Historical Novelist and Poet, Jess Neal Woods.


Often mistaken for a monarch,
You don’t have your own existence.
Not appreciated for your slender wings
Or the broad stroke of ink that runs horizontal
Across your veins.

It is the monarch that takes the title
While you flutter in its shadow,
But because it is toxic,
You benefit.

I wonder if you are an imposter–a crook.

Maybe you’re just lazy, settling because it’s

Or do you feel a deep pit within you,
Empty of everything that is meant to make you–
Hollowed out yet hunting for purpose?

Do you accept where nature has placed you
With pride or resignation?

Your offspring overrun the fields
While the monarch is in stark decline.
And to those who don’t know
Any better,
Your presence brings hope.

One day, maybe you’ll be the only kind
Of monarch.


Kiss me the way the bee kisses the flower,
Burrows into it and drinks deeply of its nectar.

Ignite me the way the stars do the inky sky,
Attentive, subtle, and full of awe.

Tease me the way the breeze does the leaves,
The butterfly the eyes.
The feathered hues of sky–
A galaxy of unknown, unraveled by the softest

Inspire me as the sun to the barren land
Coaxing life from its death-shell,
And I will rise to you,
Stretch and sway your way.

Be the summer branches intertwining,
Holding tight
To leaves that will soon depart.

Our love will settle like the tide
Become familiar and constant
Strong, rhythmic, I’ll surrender
To intimacy and purpose.

Upon My Death

Pray do not bury me beneath the unforgiving
In a ground that must be forced to bear me–
Cracked open, hard as bone and barren–
In a ground untouched by sun.

No matter how alluring the facade of purity
Seems, I will always hate it.
No matter how poetic the triumphant white cast
against grey
Seems, I will always hate it.

Bury me in kinder climate
Where comfort finds my spirit
In the crickets and the swallows
Where nature swells in chorus
And brings balance to death.

Bury me in Georgia clay beneath the willow tree
Where life teems and moves on and whispers
Through all seasons,
Where peace is not lost in unrelenting winter,
And tears can be dried by the benevolent breeze
With woes washed clean as stone in streams.


Faith feels like sandpaper
Smoothing shards into submission,
Molding essence into practicality–
A place to hang my coat.

It is gritty and grey as creek muck.
If you’re not careful, your feet will stick in the
The slush of known squished between your toes.

Only when submerged in chasms
Deeper than yourself–
When your feet can’t reach below
And your hands can’t crest the surface–
Do you realize all you don’t know.|
And find truth,
Or at least a current of it.

A breath can be sacred.
A whisper holy.
Wearied with words
Silence becomes a sacrament–
A redemptive revelation.

In its doubt-swollen belly,
Peace, like a pearl, is formed

I’m starting to pray again.

The Process of Fraying – By Jess Neal Woods.

Jess Neal Woods


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