For previous posts on the contributors, see these authors who were all featured in the first section of the book, “Mystics and Messengers.”
And from the second section of the book, “Angels Watching Over Me.”
When I decided to include poetry in this mixed-genre collection, I reached out to my friend Jennifer Horne, former Poet Laureate of Alabama, for suggestions. She “introduced” me to Angela Jackson-Brown, and I’m so glad she did! Angela Jackson-Brown is an award-winning writer, poet and playwright who is an Associate Professor in the creative writing program at Indiana University in Bloomington. She also teaches in the graduate program at the Naslund-Mann Graduate School of Writing at Spalding University in Louisville, KY. She is the author of Drinking From a Bitter Cup, House Repairs, When Stars Rain Down and The Light Always Breaks. In October of 2023, Angela’s next novel, Homeward, a follow-up to When Stars Rain Down, will be published by Harper Muse.
A Word to the Guy with the “God Bless” Sign by the Side of the Road
I love this poem by Angela for so many reasons. We have a large homeless population in Memphis, and I meet many of these people at intersections, holding signs that usually say, “homeless” or “hungry.” I keep cash with me to give them as often as I can, always asking their name and offering mine and wishing them better days ahead. I even drive homeless women from their check-in location to an overnight shelter on Monday nights in downtown Memphis during the winter months. So, yes, I feel a strong connection to this poem. But I don’t know how to show you an “excerpt” from a poem. It would be like cropping part of a painting or other piece of art to share. It just doesn’t work. And yet . . . here I am, sharing the first “paragraph”/”stanza” of the poem she submitted for this anthology. I hope it leaves you wanting more . . . . so you will choose to buy the book and read her poem in its entirety. Here goes:
I try not to make eye contact
with you because if our eyes were
to meet, I might actually see inside
your soul. And the thought of being
that close to the essence of you scares
me, so each and every time I turn away
or I simply focus on the words you’ve
written on your sign.
And a brief excerpt from Angela’s other poem in the collection (this one is in the third section, “All in the Family.”)
“When a Mother Leaves Her Child”
When your mother finally does go away,
that part of your heart that belonged to her and her alone,
crumbles just a little . . . .
Death is merely a bridge that we must cross over,
and although it feels like we are separated from those we love
we aren’t, not really, because pieces of those we love will
always dwell inside of us. Parts of them leave, but the parts that matter, their undying love, remain as long as we have memory and breath.