Mary, Queen of Rights
Raise your voices as one
to a woman who lost it all:
Widowed, children dead from dread yellow fever.
After kids perished, she nursed neighbors.
To a woman who rose from grief and chose
to take up the burden of others:
Mothers, fathers, children, laboring side by side
in factories, in fields, on farms; long hours for pennies,
as their cruel, crafty masters garnered a tidy profit.
Fat cats whose fortunes were secure.
Rich men whose better angels whispered,
“Show love, compassion.”
But Greed and Hubris shout down the likes of angels.
They blot out God in a frenzied cloud of
green ink and gold coins numbering 30 and more.
Still, this widow woman knew nothing and cared less
about her own comfort. Others’ welfare trumped wealth
in her sensibilities; she saw only exploited masses.
She trod into the mines and the mills.
She talked in the fields, where the hopeless
worked long hours under punishing conditions.
She could juggle advocacy, jailings, and public speaking;
she was, indeed, “the most dangerous woman in America.”
She spoke of dignity (if she’d stopped short there,
she’d never have been slapped in a jail cell).
She spoke of fairness (watch it, lady).
She shouted about rights (ah, the gloves were off now).
She stirred the pot, this big little woman,
pistol under her petticoat, taking on police
sent by their rich masters to break up strikes.
She was the voice of unions, the midwife of labor.
Let’s raise a toast in tribute to this hero,
who warned us that labor leaders should never
wear fancy suits or fatten up through union dues
(are you listening, gentlemen?).
A woman who taught us that, no matter what
the rank and file must be protected:
Raise your glasses high to Mary “Mother” Jones.
© 2013 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil
For Trifecta, which tossed us the word “juggle” in the sense of handling many tasks. Perfect for this subject, no? Also for dverse Open Mic Night.
In our house growing up, Mother Jones was a patron saint. Social justice is only achieved when regular folks get together to affect change. If anyone could be considered “just folks,” it was Mary Jones. I wonder what she would think of some of our union leaders today? For as the rich demonize unions and spit on the rank and file, they should really address their complaints to greedy union bosses, something Mother Jones warned us about in her autobiography.
Remember, it’s not the average wage slave at fault: It’s corrupt bosses, bought off by the likes of the “usual suspects,” the ALEC crew and the Kochs. UNION YES!
In the words of Mother Jones, “Pray for the dead and fight like hell for the living,” Amy
Photo used by permission of the Women’s Rights Museum.
March 5, 2013 at 10:56 pm
Hear, hear – she should be a saint period, what a woman, huh? Wow…
March 5, 2013 at 11:11 pm
..a well justified tribute for such a remarkable individual… i don’t know her but somehow i feel proud of all that she’d done for fellow folks… a most inspired ode Amy… thanks.. smiles…
March 6, 2013 at 12:34 am
wonderful…an ode to a remarkable woman…raise a toast!
March 6, 2013 at 1:35 am
It is a sad commentary on human nature that those reformers and champions of the workers’ rights – who did so much good in the early days – started a system which eventually crippled whole industries in Britain. As you say, greed got the better of the union bosses, as well as of industrialists, bankers and politicians.
March 6, 2013 at 1:56 am
I shall raise a glass tonight to this remarkable woman ~ thanks for telling me about her, Amy. Nice post.
March 6, 2013 at 5:25 am
right on, Mother Jones!
March 6, 2013 at 6:54 am
oh i agree with you that it only happens when regular people get together…makes me think of the margaret mead quote again…and she sounds like a prettyamazing woman…a saint even….i like your toast…you do her honor…
March 6, 2013 at 7:10 am
Great job with the prompt! I could feel your energy here.
March 6, 2013 at 8:23 am
What a fierce poem! (:
March 6, 2013 at 11:26 am
You have characterized her well. Ha, I used to subscribe to “Mother Jones Magazine.” I wonder if it still exists.
Lisa A.Williams poetry
March 6, 2013 at 12:13 pm
What a lovely tribute to a remarkable women who showed us how strong we really can be.
March 6, 2013 at 1:18 pm
Love the idea of “Mary, Queen of Rights.” Inspirational stuff.
Victoria C. Slotto
March 6, 2013 at 2:00 pm
A poetic biography well told. An example of how each of us can make a difference. In a way she reminds me of Gandhi.
March 6, 2013 at 2:25 pm
Oh, I LIKE this one, a lot!
March 6, 2013 at 3:40 pm
Again, your poetry amazes!
Wonderful verse, and the follow up paragraph too.
March 6, 2013 at 4:23 pm
This is a tribute worthy of this driven lady who I so admire and who has had such an absolute influence on my life.
March 6, 2013 at 4:36 pm
Oh so excellent!! Gave me goosebumps, all that right talking, and doing. So inspirational, and how wonderful that you and your family talked about her, and celebrated her! Thank you for sharing her with me ❤
March 6, 2013 at 5:54 pm
A wonderful tribute for one who fought for the good of others. Not many are able to sacrifice and face such challenges at a personal level! Such a remarkable woman. She taught greedy union leaders a thing or two. She fought for a cause, really! Nicely Amy!
March 6, 2013 at 6:06 pm
a dangerous woman indeed. killer tribute and history lesson.
March 6, 2013 at 9:20 pm
Amazing woman that Mary was! I like her fighting spirit and how you portrayed her in your poem.
March 7, 2013 at 5:31 am
midwife of labor lol Terrific piece on a terrific woman!
March 7, 2013 at 1:31 pm
This is just terrific. And that last stanza is near perfection.
March 7, 2013 at 5:07 pm
terrific title to go with a deserving dedication
March 10, 2013 at 8:38 am
Courage in a female package…
March 22, 2013 at 3:48 am
A great title and wonderful tribute to a woman who should be talked about much more in history books.