Mightiest of Beasts

The missus got home
from a women’s suffrage march
red-tempered, fiery-cheeked
and shouting across the yard.

“I’m mighty pleased our Jimmie isn’t a girl.
Had he been born woman in this hell of a country,
and grown up to marry a fool
who throws up as much idiocy
as you do, Todd Seth Doyle,
I would turn murderess in a church lawn;
murderess, I tell you!”

Once she crossed our threshold,
I sent our Jimmie to his room,
grabbed a clean shirt and my old cane,
and got ready to deal with Doyle.

“No, my Séamus,” she said,
her cheeks wet with rage.
“If you go out there, I lose what I’ve gained.”
My confusion must’ve shown,
because she touched my face, and added,
“Lucy stayed in Washington,
and Doyle filled the paper with nonsense
about his wife leaving his bed
without his permission.”

I squeezed her strong arm,
kissed her lightly on the mouth
and took our Jimmie to the circus
just outside town.
But my heart was heavy;
the circus always made me think of ice,
of dead sons and of firing squads
aimed at my blood…

I was lost in thought,
when little Jimmie pulled on my sleeve,
and pointed towards the ice sculpture tent.
My heart sunk
to get squeezed between leather and sole.
I tried to bring our Jimmie closer to me,
but we raised a boy with his own mind.

“O! Look papa!” he said,
“See that strange cow,
with his horns in his mouth,
eating hay with his tail.
Isn’t it the mightiest of beasts?”

“It sure is mighty, son.”
We walked fast towards the animal,
and I was happy.
Our Jimmie didn’t only notice the elephant
in the world’s room,
but his eyes could also see
a truer beast.

Process Note: on March 3, 1913, thousands joined the Women Suffrage Procession in the capital of the United States, to “march in a spirit of protest against the present political organization of society, from which women [were] excluded.” I invented Jimmie’s mother, but I’m sure such women raised their fists in Washington, D. C. Her comment about Doyle’s nonsense isn’t fiction (see images). Séamus’ preoccupation with circuses and ice are an allusion to the first line in Gabriel García Márquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude: “Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendía was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice.” Yes, my muse truly enjoyed birthing this piece.

for NaPoWriMo with Magaly Guerrero 2015, Day 13 –  Poetizing the News… of 1913: Write a poem based on a headline from April 1913. Please provide a link to your source, when possible. It would be interesting to read it after experiencing your poem.

Truer Beast

Notice!Truer Beast” and “Notice!” were extracted from DigitalNC

21 thoughts on “Mightiest of Beasts

  1. I am such a fan of the Suffragette movement. I love how you wove her indignation, her husbands support, and the little boys wonder all together. And, the allusion to what is going on now with women was not lost on me, either. See the truer beast beneath, indeed! Kudos!

    • I’m an admirer of those women. We can complain about having it hard these days, but my goodness, they had it granite… and they pushed and broke things and built things and set a platform on it for us to stand on. Because of all that hard work, I tend to get really pissed off on election days. I’m often left wanted to drag people by their ears, so that they can do what so many fought so hard to get… as you can see, I feel quite strongly about this, lol!

    • I was thinking the same. There is much larger story behind this poem. For instance, how is a boy like Jimmie treated in school? How do the women who support and enjoy the status quo behave towards his mother? And towards a man who supports thinking, in a time when the latter was nearly taboo? So many things…

  2. Wow, you know someone’s in trouble when all three names are used. I can hear all the kids say, “Oooooooooh, you’re in trouble!”

    Also I like to see the word “murderess” especially on the “church lawn”…in front of god and everybody. 😮


  3. Lots of dark power in the emotions here, though much of it is light in tone–you do make the struggle come very close, and the people who endured it very real. I was wondering how you found 1913, earlier when I looked through the richness of choice the headlines offered–just a genius pick for a writing topic–and the striking parallels to today, where we seem to have to fight these battles all over again. Like you, it’s something that makes me see red, politically, especially when people don’t appreciate and *use* the right those women fought so hard for..anyway. a great prompt, and I enjoyed everything I’ve read about it and for it very much.

    • When I thought about the prompt, I was sure my entry was going to be something humorous–there are so many completely insane things said by people at the time. But I couldn’t get myself to find anything funny about how certain men treated women… And don’t even get me started on how the work done by those women is just stepped on today… I get so upset. *breathe, breathe*

    • I think those horrid comments made by some people one hundred years ago would bring strong emotions out of the dead. I still can’t believe some of things that were said, and printed!

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