Spring is here and Easter’s on its way; Wednesday Writing Prompt will return on April 24

“Put your mouthful of words away
and come with me to watch
the lilies open in such a field,
growing there like yachts,
slowly steering their petals
without nurses or clocks.”
Anne Sexton, The Complete Poems



Dan (Now Father Daniel Sormani, C.S.SP) and me circa 1962 – last time I was taller than anybody!

In honor of springtime and Holy Week (coming up), my hunger for rest and renewal, and a visit (Hooray!) with my cousin Daniel, whom I haven’t seen in over forty years, I’ll not be online much until April 22nd or so.

The next  Wednesday Writing Prompt will post on April 24.

The next Opportunity Knocks will post on April 25.

I plan to take a serious rest from Facebook, but will on occasion bring you blog updates on opportunities or interesting information. I won’t be visiting blogs, reading email, or posting regularly until after Easter.


silhouettes-of-childrenthere’s little i’d want to live over
but a few moments, with special people,
their memory held safe, gently wrapped,
with affection, like a
gift waiting to be touched,
opened and savored …

ribbon tugged
….. paper unfurled

the scent of other children, brothers,
the timbre of their voices, those early days,
the freshness playing in my mind,
in flickering light, like

an eight-millimeter film
…..of toddlers and youths

haunting the years until today
when i found you again

i reached out 
…..and you reached back

© 2014, poem, Jamie Dedes, All rights reserved
Illustration ~ courtesy of George Hodan, Public Domain Pictures.net


My cousin Dan:

What Have We Done That People Can Pick Up Weapons and Kill?, Fr. Daniel Sormani, C.S.Sp.

Fr. Daniel S. Sormani, C.S.Sp.

My cousin is a priest who has lived and worked in Algeria and Dubai and until recently was teaching theology at Ateneo de Manila University in the Philippines. He asks in a feature article for The BeZine, What Have We Done that People Can Pick-up Weapons and Kill.  

“We have become our own worst enemy. Whenever we separate the world into ‘them’ and ‘us’, whenever we accept blind generalizations and cease to see a unique individual before us, whenever we forget we are all victims of carefully orchestrated deceit and deception for wealth and power, the force of darkness wins. Bullets will never win this struggle, only the heart and mind will.”

Mom’s rosary beads and Dan’s Arabic Bible

 


ABOUT

WITH TWICE-FOUND HOPE AND TENDER LOVE, a poem

“If you cannot get rid of the family skeleton, you may as well make it dance.”
Immaturity, George Bernard Shaw [The Collected Works of George Bernard Shaw: Plays, Novels, Articles, Letters and Essays]



We four, we fumbled our pas de quatre on river rocks in
a faraway place of raging Hudson and an antique cloister.
No escape from mutilation but for books and theater,
old stories reborn, told in graceful moves and music made
for those with better breeding, more cultivated minds.

Home, our home, a place of first loves, unfounded hope
where simmering, Sidto* served soup to my sister,
a dark-olive girl-fugue in tar black and char dust.
In that place whirling with church spires and myrtle trees,
grimacing and breathless, we spun along twisted shores.
The mothers buried anger in silence, cold bile leaked. I
slipped, broke my ballerina legs in a premature grand jeté.
I failed to heal those fissured old hearts.

We were lost, our frenzied dabke* danced in crazy time,
passing green humid summers and silver crisp winters,
swinging the stone shackles of the earth-bound. Home . . .
At home, such a tangled skein of love and lies and ties where,
by the bogey breeze, tripping on river rocks, hysterical
imaginings, one stepped lively in Schadenfreude.

Solitary now

Alone above rainforest layers of a lyrical mind, I dance
triumphant, a pas marché on rain clouds, plumbed, bursting
with hard-won poems in roses, willow greens, and light.
With twice-found hope and tender love, I dance for them.

*Sidto (Arabic) – grandmother; Dabke (Arabic) – folk dance of the Levantine peoples 

© 2019 rewrite, poem, Jamie Dedes, All rights reservedIllustration courtesy of Fran Hogan, Public Domain Photograph.net.


ABOUT

Testimonials

Disclosure

Facebook

Twitter

Poet and writer, I was once columnist and associate editor of a regional employment publication. I currently run this site, The Poet by Day, an information hub for poets and writers. I am the managing editor of The BeZine published by The Bardo Group Beguines (originally The Bardo Group), a virtual arts collective I founded.  I am a weekly contributor to Beguine Again, a site showcasing spiritual writers. My work is featured in a variety of publications and on sites, including: Levure littéraure, Ramingo’s PorchVita Brevis Literature,Compass Rose, Connotation PressThe Bar None GroupSalamander CoveSecond LightI Am Not a Silent PoetMeta / Phor(e) /Play, and California Woman. My poetry was recently read by Northern California actor Richard Lingua for Poetry Woodshed, Belfast Community Radio. I was featured in a lengthy interview on the Creative Nexus Radio Show where I was dubbed “Poetry Champion.”


The BeZine: Waging the Peace, An Interfaith Exploration featuring Fr. Daniel Sormani, Rev. Benjamin Meyers, and the Venerable Bhikkhu Bodhi among others

“What if our religion was each other. If our practice was our life. If prayer, our words. What if the temple was the Earth. If forests were our church. If holy water–the rivers, lakes, and ocean. What if meditation was our relationships. If the teacher was life. If wisdom was self-knowledge. If love was the center of our being.” Ganga White, teacher and exponent of Yoga and founder of White Lotus, a Yoga center and retreat house in Santa Barbara, CA

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

“BROKEN HOMES,” Single Moms, Remarkable Sons … Gill Scott-Heron, jazz poet

Gill Scott-Heron (1949-2011), American jazz poet, spoken-word poet, muscian and author

Gill Scott-Heron (1949-2011), American jazz poet, spoken-word poet, musician and author

“All I really want to say
Is that the problems come and go
But the sunshine seems to stay . . . “

My son sent me On Coming from a Broken Home (an excerpt from the album, I’m New Here) for Mother’s Day in 2011.  Since then I publish some version of this piece every two years. I think Gil Scott-Heron’s message here is important. 

Gil Scott-Heron died around this time in 2011. He’d started out fiery and angry. Some will remember his forceful The Revolution Will Be Televised and other such works. He was always an artist of political integrity. It showed in actions such as refusing to perform in Tel Aviv because “we do not like wars.”  Over time his style mellowed, but his ideals remained.

Gil Scott-Heron is considered by many to be the grandfather of rap and the father of political rap.  Famously, he didn’t accept those titles; he was critical of young rappers, felt they needed to study more, to promote change and not perpetuate the status-quo.  He is quoted in ChickenBones: A Journal as saying …

“They need to study music. I played in several bands before I began my career as a poet. There’s a big difference between putting words over some music, and blending those same words into the music. There’s not a lot of humor. They use a lot of slang and colloquialisms, and you don’t really see inside the person. Instead, you just get a lot of posturing.”

In the poem shared today it’s interesting to see what Heron does with his personal experience.  I like that there’s nothing of the victim mentality in this piece. I like the way he talks of dealing with life as it is. I appreciate that he points out that single-parent homes are not always the result of abandonment but are often made so due to parents who were lost in war or in jobs as police officers, firefighters or pilots.

“They lost their lives, but not what their lives stood for.” 

On Coming From a Broken Home (video below, escerpt from I‘m New Here) is a good example of how art can explain, validate and give us new perspectives … perhaps even encourage us to talk with one another. The piece is from Gil Scott-Heron’s last studio album, I’m New Here. It came out in 2010 not long before he died.

As always if you are viewing this post from an email, you will have to click on the link to this site to see and hear the piece.

Header photograph/Heron at the WOMARD festival in Bristol England, 1988 by Robman94 under CC BY SA 2.0 license.

POETRY ON THE BIG SCREEN: “It is difficult to have the heart to write a poem.”

Poetry_WebBase

“The apricot throws itself on the ground. It is crushed and trampled for its next life.”  Yang Mija “sees” while walking through an orchard and takes notes in her poetry notebook

Poetry  (2009), the second movie suggestion for a holiday break movie, is a Korean movie with English subtitles. It speaks quietly about life and art, devastation and redemption. Like the most refined poetry, it is nuanced, honest and dramatic without being melodramatic or manipulative. It is a spare work, whittled down to essentials. It whispers. It never shouts.  Its pacing is leisurely and thoughtful. There is no suggestive music here to help you grasp the story’s progression. There are no stars who’ve been nipped, tucked, brushed, trussed and boosted. These people are real. They could be me or you or a next-door neighbor.  The story could be anyone’s story anywhere in the world. Indeed, Director Lee Chang-dong got the basic idea for the screenplay from news reports..

… this story was finally born from a combination of different elements: the sexual assault case, the suicide of a girl, and the lady in her 60s writing a poem.” Lee Chang-dong

Yoon Jeong-hee stars in the leading role (Yang Mija) and it is the lean script (though the movie is over two hours long) and Jeon-hee’s exquisitely understated acting that transfix us. Watch her face. Watch her body movements.  These also are a kind of poetry.

“I’m quite a poet. I do like flowers and say odd things.” Yang Mija

Yang Mija is a sixty-six year-old grandmother charged with the care of a teenaged grandson, Jongwook – or Wook – whose mother is divorced and living in Busan. Wook is lazy and ungrateful and shows no respect for his grandmother or sensitivity to her age and her loneliness.

“You’re sprouting a mustache but acting like a child.” Yang Mija to Wook

Wook is part of a gang of male friends, fellow students, who over the course of six months repeatedly rape a young woman who subsequently drowns herself. News of this comes coincident with Yang Mija’s diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease and her first poetry class. It is her poetry classes and effort to write a poem that provide the through-line for this story.

“The most important thing is seeing.” the poetry instructor to the class on the first day

img1-lgWe walk alongside Yang Mija as she struggles with these multiple challenges – not without some humor – and sorts through her emotions regarding her grandson’s actions, her sympathy for the drowned girl, and the desire of other parents to hide the boys’ culpability by buying off the drowned girl’s mother. While Yang Mija may be suffering the early stages of memory loss, she hasn’t lost her moral compass.

As she moves from one experience to the next, Yang Mija questions: How do you write a poem? Where does the poetry come from? When she decides her grandson must face the consequences of his actions, she is finally able to write her poem.

Agnes’s Song

How is it over there?
How lonely is it?
Is it still glowing red at sunset?
Are the birds still singing on
the way to the forest?

Can you receive the letter
I dared not send?
Can I convey the confession
I dared not make?
Will time pass and roses fade?

Now it is time to say goodbye,
Like the wind that lingers
And then goes, just like shadows.

To promises that never came,
To the love sealed till the end,
To the grass kissing my weary ankles,
and to the tiny footsteps following me,
It is time to say goodbye.

Now as darkness falls
will a candle be lit again?
Here I pray nobody shall cry
and for you to know
how deeply I loved you.

The long wait in the middle
of a hot summer day.
An old path resembling my father’s face.
Even the lonesome wild flower
shyly turning away.

How deeply I loved.
How my heart fluttered at
hearing your faint song.
I bless you
before crossing the black river
with my soul’s last breath.

I am beginning to dream…
A bright sunny morning again I awake,
blinded by the light and meet you
standing by me.

– Yang Mija

“It is not difficult to write a poem. It is difficult to have the heart to write a poem.” the poetry instructor on the last day of class. Yang Meja is not in attendance but has left a bouquet of flowers and her poem.

You can stream Poetry on Amazon, if you are interested. It’s quite a memorable film.

© 2016, review, Jamie Dedes, All rights reserved; Photographs, poem, quotes courtesy of and property of the filmmaker and used here under fair use.

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

LITERATURE AND FICTION oo Editor’s Picks oo Award Winners oo NY Times Best Sellers