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.

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

Enzee in the Glass Cage  


Enzee in the Glass Cage 

And on that July morning this is how it all started. 


One morning Enzee woke up to find himself captive in a glass cage. How he got there we will never know. He was not tortured or sentenced for committing a crime that he could remember. He was simply alone, or so he thought. He was not completely uncomfortable either. He had food, a bed, a sink, lean water and a basin. 

Unable to do anything about his circumstances, Enzee was forced to see all that was around him…all that surrounded him for the first time ever. 

And in that moment, the cage which had enslaved him, suddenly engaged him. It became his threshold, his port hole, his protector, and his maternal sheltress. 

What Enzee was forced to see within the light of day would change him forever. Within his sight, in the light of day were colors and stains and strains of natural light. He saw leaves in rich 

shades of green that seemed suddenly vulnerable, and innocent in the light …to the sunlight with delicate, rippling streams of water, and branches trembled from the morning breeze. 

So many sprays of colors presented a wash within Enzee’s eye line. A blue sky with spots of white and not so white cirrus clouds in wisps of soft, 

feathery colors appeared so close to him now. It was as if he could touch everything with his eyes. It was as if the cage forced him to take the time to see and to witness his environment. When a flock of 

brown and orange robins, red cardinals, and blue jays passed by, Enzee immediately ducked his head 

for shelter. He was certain they were about to collide on him in his glass cage. So vivid were the colors. How majestic and perfect they appeared as they flew high in the sky. It was a marvel that he had never 

seen before. Or had he just never noticed? His reaction was so intense that he fell back on his side. He hid his face. He needed a break from the wonder. 

Looking inward in his glass cage on that sunny day, after finally witnessing his environment, the splendor of nature changed Enzee in many ways. For when he tried to turn away from his gaze, he was forced to look at himself. And in that moment the cage, which had provided Enzee with a vision 

into his natural surroundings suddenly revealed to him his own identity. 

For the first time in a long while Enzee saw himself in that cage. He noticed his long arms, hairy chest, matted hair, torn shirt, scratches on his index finger, scar on his right elbow, and his dull look. He felt his 

parched mouth. He heard the cracking of his knuckles. 

​      Upon this discovery of reflection, Enzee made a slight yet deep sigh of relief. He could finally see who he really was. Like a fish in a fishbowl Enzee was exposed to the light, to the world around him. Instead of viewing life as an invader, often attacking and defending and being utterly lonely, Enzee felt vulnerable as he looked from his glass cage. And he felt an uncontrollable urge to cry. 

Tears of happiness flowed from his eyes, as he rejoiced in awe of the feeling. A new feeling on a very new day. Now Enzee was ready to truly see his community. A world around him was full of wonder with many special features and many interesting creatures and elements. Everything seemed free to have space. Everything that he saw seemed to be content in their places. Things appeared to move through time and place freely serving and supporting one another. Suddenly two small deer strutted by. A loon flew over, followed by a fuschia colored hummingbird. Just before him on the glass of his cage was a daddylonglegs. It seemed to take an afternoon stretch on the glass near his chin. 

Enzee was overwhelmed. That was his cue. These creatures of nature never had significance in the past. Enzee remembered how he usually smashed, squashed, swatted and moved past nature most of his life as if it had no valuable purpose. Now, in his glass cage he was forced to see.In the light 

of day he had spent hours noticing the movement, the features of living creatures, of plants. He smiled. 

And now he was taking a cue from an arachnid to take a nap. How curious Enzee thought. And how appropriate. “Why not!” he suddenly found himself uttering. 

Enzee smiled and felt his whiskers move toward his cheeks for the first time ever. The smile was new to him. He embraced it and his new sights and insights, feeling somehow refreshed and connected to the land. There Enzee felt inner peace. He drifted into a deep sleep. He slept for hours, uninterrupted in his glass cage. It was there that he had the single most restful sleep of his life. A restoration swept over him. 

When he woke the cage was gone. He was no longer observing in a vacuum. He was actually back. Now he was one in his environment. Enzee felt the breeze as he touched his skin. He smelled the lilac flowers, and the waft of heather from the plants just to the left of him. He felt the heat of the sun 

against his body as he attempted to stand on his big rock. He was home again. This time, no longer lonely, 

Enzee felt his sense of community. He welcomed nature around him. He smiled more. And so, he continued his life as peacefully as he could have ever imagined in a world that he now belonged in. And Enzee was never lonely again. 

Think of it – a peaceful place for all creatures big and small.

Jeri Brown, 2017

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