Posted in Jamie Dedes, memoir, Poems/Poetry

sleeping without walls

My mom died twenty-two years ago this month. She has been much on my mind these past few weeks.

squeezing a penny

my mother never knew the names for things
the trees were just trees, the flowers just flowers,
but she knew life as a sigh and love as a linchpin
and how to get to work and maneuver in the dark,
she could squeeze a penny and was known to force
tired feet into worn shoes, she could make them dance

Mom and Me 1950, Brooklyn
Mom and Me
1950, Brooklyn, NY

sleeping without walls

camp that year taught the art of sleeping outside
sleeping without walls, watching the stars and moon,
gathering dreams from sunsets and morning dew

we slept in bed-rolls configured of old white sheets
and army blankets made of itchy khaki-colored wool
i wondered if my uncles slept on them during the war,
as I wondered about many things, many things …
and that summer held other delights, climbing trees
and eating cherries without washing them, oh!

and there were blueberry bushes and fig trees and
i lined the path to our food hut with odd sunday stones,
my own bare prayer while the big girls were at Mass,
i marveled at my middle-aged mother’s plump knees
and marked her spirit for wearing shorts and for her
joining in children’s games and singing ‘round the fire

now i wonder at summer camp morphing into metaphor ~
all our lives we did those things: gathering dreams,
mom and me, outsider artists sleeping without walls

Mom and me 1980, San Francisco, CA
Mom and me
1980, San Francisco, CA

in the shadow of the moon

like lucid dreaming, like light-infused rain drops and
the untarnished silver stars above country terrain,
my mother calls to me from the shadow of the moon
my father beams his smile at me from the milky way
gone and gone, still their essence scents my nights

– Jamie Dedes

© 2013, poems and family photos, Jamie Dedes, All rights reserved

Photo on 2012-09-19 at 20.00JAMIE DEDES ~ My worldly tags are poet and writer. For nearly six years I’ve blogged at The Poet by Day,the journey in poem, formerly titled Musing by Moonlight.  Through the gift of poetry (mine and that of others), I enter sacred space.


The focus of "The BeZine," a publication of The Bardo Group Beguines, is on sacred space (common ground) as it is expressed through the arts. Our work covers a range of topics: spirituality, life, death, personal experience, culture, current events, history, art, and photography and film. We share work here that is representative of universal human values however differently they might be expressed in our varied religions and cultures. We feel that our art and our Internet-facilitated social connection offer a means to see one another in our simple humanity, as brothers and sisters, and not as “other.” This is a space where we hope you’ll delight in learning how much you have in common with “other” peoples. We hope that your visits here will help you to love (respect) not fear. For more see our Info/Mission Statement Page.

22 thoughts on “sleeping without walls

  1. Jamie thank you for sharing such touching memories… Such intimate poetry that allows us to see all the beauty of your Mum. I’ve come back to read this a few times now…I just love it! Wonderful writing. 🙂


  2. I have been “deeply” uninspired now for several weeks. I am really just not writing. Which is just fine.

    I admire the relationship that you had with your mother and I appreciate your expression here of the feeling that thoughts of her generate within you. You have no idea of how many times I have rewritten this sentence, trying to get it right. It was so difficult to get right as thoughts of my own mother kept interfering. Forgiveness clears the air, cleans up ones own universe but one is not inclined to forget. I always enjoy your writings of family and youthful times.


  3. This poem recognises the ordinary as well as he extraordinary in you relationship with your Mum, Jamie; that, alone, makes this tribute very real and grounded. I love the lines:
    ” …all our lives we did those things: gathering dreams,
    mom and me, outsider artists sleeping without walls…”
    Very special.


  4. sweet, nostalgic, warm and intimate..Oh childhood memories..of innocence and games..of mothers’ unconditional love..your poem brings back the opening of Mahmoud Darwish’s poem for his mother..when she visited him in jail and the guards wouldn’t let her pass him the bread and coffee she brought, so he wrote this poem to console her..

    I long for my mother’s bread
    My mother’s coffee
    Her touch


    1. Thank you for your sweet comment, Imen. Funny, I was just thinking of writing about Mahmoud on my poety blog …

      Childhood memories grow up in me
      Day after day
      I must be worth my life
      At the hour of my death
      Worth the tears of my mother.
      And if I come back one day
      Take me as a veil to your eyelashes
      Cover my bones with the grass
      Blessed by your footsteps
      Bind us together
      With a lock of your hair
      With a thread that trails from the back of your dress
      I might become immortal
      Become a God
      If I touch the depths of your heart.
      If I come back
      Use me as wood to feed your fire
      As the clothesline on the roof of your house
      Without your blessing
      I am too weak to stand.
      I am old
      Give me back the star maps of childhood
      So that I
      Along with the swallows
      Can chart the path
      Back to your waiting nest.


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