Woman Around Town’s Editor Charlene Giannetti and writers for the website talk with the women and men making news in New York, Washington, D.C., and other cities around the world. Thanks to Ian Herman for his wonderful piano introduction.

Robin Clark

Poet’s Corner – No One’s Asking You


No one’s asking you
To change your mind.
Or find
A new way to breathe;
To exhale the bitter,
The madness or goodness.
We are only human.

No one is asking you
To spare your sword
Of words,
Which slice into the darkness
Like a star
Or moon’s crescent.
We’re just asking you to be decent.

No one’s asking you
To beat your drum
To the rhythms of a neighbor;
Or labor
To find a path:
Igniting wrath, upon another.
We don’t seek to be your lover.

We care
That we share truth
Whether it be dark or light
Be fair
Fair in the storm,
Fair to what’s right
Don’t grab your facts
From man’s thin-aired
Feeble attempts
To bend your light.

Own your grace and courage:
With its faults or promise.
Because it is what softens edges:
Opens doors;
Opens hearts;
Not to say
You have a way
Of turning your back on life.
But more,
To say
You needn’t stray
From the beauty in it.

No one’s asking you to still:
But, listen;
Christen the new day;
For it may be the only one
To walk.
To knock
On the doors of other ideas.

No one is asking;
You need no invitations
To discover;
All that is to be.

Still look to the doors:
They await your knock;
You hold their only key.

And in their quiet
They are waiting;
You to knock;
You to discover
Another journey;
Baiting you to find yourself.

To catch…
No one’s asking.

Top photo – Bigstock

Poet’s Corner: Christmastime


Christmastime, a shine we know:
Glistening hearts;
Glistening snow;
Palms for some,
To swing and sway;
It’s how we wake
To Christmas day.

We’re waiting for
Santa Claus to hit the floor;
Coming down our chimney, swept;
Recalling reindeers
And those who’ve leapt;
To cross the heavens
‘Round the globe,
For boys and girls
In morning’s robe.

Reindeer flying
High above;
With Santa trimmed
In Christmas love.
Elves, sacked out;
Their work is done.
It’s time to dream
Of Sugar Plums. 
Jingle bells,
Wake old Jack Frost.
While parents weather
All the costs:
Ensuring that
Their little one
Wakes to the joys
Of Christmas fun.

Imaginations; wonder; dreams:
Hoping that we made the list
Where naughty’s frightening;
And niceness ‘s kissed,
With loving dolls;
And winter’s sleds;
And stocking caps
Upon our heads.

Will we hear Rudolph’s hooves;
As they prance
Across our roofs?
Did Mama put the cookies where
Santa Claus is sure to share??

Now we’ve stockings hung with care
Hoping, praying, 

He’ll find them there
Then fill them up:
Absent, coal.
It’s Christmastime:
For young at heart
And older souls.

And how can we
Ignore this day:
Marking peace;
And why we pray.
The celebration
Of His birth
Reminding, heaven’s
Here on earth.

When stars ignite
The stories of
That special night;
When wise men came
To welcome Him:
And trees are dressed
In glory’s trim.

Oh Christmastime
We love you so:
We love the way
You make hearts grow:
We love it that
You’re such a part
Of every-single-human heart.

And on the eve,
Before we rise;
We’re singing praise
With seeing eyes:
Of Jesus
And his promise made.
To answer those
Who faithf’ly prayed.

For whether it be  Santa Claus,
Or Jesus in the manger,
To celebrate this time of joy
With every little girl and boy.

We Are All Connected


“The past beats inside me like a second heart.” John Banville, The Sea

I had what I would call a “chance meeting” a couple of months ago with a stranger far-far away from me in life and cultural experience, and yet, we seemed to ride piggyback on each other’s heart and soul. I had taken LucyBelle to the veterinarian and this is where, uninvited, this relationship bloomed.  Who would have guessed it, one rainy day, fraught with sadness because of LucyBelle’s cancer….and yet, like an early spring, a cherry blossom unfolded before me.

I can’t turn directly into the vet’s parking lot but must drive past, turn into a different business’ parking lot, and then loop around. As I sat in this parking lot, I watched the usual traffic pass. Each car that went by seemed filled with empty faces; minds not on traffic, but instead, occupying their day’s needs; their life’s worries; their celebrations—but all lost, certainly not noticing me waiting. I wondered if this is how people always appeared, or was it me—my sullen mood; my concerns for my faithful companion. It was then that a small-beat-up-old pick-up truck passed by, and the passenger in this car looked right into my eyes’ soul. He made me feel beyond my moment, deeply. His head turned and my thought was, I see you dear sir, and I hope you feel my sincerity as you pass me by. I remember a slight grin crossing my face, if only to see a person with a life in his eyes greeting mine.

Soon, I saw a break in the traffic and I pulled in. I am fussing about, getting my phone, wrangling LucyBelle’s leash, and all that goes with her, when suddenly, the same man that caught my heart just minutes before, opened the door for me. Again, touchdown: connection.  

He looked as if he had been unearthed from centuries before. Gray, wild hair: a morning’s fog growing down along his chest; dirty feet in over-worn thongs: feet which knew the earth; loved it; appreciated its loam and the history which held them atop it; holes in his pants, not that of fashion, but that of hard work; a knitted and well loved cap, adorning his noggin, though of wool and of every color of the rainbow, it struck me as a crown of thorns. He had dark eyes; brown, like the bark on an ancient cedar. Who is who or why, when you know nothing about them and yet feel as if you have known them for lifetimes. 

I signed in, sat down with LucyBelle, and waited to be called. It was then I noticed this man had no pet. I asked him if his pet was in his truck and did he need help to fetch? He said no. I asked him, have you signed in? He said no, I didn’t realize I had to.  Yes, I said.  Now, this conversation is fairly normal and I might even call it mundane—but I was acutely aware as we spoke, there was another dialogue going on behind the courtesy conversation we were sharing. 

He signed in. He disappeared and returned with a black and white pitbull. Quietly, he referred to her as Maddie. She appeared very well worn; much like the clothes on the back of her human Papa – slow moving, aged, clearly loved and had lived a big life. I asked him, what are you here for, shots? And he said nothing, after what seemed to be about a minute, he said, Maddie had “walked her line” and he took his weathered-rugged hands and drew a short line with his finger in the air…to show me the very line that he was speaking of.  I knew then, he was there to put Maddie down.

He went on to tell me a story about his animals. He, at one point, owned 20 dogs, 10 cats, 10 goaties, horses, and a bunny.  (His face lit up when he added the bunny—you could see immediately the bunny was the muse of light in his menagerie of loves.)  He went on to add, he had never killed an animal in his life; he had never touched an animal to cause them harm.  Yet he had killed men. Our eyes never left each other, because the quiet was as important as the words we spoke. I felt myself well and found it unlike me to find it normal for this man to have killed another man. I don’t believe in killing much; but I had this peaceful understanding that whatever men he may have killed, they may have deserved it. Being an old farm girl, I have put down countless animals and I was acutely aware of the pain he was enduring; because putting down an animal is tough enough, but a pet??? He stayed stoic, quiet, but his aura filled up the waiting room. Maddie stood by him loyally, looking down—and when he moved, she had to think her every step, to keep up with the simplest action made.  

Well, in fine Robin fashion, I felt tears start to flow… I could barely squeak out I am so sorry you and Maddie are taking this last journey together.  He reminded me that this was not their last journey; they will continue on; but in spirit—he was there because Maddie had “walked her line” and needed help. It was foreign to him, I could tell. He shared an interesting comparison from his days living on a reservation. He told me it felt as if he was living in a prison without fences; he said he lived his people’s lie because in his heart he knew his truth and that was–he owned this land and all the land surrounding, regardless of what another man thought. He told me that we all should feel that, regardless of ethnic background.  I had to smile. I could feel the Native American experience in his words; their meaning. I could see it in his eyes; his hands; his delivery of wisdom. He told me how it was an assault on his life and many others and he did not want that for Maddie. He wanted her free, as her spirit was meant to be and that her mortality was holding her back. They knew her spirit was meant to fly, and being grounded put her in a prison without fences. He paused again, and quietly said, I have already lived that for her.

I held Maddie, while he filled out the paperwork to have her put down. Maddie, still looking down, sat quietly beside me. He turned to come and get her. We sat and talked about travels; a world we shared. And then Maddie’s name was called. A tech walked over and tried to lead her by leash back to the back room. She would not budge. He did not help her budge toward the tech. The tech asked him if she could pick Maddie up, and he said yes. Still not helping—eyes only on Maddie. Though Maddie had clearly lost a lot of weight, the tech could not lift her. She left and returned with another tech. Still not helping them–not laying one hand on Maddie–the two techs lifted her and walked off as he followed.  

Fast forward ten minutes: I watched him walk outside through a back room door.  He grabbed his cell and made a call. He left the parking lot for some time… and reappeared with another man, who obviously was the driver in the car. They both headed toward the back. Moments later, they reappeared in the parking lot, putting his lifeless Maddie in the back of an old and dented-pickup truck. We caught each other’s eye through the window. I felt a fear shoot through me thinking I’ll never see you again. I went and sat back down with LucyBelle.  

About five minutes later, I felt something odd; that kind of feeling which makes your hairs stand-up on end.  I looked up and he was standing before me holding a dirty blanket; he laid it beside me and shook my hand. The only words he spoke were:  Thank you for your compassion. I told him he was most welcome; thanked him for his time and truths; and as he turned to walk out the door, I heard my small voice utter, blessings.

I don’t know if he meant for me to have that blanket; I couldn’t tell you. I notified the people at the front desk to let them know he had left it there. It wasn’t theirs, and everything in me wanted to keep it; wanted to believe he meant for me to have it; and yet…I couldn’t take it. I asked them, if he didn’t return to get it, would they please make sure it was meant to help another animal in distress—and they couldn’t have been more thankful to do just that.  

Seven weeks have passed since I met this man—he hasn’t left my consciousness for more than a day here and there. This man was extraordinarily in tune with his spirit and possibly the spirit of others. He was the kind of man one might see in a movie–bigger than life–up on the big screen. And while watching in movie-magic darkness, wonder what words could I use to describe his mortal magic? I never got his name, nor did he get mine. They seemed unimportant.  

I remember having a conversation with my Father years ago, and he told me of a time when he was in a court house and he saw a woman at the front of the line, of which he stood. He had never met her but he had an overwhelming feeling of goodness about her, and it was all he could do to bid her good day, when in fact, he just wanted to hold her and let her know she was safe. When we had that conversation, we chocked it up to the possibilities of a past life. Never knowing–how can we really– but that is where we went with it.  

And so I wonder, who is this man to me really.  Who was I to him? In a lobby full of barking dogs and conversations, it was as if we were floating in our own bubble, and all we could do was feel. We heard little else.  

I believe in past lives; that’s another long-winded story. And I am betting, this magic man was someone important in one of them. Do I wish I knew that importance? Well, let me tell you this much, when I first saw him–as he passed me by on the road—I knew it all. I cannot tell you what that is or even what that means, but I can tell you that I knew.  

Poet’s Corner: Thanksgiving Calls


Over the river or through the woods
Thanksgiving has arrived;
Our arms full of our fresh baked goods.
Dried cranberries, revived.

Olives for five fingers,
Worn by the very wee;
And cheeks of little children
Squinched by Auntie Bea.

That time of year when Uncle Frank
Puts something funny in his pipe;
And Uncle Ed drinks too much wine;
And conversation’s ripe.

Yes, lampshades take their cover:
They’re not made to be a hat
Every Thanksgiving’s got one
For instance, Uncle Pat.

We gather up our fixin’s;
Preparing days ahead:
We polish up the silver
To sparkle midst the spread.

It’s a time when we’re with loved ones;
And we give our thanks out loud;
We smile at the strangers,
When we find we’re in a crowd.

It’s when we gather near and far,
And share a special bond:
Thanksgiving time, so rich and right
It needs no magic wand.

So when you sit down at your table,
Look across the way:
And feel the smiles from your loved ones,
On this very thankful day.

For the smiles that they’re wearing
Is reflecting what’s in you:
See, they’re grateful that you made it–
For its you they look up to.

Ohhh yes, the kitchen’s left in bobbles
It’s neither here nor there;
For when we sit to share in grace,
Thanksgiving’s everywhere.

Poet’s Corner – Happy Birthday, America!


Fireworks shoot through the sky;
Independence waves a flag;
Children squeal with such delight;
Uncle Sam parades with swag.

England in the rearview mirror;
Stars and stripes begin to wave;
Soldiers fighting for America,
Even from their graves.

Apple pie at Grandmas;
Grilling sweet-corn in the husk.
Every yard a celebration;
With sparklers lit at dusk.

Fried Chicken ‘neath the Willow;
Potato Salad too;
Hot Dogs at the All-Star Game:
It’s all Red, White and Blue.

Sparklers spark the children;
Stories, remember when:
We’re the greatest of the land;
Not today, but then.

Still, America’s resilient;
We’re not daunted by some laws,
That politicians seem to strike;
Up against our iron jaws.

You see, we know our government;
And we know what’s wrong and right:
Two birds of different colors,
But only one masters the flight.

Is it the devilish of Stellars,
Stealing eggs from families?
Or the Eagle, that’s our treasure;
Flying high with Liberty:

Eschewing all the darkness,
And setting free the light–
To shine down on each one of us–
Like our flag waved that fateful night.

Happy Birthday my America:
Shine bright and faithful, Dear:
Your liberty inspires us,
And reminds us not to fear.

Oh America the Beautiful,
You’re the beacon for us all;
And we’ll fight to keep you ‘free at last’:
It’s our patriotic call.

Top photo: Bigstock

How Did This Happen? Poems for the Not So Young Anymore


How Did This Happen? weaves the journey of all women, from every era, full circle and does it with poems and passages from classical writers, to the contemporary: Some famous, some not, but all sharing womanhood. Each chapter brilliantly set with a series of poems and an introduction which frames what the chapter intends.   It reflects the burdens and delights put on women culturally, and the burden we embrace to self-impose them.  It is rich with humor, some hilarious and some so touching one would think the writers may have once lived within our very own hearts—and through that you become aware women are connected just like the stars in the night’s sky: Each poem, like a constellation, shining down to tell a moment’s fortune. What we share, young and old; what we hold dear and work so hard to discard.

Its poems pinpoint Mothers, how we want to help our daughters and pass on what we know; it also articulates what the young would just as soon ignore from their feminine elders. It playfully shows the rewards of stepping out on our own path; from the time we consciously recognize women are different than men.  How Did This Happen? surprises us with moments that many women, I being one of them, have what we believe to be our secrets. From the first blossom of womanhood to that first whisker, to the joy of undying wisdom; it poetically demonstrates moods and the journey of aging:  The excitement and the pain of discovery; the humor in the failing and glory of achievement.

The book, aptly titled: How Did This Happen?Outlines a woman’s journey from all walks and ultimately ends up telling our stories from Insult and Injury to Grit and Grace, with a sterling string of poems describing poignant moments. The humor comes to the reader with surprise and genuine realizations. It reminds of what we know and what lies before us like diamonds in the rough, waiting eagerly to be mined. It doesn’t shy away from anything: it covers the aging process and “kids us on the square” with every milestone a woman comes to know.

How did this happen?

I read excerpts of this book to my 91-year old Mother, and asked her what she thought.  She likened it to a currency, paying women homage, while leading us to the understanding of how we journey along different paths; yet we are all connected and most often arrive at the same destination.  Not just women who have lived a life, but in many ways, a roadmap for the young women starting, like a fledgling, not yet to understand she is about to fly an all consuming journey of herself.  Each poem demonstrating we are not alone.

This couldn’t be a better gift for a Mother, or anyone in your circle of friends.  It was my pleasure to read and review.  I give it 5 stars in goodness; heart and inviting all women to enjoy their challenges and awkwardness in the unknown of what it is genuinely like to age; the hoops we jump through; and the images we keep, like sentimental souvenirs.  With Mother’s Day coming up—this book may be the ticket to giving a heartfelt and quintessential gift.  I found my heart curious; piqued and joyful, while reviewing this:  with one foot in grit, the other in grace, I can honestly say, How Did This Happen? is a winner.

How Did This Happen? Poems for the Not So Young Anymore

Note:  The Editors of this book are Mary D. Esselman and Elizabeth Ash Velez: Best-Selling Authors of “The Hell with Love”.   Elizabeth is the academic coordinator of the Community Scholars Program and professor of feminist theory at Georgetown University.  Mary is a freelance writer and teacher currently working for the University of Virginia’s Women’s Center. Both are renowned for being contributors to several national and international magazines.

Top photo: Bigstock

Poet’s Corner: Women


T’was like the Robin’s song in spring,

Building nests with rainbow string,

Reminding me that life will be,

A song in heart: a sign of thee.

Reflections of my Mother’s dreams

Fly high in sky; it’s what it seems;

A time to flourish and unbend:

To nurture that – which has no end.

A woman made of simple earth,

Measured gain, I call my worth;

A port in storm, a meal at night:

A heart that beats undying light.

We are women ‘round the world

Embracing love with arms unfurled.

Taking in and letting go;

Planting seeds to help them grow.

I’m not alone; I’m one of all:

Women praying to a wall;

Women dusting off the murk;

Women smiling as they work;

Teaching love instead of hate;

Waiting at the garden’s gate;

A gate protecting all within:

Smiling with prophetic grin.

Moons will rise and suns will set,

As women charge to pay the debt;

Of mentions made before their time,

While casting life without their rhyme.

Women grow the tree of life,

While being woman, or being wife.

Expanding like the universe,

While living their poetic verse.

We are the ones who bring on change;

With ages spanned o’er massive range.

We stand for you; we stand for us;

We stand for life, because we must.

Women are the wings on birds;

And comfort others with our words
We’re women now, like women then:

We’re to be counted, once again.

Top photo: Bogstock

Poet’s Corner: Who’ll Stop the Reign?


We watched it happen long ago;
Clowns streaming live our future show:
Lives falling, from hate’s ether air;
Other’s watching without care;
Lies bleeding from the human race;
While ashes blow their untold  grace.
And in the time it took to tell?
We did not task you.
Nor did we ask you:
Who’ll stop the reign?

Once we came to help you be
Liberated, safe and free.
We threw away the recipe:
For sawdust cakes;
And toxic shakes.
We stopped the iron horse which took
Away your spirits, dreams and books.
We understood how courage looked.
We would not task you.
Or think to ask you:
Who’ll stop the reign?

Now we wear your shoes on us.
Freedom’s stain beneath the bus;
Rounded up, mocked for fun,
While ignorants are pointing guns:
Horses saddled;
Lady Liberty, rattled,
Crying  Atlantic Tears–
Knowing it will take her years–
To put this history in her past;
The minutes slow; as time change fast.
With burdened tasks,
She always asks:
Who’ll stop the reign?

Chief and Commander,
Can’t count on him;
He’s marching to his
Populist hymn.
The cabinet?
It’s full of bulls:
Knitting love notes
With sheep-slain wools.
And as they dare us;
Saluting Heiress;
They pray to snare us.
And when they task us,
They don’t dare ask us:
Who’ll stop the reign?

Divided, splayed like some old fish:
Smoked or fried; we’ll be the dish;
While others wait in lines and wish;
To keep our rights;
Stay safe at night;
Sing our song.
And all belong
With cross stitched hearts;
Linked by smarts.
And still, the task is…
Few left to ask is:
Who’ll stop the reign?

Will we lock the sane away?
And bring them out on chosen days?
Watch parents point; hear children say:
These were the free?
Musing with their Liberty?
Believing they were part of “We”?
The nerve to task!
And actually ask:
Who’ll stop the reign?

From one who speaks behind those bars–
As woman, standing strong with scars;
And men beside her, standing strong–
Because we know it won’t be long:
Before you fall
Like Berlin Wall;
And acid rain
Becomes your pain;
Because we chose
To plant the rose.
Because we spoke
And didn’t choke.
Because we’re light
And ‘stood the fight.
We took the task.
And should you ask?
We, stopped the reign.

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