The Librarian – Poem by Joan McNerney

The Heroines Among Us

What a spectacular recognition Joan McNerney gives to a profession that is unassuming, yet brings magic to people’s lives! Read McNerney’s delightful poem of a Librarian and the beauty she encompasses therein!

The Librarian

Always cherished the sanctity of

this place.  This refuge of

knowledge arranged in infallible

logic of the Dewey Decimal system.

Judith loved to touch these volumes.

Especially heavy reference

dictionaries, atlases, almanacs

and encyclopedias.  Those sheltered

in secluded shelves for staff only.

Children come along each day

to feast on colorful books. Lounging

in small chairs, they become

spellbound by cornucopias of words.

Mostly she likes the retirees who

linger with newspapers and

magazines in the reading corner.

They confess not to understand

computers, writing down requested titles.

At the end of evening, Judith walks

through the quiet.  Before leaving,

she will select a saga of spicy

adventure to flavor her evening. 


Joan McNerney’s poetry is found in many literary magazines such as Seven Circle Press, Dinner with the Muse, Poet Warriors, Blueline, and Halcyon Days.  Four Bright Hills Press Anthologies, several Poppy Road Review Journals, and numerous Spectrum Publications have accepted her work.  She has four Best of the Net nominations.  Her latest title is The Muse in Miniature available on and

Amma & Other Poems by Larry D. Giles

The Heroines Among Us

Follow along with Larry D. Giles as he explores women from his book, Father Tree Water! They are a wonderful addition to your Saturday dose of artistry!


I may have thought God was strange

when she climbed up—

the hammer jiggling

from the wet belt

she stole from her brother—

he had no nerve for heights

forever twiddled in a box.

She straddled eaves—


like one peel of a banana

hoped for though not yet eaten.

It was almost dark, a bird

had also left its wing. She cussed it down—

then pounded like the devil

for the nerve of rain—

that old man drowning

in a corner brown jar.

Hungry at the table,

I imagined air solid and soulful around her blue T-shirt.

Hearing that stunted nail,

I swear down below

a muscle grew from a hole

in my pocket—

rose from

the dull

wet ground

to the dry,



Girl with a Match

(after Alicia Keys)

This girl

pretty in pigtails

and afraid of matches,

who sucks her thumb

and rocks pink dolls in cradles,

bakes black mud pies

in little white stoves

along the shaded edge

of the field,

on the porch

scowls at kites,

dips just one toe in the river—

the one

I thought for years

was just my sister—

like a sun-struck pilot

today jumped

over the house

and then set

the woods

on fire.

The Woman Down

I would imagine the sink

to pull her down,

down with the ceiling

and leftover spaghetti,

my brothers and sisters

to peer in after shock,

waiting for her to spew out.

Down beneath the heavy day

of hamburger grease

and scabbed paint,

down with the bent forks

and gray-water spoons,

sucked like the head

of a chalk-soaked mop

from my wooden fingers,

scraping against powder-wet

porcelain and fear.

Till I thought for once

she would not pull back.

For once, she would not

wring out the darkness

and rank, rank dust,

though plastered there

above the lonely depths—

I could still hear Otis crooning,

still feel Martin’s moaning,

“We shall certainly overcome,”

my ghost-white siblings

wrestling in the wreckage

and crying for their daddy

to bring home

the wrench.

I thought for sure

she would be demolished,

completely choked

by that vacuous murkiness

the night he called

for the very last time,

she then twisted into a knot

of noodled flesh

so tight it would burst

into a thousand fibers.                               

But that night, too,

she was a plunger,

a great liquid voice

sticking to the walls

of that hideous hole in hell,

and each night she was

a plumber and a carpenter,

above all, the in-tact mother

who pushed up from drains,

looked out from sinks

and handed us tomorrow’s spoons

and saucers and plates,

that, though old and cracked,

still managed to glimmer,

beneath dim, dusty florescent

tubes and a squashed, yellow

ceiling that, like the sink,

somehow imagined it could keep

the woman down.


Photo credit: The Essex County Museum and 

Larry D. Giles 

Born in Richmond, Virginia, Larry D. Giles grew up on a farm just outside of Battery, a small rural community several miles from the Rappahannock River. Educated at Livingstone College, Virginia Commonwealth University, and the University of Virginia, the writer has taught English and writing at his high school alma mater in Essex County and for the city of Richmond. While at Richmond, he received teacher of the year, the prestigious REB Award for Teaching Excellence, and an educational leadership fellowship. A Luard Morse nominee, he is co-author of Journey Home, with playwright Jacqui Singleton, a work produced in Richmond theatre. Larry has been published in The River City Poets Anthology 2019Better than Starbucks Magazine, The Bhubaneswar Review, and in other media. Available at http// and released in 2019,  Father Tree Water: Collected Poems and Photographs of the Rappahannock Mind Body Spirit is the writer’s first published collection of poetry.

Larry’s poetry and creative nonfiction often center on family, rural Virginia life along the Rappahannock, and personal resilience and strength, with sometimes mystical multicultural interweavings.  His poems often ring with personal conviction and revelation, his prose nostalgic reverence, pathos and beauty.  Nominated twice by Better than Starbucks Magazine for Best of the Net for his Hoover Boys series, Larry currently resides in Richmond where he continues to write, paint, enjoy photography, and lead several online history and community education archives.


Outside of Memories, I Belong – Sculpture by Ivana Mancic

The Heroines Among Us

Ivana Mancic is a woman of strength, a sculptor, and a survivor of the Serbia bombings of 1999. Come reverently as you view her incredible piece that depicts the experience of this dark time and honors the lives lost.

Artist Statement:

Memories of a Yugoslav Woman

Dark times and rainy days. Sometimes it rains in a different way and it is peaceful and solemn, the rain that purifies. But those days were simply gloomy. That rain had nothing in common with simple pleasures of childhood, when one rejoices just by seeing the merry dance of the raindrops on the concrete and the surrounding nature breathing together with the soaking soil. This rain could not wash off the dark days. It did not bring any good, but gloomier and gloomier news from the war zone. Yes. They did really wage wars only an hour away. I did not know about it as I was only 11, and on the other hand it was there, in the air and we all sensed it. The dark days of our childhoods. The days in which we were to forget that we should be equal. The days in which brotherhood and equality were condemned by men who wanted to play war. The days in which we were so poor and some of them suddenly so rich. Those days were heavy, with lead skies that do not promise anything good. At the edge of my childhood there it was, the foresight of horror. The irony of it all is that it did not really happen to us, we did not get killed but parts of us died. There, at the edge of my childhood were worried faces of my parents trying to make some sense in madness.

I remember the bombing of Serbia by NATO in a 1999 operation “Merciful Angel”.  I was 19. All the bridges that connected Serbia and the northern province of Vojvodina were already destroyed. There was fire and smoke everywhere. Novi Sad, the capital of Vojvodina was covered in flames. I can’t explain how it felt, as if you are turning grey from the inside. As if someone took all the colours away. As if all the sense disappeared. We, the ordinary people, could not face it. The psychological strain, the burden was too much. And it was grey, grey, everything grey. When I look back to those days, they simply have no colour. They feel like someone has stripped them of every meaning. 

I remember looking at my country burn through the windowpane. I remember the factories burning in the distance. The effort of so many communist workers disappearing. The dream disappearing. Their hopes and beliefs disappearing in flames. Thick black smoke elevating towards the sky. I was aware that that bomb could hit any second. I was aware of all the senselessness of my friends hiding. But human beings are miraculous in their willingness to prevail against all odds. I travelled through flames and became resilient. I sometimes think that this is how I travel through life, in smoke, always through smoke and I think that this is how we survived. We became resilient, resilient to sorrow and pain, to hunger, to humiliation, to misery. We became rough and we endured. In these days I lost fear. In these days you realize the frailty of your own existence. And you prevail, through flames and smoke.

That is also how women during Yugoslavia and the conflicts surrounding it prevailed and even today, in the era of the migrant crises, with the migrants being stuck in Serbia in their attempts to cross the borders with EU countries, women are remembered again, in frequent narratives about the refugee men who are raping “our women”. It is this hypocritical relationship and understanding what marked the treatment of women in ex-Yugoslavia. They are and have always been involved in political discourses and used for media purposes. Therefore, women were misused by every single political system and betrayed by it. Nevertheless, through the constant clashes and conflicts, women did not only endure, they supported each other, grouped and fought for their rights.

The sculptural installation “Outside of Memories, I Belong” is dedicated to all the women from ex- Yugoslavia and from all the other war torn countries who survived horrors of war and displacement, for they are the true heroines of our times and the true heroines among us.


Ivana Mancic was born on 16th December in Ruma,Serbia. 

At the moment she is a PhD student in Fine Art, School of Art and Design at Nottingham Trent  University, UK. 

The research she is undergoing in its focus has art practice and it is aimed at the production of  multi-disciplinary artworks, videos and installations the purpose of which is to display the  personal narrative. This narrative will address the issues of war, loss and belonging, related to  the specificity of the ex-Yugoslav context in order to contribute to developing of the female  voice of artists and pacifists in contemporary art. The personal narrative is presented in the  written form through texts, essays and reflections on war experiences and current world crises  through intersections between the present and the past. 

She graduated MA at the Academy of Art, University of Novi Sad in 2011 at the department of  fine art-drawing and in 2009 a BA in sculpture at the same Academy, as well as a BA in English  language and literature at the Faculty of Philosophy, University of Novi Sad, Serbia. 

She participated in many solo and group exhibitions, residences such as The Summer Lodge in  Nottingham, UK and The Feminist Art Colony in Sicevo, Serbia. Conferences such as the Roots  and Reach Conference, Manchester Metropolitan University, The Global Heritage Conference at  Nottingham Trent University and Art Festivals such as The PitchWise in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Festival de Arte Lanzarote and Fuerteventura, Canary Islands. 

She is a published author:

2020. Art Therapy: Trauma and Ways of Dealing with it, in Uterus Effect, publication supported  by the Cultural Department of the City of Vienna (MA7) and the Association Kunstentropie,  Vienna, Austria. 

2020. The Order of Labour with Silver Wreath and the Plaquette of Yugoslav Trade Union of  Industry and Mining Workers, Journal of the Society of Medals and Orders Research, England. 


Pipe Dream – -3D Animated Short Film by Shreyasee Konar

The Heroines Among Us

We’ve got some seriously cool art today in the form of 3D animated Short Film! Shreyasee Konar brilliantly designed her own heroine, who may be from an alien planet, but is relatable here on earth.


Shreyasee Konar.

Won 3 awards and 21 screenings internationally, Pipe Dream deals with a young leader Sam from the gloomy-doomy Planet Kneon. She arrives at Professor Way’s kitchen on Earth, finds the elixir and carries it back to her planet to take the situation in control.

The name of the film suggests an unattainable dream, both of the filmmaker and the protagonist.


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..


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.


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.


 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  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.

Diva Daughter – Acrylic Painting by Rifa Tasfia

The Heroines Among Us

Rifa Tasfia expresses strength in the overcome struggles of women in her painting, Diva Daughter! Read her description to understand the depth of the beautiful image she created!

Artwork description: “Diva Daughter” represents inspiration itself. For me personally inspiration those heroines who we look at differently. The Fat girl who is fat shamed mostly all her life is a heroine. The rape survivors in my country who shamed are the heroines. The girl who almost killed herself and now is on a greater path is a heroine herself. The mothers who sacrifice thier dreams and career and what not are the heroins. The feminist who is always shamed for being one teaches her sons to be respectful towards girls are the heroins. The girl with darker skin toned abused all her life for the way she looks is a heroine. The artists who are accused for ruining thier life choosing art as passion are also the heroines. Heroines comes from all forms of human, and we should respect all for thier differences.


Rifa Tasfia


Instagram – @tazflea

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. 


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.


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:

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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.


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.