Cheryl Whitehead

Wellspring Retirement Community

My mind's a gale at sea. Last year I snapped
a shoulder. Year before a stroke upset
my silver slab of tongue. The doctors nailed me

back together and ordered new therapies.
Now, I read Shakespeare with a magnifier
and try to forget which one of my fragile senses

might dim next. Poor fool, King Lear. Most days
the smell of pissed-in diapers burns my eyes.
My hearing wanes and ebbs like nurses' aides

who roll lunch in but forget the silverware.
Next door, a woman screams: "Please, help me! Help me!"
Nothing's wrong except she's ninety-three

and believes she's giving birth. I stroll the halls,
pushing my walker on. In the common room,
white parakeets confide in me. They chirp

I'm trapped! I'm trapped! That's why we're friends.
Should I complain? My life's been long. I've sailed
through cancer storms in my bladder, breast and kidneys.

Sometimes, I think there's not a scourge on earth
can kill me but the waiting. Four years now,
I've courted the crematorium. Why can't

I die like everyone I loved? The sun
bleeds through my blinds. I read aloud as nurses
hand me a paper cup brimming with pills.

Had I your tongues and eyes, I'd use them so
that heaven's vault should crack. They clap and praise me
then steer the med cart out so the dead may live.

God of the Haw

I pitched him into the river when he bloodied my sister.
The river was a dangerous plaything, & I was the muscle of it,
the tongue of Don't you ever touch my sister again! He toppled
into the swirling brown current & disappeared. That day

the river was my dangerous plaything. I was the muscle of it.
I lifted it over my head & changed its course with one toss.
Into the swirling brown current, the bully disappeared. That day,
his body ran up on the rocks, & a wail rose into the pines.

I lifted the river over my head & changed its course. With one toss
I was God of the Haw. The muddy banks were my arms.
His body ran up on the rocks, & a wail rose into the pines.
The sky was afraid of me & my river-rock fists.

I was God of the Haw. The muddy banks were my arms.
My mouth was flooded with crushed beer cans & bottle caps.
The sky was terrified of me & my river-rock fists.
My surface glittered. The moss on my banks winked like Poseidon.

My mouth was soggy with dead leaves and torn fishing nets.
All day I was spitting junk out. Don't touch my sister!
My surface gleamed. The moss on my banks thickened. Like Poseidon,
I was born a dangerous plaything. God of the immortal Haw.


Cheryl Whitehead's first chapbook, So Ghosts Might Stop Composing, is forthcoming from Finishing Line Press in August 2019. Her poems have appeared in The Southern Poetry Anthology: Volume VII, The Hopkins Review, Measure, Callaloo, Crab Orchard Review and other journals. She has been a finalist for the New Letters and Morton Marr Poetry Prizes and the Unicorn Press First Book Award. She won an emerging artist grant from the Astraea Foundation and was invited to give a reading at A Different Light Bookstore in New York City. Whitehead writes about visual art for Milieu Magazine.


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Cheryl Whitehead
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The most recent addition to The Mezzo Cammin Women Poets Timeline is Aemilia Lanyer by Maryann Corbett.

Kathleen McClung was the recipient of the 2019 Mezzo Cammin Scholarship to the Poetry by the Sea conference.

Rounded in deep compassion for the human experience across borders, Mizrachi explores both the spiritual and physical dimensions of being human, and in particular, female. Often times, the female figure in various mythical iterations intersects with earthbound feminine forms as a means to communicate and transmit social consciousness. Mizrachi’s intentions include the empowerment of self and others through artistic expression, as well as advocacy for women, youth, and the environment. Family, community, and tribe are also recurring themes and are approached as active spaces of shared engagement. In recent years, Mizrachi’s studio practice has developed into a testing ground for explorations in assemblage, sculpture, and installation that has transformed both her painting practice and decades of work as a muralist. Moving beyond paint, her small scale pieces have become sculptural drawings and her murals have become outdoor wall installations. Both styles of work have taken on new life as three dimensional geometric forms.

32 Poems
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