Some mothers’ children stare unseeing . . .

 

Courtesy of Liane Metzler, Unsplash

“But in Idlib, nowhere is safe. Almost 50,000 are sheltering under trees or in other open spaces. I am getting daily reports of babies and other young children dying in the cold. Imagine the grief of a parent who escaped a war zone with their child, only to watch that child freeze to death.” Mark Lowcock, United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, February 20, 2020



Some Mothers’ Hearts Have Stopped

Some mothers’ children stare unseeing
No sweet, wet baby kisses from blistered lips,

. . . . songs unsung

No wedding portraits to dust and treasure
No graduations or trips to the sea

. . . . just their bodies to bury

crushed
beaten
stilled
frozen

by the engine of nihilism

Limbs cracked and broken, bellies torn
Faces purpled, hearts stopped

Hearts stopped
. . . . hearts stopped

Some mothers’ hearts have stopped

© 2015, Jamie Dedes

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Poetry rocks the world!



FEEL THE BERN

For Peace, Sustainability, Social Justice

The Poet by Day officially endorses Bernie Sanders for President.

The New New Deal

Link HERE for Bernie’s schedule of events around the country.

“Democracy is not a spectator sport.” Bernie Sanders



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

Nearly one million driven from their homes into the cold …

Courtesy of Gabriele Fangi, Wissam Wahbeh – “The destroyed minaret of the Umayyad mosque of Aleppo after its destruction in 2013 / under CC BY 3.0

“In Syria, only one pocket of resistance to the Assad regime remains, in Idlib province. But since late last year, Assad’s military has been relentlessly attacking the region, and now, nearly a million people have been forced from their homes in the freezing cold. In a war defined by displacement, this is the largest movement of people in the entire years-long conflict.” Nick Schifrin reports this evening for PBS Newshour MORE



The Doves Have Flown

what must it be like for you in your part of the world?
there is only silence, i don’t know your name, i know only
that the fire of Life makes us one in this, the human journey,
trudging through mud, by land and by sea, reaching for the sun
like entering a ritual river without a blessing or a prayer
on the street where you lived, your friends are all gone
the houses are crushed and the doves have flown
there is only silence, no children playing, no laughter
here and there a light remains to speak to us of loneliness,
yet our eyes meet in secret, our hearts open on the fringe,
one breath and the wind blows, one tear and the seas rise,
your tears drip from my eyes and i tremble with your fear

© 2016, Jamie Dedes


Jamie DedesAbout /Testimonials / Disclosure / Facebook / Medium Ko-fi

Your donation HERE helps to fund the ongoing mission of The Poet by Day in support of poets and writers, freedom of artistic expression, and human rights.

Poetry rocks the world!



FEEL THE BERN

For Peace, Sustainability, Social Justice

The Poet by Day officially endorses Bernie Sanders for President.

The New New Deal

Link HERE for Bernie’s schedule of events around the country.

“Democracy is not a spectator sport.” Bernie Sanders



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

NIGHTS WITH GHOSTS, POEM FROM A CHILD IN ZIMBABWE

 

“Poets Against War continues the tradition of socially engaged poetry by creating venues for poetry as a voice against war, tyranny and oppression.” Mission Statement of Poets Against War.



Back around 2008 when I started blogging, Poets Against War, founded in 2003 by American poet Sam Hamill (1943-2018) in response to the war with Iraq, was still going strong and some of my poems were accepted for online publication. This was my baptism into socially engaged poetry. The thousands of poems that were contributed to the database from poets around the world are archived at a university, the name of which I’ve long forgotten. There were some other great efforts including Poetry of Solidarity, which made use of the easy and economical outreach the Internet offers. These two sites have gone the way of all things. The links I saved for them now get a 404 error code. Today we have 100,000 Poets (and friends) for Change, founded in 2011 by Michael Rothenberg and Terri Carrion.

Fortunately, I did keep notes on some of the poetry and activities I encountered in those early blogging days. What follows is a translation of a poem written by a child in Zimbabwe after the government made war on its own people in June 2005. 200,000 people became homeless.  This poem was included in an article by American poet Karen Margolis in the now defunct Poetry of Solidarity.

nights with ghosts
.
dear samueri, my friend
i will never see you again;
maybe i will.
but i shall not know
until father finds us a new address
,
addresses!
we have none anymore.
we are of no address.
.
now that i have written this letter,
where do i post it to?
shall i say, samueri,
care of the next rubble
harare?

“I dream of giving birth to a child who will ask, ‘Mother, what was war?'” American poet, Eve Merriam


“Rendezvous With Death” by American Poet, Alan Seeger, posted in honor of the 100th Anniversary of the end of World War 1

Mametz, Western Front, a winter scene, painting by Frank Crozier / Public Domain Photograph

“It was the seventh of November, 1918. The war was finally over. Maybe it would be declared a holiday and named War’s End Day or something equally hopeful and wrong. Wars would break out again. Violence was part of human nature as much as love and generosity.” Claire Holden Rothman, The Heart Specialist


New York Times, Nov. 11, 1918, Public Domain Photograph

Tomorrow is the 100th Anniversary of the end of World War 1, “the war to end all wars.”

The poet bearing witness is Alan Seeger (1888-1916), an American.   He died at the Battle of the Somme (a.k.a. the Somme Offensive) on July 4, 1916. He was serving in the French Foreign Legion.

Rendezvous With Death is probably his most well-known poem. I’ve included that along with Ode in Memory of the American Volunteers Fallen for France, which Seeger wrote and was to read on May 30, 1916 as part of an American Decoration Day (now Memorial Day) event in front of a statue of Layfayette and Washington in Paris. His leave to go to the event was inadvertently written for Independance Day not Decoration Day. The gathering went on without Seeger or his Ode. Seeger was upset but decided to look forward to a visit to Paris on July 4th, which turned out to be the date of his rendezvous with death.

It is said that Alan Seeger’s imagery was influenced by time spent in Mexico in his youth.  He is the brother of Charles Seeger (1886-1979), a composer, teacher, folklorist, pacifist and father of Pete Seeger, Peggy Seeger, and Mike Seeger, all folk singers.


Rendezvous with Death

I have a rendezvous with Death
At some disputed barricade,
When Spring comes back with rustling shade
And apple-blossoms fill the air—
I have a rendezvous with Death
When Spring brings back blue days and fair.

It may be he shall take my hand
And lead me into his dark land
And close my eyes and quench my breath—
It may be I shall pass him still.
I have a rendezvous with Death
On some scarred slope of battered hill,
When Spring comes round again this year
And the first meadow-flowers appear.

God knows ’twere better to be deep
Pillowed in silk and scented down,
Where love throbs out in blissful sleep,
Pulse nigh to pulse, and breath to breath,
Where hushed awakenings are dear . . .
But I’ve a rendezvous with Death
At midnight in some flaming town,
When Spring trips north again this year,
And I to my pledged word am true,
I shall not fail that rendezvous.

– Alan Seeger

Ode in Memory of the American Volunteers Fallen for France

I

Ay, it is fitting on this holiday,
Commemorative of our soldier dead,
When — with sweet flowers of our New England May
Hiding the lichened stones by fifty years made gray —
Their graves in every town are garlanded,
That pious tribute should be given too
To our intrepid few
Obscurely fallen here beyond the seas.
Those to preserve their country’s greatness died;
But by the death of these
Something that we can look upon with pride
Has been achieved, nor wholly unreplied
Can sneerers triumph in the charge they make
That from a war where Freedom was at stake
America withheld and, daunted, stood aside.

II

Be they remembered here with each reviving spring,
Not only that in May, when life is loveliest,
Around Neuville-Saint-Vaast and the disputed crest
Of Vimy, they, superb, unfaltering,
In that fine onslaught that no fire could halt,
Parted impetuous to their first assault;
But that they brought fresh hearts and springlike too
To that high mission, and ’tis meet to strew
With twigs of lilac and spring’s earliest rose
The cenotaph of those
Who in the cause that history most endears
Fell in the sunny morn and flower of their young years.

III

Yet sought they neither recompense nor praise,
Nor to be mentioned in another breath
Than their blue coated comrades whose great days
It was their pride to share — ay, share even to the death!
Nay, rather, France, to you they rendered thanks
(Seeing they came for honor, not for gain),
Who, opening to them your glorious ranks,
Gave them that grand occasion to excel,
That chance to live the life most free from stain
And that rare privilege of dying well.

IV

O friends! I know not since that war began
From which no people nobly stands aloof
If in all moments we have given proof
Of virtues that were thought American.
I know not if in all things done and said
All has been well and good,
Or if each one of us can hold his head
As proudly as he should,
Or, from the pattern of those mighty dead
Whose shades our country venerates to-day,

If we’ve not somewhat fallen and somewhat gone astray.
But you to whom our land’s good name is dear,
If there be any here
Who wonder if her manhood be decreased,
Relaxed its sinews and its blood less red
Than that at Shiloh and Antietam shed,
Be proud of these, have joy in this at least,
And cry: “Now heaven be praised
That in that hour that most imperilled her,
Menaced her liberty who foremost raised
Europe’s bright flag of freedom, some there were
Who, not unmindful of the antique debt,
Came back the generous path of Lafayette;
And when of a most formidable foe
She checked each onset, arduous to stem —
Foiled and frustrated them —
On those red fields where blow with furious blow
Was countered, whether the gigantic fray
Rolled by the Meuse or at the Bois Sabot,
Accents of ours were in the fierce melee;
And on those furthest rims of hallowed ground
Where the forlorn, the gallant charge expires,
When the slain bugler has long ceased to sound,
And on the tangled wires
The last wild rally staggers, crumbles, stops,
Withered beneath the shrapnel’s iron showers: —
Now heaven be thanked, we gave a few brave drops;
Now heaven be thanked, a few brave drops were ours.”

V

There, holding still, in frozen steadfastness,
Their bayonets toward the beckoning frontiers,
They lie — our comrades — lie among their peers,
Clad in the glory of fallen warriors,
Grim clusters under thorny trellises,
Dry, furthest foam upon disastrous shores,
Leaves that made last year beautiful, still strewn
Even as they fell, unchanged, beneath the changing moon;
And earth in her divine indifference
Rolls on, and many paltry things and mean
Prate to be heard and caper to be seen.
But they are silent, calm; their eloquence
Is that incomparable attitude;
No human presences their witness are,
But summer clouds and sunset crimson-hued,
And showers and night winds and the northern star.
Nay, even our salutations seem profane,
Opposed to their Elysian quietude;
Our salutations calling from afar,
From our ignobler plane
And undistinction of our lesser parts:
Hail, brothers, and farewell; you are twice blest, brave hearts.
Double your glory is who perished thus,
For you have died for France and vindicated us.

– Alan Seeger


ABOUT

Poet and writer, I was once columnist and the associate editor of a regional employment publication. Currently I 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 Press, The River Journal, The Bar None GroupSalamander CoveSecond LightI Am Not a Silent PoetMeta / Phor(e) /Play, and California Woman

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