Jo Anne Robinson – Poem by Michael H. Brownstein

The Heroines Among Us

Michael H. Brownstein recognizes a heroine that is not quite so well known, Jo Anne Robinson! An inspiring reminder that all great things achieved through history are not from one person and one person alone, but built in a collective action, and each person deserves recognition for their part.


Jo Anne Robinson

Once when I was teaching school,
the request was made of me to create
a lesson plan for Women’s History Month,
and I got right on it beginning
with famous women of color, but–
too many took their fifteen minutes
and made them into Jesse Jackson time.
Rosa Parks was not the first to get arrested
for not giving up her seat, just the luckiest:
Jo Ann Robinson, literate and intelligent,
made her into the icon she became
and we forgot the others, some who died,
for refusing to move. and then there were the
Harriet Tubmans’, smart and original,
his story denied them their true place
and found them another. She became
the head of the underground railroad,
a woman with headaches who could not read,
but really one of our greatest spies
who could memorized Confederate orders
and pass them on word for word to Sherman.
Other women of color freed thousands of slaves,
but his story could not let Tubman be
and she became somebody else.
His story is his story, personality
of the ones he wants us to know.
Let it go: Without Jo Ann Robinson
there would never have been a Rosa Parks,
a Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., a truth about choices..


Poet:

Michael H. Brownstein

Ode to Meta Ann & Other Poems by Will Reger

The Heroines Among Us

Will Reger’s poems find the heroines in his life, his favorite author, his friend, and grandmother. His last poem reflects the opposite of a man who is crushed by the woman he hoped to make his heroine (and wife). Read these terrific poems below!


Ode to Meta Ann


You frog-marched me out of Eden.
Raw wildness swallowed me.
All things of fire kindle or go out
but you raised in me conflagration –
It burns still.

On the morning your old tom cat left
his bloody prints across your chest,
my true self was born.

With you in the hot darkness,
when you cleaned yourself, unsure
if you were truly clean or had simply denied
the bloody sign of the Passover,

I became your devotee
with eyes open to see life
for what it is, where it is.
Your teaching has been to watch,
to catch any new thing and possess it.

Walk, wait, watch—your mantra chanted
to me that summer on Tinker Creek—

like you, “I go to water.”
I go with songbirds on my mind,
with the blue heron in my eye.

You taught me life is the stage
for the theater of death, the universe
hums along while we creep blindly behind.

You taught me how beauty and grace
are acted out all around me.
We must learn to see it, you said.
Watch and see the true things of the world.


Pantoum

With a voice as smooth and level as a prairie,
while skies rumble like bowling alleys,
she invited love to stay
and love has made her life a kingdom.

While the skies rumble like bowling alleys,
she claims the fealty of the birds,
for love has made her life a kingdom,
so the world breaks against her walls.

She claims the loyalty of the birds
and writes their oaths up in a poem.
Though the world breaks against her walls
she nails that poem to her garage door.

She writes a poem from the oaths of birds
and reads it out for the foxes and bears.
Though the world breaks against her walls,
she bears no regrets at all.

While reading her poem to foxes and bears,
two princesses weave their paths away.
She bears no regrets at all.
Their absence sparks anticipation.

Two princesses weave paths away,
but she knows paths someday converge.
Their absence sparks anticipation,
when stars decline to come closer.

She knows that paths someday converge.
And she does have poetry and birds,
though the stars refuse to come any closer,
princesses oft times return.


Portrait of a Grandmother

Heavy and slow, her heart 
carries so much she must
vouch a little into each
of the flowers she tends,
just to take another step.

Her long grey-brown hair
is done up into a bun,
held in place with combs.
She used to have a cow
in her shed, but now
it is piled with blue glass jars.

Every morning before coffee
she shoots insulin into the fat
of her ribs, then pours
from a cup of hot Sanka
into the saucer to cool, then sips.

I follow behind her when she tills
her big garden beyond the oaks,
with a hoe breaking up the clots.
The sun is hot and the shade is cool
under the trees. She keeps on.
I love forking out the potatoes
best of all–like opening a surprise.

She calls them taters and mashes
them thick to her hold her gravy.
At her big rough-hewn table,
we sat and ate like kings — eggs,
mashed taters, slices of canned meat,
fried chicken, blackberry dumplings,
squirrel or rabbit if she shot one,
and the perfect flour biscuits
that still make me salivate to this day.

Where are those hands of hers
that did so much? Lost now
among the stones of a country
cemetery overrun with trees
that I will never find again,
though I’ve been there. I still see it.


A Valentine Breakup

Starlight that night made its own rules,
and the girl, well-guarded by scent of asphodels,
understood there is no love in heartbeats,
for Badger’s fulvous heart soliloquies
uncoiled from a nest of fear and cantillation,
a great deception, a trick of indecision.

The gentleman, sore of heart, saw it all
in her eyes out in the corridor.
It nearly put him in the hospital
to see his twilight fall at twenty-four,
to see marrying, fathering, house-holding
all walk off together, the scene folding–

Strike the set! Kill the rain! Release
the dogs to clear the lot of any heroines.
Old Badger’s closing it down — “It’s time, please.”
And so he has come to this, ready to zero in,
Move back in with his folks, maybe, and get a cat,
or leave the country, however it plays out.


Poet:

 Will Reger is the Poet Laureate for the City of Urbana, IL.  He has published consistently since 2010, including his first full-length book, Petroglyphs (2019).  Many of his published works have been linked at www.twitter.com/wmreger.  When not scribbling, he relaxes with the nan xiao and enjoys studying small local waterways (sloughs, creeks, rivers, canals, and ditches) looking for wildlife.
I have attached these poems because the email distorts the line breaks.

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.

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.