A metal plate in his head,

he had survived deployment to the battle zone.

His purple heart meant that he had suffered head injury 

defending his country: a war hero of WWI,

his mind crowded with dreams of recriminating guilt,

visions, nightmares, clanging medals for bravery, 

memories of dead bodies and body parts,

he returned home from a war that he did not fully understand.

No one really knew the bulk of what went through his mind. 

Once a brave warrior who had faced and overcome insurmountable danger,

he searched for a scapegoat with the help of Jack Daniel’s. 

What is a disabled warrior? 

Do they stroll and run on false legs, riding bicycles, 

playing cricket and football on crutches, chopping wood and playing golf with one arm? 

Do they train to become carpenters, engineers, bookkeepers and chauffeurs? 

A bionic man, Winfield survived gangrene and infection, popular among severely injured soldiers.

With no experience of trench warfare, 

he was shot in the head 

when he popped up over a trench one time too many 

to face a hail of machine-gun bullets. 

The jagged fragment of a bursting shell tore open his scalp 

leaving him the victim, 

a permanent object of repulsion to others, 

and a grievous burden to himself. 

Despondency, melancholia, dark suicidal thoughts, 

and psychological effects left him 

a stranger in a living hell. 

A stranger to himself, he was a maladjusted person,

his hidden history of the First World War. 

He was never officially celebrated as a wounded hero. 

He kept the medal in his dresser drawer,

his room spotlessly clean unless he was stinking drunk – when he usually wet his bed. 

Clean mattresses were replaced several times. 

He’d get up early, eat a breakfast and take his place 

—the front porch rocking chair 

from late spring, summer to early fall. 

Kids in the neighborhood laughed at him as they all had seen him staggering home 

or lying drunk in an alley needing rescue from friends, passersby and Big Daddy. 

We all loved him. 

Our hero.


Certain bodies give off a distinctive odor, 

a quick puff or slight gust, 

a special inauspicious whiff. 

The bleak ammonia aroma waft of death, 

part rot, 

part mildew, 

part ferment, 

spew-puke odor from an aura, 

the stench from day-old Atlantic fished herring heads, 

and uncooked-cooking chicken decaying, 

stuffed and captive in a hot garbage bin. 

Aged still from distinctive old-person body chemistry, 

babies notice well that certain aged smell, 

a ripened hell, they can tell. 

Shying away they swiggle, wiggle and sway, 

avoiding extinction. 

Frail, old, short, a young Einstein, hair similarly worn,[a young Geo. Wash. Carver] 

his permanent aura walked softly, 

gliding with mystical presence, 

casting subtle-strong deathly corpse, 

buried and uninvited scents, 

each gesture, every word a new discovery, 

from inside a deep cavern with womb to tomb signals, 

of life-cycle’s ominous doom and finality. 

Crazed and dazed his lively maddening rage-raved rants, 

displayed parts of his failing frame: 

fragile skeletal bone of grey, 

with crusty lack-lustered hue, 

deep sunken watery eyes, 

glazed-over and greyish-blue. 

Blue veins thick protruded thin-dry, 

through cracked scaly ashy raisin crinkled shell confinement. 

A shepherd boy at boarding school in Palestine, 

he’d fought in Israel’s War of Independence until capture. 

After Lebanon he worked in Los Angeles— 

Western Union bicycle messenger, taxi driver, 

teacher, foreign press photographer. 

An irrepressible kibitzer, 

comfortable interacting in show biz, 

he covered film and television. 

He spoke of his passion for Gustav Mahler, 

proud He was a member of the tribe. 

Proud to share my musicality, 

quench his curiosity, 

peak his interest, 

“ I’m a double threat.” 

His face blossomed, summoning a flood 

of contrasting vocal textures, 

cultural hues of classical and jazz. 

Unearthed, I burst, Hush, baby, don’t cry… Motherless Child, 

his unbridled pleasure formed my goose bumps, 

fueled our kindred spiritual connection. 

His aura spoke a lot like grandpa, 

gingerly on this 83rd birthday. 

Weighted stale breath, 

shallow and gradually disappearing, 

a permanent odorous residue of sour limburger stink, 

spoiled yellow colored milk stench, 

aged cream gone bad, 

fowl and curdled now, 

his instruction, direct in a caring sort of way, 

guided my launch into the vastness. 



Dust devil 

by Jeri Brown 

Tale spinner, 

intent to ensnare 

my fluff, humoring, 

agitating and vexing me. 

You get to me, visible, 

without relief. 

Common, maddened attraction, 

I abhor your invasion to my senses 

as you unload powdery earth 

sweeping tattered remnants wiping. 

You are still there hiding. 


Hurled and thrown down stairs, 

tucked in corners in sly cryptic places, 

languished in door-way crevices of cunning sinister scheme, 

I scoff as your poorly concealed presence unfolds each day, 

frying my brain. 

Wandering vagrant, 

wreaking havoc through recurring sequences, 

your woven fuzzy image cycles morality 

of stunning lasting-stamina, 

offending and condescending. 


you boldly prance through my abode at will, 

an invader leaving your trail of disgust-dust,   

making your unwelcomed presence in unforeseen places, 


Have you no voice? 

If only you could utter your disdain, 

your scorn. 

Dust bunnies, 

my foot! 

Cowardly and cunningly, 

you appear when least expected 

from gusty skyward wind bursts of cross and upward flows, 

to increase my instinctive sense of guilt; 

poor housekeeping. 

Dishes rattle as I spot you reposed in unforeseen places, 

affronting my awareness. 

“I just swept there.” 

Deft, jeering silent taunts of stunning, coy, corroded caresses, 

covert furry physics particles that pester your presence, 

with be-devilled heightened enkindle 

to jar my teetering flask as it spews forth, 

then abruptly shatters. 

Stomped, ripped, plugged in and turned on, 

alas, I hoover. 




Nightwind Elder  

nightwind elder 

Confused in the night, his big-boned face, large flat nose, large bone-chilling hands, hairy muscular thighs, thickset flattened nose and huge lips descended without consent. He towered over my 5 foot 6-inches on the cold-dank floor slightly bruised from switchblade pressed against my throat. Bent with muted cries and black rubber goulashes removed, he tossed my charcoal grey wool coat, black tights and white undies. I crouched to his bestiality as he entered pulling my shocked swollen face to the cold cement basement floor. 

Stale, fermented, damp and imposed, the warm yet desolate area was interposed with intoxicating odors of rusty pipes’ toxic grime and sewer mold. Stained from the umbrage of piss-mist residue, my gore-stained face thirsted for a desperate waft of gentle air as I obeyed the loyal father figure in an eerie quiet, resilient with all my might as he stole.



Metal plate in his head. 

He had survived the battle zone. WWI—his war. 

Purple heart on his chest from head injury: his survival. 

He returned home with medals but his mind, 

Crowded with nightmares from a war that he did not fully understand: 

memories of dead bodies and dreams of recurring guilt. 

No one really knew what went through the mind of a brave warrior. 

Bionic man, who overcame danger, survived bullets, gangrene and infection. 

He came home looking for a scapegoat with the help of Jack Daniel’s. 


With no experience of warfare, shot when he popped his head over a trench one time too many, 

he faced a hail of machine-gun bullets. 

Jagged fragments of bursting shells tore open his scalp. 

he was an object of repulsion to others, 

a victim grievous burden to himself. 

Despondency, melancholia, with dark suicidal thoughts, 

he remained through life, a stranger to himself, 

in a living hell, maladjusted. 

Never officially celebrated as a wounded hero he kept his medal, atop his dresser drawer where mattresses had been replaced, when he was stinking drunk and usually wet his bed. 

From late spring to early fall he’d rise early, 

eat a breakfast and take his place, 

in the front porch rocking chair. 

Kids in the neighborhood laughed at him, 

staggering home, or lying drunk in an alley, 

needing rescue from friends, passersby or Big Daddy.

Jeri Brown, 2018

Jenny’s Dust devil  

Jenny’s Dust devil 

A tale spinner, intent to ensnare my fluff, humoring me, agitating and vexing me, it finally got to Jenny, visibly, 

without relief. It was a common, maddened attraction that riled me. It felt like an invasion to her senses when unloaded onto her floors. She’d wipe the powdery earth after sweeping with a tattered remnant. Yet it was still there, hiding. 


Hurled and thrown down stairs, tucked in corners in sly cryptic places, languished in door-way crevices of cunning sinister scheme, she scoffed as the poorly concealed presence unfolded each day. It fried her brain, wreaking havoc through recurring sequences, with woven fuzzy image cycles of stunning lasting-stamina, offending and condescending. Jenny simply couldn’t keep up the clean-up pace. 

Camouflaged, it boldly pranced through her abode at will like an invader leaving a trail of disgust-dust, making  unwelcomed presence in unforeseen places, uninvited. If only Jenny could utter her disdain, her scorn. 

Dust bunnies, my foot! Have you no voice? 

Cowardly and cunningly, it appear when least expected from gusty skyward wind bursts of cross and upward flows, 

to increase Jenny’s instinctive sense of guilt from poor housekeeping. Dishes rattled as she spotted its furry symbol, reposed in unforeseen places, affronting her awareness. 

I just swept there. 

Deft, jeering silent taunts of stunning, coy, corroded caresses, covert furry physics particles that pestered its presence, 

with be-devilled heightened enkindle jarred Jenny’s teetering flask as it spews forth, then abruptly shattered. Scattered. 

Stomped, ripped, plugged in and turned on, alas, Jenny hoovered with her Eureka.

Jeri Brown, 2018

Big Daddy Virgil  

Big Daddy Virgil 

Carter never met his Dad. Grandma Callie taught Big Daddy all about math, spelling, geography and science. 


He was smart beyond his years. 
Head smart and handsome. 
Like a tall glass of water. 
That Clark Gable, 
Langston Hughes, 
Johnny Hartman kind of handsome. 

6 ft. 4 inches tall, 
light skinned with shiny straight hair, 
he used a pomade to help it lay flat. 
Mulatto was how some would describe him. 
That’s what they called a person of mixed white and black ancestry, especially a person with one white and one black parent. 

A private man, 
with a pipe, 

He took great care of her when he was able. 

Wherever he lived she had a home. 
A two-story brick house was always his choice.   

Big Daddy brought Callie with him after he settled in St. Louis. 

I thought that was neat. 


Big Daddy was always tinkering either with the coal furnace in the basement or in some dedicated space wherever we lived 
with his electronics books and his television and radio tubes. 
He was always repairing something. 
He could be working with his soldering iron and lathe in the basement putting metal things back together. 
The most brilliant man I’d ever know. 

His Money 

He knew all about money. 
How to earn it, 
grow it and keep it. 
Daddy was tight with his money, too. 
Made him seem even mean to most. 

But I respected that about my Big Daddy. 
Even when Jerry and Sweetie Pie asked… 
no, begged for enough to get a truck. 
Yeah, he had it. 
Eventually, Daddy loaned them the money for that red truck. 
I’m not sure if they ever got it back to him, though. 
He’d only bring it up at the worst of times. 
Like if they needed another loan. 
That’s when they really needed Mama’s help. 
Daddy was stern, tight and generous. 

Work Experience 

Illinois Central Railroad until he got the gold watch. 
Respected by the union, too. 
A porter, and 
first black union representative, 
it must of been something to see him at a union meeting. 
Not just his looks, 
but his tone. 

An articulated and educated man was the best way to describe him. 
He knew what he wanted. 
And he knew how to plan, 
get it 
and keep it, too. 

Love Story 

Their love was deeply romantic. 
Called her M. A.…. get it! 
She didn’t have book smarts. 
She couldn’t really read. 
She had qualities that softened Daddy’s stern ways right quick. 
He didn’t have a chance if she was not happy with him. 
“Carter this.” “Carter that.” “You know better, Carter!” 

Big Daddy loved Emma.

Jeri Brown, 2016

Gram Callie  

Gram Callie 

School teacher from Mississippi. The south. Education system in her day meant she could practically teach anything for a school ager to a young man or woman. Grandma Callie taught till she married and set out to raise Big Daddy in Aberdeen. 


It was a big job maintaining Grandma Callie’s 
long black, 
silky hair. 
Almost to her waist, 

I used to comb, 
brush and scrape her scalp. 
That hard caked-on dandruff left noticeable 
signature flakes on any top that she wore. 
Light or dark colors didn’t matter. 


She smelled different, 
Kind of like a wilting rose. 
Sweet but a little tainted. 


Hers was the softest light skin, 
almost too soft, you know. 
Her skin so soft but dry as ash. 

She could’ve passed for white. 

Big Daddy certainly could. 


Big bosomed, 
big boned woman, 
but not too fat. 


Grandma Callie was stern and direct. 
Always needing somebody to wait on her 
bath time, 
changing her, 
lotioning her down upon request. 
“Hand me my drawers from the dresser drawer, Sweetie.” 


Soft silky slips, 
sleeping gowns, 
huge bras, 
panties of white, ivory and pale pink, 
she was a very feminine woman.

Jeri Brown, 2016

Big Mama Emma  

Big Mama Emma 


She’d been born in Mississippi at a time when her twelve sisters and brothers were younger spending most of the time helping to care for them with her mother while her charcoal black, Cherokee Indian dad ran his own smoke meat house and supply store. 

House mom 

She was stern with us, 
a wiz in the kitchen, 
with a needle and thread, 
anything domestic, 
a master of so much, 
she didn’t really teach us girls how to do the cooking. 
Her meals could never be topped or duplicated. 
Measuring tools were in the cusp of her hands, 
kneading the dough. 
Molding baked goods was within the strength of her wrist. 
She was miles ahead of us 
so why bother! 

When she wasn’t doing that she’d be sitting at the kitchen table reading scripture. 
She’d learned some words in her life and used that to plow through miraculously. 
We all taught her a little. 
And she wasn’t embarrassed. 
Not one bit. 

Sundays she’d wear beautiful hats, 
furs around her neck, 
and lovely dresses and shoes. 
She knew just how to whip herself into shape… 
into an elegant woman who would sit at the front of the church in the pew next to the pastor’s wife.

Jeri Brown, 2016

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