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!
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 Amazon.com and Cyberwit.net
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—
to the dry,
Girl with a Match
(after Alicia Keys)
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—
I thought for years
was just my sister—
like a sun-struck pilot
over the house
and then set
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
I thought for sure
she would be demolished,
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.
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 2019, Better than Starbucks Magazine, The Bhubaneswar Review, and in other media. Available at http//www.lulu.com/spotlight/LDGiles2020 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 StarbucksMagazine 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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..
You can feel the deep emotion, the weight of struggle that heroines carry in these stunning pieces of art. Arpit Rathor captures the gravity, vulnerability, and strength, making them tangible to the viewers.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.