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New Poetry, Fiction, Essays

5 poems from Judy Shepps Battle

Judy Shepps Battle began writing poems long before she became a psychotherapist and sociology professor at Rutgers University. Widely published both in the USA and abroad during the Sixties and Seventies, she deferred publishing to concentrate on career and family. Fortunately her muse was tenacious and she continued to write during the next three decades filling a file cabinet with scrawled and typewritten poems that are now being organized into chapbooks and individual submissions. The material submitted for publication represents her return to active participation in the writing community. She can’t think of a better way to spend her retirement. Her poems have been accepted in a variety of publications including Ascent Aspirations; Barnwood Press; Battered Suitcase; Caper Literary Journal; Epiphany Magazine; Joyful; Message in a Bottle Poetry Magazine; Raleigh Review; Rusty Truck; Short, Fast and Deadly; and the Tishman Review.

 

 

Reflections On A Mother’s Death

 

                            i

I cannot think of a single time I said

I love you to her face

 

too many angular edges

on two hardened hearts

 

her troubled blue eyes never

smiling to see me

 

my hungry brown eyes always

hoping for approval

 

for a proud announcement that

I was her daughter and

she loved me.

 

instead only acid words spewed

from her Revlon Red lipstick mouth

 

you weigh too much

your clothes are too tight!

clean your room!

 

you are useless!

 

                    ii

 

Some say her eyes and words

were the same for everyone

 

that inner demons haunted her

and she loved me in her own way

 

Not good enough!

Why did you birth me?

Why did you hate me?

 

Why did you make fun of me?

Why didn’t you try to do better?

 

Were you really my mother?

           

these are questions

corpses can’t answer.

 

 

 

Early Liberation Dreams

 

Alone

throwing ball

against pitted stone wall

 

gripping pink

Spalding Hi-Bounce

imagining a Dodger scout

 

passing by, saying Wow!

and immediately signing

me to the majors

 

even though I am

only ten

and a girl.

 

 

 

Peter, Wendy And Me

 

Seamstress Wendy where are you?

 

You who sewed Peter Pan’s

shadow so securely

 

lend me needle and thread to

stitch my self to myself

 

each suture so strong I can’t

dissociate or

 

wrongly associate

today with childhood choices

 

orphan or

captive?

 

eviction or

humiliation?

 

no way to exit

no way to die.

 

Sometimes

salvation is naked and

 

betrayal the only suit

on the rack.

 

 

 

Just Wondering

 

No one believes I can write poetry

no one offers me a pen

to record the reality of

 

my Catholic-Protestant soul

born into Jewish lineage and

rejected by non-practicing Jews

my hairless child body

abused by predators seeing me

as simply a hole to be penetrated

my high-IQ mind

ignored by family expecting male Ph.D.

but no more than secretary for me

 

Why not a poet? Why not a novelist?

Why not a spinner of children’s tales?

 

Hey mom and dad

how did you miss my writer gift and

fail to encourage its bloom?

So I have to ask

 

How different would my life be if someone

believed I could write poetry and gave me

a pen?

 

 

 

My Practice

 

I sit

 

in-breath

swaddles fear

 

out-breath

becomes compassion

 

no longer American,

no longer woman

no longer mother,

old, or even Judy

 

at one with dying

at one with birth

 

I sit.

 

 

 

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