes who came out to play and to all who read a thank you too!

The To And Fro

to and fro the iron
over bedsheets, his shirts,
as she stands three hours

hot poker of pain
in the small of her back,
lists what else to do,

take down window nets,
wash and iron,
vax front room,
lug it upstairs for bedroom,
hoover front room,
lug it upstairs for bedroom
clean windows inside
to and fro,
to and fro
polish beneath knick knacks
bought on holiday,
to and fro
strip and remake beds,
make his tea,
always meat and two veg

He arrives home and says,
“What have you ever done for me?”

© 2017, Paul Brookes (The Womwell Rainbow)


She loves him
though he is water.

Her mam says “When I gift you
a fishes tail it will hurt
every time you use it
to and fro like a wave.

It’ll seem to him
a beckoning.

I’ll give you a tongue.
Every time you sing to him
you’ll drown a little more.

You’ll have each other,
but I’ll lose you.”

© 2017, Paul Brookes (The Womwell Rainbow)

abridged .

she said they were soul mates, with a yorkshire accent.

both much the same. it lasted a while with ups & downs.

the usual.

then it ended.

this is the shorter version.

© 2017, Sonja Benskin Mesher (Sonja Benskin Mesher, RCA)

© 2017, photograph, Jamie Dedes

Jamie’s THE WORDPLAY SHOP: books, tools and supplies for poets, writers and readers

SUNDAY ANNOUNCEMENTS: Calls for Submissions, Competitions, Events and Other News and Information


Opportunity Knocks

THE TISHMAN REVIEW is a literary magazine that publishes four times a year with a current call for submission open for the October issue. Submissions of short stories, micro and flash fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction, book reviews, craft essays and art are welcome. “The Tishman Review pays all of our text contributors, according to the genre. Poems are paid on a sliding scale between $10 and $25 per poem. Creative nonfiction and fiction is paid a minimum of $10.00 for a piece under 1000 words and for a piece over 1000 words at .01 cents per word. Craft talk articles are paid at .01 cents per word.  While we realize this is a small payment, our hope is (with continued support and growth) to be able to increase the amount we pay.” Deadline September 15 for October issue. Details HERE.

HAUNTED WATERS PRESS “is the annual literary journal of Haunted Waters Press. Featuring works of prose and poetry, the journal is released in both print and digital formats in the fall of each year. Described as ‘one of the most compelling and beautifully illustrated literary journals,’ From the Depths was created to showcase and celebrate the writing of new, emerging, and established authors. We offer contributors several paths to publication.” Reading periods vary. Payment is 1¢ (US) a word or fiction and $20 a poem. Calendar and other details HERE.

THE ARTIST UNLEASHED seeks feature articles to inspire writers and other artists. These should be based on your experience. Pay $0.015 AUD per word. Details HERE.

LITERARY MAMA, writing about the many faces of motherhood welcomes submissions that are “rooted and inspired by the experience of motherhood.” Themes change monthly. Literary Mama publishes blog posts, book reviews, columns, creative nonfiction and essays, fiction, literary reflections, poetry, photography and profiles and interviews. General guidelines are HERE. Poetry guidelines are HERE.

THE BeZINE submissions for the July 2017 issue – themed Prison Culture/Restorative Justice – should be in by July 10th latest.  Publication date is July 15th. Poetry, essays, fiction and creative nonfiction, art and photography, music (videos), and whatever lends itself to online presentation is welcome for consideration. Please check out a few issues first and the Intro./Mission Statement and Submission Guidelines. No demographic restrictions. We would encourage submissions from people who are involved one way or the other in the justice system and former youth “offenders.” Critique along with constructive suggestions or tested solutions and best practices are welcome. We do not publish anything that promotes hate or violence. Heads-up on August: The theme is Theatre. Deadline: August 10.

BLACK HEART MAGAZINE, We Heart Art will begin reviewing submissions in August for its anti-gun anthology. “In the wake of only our latest most-deadly shooting here in the U.S. – the Orlando Pulse nightclub shooting that left 50 dead and more wounded – we feel it’s time to take action. No more “thoughts and prayers.” No more fuzzy sentiments. No more excuses. No more bullshit. We’re looking for stories to include in an Anti-Gun anthology, which will wholly benefit the Gun Control Lobby. (See Everytown for Gun Safety for more info on our proposed beneficiary.)” Black Heart Magazine publishes poems, short stories, essays and narrative nonfiction  Deadline for the next issue is July 31.  Details for the magazine and the anthology are HERE.

SLICE magazine publishes fiction, nonfiction and poetry. Details HEREIt’s current reading period for issue #20 closes on August 1.

THE WALLACE STEVENS JOURNAL (John Hopkins University Press) “welcomes submissions on all aspects of Wallace Stevens’ poetry and life. Articles range from interpretive criticism of his poetry and essays to comparisons with other writers, from biographical and contextual studies to more theoretically informed reflections. Also welcome are previously unpublished primary or archival material and photographs, proposals for guest-edited special issues, as well as original Stevens-inspired artistic and creative works.”  Details HERE.

PLOUGHSHARES AT EMERSON COLLEGE Look-to series seeks essays about underappreciated or overlooked writers. “The Look2 essay should take stock of a writer’s entire oeuvre with the goal of bringing critical attention to the neglected writer and his or her relevance to a contemporary audience. Examples of such essays include Stewart O’Nan’s piece on Richard YatesJoan Acocella on Sybille BedfordGore Vidal on Dawn Powell, and Ploughshares’ DeWitt Henry on Brian Moore. The writer can be living or dead and from anywhere in the world (if there are good English translations available). Essays should make note of biographical details that are pertinent to the writer’s work.” Look2 essay queries may be submitted between June 1, 2016 and January 15, 2017 and the guidelines are HERE.


Opportunity Knocks

HAUNTED WATERS PRESS annual Fiction and Poetry Open will close on the 30th. $10 reading fee. Grand prize is $250 and publication. Details HERE.

THE TISHMAN REVIEW 2017 Edna St. Vincent Millay Poetry Prize is open to poets worldwide. The call for submissions opens on October 1 and closes on November 15. $15 reading fee per submission. First place wins $500 and publication in the January 2018 issue of The Tishman Review. Second place wins $100 and Honorable Mention wins $50. Details HERE.

UNIVERSITY OF NEW ORLEANS CENTER FOR THE BOOK and UNO PRESS “is accepting previously unpublished submissions of book-length fiction, novels or short-story collections. The winning author will receive a $1000 dollar advance and a contract to publish with UNO Press. The selected manuscript will be promoted by The Publishing Laboratory at the University of New Orleans, an institute that seeks to bring innovative publicity and broad distribution to first-time authors. We read submissions from April 5th to August 15th. Abram Shalom Himelstein is the editor-in-chief at UNO Press. Submission guidelines HERE.

THE 2017 BARBARA MANDIGO KELLY PEACE POETRY AWARDS “is an annual serious of awards to encourage  poets to explore and illuminate positive visions of peace and the human spirit.” The three age categories: Adult, Youth 13-18, and Youth 12 and under. The contest is open to people worldwide. Poems must be original, unpublished, and in English. Deadline: July 1, 2017. Cash awards. Entry fees. Details HERE.


SPLIT THIS ROCK Calling poets to a greater role in public life and fostering a national network of socially engaged poets “invites proposals for workshops, panel and roundtable discussions, and themed group readings for the Sixth Biennial Split This Rock Poetry Festival, scheduled for April 19-21, 2018, in Washington, DC. The festival, celebrating the tenth anniversary of Split This Rock, will feature Kwame Dawes and Solmaz Sharif!” Details HERE.



to all the dads and to the moms, grandfathers, aunts, uncles and older siblings who serve as loving surrogate dads for those who abandoned or have been lost.

Jamie’s THE WORDPLAY SHOP: books, tools and supplies for poets, writers and readers



The City of Ultimate Bliss, a short story for Father’s Day

The city Habah lives in is old, not as old as the eastern cities from which her family and their neighbors came. No. This is not an ancient city. Just an old city. Old for this so-called new world.

The gutters in Habah’s neighborhood overflow with tears. The smell in the air is not the perfume of gardens filled with roses and jasmine. It is the scent of cabbage and rice with underlying notes of hard labor, long hours, and a quietly restrained desperation. This flawed part of the old city is Habah’s whole world. As such, no matter its poverty and imperfections in the eyes of others, she deems it beautiful.

Habah knows her world as something magical. Her beloved city groans and pulses under a ceiling that has stolen its blue from the turquoise sea. Its stars scintillate in the night sky and protect her from dream demons. And, while Habah doesn’t remember her father or know where he is, she knows that by some exquisite metaphysics they gaze at the same moon each evening. Of the many gifts received with gratitude from the city, the only one missing is the ultimate bliss of her father’s presence.


Habah’s mother’s store is among the many magical elements of Habah’s world. It sits between Yúsuf’s Dry Goods Store and Badi’s Oriental Café. It is a small store, maybe five-hundred square feet. It is lively with the aroma of Mocha Sanani from Yemen, the spicy scents of cinnamon, cardamom, sumac and the smell of the chamomile tea her mother drinks constantly. The floor is a simple hard-packed dirt covered with saw dust.

The shelves are busy with packages of her mother’s hand-crafted Turkish delight and her grandmother’s coveted quince jam. There are spices and sesame seeds freshly ground into za’atar and majool dates neatly stuffed with black walnuts. The glowing old-gold of thyme honey, the pink sapphire of pickled radishes, and the bright garnet of tomato sauces are stored in jars and glasses of many sizes and varied origins. They stud the shelves like gems in a bracelet. The rich notes of malachite peak from pistachio-studded confections that rest next to the semi-precious pastels of kufeta, sugared almonds.

A glass-topped display case protects their most valued treasures. Right now it holds amulets of amethyst and lapis set in gold, a rare ancient text in Aramaic, two hand painted water jugs from the Lebanon, mystical crystals dug from some unknown geology and other things that spark the eye, remind the body of its hungers, or speak to the soul.

At the end of the display case there is a small desk. The desk has a small drawer that holds a small box with their money. Everything is diminutive like her mother and grandmother who stand a scant four feet. Habah is undersized as well. Nine years-old and shoulder-high to most of her classmates, it is already clear that she too will grow to be a delicate wisp of fairy-dream. “Nothing wrong with small,” said her mother’s brother, Ammu Dani, a poor attempt at accepting his own lack of height and girth. “Fine boned,” is what her mother, Laila, said. “We are a fine boned people, and that is exactly because we are fine-minded and true-hearted.” Laila believed that how you physically  manifest in this world is what you are in your mind and heart.


Closing the door to the house behind her, Habah went skipping to the store until she knew she was close enough for her mother to see her. Then she walked slowly like a civilized person.

Today is a big day. Today they expect a delivery from the other side. When she was little, Habah thought “the other side” meant that place you came from when you were born and returned to when you died. Eventually she learned it meant just another earthy place, the one that they emigrated from long before she could remember. Ammu Dani said it lay oceans away. Now that she was older she understood that the packages they got each month were sent from dusty villages, places where prophets and angels had once walked unrecognized among men and women too preoccupied with worldly things. At least that’s what Laila had told her and what Habah believes.

Laila and Habah are never able to predict what each month’s shipment will bring. It might be a rock or a crystal, a dried flower or a salted fish. It might be a dead saint’s relic: a hallowed piece of bone or lock of hair. Her mother treated whatever came with equal reverence when she made them at home in her display case. Once the shipment was of a Turkish coffee cup, etched gold on the outside and lined with the purest white china. It came with a golden spoon and sat on an old pock-marked ebony tray. The wonders flowed from east to west, month upon month, year after year.


Habah arrived at the shop to find a large man holding a brown box tied with white string. She wondered if it was their package. He looked down from his great height and smiled at her as if he knew her. Inside her mind, Habah talked to herself, “He has eyes like dark cocoa with a dash of warm cinnamon.”

The big man and Laila exchanged a glance. “I want you to go home, Habah. Go home and help your grandmother with her baking.” “Why?” Habah whined, “I want to help you.” All week at school, Habah looked forward to Saturdays and helping her mother in the shop. “We will meet you at home. First, I need some time with this gentleman.” “We?” thought Habah.

Though Habah chaffed at being sent home, she did as she was told. “I’m being sent home because of this man,” she thought. “Who is he?” He reminded her of a Romani Gypsy she’d read about in a story once. She felt unaccountably safe in his presence. She wanted to talk to him, to perhaps curl-up and cuddle on his lap, and relish the scent of him that seemed oddly familiar, a comforting combination of her grandmother’s stewed lamb, strong coffee, and winds from foreign places.

When Habah got home, her grandmother had yet to start the baking. She was in the basement going through the contents of a battered black trunk. She pulled two fading sepia photographs from it. One is of Laila with a dark man who looks like he could be the brother of the man Habah met in the store.

Habah drew herself up. She knew it. She knew it! Everyone must come to her city. It was the center of the earth. She’d always known it: that one day the beloved city would toss from its secret depths and wide connections that singular precious missing bliss, the ultimate bliss, long fated and so longingly awaited. Habah did not care by what occult means the ultimate bliss had finally arrived, only that he had. Tonight – after dinner – they would stand together at her window and feast on the moon.

Other fiction samples are: Senjora Ortega’s Frijoles and Time of Orphaning.


to all the dads and to the moms, grandfathers, aunts, uncles and older siblings who serve as loving surrogate dads for those who abandoned or have been lost.

 © Short Story ~ Jamie Dedes, 2011 all rights reserved; This short story is fiction and any resemblance to anyone living or dead is coincidence. Also published in The Cottage Reader and The BeZine. Photo credit ~ Brooklyn Memories/Old Brooklyn