2004 by Melissa St. Pierre

The Heroines Among Us

Melissa St. Pierre’s unfeigned love and appreciation of her mother will make you want to go hug your own mom tight! Come read their journey as mother and daughter through trying times and the unceasing dedication that gave them strength.


Melissa St. Pierre 

The Notebook was the most popular film of the year. Usher had a hit with “YEAH”.  Facebook was founded, and Sprint landed on Mars. 2004 was an interesting year, but  for me, I vividly remember the last month and a half. I turned eighteen in 2003, legally  making me an adult, but I didn’t become one until a year later.  

I was nineteen and in the midst of my first semester of my second year of college. I  knew my major, I worked multiple jobs, and I had a plan. But what does anyone  know at nineteen?  

My mom. She knew at nineteen.  

By the time she was nineteen, she had already lived on her own, was serving in the  United States Army, and had been married to my dad for a year.  

At nineteen, I lived with my parents. I worked part-time at the mall, and I could cook  macaroni and cheese from a box. I was nowhere near as educated or savvy as my  mom. She was everything that I wanted to be when I “grew up”.  

My mom stands at approximately 5’3. Some days she’s shorter than I am and other  days she is taller. She has naturally red hair and beautiful green eyes, making her a  leprechaun in all of the best ways.  

She is witty and charming, could sell snow to a sled dog, and she enjoys a good pun.  My mom appreciates good shoes and rides motorcycles. She is also the most  photogenic person that I know. She has also been a breast cancer survivor for  eleven years.  

My mom, my template for how to live, was diagnosed with breast cancer in  November, 2004. When I was nineteen years old.  

I have tried many times to remember the events leading up to my mom telling me “I  have breast cancer”. I think she told me over the phone, but I am not sure about that  either. She was unceremoniously informed of her diagnosis over the phone while she  was at work, so I might be putting myself in her position. Her doctor lacked a courtesy  that should be common to anyone working in medicine.  

The memory I have regarding my initial reaction is sliding down the wall between my  family home’s kitchen and the living room. I don’t know if I said anything out loud, but I  repeated, “no, no, no” over and over in my mind. I pounded my fists on the floor and  screamed. I was not ready to lose my mom and begged God, Mother Earth, the 

universe, every spiritual, non-corporeal being I could think of.  

At nineteen, cancer happened to other people. It was a thing that took the lives of  fictional characters in books or movies. I could reanimate them with the power of  flipping the book over or pushing rewind. 

We had a family meeting: my mom, dad, and me. Our brand and our band of Three  Musketeers. My mom’s outlook was always that could, and would, beat cancer.  

“I got this.” She said confidently. “We are a family, and we are going to get through  this.” My mom always reminded me, and still does, that we are family and families  can do anything.  

My mom’s cancer was stage one. She was diagnosed with intraductal carcinoma in-stu,  which meant that cancer had invaded her milk ducts. She was quickly scheduled for  surgery, and December 27 was the date. She elected to go with a double mastectomy,  although cancer was only present on one side. A general surgeon would perform the  mastectomy, and a plastic surgeon would reshape a stomach muscle back into breasts.  My mom would look “normal” coming out of surgery, just as she had going in. The  surgery alone would take up to twelve hours, maybe more if any complications came up  in the operating room. My parents made arrangements for me to handle finances for  our family in case of an emergency. I was added onto my mom and dad’s checking  account and named an authorized user on their only credit card. “  

I am sure that I had thoughts about this at the time, and they were likely a mix of “oh  my GOD! This cannot be happening” and “I can’t feel anything right now.” But, being  responsible, and acting like a grown up were talents that I had developed early in life.  

I’d been responsible since I could understand what the word meant. By all accounts,  I was a “picture perfect” teenager. So these added responsibilities were  manageable. I was more than trustworthy.  

The time between making plans and the date of surgery is blurry, but I remember being  disappointed in my extended family. This is a theme that would continue. I have two  cousins, both from my dad’s brother’s first marriage. Their mom passed away in  December, 2004. As sad as that was for them, I didn’t know their mom. She was  married to my uncle before I was born. My cousin “Curtis”, the younger of the two boys,  asked my dad to be a pallbearer at his mom’s funeral. I have a vision of him getting  perturbed with my dad when he explained that he couldn’t. My mom’s surgery and his  mom’s funeral were on the same day. Curtis’ attitude toward my dad was that of  disdain. He appeared to have a cavalier attitude about my mom, which for me, solidified  him being forever called “my asshole cousin.” Thank God being an asshole isn’t 


The rest of December ticked by slowly, and I hated everything. I hated Christmas  music. All the cheer. All the happiness. All the good tidings. I could have thrown them  all into a trash can and set it on fire. This was uncharacteristic of me. I was the girl that  bought several boxes of Christmas cards, with 50 cards per box, because I gave one  to every person I knew. I started decorating and Christmas shopping in October. I  could listen to Christmas music in July.  

I publicly cried once. It was at school. I’d just finished Linguistics 181: Development  and Change of the English Language. I was in love with the class and LIN 181 was  one of my first classes of the day. The morning I cried, all it took was for one peer to  

tell me to have a good weekend. I muttered an unenthusiastic “you too”. Then, I cried.  I am not a silent crier either. I show every emotion I have, and poker is not my game.  

I went to my “happy place”, a study nook that I claimed for myself on the campus  library’s fourth floor. I sat down and gave myself a pep talk. “You cannot act like this.  You cannot stop being you. Because mom needs you. She NEEDS you. The real you.”  And after I completed this conversation with myself, I picked myself up the best I could,  by what was left of my bootstraps. My mom was so sincere in her belief that she would  be fine, and I needed to be as well. Fear, as it turns out, is a sneaky little bitch. But she  is also easily defeated.  

After my pep talk, I did my best to replace fear with an eagerness. Hope weighs more  than fear and crushes it in rock/paper/scissors every time. I made my mom feel better  both before surgery and after by telling her about the zany things that happened at my  

stupid retail job, about my classes, or life in general. We looked forward to resuming  our lunches together, shopping days, and movie nights.  

On December 27, 2004, my mom had the surgery to rid my family of breast cancer. Her  surgery took over twelve hours. Every few seconds, my dad and I looked anxiously at  the magical double doors, waiting for her doctors.  

My dad and I had each other to lean on. While we had family members present in  the waiting room, in the end, it came down to him and me. As it always did, it was  the Three Musketeers.  

Five days. My mom stayed in the hospital for five days. Every morning, my dad and I  got up, got dressed, and we went to sit with my mom. We stayed all day. Dining on  cafeteria food and stale pop. It was delicious because we were together. Even if my  mom slept, dad watched television, and I read or wrote in my journal.  

And on New Year’s Eve 2004, on an uncharacteristically warm, 60 degree day in 

Michigan, we brought her home. Cancer free.  

She couldn’t leave the house for a few weeks, so I had to deny entry to well-wishing  and well- meaning friends and family. Only my dad and I were allowed entry. My mom  began begging me to take her into Oxford to get carry out from our favorite family style  restaurant, The Nugget. “I’ll be good Tut, I won’t get out of the car.” Tut is my nickname  from her, and how could I resist? I couldn’t deny taking my mom out for a change of scenery.  

After surgery, my mom received an outpouring of love and support. It was nice to see  her get cards and flowers from her friends, coworkers, and family members. But I  discovered that other people’s well wishes soon died off, and very few people asked  about my dad and me, and the people that did weren’t necessarily our family  members.  

My grandparents left for Florida the day after my mom’s surgery. They didn’t even wait  to make sure she made it home safely. I guess flea markets and cheap campgrounds  were more important than their son and only granddaughter. My dad’s aunt brought  dinners to us a few times. I think it was out of guilt for being snide and making snarky  comments about my mom and dad over the years. I’ve never forgiven her for calling  them both “fat” once.  

My dad’s cousin wrote a card and said that if we needed anything to call, but I think  those words were more for her than for us.  

My uncle did not call once. My aunt, my dad’s only sister, may have called the house  once or twice. But she was “too busy” to come to her own grandmother’s funeral, so  I didn’t expect much.  

I was never close to my extended family, my dad’s aunts, uncles, and their children.  Now I know why. They don’t show up. They talk a big talk but their actions don’t match  their words, and for someone like me, words mean everything.  

When I was two, my mom enrolled me in Tumblebees, which was an enrichment  program for kids in Oxford before they were old enough for preschool. She met another  mom, and she and Paula became friends quickly. Paula called me multiple times to ask  how I was doing, and again, she asked about my dad.  

The people that showed up for us and remained there were people that my mom  worked with. She’s worked at the same place since I was seven years old. Her boss  was the one that called me between classes to ask how my mom was, but more 

importantly, she asked about my dad. It mattered to me that people cared about him.  My dad is such a good man. He’s immeasurably kind, and when people treat him  poorly, they are voted off of my island.  

When I was nineteen, I learned that my mom will always be right. She will always  know more than I do, and her unwavering faith that everything would be okay turned  out to be true. A routine mammogram caught her cancer two years before a lump  would have formed, and she didn’t need chemotherapy or radiation.  

A person can survive breast cancer, but a family beats it. My family. I was surprised at  my ability to become a stronger version of myself. All along, my mom was Wonder  Woman. Somehow she had faith that she would be fine, and she showed me how to be  strong and how to believe as well. I saw my family as fallible and mortality was  something that was no longer fiction. I saw people that like to claim my mom, dad, and I  as family, but they only treated us as such when it was convenient and to make them  feel better about themselves. I saw excuses, and I heard many “reasons” why people  couldn’t, or didn’t, come around. I saw many things, but what I actually saw was myself  becoming an adult. And I saw my definition of family change.  

Going on sixteen full years later, I am a thirty-five year old woman. My mom and I have  done the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer 3-Day Walk two times, and she did it once on  her own. We have also walked 5K’s for Making Strides Against Breast Cancer. We still  have lunch dates, shopping days, and movie nights. She still rides motorcycles and is  looking forward to a golden retirement with my dad in the near future.  

I am grateful that my family did beat breast cancer. I have my mom and so many  others don’t have their moms, sisters, aunts, girlfriends, and grandmothers. I am lucky  to have my template for how to live, and now I can tease her a little. “Remember the  time you begged me to take you to the Nugget? I’ll be good Tut.”

Melissa St. Pierre teaches writing and rhetoric at Oakland University in Michigan. Her creative nonfiction has appeared in The Blue Nib, Panoply, 45 Women’s Literary Journal, Valiant Scribe, and Elizabeth River Press Literary Anthology. St.Pierre has also performed her work in Listen to Your Mother, a literary nonfiction storytelling showcase. When she’s not writing, she enjoys playing with her daughter, misplacing things, creating construction paper art, and laughing up a storm.

Paintings of the Edinburgh Seven by David Hutchison

The Heroines Among Us

David Hutchison points our attention to the Edinburgh Seven, women who fought to be able to study medicine! Hutchison delightfully brings their story to life for us to appreciate and be inspired by their efforts in the fight for women equality.

Artist Statement:

150 years ago on 2nd Nov, 1869 a group of six women: Sophia Jex-Blake, Edith Pechey, Matilda Chaplin, Helen Evans, Mary Anderson and Isabel Thorne became the first women to matriculate at a UK university. Emily Bovell joined the group later and they became known as the Edinburgh Seven.

Many of the male students and lecturers were against the women studying and this culminated in the Surgeons’ Hall Riot of 1870. The group were thwarted from graduating but five of them completed their studies abroad whilst the other two continued to help the cause of women in medicine.

With further research I discovered that Margaret Anne Bulkley, changing their name and appearance to James Miranda Barry, gained a MD at Edinburgh University in 1812.


David Hutchison


See more of his exhibition at Edinburgh University last year called Medical Inspirations at:


Mektefia Styled Women Paintings by Tamerat Siltan

The Heroines Among Us

The Mektefia is an Ethiopian wooden chopping board. Tamerat Siltan took the shape of the Mektefia as his base to create the female form in scenes of social and political topics. Take a look below at these captivating paintings that are so much more than pretty forms, but hold such a deeper meaning, just like the women they represent.

Artist Statement:


George Sand Collage Portrait by Sarah White

The Heroines Among Us

Take yourself back to the 1800s with Sarah White’s collage portrait of George Sands! An incredible heroine indeed being one of the most successful female writers of her time!

Representation of the French novelist, George Sand (1804-1876), French novelist, memoirist, Socialist thinker. Called “cher maître” by Gustave Flaubert, her friend and correspondent.


Sarah White



A Taste for Life & Other Poems by

The Heroines Among Us

Family members hold a bit of power in our lives and they can choose to have that power be used for good or evil. Ann Christine Tabaka writes about the incredible women in her life, her Babcia (Grandmother) and her Mother, who helped her survive violently abusive alcoholic father & grandfather. These seemingly small acts of loving, saving, and protecting make the everyday heroines that walk among us.

A Taste for Life

My Babcia’s tiny two room apartment,
a refuge in turbulent times.
A retreat from harsh reality.
I can see it in my mind.
Bedford Avenue, Brooklyn, New York.
Polish and Jewish part of town.
Bakeries, butcher shops, churches, and parks.
Streets always crowded.
Invariably the same journey,
train, then subway, then walk,
and walk, and walk.
Forever it seemed.
Trudging up three flights of narrow,
well-worn stairs, as rickety as herself.
It kept her spry.
We were poor, but she was poorer still.
Everything she had was used,
other people’s discard.
She had very little.
Things she never had, she gave.
Scrimped and saved to provide
a feast whenever we would visit.
Peasant fare, exotic to me.
A treat to the senses.
The smell of Bigos, Kapusta, Kielbasa,
all the delights of home.
My first taste of pot roast,
string beans and mushrooms.
Not those anemic white mushrooms
purchased in a store.
The pungent wild Polish Wood Mushroom,
handpicked, dried, and sent from
kuzyni in the old country.
Tastes I recreate today.
Tastes that bring comfort and love.
Memories of a land I never knew,
except in my heart and soul.
Tradition carried by aroma and taste.

I Remember Her

I remember her
standing there,
outstretched arms of love.
Taking in all our sins,
she paid the penance,
saying her Hail Marys.
Forgiving all forgiveness,
in her martyr way.
Her quiet strength
filled the room.
Keeping all pain to herself,
no one knew she was there.
Present, yet unperceivable
was her whispered prayer.
She held no malice,
spoke no hate,
though tortured was her lot.
She faded from existence
just as she arrived,
alone and unnoticed,
by all but me.
I remember her
standing there,
outstretched arms of love.

Wash Behind Your Ears

“Remember to wash behind your ears.”
Words we recall from childhood.
Our mother’s voice never leaves us,
it is always there throughout our lives …
carrying us over difficult times.
We hear it when we least expect,
when we need it most.
Embedded in our psyche,
implanted in our flesh.
“Be kind to others.”
“Always share.”
“Don’t fight.”
So much wisdom lost
to past generations.
In our mind we hear the words,
but do we listen?
Do we heed counsel?
We are amused by
“Don’t run with scissors.”
Yet, we run with scissors every day.
Not sharp metal implements,
but the dangerous actions we engage in.
“Remember to say your prayers.”
“Wash behind your ears.”
Words that follow us throughout our lives.


Ann Christine Tabaka was nominated for the 2017 Pushcart Prize in Poetry. She is the winner of Spillwords Press 2020 Publication of the Year, Her bio is featured in the “Who’s Who of Emerging Writers 2020,” published by Sweetycat Press. Chris has been internationally published, and won poetry awards from numerous publications. Her work has been translated into Sequoyah-Cherokee Syllabics, and into Spanish. She is the author of 11 poetry books. She has recently been published in several micro-fiction anthologies and short story publications.  Christine lives in Delaware, USA.  She loves gardening and cooking.  Chris lives with her husband and four cats. Her most recent credits are: The American Writers Review; The Phoenix; Burningword Literary Journal; Muddy River Poetry Review; The Write Connection; The Scribe, North of Oxford, Pomona Valley Review, Page & Spine, West Texas Literary Review, The Hungry Chimera, Sheila-Na-Gig, Foliate Oak Review, The Stray Branch, The McKinley Review, Fourth & Sycamore.


Website: https://annchristinetabaka.com/


Campaign Boots – Artwork by Mary Rouncefield

The Heroines Among Us

Mary Rouncefield combines honoring women in history with fashion. The result are these extraordinary ink drawn boots! Take a look at these stunningly unique pieces of art!

Mary Rouncefield

Campaign Boots

This piece was made to highlight the campaigns women have embarked on over the past century. These attempts to change society and to change the roles of women, should now be part of our cultural identity and shape the ways in which both men and women are perceived. These boots are covered with drawings illustrating a range of issues and campaigns which have been fought in the past, but sometimes forgotten in the present. One of the women appearing on the boots is Malala Yousafzai who, having been shot on her way to school, campaigned since her recovery for the right to education for all girls around the world. These include: Votes for Women, equal pay (now enshrined in law), the Women’s Peace camps, the universal right to education for all girls, the right to birth control and the broadening of women’s horizons by female pioneers.


Mary Rouncefield graduated in 2009 with an honours degree from the faculty of Art Media and Design at the University of the West of England, where she had studied as a mature student. Mary works in a variety of media, including textiles, drawing and print.

Past exhibitions include the Jerwood Drawing Prize in 2007, ‘Titanic 100’ in New York and various exhibitions held at The Royal West of England Academy in her home city of Bristol.

In 2014 a series of drawings highlighting human trafficking were exhibited by Guerilla Galleries in London. Mary also contributed work to ‘Traditions Run Deeper than Law’ at the Red Gallery in 2015. Her work ‘Campaign Boots’ was exhibited in ‘Passion For Freedom’ at The Mall galleries in London and subsequently at the Dundas Street Gallery in Edinburgh. She has campaigned against the harmful practice of FGM and her piece ‘The Cut’ has been shown in various exhibitions in London.



The Shark – Poetry by Adrian Slonaker

The Heroines Among Us

A lady can be sweet while also having a poised darker side. Adrian Slonaker writes about The Shark, inspired by a woman in his own life!

“The Shark”

Under nausea-weaving
waves of anxiety mixed with
the murky turbidity of depressive trenches,
she never slips into sleep
even when dreaming of candy corn and
toy poodles while
pursuing a path of escape
from a past in a pitstain of a place
with the tenacity of glue traps
that grab and gouge the life out of mice.
Fins always swimming, eyes always scanning
through scents of saltwater and lemon,
she flashes love and loyalty to
pilot fish who’ve procured a trust
as precious as red diamonds but
arms herself with fangs and profanity
for terrors like
time and self-doubt
as the drive to thrive leads to
a ceaseless Antietam
if one is this shark.


Language professional and face mask collector Adrian Slonaker lives in Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada and is into creative vegetarian cookery, rock ‘n’ roll music, opals, coffeehouses and late-night conversations with interesting people. Adrian’s work has been published in WINK: Writers in the Know, The Be Zine, Gnashing Teeth, The Pangolin Review and others.

Anne with an ‘E’ – Poem by Amanda Ellis

The Heroines Among Us

Amanda Ellis celebrates, a fictional character that has touched the hearts of many, including my own: Anne Shirley, from the book Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery! Oh, the wondrous understanding the tale embraces of the fire and tenacity inside a girls heart as she finds her place in the world. Come read Amanda Ellis’ delightful take on this timeless classic!

Anne with an ‘E’

She knew who she was
In an era where women were not equal.
Dreamer. Poet. Orphan.
A mistaken delivery, not the gender ordered
No return to sender

Small town girl with big city dreams
Ginger dramatist, the Lady of Shalott
Friend and foe in one
Bosom friends and kindred spirits lead to inebriation,
Failing forward before it was a ‘thing’

At Green Gables, I was home.
Now, I know who I am.


Amanda Ellis is a writer of settler and indigenous descent. She has recently attended Sage Hill Writers’ Workshop and is a member of the Saskatchewan Writers’ Guild. She does not live in Saskatchewan, but enjoys rural vistas of cabbages as she wrangles ideas and her side hustle as a Social Justice warrior.

The Teacher – Rhea’s Story ~ Poetry by Thomas Davison

The Heroines Among Us

A sweet and heartfelt writing, Thomas Davison’s tells the story of the woman who helped him learn to teach incarcerated students. He gives recognition to the heroine acts of Rhea Edmunds!

From the author: This poem is dedicated to Rhea Edmunds – who has taught in all-male prisons for 20 years with no recognition, support, and for very poor pay. Rhea, who is a woman of color – took me, a 63 year old white guy – under her wings four years ago when I started. Everything I know about teaching incarcerated students I learned from her. With deepest respect and love – Rhea this is for you. 

The Teacher – Rhea’s Story

She quietly enters the classroom
And finds thirty all-male
Blue clad inmates sitting
Patiently – waiting
Waiting for her arrival.
They all greet her respectfully
With great deference
Some even reverently.
She is a tall woman
Six feet one inch
With a lean muscled frame
Just beginning to soften
With thinning wisps of graying brown hair
Obviously past retirement age.
She holds herself erect
Her demeanor and temperament
Shout out to the world,
This was once – a very strong – proud women
Always in control
She wonders to herself – not for the first time
“Do I deserve all this praise and adulation?”

Today is green-book day
The last day of class
Of this sixteen week learning journey.
Bitter-sweet day – green-book day
Where each student must stand before the Teacher.
Speak to classmates
Speak with no restrictions
Speak with no boundaries.
Speak of knowledge
Learning – life – dreams – takeaways
About the real world outside.
Some speak well – polished – professional
Others stutter hem and haw
But all speak.

All have something to say
Many read straight from the green covered
Small paper journals.
Journals they received from the Teacher
On the first day of class
Just for this day.
Speakers – direct personal comments to the Teacher
Words of thanks – of praise.
Most recite the Teacher’s – First Day Words
Words such as honor – respect – integrity.
Some scorned – the Teacher’s First Day Words
Branded them – insincere – platitudes.
Now they preach the First Day Words by rote
As only true believers can articulate them.
All have changed because of the Words
Some have changed drastically
But all have changed.

After today – they will return to the daily routine
The broken long arm of the law
The Prison.
For most – the Teacher is the first true role model of their lives
A surrogate mother-figure.
After each has spoken
The Teacher delivers her Final Words
Much like the First Day Words.
She speaks of pride – duty – love of family and friends
She speaks of becoming a dependable person.
Her voice is melodic – soothing
Yet it rings with strength and power
That bely her aged body.
The students sit mesmerized
Listening like sponges
Soaking up the doctrine
The life lessons.
All inhabitants of this prison
Recognize she is a woman of honor
All know
She is The Teacher.
Incarcerated felons and prison staff – all
Appreciate and respect this quiet woman of learning.
The Teacher dismisses the class
But – no one leaves
All arrange in a line by her desk.
They remain for their turn
A personalized farewell
A firm handshake for each eager student.
The Teacher is finally alone
The last student has departed to his bunkhouse.
She collapses exhausted
Audibly dropping her tired old frame – into her chair
With a loud sigh.
She speaks aloud – “One glorious week off – to rest and recover”
Another expressive sigh.
Then it all starts over again – at the beginning
Thirty new felons – the First Day Words,
The sixteen week journey
The growth – development – transformation
The Final Words.
Craving – longing – almost overpowering need
From these men
The search for what exactly?
To locate – a person to teach and mentor them
Confirm by example
How to be – a good person.
She stands wearily and begins packing the tools of her trade
Perhaps it is time to truly retire?
Is it worth it?
She wonders – not for the first time
Little pay – less support – no recognition.

She appears her age now
Face lined with a lifetime of experiences
Protesting – fighting – causes – prisons.
Her tired eyes rest upon the heap of green-books
Slowly the internal fire returns to her eyes.
She straightens her back – her jacket – her scarf
And she straightens her mind.
She opens the classroom door
Exits into the dirty dimly lit hallway
Back into her persona.
She is the Teacher again
She embraces the ramrod – no-nonsense look
She breathes in the role.

She is greeted enthusiastically by staffers and former students
As she strides down the long hall of the education building
In the prisons center
It’s heart.
Her manner is complete calmness
She seems impervious to the dangers surrounding her.
She whispers aloud – not for the first time
“Who needs better – pay – support – recognition?”
She glances down at this semester’s stack of green-books she is carrying
Impressive – full – bulging.
Each book represents a life – a potential salvage
A victory over the system – a win.
Books she will add to the hundreds of others saved
Through her years teaching – in the prisons.
She smiles softly to herself
And mutters – not for the first time
“It is enough.”

“The justice system is broken –
I can never be powerful enough to change the system!”
She recognizes the system is too big – too powerful –
She would lose that fight.
She chuckles
“I can beat the system – one reformed inmate at-a-time.”
She considers the numerous green-books collected at her home
For the first time today – she smiles fully.
She understands – she can win
Make a difference
Help these young men to change course.
She walks boldly onto the prison Yard
She nods – in recognition – to former students.
Greeting each by their surname
Mr. Brown – a nod
Mr. Jackson – another salute-like nod.

A rookie felon – fresh to the prison
Is walking the prison Yard
With an older companion.
He observes the tall woman hauling a clear – see through plastic bag
Stuffed with something green.
He stops amazed
To observe the ritualistic greetings
The display of mutual respect.
The rookie – inquires of his walking companion (a lifer)
“Who is that woman?”
The lifer responds
“Her – you don’t know who she is?”
“Why son – she is theeee one and only!
“She is the Teacher.”

~ Previously published – Third Estate Art, Quaranzine, Volume 2, August 9, 2020


Thomas Davison obtained his doctorate as a Doctor of Management in Organizational Leadership. Dr. Davison has been teaching entrepreneur-focused business coursework at two prison facilities in Marion, Ohio. He has been deeply moved by his personal observations and interactions with his incarcerated students and has been motivated to create poems and short stories about the day-to-day lives and experiences of his felon-students. Thomas has recently created a not-for-profit (NFP) business, Entrepreneur Services for Felons (ESF). Thomas has dedicated 100% of his writing profits to this NFP, which provides free, one-on-one support services for felons and ex-felons. 

A Song for Sheroes – Poetry by Bob McNeil

The Heroines Among Us

Bob McNeil writes of women who took the world by storm and changed hearts and minds for the better! One step at a time, we continue moving forward in the direction of gender equality!

A Song for Sheroes

Women, make men comprehend,

Women, make men comprehend,


Make men comprehend

That each sister

Has a Harriet Tubman

Prepared to seek

A place where men

Do not abuse their Queens,

A place that erects Jewels of Respect.

Women, make men comprehend,

Women, make men comprehend,


Make men comprehend

That each sister

Has a Shirley Chisholm

Prepared to shake and make every state

Understand that liberation

Must not become a membership card

Only given to men.

Women, make men comprehend,

Women, make men comprehend,


Make men comprehend

That each sister

Has a Dr. Mae C. Jemison

Entering a NASA shuttlecraft

That ascends to a time

Where gender mistreatment ends.

Women, make men comprehend,

Women, make men comprehend,

Women, make men comprehend.

by Bob McNeil

Copyright 2020


Bob McNeil, writer, editor, and spoken word artist, is the author of Verses of Realness. Hal Sirowitz, a Queens Poet Laureate, called the book “A fantastic trip through the mind of a poet who doesn’t flinch at the truth.” Among Bob’s recent accomplishments, he found working on Lyrics of Mature Hearts to be a humbling experience because of the anthology’s talented contributors. Copies of that collection are available here: https://amzn.to/3bU8Loi.