Posted in Book/Magazine Reviews, General Interest, Writing

Poetry Chef Michael Dickel brews a Mindblower, concocts ugly- allusions with beautiful- imagery on rough pleats of old political denims.

TIME OF THE POET REPUBLIC

The resistance poet in Poetry Chef Michael Dickel wields his frying spoon with that amazing verve of a militant word-master and that astounding zeal of a chronicler cum griot cum protest poet. He fries and roasts the 6th January American political gaffe into a beautiful poetry gourmet ( fusion of visual arts , graphics and poetry) as perpetuated by the tyrant and autocratic regime of Donald Trump at Capitol Hill . Archaisms and political corruption that has since plunged the once all powerful America into the status of a Banana Republichovel , a war mongering nation and a military state on record as lecturing several countries across the globe on ethos of non-violent elections, freedom of expressions , human rights and democracy . Dr.Dickel uses powerful grim visual imagery , sorry historical allusions exposing the stark nudity of a system that have thrived on punishing other nations through perpetuation…

View original post 1,108 more words

Posted in General Interest

In Memoriam: Jamie Dedes, Founding Editor

Jamie Dedes, z”l.
May her memory be for a blessing.

We received this note November 8, 2020. We lost our beloved founding editor and editor-in-chief emerita on 06 November of this year. We all will miss her. She was a loving, caring, and creative person who gave everything to her art, to others, and to the causes of peace, social justice, and sustainability. Most of all, she loved her family and they loved her, caring for her gently to the very end.

— Michael Dickel, editor


Hello, everybody. I’m Richard, Jamie’s son. As you may know, Jamie entered hospice care on July 7. She wanted to be home for her remaining days. I honored this request and stayed with her and cared for her during this time. Though end of life is painful, she went through this period with characteristic resilience, thoughtfulness, and generosity. My being able to stay with her was just the latest gift in a lifetime of gifts she gave me. She passed at 10:00 PM Pacific last night (11/6). By grace, my wife Karen and I were at her side, holding her hands as she passed. Be comforted that it was an easy passing. I am only just starting to monitor her Facebook and email. Please be patient as I work through things. You will be hearing from me. Meanwhile, thank you again. She loved the Zine and the team. I have heard many great stories about you all and read many of your works. I like forward to connecting more soon. With love and gratitude to you all, Richard.

Posted in Art, Awards/Nominations, Corina L. Ravenscraft, digital art, General Interest

The BeZine 100TPC 2021 Banner Contest Winners

It’s our pleasure and privilege to announce the winners of the 2021 Banner Contest for The BeZine 100TPC! The competition was fierce and our outside judge had a difficult time deciding, as all of the entries we received showed talent and great merit.

The Grand Prize is awarded to Jane Grenier, of JaneSpokenWord.com. Her entry will be showcased as The BeZine 100TPC Banner Header for the next year.

The New BeZine Banner by Jane Grenier

The BeZine 100TPC Team came up with some extra prizes for the designs of four Honorable Mentions! They are, in alphabetical order:

  • Honorable Mention: Jazmine Cabaluna
  • Honorable Mention: Sasha Callaghan
  • Honorable Mention: Kella Hanna-Wayne
  • Honorable Mention: Peter Wilkin

All winning entrants will receive official certificates of merit that may be printed, as well as Amazon gift cards. Both certificates and gift cards will be e-mailed to the e-mail addresses associated with the submitted entries.

Thank you all for your wonderful submissions and special thanks to our judge, Mrs. Bettye Shely Holte, a University Professor Emeritus of Art and Gallery Director of two galleries for over twenty years!

Posted in General Interest

The BeZine 100TPC 2021 Banner Contest!

Are you artistically inclined? Do you believe in raising awareness about important issues like Peace, Environmental Sustainability and Social Justice? Would you like a chance to display your visual arts talent to a global audience for a whole year? Could you use an Amazon Gift Card? 

If this sounds like you, then we want to see your art! The BeZine 100TPC (One Hundred Thousand Poets for Change) is holding an open contest for our 2021 Banner. This respected online magazine showcases both budding and well-established, professional talent from poets, musicians, and all manner of artists from all over the world. The BeZine reaches a global audience of thousands of people and continues to attract additional readers, followers, and subscribers. Artists who are interested are encouraged to check out our site at: https://thebezine.com/ to see the kinds of things we publish, as well as read our mission statement and publishing guidelines.

 

There is no entry fee. Only one entry per person, please.

You may use any medium, but the final submission needs to be a digital format picture or slide (.jpg, .png or .bmp). Banners need to be: 820px x 360px (or 6.8” L x 3” H) so that we may also use it on our Facebook page. All entries should be mailed to dragonkatet2000@yahoo.com, and the Subject Line should read: ATTN The BeZine 100TPC Banner .

Submission Deadline is 12 pm Noon CST, Monday, August 31st, 2020.
Winners will be announced Tuesday, September 15th, 2020.

• First Place: $100 Amazon Gift Card
• Two Runners up: $25 Amazon Gift Card each

Posted in Culture/History, General Interest, Internet, John Anstie, poem, poetry, Resist

Sharing, a poem by John Anstie

Googol’s simply everywhere, Mamazon’s exclusive.
Big numbers likely would impress, were they not so intrusive,

but then those folk, who insidiously degrade our hard won grace,
are constantly, annoyingly, always in our face.

When the grass can grow untainted, and multiply in foison
and healthy sustenance prevails without the need for poison

it’ll be because we can commute opinion for the better
turn greed to need across the globe with immunity unfettered

but there’ll be no hope for freedom on the highways of the net
until some point in future time, if we’re not forced to forget

that much of our entitlement, accustomed as we are,
will fall into the purses of all those who would be tzar.

The truth would like to catch ‘em out for being so damned brash
yet if we give up easily, we’ll all be turned to ash.

© 2020 John Anstie

“In all her doings my mother influenced me to have endurance, dedication, resistance, faith and resilience.” Mbizo Chirasha Our village rondavels sat on the peripheral fringes of Dayataya, that elephantine mountain of home. It cracked with a fervent babyish glee every promising dawn. Birds sang soprano and black baboons yelped baritone. The chattering monkeys and jiving […]

via MAMA, Goddess of All Times, An Eulogy to Mother (Part 2), a lyric essay by Zimbabwean Poet in Exile, Mbizo Chirasha — Jamie Dedes’ THE POET BY DAY Webzine

MAMA, Goddess of All Times, An Eulogy to Mother (Part 2), a lyric essay by Zimbabwean Poet in Exile, Mbizo Chirasha — Jamie Dedes’ THE POET BY DAY Webzine

“In all her doings my mother influenced me to have endurance, dedication, resistance, faith and resilience.” Mbizo Chirasha Recently, Zimbabwean poet, Mbizo Chirasha, lost his mom. Knowing that his sense of loss and grief is compounded by the fact of his exile and an inability therefor to be with her in her last days and […]

via MAMA, Goddess of All Times, An Eulogy to Mother by Zimbabwean Poet in Exile, Mbizo Chirasha — Jamie Dedes’ THE POET BY DAY Webzine

MAMA, Goddess of All Times, An Eulogy to Mother by Zimbabwean Poet in Exile, Mbizo Chirasha — Jamie Dedes’ THE POET BY DAY Webzine

Posted in General Interest

Final Call for Submissions to “The BeZine” June 2020 issue themed “SustainABILITY”

copyright “The BeZine”

 

THE BeZINE CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS

SustainABILITY

Environmental Sustainability, Environmental Justice, Climate Change …

Call for submissions of feature articles, fiction, creative nonfiction, poetry, art and photography, music videos, and documentary videos on diverse environmental topics including but not limited to: degradation, protection, greenhouse gasses, weather/climate change, justice, and agriculture, famine and hunger. This call is open through May 15. 

While The BeZine does not pay for content, neither do we charge submission or subscription fees.

Work that is not properly submitted will not be considered.

  • Prose, poetry (up to three poems), and links to videos: submit in the body of the email.
  • Please: no odd, unusual, eccentric layouts
  • Photographs or artwork: submit as an attachment
  • DO NOT send PDFs or a document with both narrative and illustrations combined.
  • By submitting work to thezinesubmissions@gmail.com, you are confirming that you own and hold the rights to the work and that you grant us the right to publish on the blog or in the Zine if your submission is accepted. Submissions via Facebook or other social networking or in the comments section, will not be reviewed or accepted.
  • Please include a brief bio in the email. No photographs.

ART & PHOTOGRAPHY: We are looking for something special to be the header for The Table of Contents Page.

SIMULTANEOUS SUBMISSIONS are okay but please let us know immediately if availability changes.

Among the guidelines: our core team, our guest contributors, and our readership are international and diverse. No works that advocate hate or violence, promote misunderstanding, or that demean others are acceptable. Please read our Complete Submission Guidelines.

The BeZine is featured by
pf poetry
Second Light Live newsletters, website, and magazine
Duotrope®

Jamie Dedes
Founder and Co-manager Editor

Michael Dickel
Co-manager Editor

Posted in April 2020 Poetry Month, COVID-19/Pandemic, General Interest, John Anstie

Waiting for God, Oh Happy Days

How long is it since I set out on a quest, my
life’s mission, it seems like an age since I
realised my first ambition to own a car, to
drink a pint, legally, but not at the same time,
obviously! Each step was like—I imagine—
a fix of drugs, the only thing that I ever wanted,
that brings the ultimate pleasure that cannot
possibly be surpassed by anything but another
fix of something newer, stronger, more in
keeping with my current mores, my present,
my expectation, my self-image when was it
that I was introduced to Status, that fickle friend,
who always taunts me, the little demon, who
also seems to be up to their neck in sand and
knows so much about me, too much, and
strangely seems to have acquired me, as a
chattel without so much as ‘by your leave’, but
Ego and I are old friends, even though I didn’t
know, it turns out he’s also known my new
friend, Status, for longer than I, partners in crime
it seems, strange how small and large the World
is and that feeling I’m not in control, but damn!
who had the audacity to tell me I’m not in control,
of course I am fully in control of my thoughts and
actions are completely my own invention, all my
own, I know who I am, what I want, where I’m
going so don’t tell me I’m not in control, my
friends all like me, for who I am, or are they
really a reflection of my own missions, ambitions
and do I support them against their enemies, who
they perceive, think, guess, assume I am against
… before another me arrived stage left, with
thoughts that are different from anything I had ever
espoused, before this moment all I ever wanted
was the next portion of life served up at a price.

Now, whilst ego may still be important, the only
status we need is to be alive, to live, all else is
immaterial. So, where is God? Where is salvation
for these sorry souls, faced with their mortality?
Then there was Samuel, who wrote of him, or
someone, who sounds like him, about people,
who wait forever, for a pot of gold, for a favour,
apparently owed, for an expectation assumed,
an entitlement thought to be a right, to enable a
mission, want, desire, dream, right of passage,
an explanation of it all … then I realised I didn’t
have a clue … what we were waiting for.

Now … this

© 2020, John Anstie

 

[Author’s note: We should never wait. We should absolutely not wait. Life is not going to be served up on a plate for us. I now know I’ve spent far too much of my life waiting for something that I was lead to expect would happen, something that would change my life for the better, that would magically transform me into the person I longed to be, or thought I longed to be, thought that I should be, according to the expectations I had grown up to believe I should have for myself, or that someone else had for me, that was apparently the key to success and happiness. And so it seemed to be … until, that is, I began to realise that I am, like every being, a unique organic entity, with a unique set of abilities and aptitudes. Then I started to believe I could make things happen for myself and stopped allowing myself to be influenced by the expectations of others, especially the (soon to be considered pariahs of modern materialistic society!) the marketing and advertising people, who want to make us believe in the idealised person we think we’d like to be, so as to persuade us to buy that nectar of the Gods, that machine that will revolutionise our life, that technology that will give us ultimate power of knowledge, those things that will make us the more attractive, that will pave the way to financial success, wealth, power and influence, simply by buying into their purveyance. How frail is the ego. How flawed is our search for status. How fragile is life and how much of a leveller is the Corona virus that will not select its victims according to status, but according the fact we are all organic beings. We are all humans, in need of purpose, compassion and love.]

Two plays by Samuel Beckett, “Waiting for Godot” and “Happy Days,” are the original influence for this text.

Posted in Environment/Deep Ecology/Climate Change, environmental injustice, General Interest

Climate Affairs ~ Cloud’s Care and Concern

Courtesy of Juan Alcantara, Unsplash

Clouds gather in the sky
some are dark some light up high
here they come rumbling
wonder why they are grumbling?
raising a storm, hue and cry!

                                                    Clouds gather in the sky;

are they showing us a fire?
frowning on a sinful desire?
warning of The Heaven’s Ire?
or to cool the bonfire?
Clouds gather in the sky

I wonder if their thunder
is a song of  celestial choir?
praising Divine Moist Sapphire,
Dust we see and dust we are
yet the particles conspire
Clouds gather in the sky

to relieve us from our misery
cooling comfort we do require,
I know they come to admire
and blessing us , will soon retire
away to their ocean home entire,

                                                            Clouds gather in the sky!

they leave a message , a purifier!
be at peace and mercy
be not a crier or a liar
be like us without any fuss
a bold graceful high flyer-
Clouds gather in the sky!

in rain we sing ‘n’ shout ‘n’ play
but break the law, then face the bolt.
If stormy weather be  Gods’ Wrath?
Stormy weather was foretold—then
pray for mercy, and a cleansing bath

                                                     OH Clouds Gather in the sky!
And I don’t wonder why…

ANJUM WASIM DAR (Poetic Oceans) is one of the newest members of “The BeZine” core team.
Anjum was born in Srinagar (Indian occupied Kashmir) in 1949. Her family opted for and migrated to Pakistan after the Partition of India and she was educated in St Anne’s Presentation Convent Rawalpindi where she passed the Matriculation Examination in 1964. Anjum ji was a Graduate with Distinction in English in 1968 from the Punjab University, which ended the four years of College with many academic prizes and the All Round Best Student Cup, but she found she had to make extra efforts for the Masters Degree in English Literature/American Studies from the Punjab University of Pakistan since she was at the time also a back-to-college mom with three school-age children.
.
Her work required further studies, hence a Post Graduate Diploma in Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) from Allama Iqbal Open University Islamabad and a CPE, a proficiency certificate, from Cambridge University UK (LSE – Local Syndicate Examination – British Council) were added to  her professional qualifications.
 .
Anjum ji says she has always enjoyed writing poems, articles, and anecdotes and her written work found space in local magazines and newspapers. A real breakthrough came with the Internet when a poem submitted online was selected for the Bronze Medal Award and I was nominated as Poet of Merit 2000 USA. She accepted the Challenge of NANOWRIMO 2014 and Freedom is Not a Gift, A Dialogue of Memoirs, a novel form was the result. She was a winner, completing her 50,000 word draft in one month.
.
Although a Teacher and a Teacher Trainer by Profession, she is a colored-pencil artist and also enjoys knitting and is currently trying to learn Tunisian Crochet.
Posted in General Interest

empathy

California Artist Gretchen Del Rio shares advice from her son who is on the front lines battling COVID-19 in MA. There are some tips here I haven’t seen elsewhere and they make sense to me. Check it out …

Gretchen Del Rio's Art Blog

watercolor

I just received the following information from my son Ben who is working on the front lines in a Massachusetts ER. It contains guidelines to stay uninfected by the virus and it goes way beyond anything I have heard or read. Feel free to forward to friends and family. peace, love and light gretchen

Hi

I was meaning to send this out to you all sooner, but I have been busy lately.  I wanted to offer my help and advice if desired for info about the pandemic.  Unfortunately, this is real and is likely to be a problem everywhere in the US.  Hopefully, the curve will flatten with people self isolating and we can delay how many people get this right in the beginning which will allow the medical community more time to prepare for this and also for the cases to be spread out more over time.

A…

View original post 867 more words

Posted in General Interest

‘hamsa’

What could be more lovely? A little something this evening from Zine team friend, Gretchen Del Rio. Enjoy …

Gretchen Del Rio's Art Blog

watercolor 3/2020

The swan known as Hamsa in Hindu mythology is said to be the vehicle of the goddess Saraswati…..patroness of wisdom, learning music and the arts. Or they may be one and the same. That would make Hamsa the divine swan-maiden.

purchase this painting

View original post

Posted in General Interest

Nightlight

I wake up drenched. Hair matted to my forehead with damp, cheek sticking to the pillow. I’ve known cold sweats before – I’ve been waking up with them my whole adult life – but this is one of the worst.
And I can understand why. Because, unlike some that fade away within seconds, this dream, those images, those noises, are all still flashing and sounding in front of me like a Halloween display. Horror come vividly to life, lingering as though I were still there watching and listening to it happen. I gasp in air, briefly frightened by the wall of darkness surrounding me. Just for an instant, that old fear, that dread that’s clung to me since childhood, rises up to break over me like a wave. Every part of me bracing for it. Tears already pooling in my eyes as I wait for the crash.

.
And then the light blinks on. Behind my shoulder, immediately casting its pale blue glow onto the bedroom wall. Illuminating the shadow of my head, complete with messy, sodden hair, even as I turn a fraction in the direction of the beam.

.
‘Shit,’ he mutters, strengthening the brightness of the phone as I turn round further, and see the screen lighting up his face as he finally swipes the bar across to full power. And instead of the terror I was preparing for only a moment ago, a wave of soaring relief crashes over me instead, as he shifts his eyes towards me and arches an eyebrow apologetically. ‘Forgot I’d dimmed down earlier. Took a moment to figure out why I could barely see anything.’

.
I almost let out a sob at the selflessness behind the words. No suggestion that he might actually have been asleep, that he might not have heard the scream that tore from my throat as I came out of the dream, that he might have been resting more deeply tonight. He’s never once not stirred at exactly the same moment I have, his body ever on alert for any hint of my distress, even in the middle of the night. He frowns slightly as he notices my eyes watering, before reaching out a finger to brush away the one escaping tear. Brushing away the images of those homophobic bastards kicking him half to death and forcing me to watch it with one simple touch. Like the breaking of a dark spell. Bringing me back to him, and only him.

.
‘Got you pretty bad tonight, huh?’ he asks, smiling sadly. ‘It’s okay.’

..
‘I know,’ I whisper. I always know. I always feel okay as soon as I see him again. Alive. Well. In my bed. Staring at me like I’m the most precious thing in the world.

.
‘What about his one?’ he asks, showing me the screen. I glance at it, and nod. A think of something starting with… game. ‘Looks interesting.’

.
‘Okay,’ he says. ‘Think of something starting with I.’

.
I love you.

.
More and more every night.

© 2020, Christopher Moore

CHRISTOPHER MOORE is a Northern Irish writer and a graduate of English from Queen’s University Belfast. He was also graduated with an MA in TV Fiction Writing at Glasgow Caledonian University.  Alongside a number of playwriting achievements, including being longlisted for the 2019 Bruntwood Prize, he’s had a number of pieces of short fiction read, performed and published around the UK, Ireland and US over the last few years.

Posted in COVID-19/Pandemic, General Interest

In the Time of COVID – 19: A Few Uplifting Words From My Cousin Dan . . .

As kids and probably the last time Dan was shorter than me. He stands 6’5′ and I stand a scant 5’2″.

“Remember that each day is an opportunity given to us by God.” Fr. Dan

“Thank you Fr. Dan for reminding us.” The students at Holy Ghost Prep 



Cousin Dan’s students at Holy Ghost Preparatory School in Pennsylvania asked him to do a video and this is the result. It has been making the rounds on Facebook, well received.  So here it is for you, an island of peace and uncommon good sense for troubled times.

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

The CitySon Philosopher, me, and Cousin Dan, Gamble Gardens, Palo Alto, CA 2018

© 2020, all photos Jamie Dedes and family

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

Posted in Environment/Deep Ecology/Climate Change, General Interest, Poems/Poetry

Environmental Justice ~ Poseidon’s Plea

 

Courtesy of Joseph Barrientos, Unsplash

Oceans are one of the many miracles of the Creator as the Earth itself is. The water holds itself yet moves, full of life, rebirth and deaths and fathoms of fluid space, stable for all ships and boats, salty roadways, for travelers transport and sport. / Anjum Wasim Dar



O’ Poseidon bestowed with the power unique
tell us the secret of the two seas that do not meet
yet flow with different colors, wave by wave, move
by move, side by side, a perfect acceptance of diversity,

Poseidon speaks, ‘Man is nothing without the Gods’
oceans or skies the sole power is with the Creator
who loves clear open hearts, He blocks nothing nor
builds walls, see my home has no doors nor windows’

All are free to enter, float, sail, swim dive or dig
I am full of food, fish, color, charms and treasures
but many living beings are careless, inconsiderate
they throw harmful waste trash plastic on and in me.

Water will not become less but will be a source of
trouble for human beings themselves, the dead will
float the dying will cry and curse, the thought makes
me shudder, storms surge, waves rise to great heights,

Water is hurt, it is red now with blood and scales
breathing is difficult, inhale a struggle, exhale an
ordeal, oil blocks unmarked uncharted paths
Ocean ides, no longer accept offerings from fans.

Home state worries Oceanus, growing more old
countless pennies coins of gold, are useless down
on the sea bed, worthless is such a treasure which
sinks and loses its values, shine and becomes cold.

A revenge rises a tsunami results, as the grand
bowl shakes jolts jumps and throws up-
beware O People …I envision a huge surge…
sing not any songs nor lie naked on the beach

Pray pray pray peace, repentance, forgiveness, seek

© 2020, Anjum Wasim Dar

ANJUM WASIM DAR (Poetic Oceans) is one of the newest members of “The BeZine” core team.
Anjum was born in Srinagar (Indian occupied Kashmir) in 1949. Her family opted for and migrated to Pakistan after the Partition of India and she was educated in St Anne’s Presentation Convent Rawalpindi where she passed the Matriculation Examination in 1964. Anjum ji was a Graduate with Distinction in English in 1968 from the Punjab University, which ended the four years of College with many academic prizes and the All Round Best Student Cup, but she found she had to make extra efforts for the Masters Degree in English Literature/American Studies from the Punjab University of Pakistan since she was at the time also a back-to-college mom with three school-age children.
.
Her work required further studies, hence a Post Graduate Diploma in Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL) from Allama Iqbal Open University Islamabad and a CPE, a proficiency certificate, from Cambridge University UK (LSE – Local Syndicate Examination – British Council) were added to  her professional qualifications.
 .
Anjum ji says she has always enjoyed writing poems, articles, and anecdotes and her written work found space in local magazines and newspapers. A real breakthrough came with the Internet when a poem submitted online was selected for the Bronze Medal Award and I was nominated as Poet of Merit 2000 USA. She accepted the Challenge of NANOWRIMO 2014 and Freedom is Not a Gift, A Dialogue of Memoirs, a novel form was the result. She was a winner, completing her 50,000 word draft in one month.
.
Although a Teacher and a Teacher Trainer by Profession, she is a colored-pencil artist and also enjoys knitting and is currently trying to learn Tunisian Crochet.
Posted in General Interest

loves fiercely

A beautiful watercolor from Zine friend, Gretchen Del Rio, and a good prayer for all our days.

Gretchen Del Rio's Art Blog

watercolor 2/2020

O’ Great Spirit

help me always

to speak the truth quietly,

and to remember the peace

that may be found in silence.

……..Cherokee Prayer

purchase this painting

View original post

Posted in General Interest

Happy International Women’s Day from The Zine Team and a poem for the occasion

I Read a Poem Today

I read a poem today and decided
I must deed it to some lost, lonely
fatherless child… to embrace her

along her stone path, invoke sanity
I want to tell her: don’t sell out your
dearest dreams or buy the social OS

Instead, let the poem play you like a
musician her viola, rewriting lonely
into sapphire solitude, silken sanctity

Let it wash you like the spray of whales
Let it drench your body in the music
of your soul, singing pure prana into

the marrow and margins of your life
Let your shaman soul name your muse,
find yourself posing poetry as power and

discover the amethyst bliss of words
woven from strands of your own DNA
Yes. I read a poem today and decided
I must deed it to a lost fatherless child

© 2011, Jamie Dedes (Written for an International Women’s Day forum and republished in 2012 for International Girl Child Day in 2012) / Photograph courtesy of Caroline Hernandez, Unsplash

Posted in General Interest, Illness/life-threatening illness, Writing

ELDER POWER: Growing Strong in Broken Places

Courtesy of Philippe Leone, Unsplash

“Authors, like coins, grow dear as they grow old; It is the rust we value, not the gold.” – Alexander Pope


I come to this place of Elder Power through a cascade of chronic catastrophic illnesses and disabilities, which – like life – are ultimately fatal.  Some have encouraged me to write from a clinical perspective. It would seem, however, that the clinical lessons have less significance than the life lessons. It is the life lessons that give us the strength to keep going, that are the true value to be shared, and that make us elders. To me “elder” implies more than “senior” or “senior citizen,” which I see as demographic terms for people who have reached retirement age. A senior is someone who has merely put in time, while elder is about attitude and state of mind. Elder implies one who is accomplished, who has learned a few things along the way.

As a poet, writer, and content editor, it is the life lessons, not the clinical ones, which inspire and inform my work. I have learned, for example, that all humans are in process and therefore imperfect; and that, no matter what our differences are, the most important thing is to remain open to communication and to accept and release our own follies and those of others. I have learned that neither illness nor threat of death preclude joy. I have learned that people who are joyful rarely do harm to themselves or others. I have learned that fear of death has to be directly addressed and then firmly put aside in favor of the business of living. As the saying goes: “It’s not over until it’s over.” Until then, we have responsibilities to others and ourselves. The only real difference between someone who has a life- threatening illness and someone who doesn’t is that the former is no longer in denial.

“If people bring so much courage to this world, “ wrote Hemingway in A Farewell to Arms, “the world has to kill them to break them. The world beaks everyone, and afterward, many are strong at the broken places. But those that will not break, it kills. It kills the very good and the very brave and the very gentle impartially. If you are none of these it will kill you too but there will be no special hurry.”

I am not good, or brave, or particularly gentle. I do not – and never have – suffered fools kindly. Sometimes I let it all get me down. I descend into fear. I am impatient with process, with taking meds and going for seemingly endless tests and doctors’ appointments. Maybe that’s why I’ve outlived my original medically-predicted expiration date by over eighteen years. My mother used to say, “Only the good die young.” My best quality may be that under my protective shell of intractability, I actually am willing to be broken and reformed. I suppose only time will tell if I have grown “strong at the broken places.”

So, here I stand, twenty-odd years into it, hugging my 70s at the dawn of a bright new day in a body that is now dramatically disabled and quite a bit older. It’s still a good morning and a good body. I recognize I once dealt with a worse handicap than my current disabilities. That handicap is commonly referred to as “youth.” I survived. Maturity on the other hand is a true boon, a gift to savor and enjoy with layers of luxurious nuance I had not anticipated. I do not long for my youth. I love my graying hair. I love my wrinkles and the loose skin on my neck. I love the mild deformity of my feet. These things remind me that I am still here after all. It’s unlikely that I’ll dye my hair, though I have. I will not get chemical injections or cosmetic surgery. I will not use rejuvenating grooming products that have been tested on defenseless animals. I am inspired by civil-rights-era African-Americans who sported Afros, said essentially “this is who we are and what we look like,” and chanted “black is beautiful.” I am graying. I am wrinkled. It’s all lovely and lyrical and makes me smile. It’s about ripeness, not rottenness. It’s honesty: what you see is what you get. Aging is beautiful. With maturity, one finds character refined and perspective broadened, energy expands and compassion flowers. The experience of joy comes more easily.

As survivors, we owe it to those who have gone on to live in gratitude for this gift of a long life. How ungrateful and what an insult it is to them for us to bemoan our maturity and yearn for our youth as we so often do. What an incredible waste of time and energy such yearning is. Many don’t survive childhood in their impoverished and war-torn areas. Some others don’t survive childhood due to congenital or other diseases. My sister died by her own hand when she was twenty-seven. I have a wonderful, talented, smart friend in her mid-thirties who will pass within three months from this writing. Like you, I have relatives and friends who didn’t make it to fifty, much less sixty or seventy. All things considered, aging is a gift not a curse.

“People worldwide are living longer. Today, for the first time in history, most people can expect to live into their sixties and beyond. By 2050, the world’s population aged 60 years and older is expected to total 2 billion, up from 900 million in 2015. Today, 125 million people are aged 80 years or older. By 2050, there will be almost this many (120 million) living in China alone, and 434 million people in this age group worldwide. By 2050, 80% of all older people will live in low- and middle-income countries.” World Health Organization MORE

Some of our power comes from our sheer numbers. According to the World Health Organization, 900 million of us were aged sixty or more in 2015 and as of 2018 125 million of us were aged over eighty.  We represent a huge political constituency, a lucrative market, and an enormous fount of energy, experience, and expertise. If that isn’t power in this modern world, what is? What a force for peace we could be.

Some of our power comes from consciousness. We are awake now. We have learned how to live in the moment and how to live joyfully, hugely. That alone is a lesson to share. Some of our power comes from more time and focus. Many of us are retired or semi- retired or on disability, or soon will be. Implicit in that is the time to keep abreast of issues in our communities, countries, and our world. We can take the time and make the effort to get accurate information, to analyze carefully, and to share appropriately; that is, in a well considered, non-inflammatory, non-sensational manner. We can act with grit and grace.

Let the elders among us be the Global Movement of Strength in Broken Places. Let those of us who have this gift of long life seize on it and ply our elder power individually and in concert. Let’s live with joy, do good, and have fun. Most of all let us be generous with our love. Soon enough, when the time is ripe, our bodies will become earth once more. Our spirits will travel on but the river of mortal life will continue to flow. Our children will see us reflected in the eyes of their children. Our grandchildren will strain to hear our voices in rustling leaves and breezes that whisper to them in the night. They will seek us out in moonlight and the warmth of the sun, in the roar of the oceans and the gentle meandering of a lazy brook. They will find us in the hearts of the lives we’ve touched with concern and compassion.

© 2020, Jamie Dedes

Originally published in 2009 in the now defunct California Woman and updated for The BeZine blog series on illness and disability.