Leaves of Fire and A Dance of Swords – Poems by Meg Smith

The Heroines Among Us

Some heroines are gone too soon and leave behind trails of love behind them. Come with Meg Smith as she honors the memories of the heroines in her life with these special poems written from her heart.


Leaves of Fire

In memory of Jeannine Schiavoni

It’s always going to rain like this —
a song like snow, scattering
from our fingers.
I have given you all
my secret storms.
I am still forging them, brushing them
like copper-dust; anything you
declared good, whole, holy.
When I open this October,
flames will follow.
I will spread them like a skirt,
and cast them back, to you
— fragments
of a second sun, flashes of
a moon, scarlet,
mourning, but in fire’s flight.


A Dance of Swords

In memory of Joanie Laurer

No one can melt your true metal —
crimson and gold, in the spark of tears.
I know that sleep you told —
in a dark room,
laughter from a strange hall.
We staggered through halls, in blood,
but found our blades.
There are steps and turns no one can take
until they have run hands along the wall,
streaks of roses, cut.
I saw that dance in you, and gave you my mirror.
We can turn within this veil and face ourselves.
I will catch you, in your open arms,
your fingers like remembered stars.


Artist Statement:

Leaves of Fire is in memory of my friend, Jeannine Schiavoni, who was a singer, musician and community organizer. 
Dance of Swords is in memory of my friend, Joanie Laurer, who was best known as the actress and wrestler, Chyna, and who I met when we were both studying Middle Eastern dance. 


Poet:

Meg Smith is a writer, journalist, Oriental dancer, and events producer, living in Lowell, Mass., U.S.A. Her publication credits include The Cafe Review, The Horror Zine, The Starlite Virtual Poetorium, and Atlantic Currents: Connecting Cork and Lowell.

Follow:

Her most recent poetry books, Pretty Green Thorns, Night’s Island, This Scarlet Dancing and Dear Deepest Ghost are available on Amazon. 


She welcomes visits to: megsmithwriter.com

Facebook — https://www.facebook.com/megsmithwriter/

Twitter — https://twitter.com/MegSmith_Writer

Blue Flame – Poem by Michael Biegner

The Heroines Among Us

Don’t miss today’s poem by Mchael Biegner! A bittersweet tribute to those lost who held such great meaning.


Blue Flame
(For Frances)

There goes the muscular flame,
the one that carries heat & light.
There goes a claim to this life.

There goes gravity that once
fixed objects to this earth, but
nothing seems permanent.

There goes blood & DNA
& the bruised secrets of loneli
ness, of Coumadin-induced ghosts

standing in white hospital rooms,
speaking of cousins long deceased,
talking in spectral whispers. There

too go the dusky eyes, the easy smile,
what remains of my father’s voice.
There then goes what we imagine about his

hands. There goes the blue flame that
releases the warmth of hands rolling
meatballs & patting pasta,

as each noodle, sticks to the side of the
colander one by one, until nothing remains,
everything falling into the dish that fed me.


Poet:

Michael Biegner has had poems published in Blooms, Poetry Storehouse, Silver Birch Press, Silkworm, WordPeace, and the Poets To Come Anthology, in honor of Walt Whitman’s 200th birthday .  His prose poem (“When Walt Whitman Was A Little Girl”) was made into a video short by North Carolina  filmmaker Jim Haverkamp, where it has competed at various film festivals around the world and is available for viewing on Vimeo. Michael was a finalist in the 2017 Northampton Arts Council Biennial Call To Artists.

Follow:

https://biegner.blogspot.com/

Otelia Cromwell & Other Poetry by Mark Andrew Heathcote

The Heroines Among Us

Mark Andrew Heathcote takes us through women throughout history whose work has left lasting impact on the world. Heathcote’s writing is a joyous tribute to these powerful ladies!


Otelia Cromwell
Became a distinguished scholar and Professor of English
she was the first African-American graduate.
At Smiths, college, receiving a B.A. in Classics
adamant nothing could prevent her she showed great courage.

There are outstanding heroic people like Otelia Cromwell,
Who has changed the world opening doors for others?
Her bravery propelled-society forward, we marvel her
achievements weren’t they outstanding for different cultures.

Different diversities, leaving an inspirational legacy,
Otelia was a glowing example of what-could-be achieved.
How others could overcome ignorance and realize equality,
if you just work-hard, push-hard and believe-believe-believe.


Mother Teresa the mission of charity

She joined the Sisters of Loreto age 18yrs
Had a 40yr faith crisis, yet has been canonised.
Taking her vows as a nun in 1931 her life blurs
“Peace of heart”, she never developed one
She’d a calling to enter the slums she-agonised
Distressed by what she saw and thereupon,

She gave up all gave up searching for peace
To this end, she gave her heart to Jesus
Her call, that wasn’t seen the lease bit caprice?
She aided the dying the poor in Calcutta.
She helped the sick to battle diseases
She doesn’t feign to like the slums or those gutters.

But she wanted to help eradicate poverty,
Eliminate hunger and help heal the sick.
While all the time she struggled and conversely
Prayed for guidance to strengthen her faith,
Holding hands with the insane the lunatic
She made a difference in her humble ways,

She jarred a door wide, showed a needless path
If there were more like her willing to help?
And dedicate help to healing the psychopath,
Help sucker the emaciated heart of humanity
War, could be eradicated, hunger expelled
And peace, faith could reign enigmatically.

On even her Mother Teresa’s wrinkled face
But she felt deeply, alone quite abandoned
This void of emptiness at times took its place
She lived in a state of spiritual pain,
But her resolve to help never dampened
From 12yrs of age—knew her path, been preordain.

She opened; open a hospice for the poor
A home for, orphans and homeless youths
Herself,15yrs-living in a hovel furthermore
Opened another for the sufferers of leprosy
Yes, I guess she was saintly, you want proofs?
Leave your riches; homes spread her kind of equity.


Orlando

This portrait picture of Orlando
Is still somehow strikingly fresh,
Her lineaments dress no scarecrow.
Whether it’s male or female
A heavy-suit is a father’s crèche
A caring parent makes us wear
I, myself wore genderless clothes
When able to pay for my own, wares.
It’s as striking as eyes set on a raven
Still to see a woman like Vita,
Wearing her, Sunday best:
Her manly appearance aroused both sexes
Her face quite oval her jawline pronounced
She was a poet of changing seasons
A poet of fluctuating genders
Sissinghurst Castle Garden,
Was her one and only, blank white, canvas?


Harriet Tubman
He-carried those scars in-her fractured skull
Praying God to make him, change his ways,
She’d pray simultaneously for the improbable,
Pray for freedom that of her family’s always.

Her hair which had never been-combed
Stood out like a bushel basket and it had saved her
When she was-hired out: hit by a metal weight
She thanked the Lord and blessed her faith.

Her unrelenting, master wanted her quick sale
‘People came to look at me; he was trying to sell me.’
But, as such and such, no sale did prevail;
‘Injury had caused her a temporal-lobe-epilepsy.’

‘She changed her prayer, ‘she said. ‘First of March
I began to pray, ‘Oh Lord,
If you aren’t ever going to change that man’s heart,
Kill him, Lord, and take him out of the way.’

She even prayed all night for her master’s death
For her own ‘Liberty or death,
‘If I could not have one, I would have the other.’
‘Harriet Tubman confessed to a negro brother.’

The Lord answered Brodess died a week later.
She ascribed to visions revelations from God.
‘I was a stranger in a strange land, ‘she said later.
When she escaped into her freedoms esplanade;

Tubman travelled by night, guided by the North Star,
When winter the nights are long and dark.
Avoiding slave catchers, she said, in coded song.
Farewell. ‘I’ll meet you in the morning, ‘Mary

Fellow slaves ‘I’m bound for the promised land.’

She carried a revolver and was not afraid to use it.
She made many journeys forth and back
To free other, folk she always came in the winter,
When-nights were long and impenetrably dark.

When morale sank guided by the North Star,
And when one man insisted on going back to the plantation,
She pointed a gun at his head then said.
‘You go on or die. I never ran my train off-
The track and I never lost a passenger.

‘I’m bound only for the promised land.’


Poet:

Mark Andrew Heathcote is adult learning difficulties support worker, his poetry has been published in many journals, magazines and anthologies, he resides in the UK,  from Manchester, he is the author of “In Perpetuity” and “Back on Earth” two books of poems published by a CTU publishing group ~ Creative Talents Unleashed 

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 …
guiding,
comforting,
teaching,
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.


Poet:

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.

Follow:

Website: https://annchristinetabaka.com/

https://www.amazon.com/Ann-Christine-Tabaka/e/B06XF2PWSK?ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1&qid=1564488528&sr=8-1

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.




Poet:

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.


Poet:

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
Unbreaking
Unshakable.
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


Poet:

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,

Women,

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,

Women,

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,

Women,

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


Poet:

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.

Bulawayo’s Benediction – Poem by Ndaba Sibanda

The Heroines Among Us

Heroines come in all shapes and sizes, and can even be in the form of a city. Go take a look at Ndaba Sibanda’s poem as he speaks of deep love and respect for the city, Bulawayo.


Bulawayo`s Benediction

if ever there was a beautiful
brook, then she is the one
she is a brook whose waters
are destined to deal once
and for all with Bulawayo’s

perennial droughts & dupes

our royal city has a capacity

to produce game-changers

and Busisiwe is one of them

Busisiwe is Bulawayo’s pride
a philanthropist whose work
speaks a lot about her love
for humanity and the city
what lurks within her soul
is not a malady but a melody
exemplary is her track record:
orphanages, scholarships, jobs
a sleaze-buster, a bold builder
of homes, hopes and horizons
her song is a doer and a dancer
hers is a song that plays & floats
within the depth of her heart
it inspires, stirs, and galvanizes
hearers to become nothing
else but heirs and heiresses,
humble heroes and heroines
what dances within her heart
are the metaphors and mirrors
of souls whose lives & dreams
and destinies have been touched
& transformed & blessed for posterity
her name solely means The Blessed One
a selfless beauty, she is a blessing to the city
a superwoman, she is human, solid & afloat
for Bulawayo`s blues to be overcome, ownership
has to be reclaimed, concerted efforts applied
as far as Busisiwe is concerned, sleaze has no home
in the city if residents want it to be magnificent again


Poet:

Sibanda is the author of Notes, Themes, Things And Other Things, The Gushungo Way, Sleeping Rivers, Love O’clock, The Dead Must Be Sobbing, Football of Fools, Cutting-edge Cache, Of the Saliva and the Tongue, When Inspiration Sings In Silence, The Way Forward, Sometimes Seasons Come With Unseasonal Harvests, As If They Minded:The Loudness Of Whispers, This Cannot Be Happening :Speaking Truth To Power, The Dangers  Of Child Marriages:Billions Of Dollars Lost In Earnings And Human Capital, The Ndaba Jamela and Collections and Poetry Pharmacy.  Sibanda’s work has received Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominations. Some of his work has been translated into Serbian.

Pushing the Door & Other Poems by Jacqueline Jules

The Heroines Among Us

Jacqueline Jules shows us the perspective of the heroines she admires, Shirley Chisholm, Grandma Moses, Mother Jones. Read her engaging poetry about these exceptional women!


Pushing the Door
by Jacqueline Jules

Shirley Chisholm wanted change.

To push the door ajar,
for someone not white, not male.

In 1972, when a woman
still had to fight to see her name
on a credit card, Shirley
appeared on television
in a presidential debate.

She never doubted her right
to be a candidate
in a race where being female
was a bigger barrier
than being black.

And if the door didn’t open
all the way, it didn’t slam either.

Shirley’s foot remains,
firmly creating a space
for those coming after
to come through.


Granny with a Paintbrush
by Jacqueline Jules

Too old for farm work, Grandma Moses
considered raising chickens.

Rocking on a porch chair—
even with hands too arthritic
to hold a needle—was beyond
the imagination of an energetic soul
accustomed to country chores.

Instead, she picked up a paintbrush
to re-imagine her homespun days
of sugaring, quilting, haying,
and making apple butter.
Her colors so vivid
a collector passing by a drug store window
couldn’t rest until he possessed every
painting from her wrinkled, untrained hand.

Who would have thought?
A farming wife
in her sunset years
could surprise us so
with a new scenery of success—
illustrating how to age
without porch or rocking chair.


A Mother to Millions
by Jacqueline Jules

Mary had no family of her own,
not after the yellow fever of 1867.

Husband and four babies under five
all dead, she sought solace in Chicago,
sewing dresses for the wealthy
until the Great Fire of 1871
rendered her homeless.

But that’s all backstory, maybe
unknown to the workers
she lifted from fear to their feet.

“I’m not a humanitarian,
I’m a hell-raiser.”

Mary’s blazing rage
at steel mills, coal mines,
railroads, and factories
led strikes across the country,
making those in power
so afraid of an old lady
in a long black dress, she was
deemed the most dangerous
woman in America.

“Pray for the dead and
fight like hell for the living.”

“Mother Jones” to millions,
Mary looked beyond her own losses
to offer the love she still had to give.


Poet:

Jacqueline Jules is the author of three chapbooks, Field Trip to the Museum (Finishing Line Press), Stronger Than Cleopatra (ELJ Publications), and Itzhak Perlman’s Broken String, winner of the 2016 Helen Kay Chapbook Prize from Evening Street Press. Her work has appeared in over 100 publications including Beltway Poetry NewsInnisfree Poetry JournalThe Paterson Literary ReviewCider Press Review, Potomac Review, Inkwell, Hospital Drive, and Imitation Fruit. She lives in Arlington, Virginia.

Follow:

Visit her online at https://metaphoricaltruths.blogspot.com/