Jane Satterfield (Featured Poet)

Memory Triggered After Listening to Alejandro Escovedo's "Dear Head on the Wall"

Will we outpace the storm now tracking the Midwest?
A rabbit's foot is not a good luck charm
and neither is a deer head, this long-dead buck—
a stilled spirit mounted for display.

Miles from woodland, troubled, I resist
familiar fears of horn and hoof, the harm
the hunter does. I know a herd can graze a field
to ruin…This tavern trophy's dusty, its eyes gone gray,

globes closed on some last vision. We sip
our beer, watch a tattooed server dance a yellow duster
across the peeling antlers—one more piece of furniture.
In legends, deer translate unsaid words, divine the splay
of shadows. Ahead of us, a long drive through the mist—
dark eyes lifting from the verge along the highway.

Autobiographia Literaria

Upper Marlboro, Maryland circa 1971 and Haworth, Yorkshire, 1830's

It's summer in Baltimore's
muscular heat & the whoosh
of a circular fan in the study

brings back a dust-scent
of books & quiet, the library
tucked in a strip mall storefront,

the children's book room
my place & escape. One
child among many, I practiced

printing my name so small, it fit
the framed box of the borrower's form.
Completed, the task earned me the right

to compile a stack of my own,
the max set at six for a week.
Truth sometimes sounds like a plot—

Imagine Emily & Anne, arms linked
while they walked several miles &
back across sodden moors

up the long, tree-lined drive
to the grey stone manor hall owned by
a kindly family who'd lend weekly papers

& poetry books from a library
brimming with legal volumes, Gothic romance,
even the First Folio. Imagine Charlotte,

far from home—a governess
barred from the master's shelves,
the books reserved for his use alone, though

she's charged with guiding his heirs.
A child, I dared stray no farther
from home on my own than the blackberry

bramble that ended our road . . . Laid down
in black ink, the librarian's stamp
marked the call for closing time. Tacked

on the wall behind her head, seascapes,
pyramids, a banner inscribed
with a woman's words, no frigate

like a book to take you far away.

Crow Hill Postscript

"Moments so dark as these I have never known."
—Charlotte Brontë, letter to Ellen Nussey, 19 December 1848.
The letter was written several hours before Emily's death.

"I could hardly let Emily go—I wanted to hold her back then—and I want her back hourly now."
—Charlotte Brontë, letter to William Smith Williams, 4 June 1849

My sister did not, even in her leaving, idle—
she walked swiftly out of time.
September seized and stunned
her with unexpected coughing fits; she stumbled
through days and chores, feeding pets and stoking fires
until she could no longer stand. By December
she was gone. For weeks her dog howled
outside her open bedroom door, Keeper
looking expectantly when I returned from town.
Each time I try to walk the trail toward
Crow Hill, I hear her call me on—
a voice as clear as if she ambled a few steps
ahead of me, staking out the music of a line. Who else
could marshal birds of prey and pace the stream's
scribbled frost? She practiced fevered fugues
and drew the stunted fir, learned to read
shifts of light that spelled the early signs of spring.
For her, labor was liberty, scouring carpets, kneading dough—
the flour a filmy curtain cast in early morning light.
                     Evenings, we argued:
which statesmen, poets would outlast time? Would
our Queen one day reverse her opinions on womens' roles?
Spectral sounds are what's left to me—her laugh and clatter
in the kitchen, Tiger teasing at her heels.

My atlas holds her impish marginalia, What is,
she scrawled, the word used to express
the enlitenment of a room?

Apprentice to the Art

Anne Brontë (1820-1849)

Least famous, you were written off
as someone's little sister, mildly subversive,
smiling and subdued, your novels
a schoolgirl's skiving off.

Like Emily, you loved the moors
at sunset, knotted heather, sky like a map
of dream lands hung slightly off center,
so much to be withstood.

Your focused inward glance hardly betrayed
your struggles—crisis
of faith in poems and prayers, governess
plagued by a brother's secrets—mouthing
curses in the nursery of the parsonage.

Or, breathing the sea air for your health
two days before your death,
defending a beast of burden
on Scarborough Sands from a stranger's beating.

Becoming Familiar, the Crow

insists on its own cracked notion of song.
Its cohorts under the crabapple enjoy, I believe,
their regalia, black going gun-blue
in uncertain light.
Cold caws miming the human
down to sniffles and sobs.
Nothing sylvan in this scene—
thieves and eaters
of scrap over the lawn as if they own it.

A child, touring the Tower,
awed at my grandfather's side,
I stood agog at a world
scratching at seed on cobblestone—filthy
feathers, I thought, wings clipped, unable
to leave the fortress grounds.
I ran ahead and chased a raven, sputtering

as it tried to rise,
limp leg, silent eye
set on a stubborn world.

For years, I dreamt of their
getting even, those ravens
or their kin—as if I, too,
would wake up sometime,
discordant and articulate.

Note: The Tower of London, ca. 1972.

The Most Wuthering Heights Day Ever

An annual gathering held in various locations across the globe since 2016; participants recreate the music video of British singer Kate Bush's 1978 hit song "Wuthering Heights."

You love it wild—the wind & weather,
red lipstick perfect for a new romance—
Today will be the most Wuthering Heights Day ever.

You've seen the Kate Bush video: voice aquiver,
she sings "Wuthering Heights" half in a trance—
red Cathy dress rippling in the wind & weather.

With green eye shadow you'll conjure moors & heather.
Gals, grannies, bearded blokes will synchronize in dance—
Will today be their most "Wuthering Heights" Day ever?

Some love the song but not the book—whatever!
To Emily, local gossip & happenstance
would yield her novel's whirl of wind & weather,

though scholars wonder, "Did she have a lover?"
Three hundred Cathys attract more than a glance,
moves choreographed: the most "Wuthering Heights" Day ever.

From Dublin to Tel Aviv, fans catch the fever—
cellphones capturing flash mobs as they twirl, advance,
and love it, wildly—the wind and weather
synched for the most Wuthering Heights Day ever.

Link to a recent event


During Victoria's reign, a statue to Boudica was raised on the Thames Embankment.

Not the spike-wheeled machines of myth
but wicker chariots swaying over
sometimes marshy ground.

Great grief taking shape: tribal Celts
uniting against the Empire,
moving toward the pitched battle
both sides must have feared.

There, amid the charred remains
of what was then Londinium's
towns and temples and homes,
fire on all horizons, did she look

with horror at what she'd unleashed—
Victory herself amid dense scrolls of smoke,

a common beauty
counting up the costs.

Note: Boudica was Queen of the Iceni who led the Celtic tribes in revolt against the Romans in AD 60. After sacking Camulodundum and Londinium (Colchester and London, respectively), Boudica's army was defeated at Mandnessedum (Mancetter) and she subsequently poisoned herself.


Jane Satterfield is the author of five books, most recently Apocalypse Mix, winner of the 2016 Autumn House Poetry Prize selected by David St. John. Her previous books include Her Familiars (finalist for the 2013 Julie Suk Award for best poetry book on an independent press); Assignation at Vanishing Point (Elixir Press Book Award), and Shepherdess with an Automatic (Towson University Prize). Daughters of Empire: A Memoir of a Year in Britain and Beyond featured selections that received Florida Review’s Editors’ Prize, the Faulkner Society/Pirate’s Alley Essay Award, and more. With Laurie Kruk, she co-edited the multi-genre anthology Borderlands and Crossroads: Writing the Motherland. An Iowa Writers’ Workshop graduate, Satterfield has received a National Endowment for the Arts poetry fellowship, the 49th Parallel Poetry Prize from Bellingham Review, the Ledbury Festival Poetry Prize, the Mslexia women’s poetry prize, and more. She has been a Walter E. Dakin fellow at the Sewanee Writers’ Conference and received residency fellowships from the Vermont Studio Center and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts.


Terese Coe
Mary DeCoste
Julia Griffin
Kathryn Jacobs
Lucy Rose Mihajlich
Sally Nacker
Theresa Rodriguez
Jane Satterfield (Featured Poet)
Leslie Schultz
Janice Soderling


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

Eileen Kinch is the recipient of the 2020 Mezzo Cammin Scholarship to the Poetry by the Sea conference.

After my mother died in December, 2014, I and my sister-in-law cleaned out the family home, one day a week for seven months. On the last visit, we found my childhood art. As my folks were packrats, I was not surprised. I didn’t remember that I had made maps from ages 9-11 as subjects for social studies classes, but I recalled loving geography and history. (Coincidentally, for the last 25 years, most of my art has involved cartography.) These map drawings were in organized folders with other assignments inside a rusty filing cabinet lying on its side under the eaves of the dark, unlit attic.

Some months after gathering them up, I gingerly brought them out to study. There was much I recognized about myself: a compulsive attention to detail; fascination with strange, inexplicable images; and experiments with different kinds of representation. Back then, I appropriated meticulously from books, as I still do today from the Internet. This led to a visual dialogue between my childhood and adulthood.

I began to incorporate these schoolroom exercises into paintings. At first, the correspondences were obvious – both the new, painted ground maps and the old, collaged drawings represented New York and New Jersey, for instance. But then, I moved further afield, as my childhood charts covered the globe. I chose antique maps that are geographically incorrect to contemporary eyes for my backgrounds, as I had done on a much smaller scale in a 1998-1999 series of frescoes, Knowledge. Their “wrongness” gave them a childish quality that complemented my elementary school hand.

From our different stages of life, the young girl and the adult woman began to shift back and forth within the pictorial space. I’d also retrieved my childhood doll collection, and some of those toys found their way into the work, parading along shallow stage-like platforms.

I then began to appropriate my other (non-map) childhood drawings, originally book reports or science assignments. Sometimes I arranged them in a row across the top or bottom of the painting, like the predellas in Renaissance art, stories within stories.

I copied tiny animals and sea creatures from my girlhood studies onto the dominant maps; they are visible to the viewer if he/she moves up close. Later, I started to copy entire childhood drawings - which were by then attached to the paintings - directly onto smaller canvases, creating enclosed, subsidiary works excerpted and reinterpreted from the first series. Paint did not capture the nubby, grainy look of the sources, so I bought children’s art supplies – crayons, chalk, cray-pas - and invented for myself a hybrid art-making process.

The worldview of my naïve public school pictures is that of early 1950s America – cowboys at their bonfires in the wide-open west; factories and smokestacks in small town settings; Eskimo girls and Alpine girls and Brazilian girls in their native costumes. The mindset is further away from me today than the places were then. These false scenarios have unraveled for many in my generation, although not everywhere nor for all Americans. And that’s why my conventional grammar school innocence felt weirdly relevant - within our polarized society, where so many people hold onto fantasies about recovering an imaginary past.

32 Poems
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Verse Daily
Women's Poetry Listserv
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