Linda McCauley Freeman

Three Poems

The Women Before Me 

Hobbled & bound, pressed bodies into shapes 
inhuman, muffled. Lived life sentences. 
Some said no. Some said no more. Stood & shouted 
& suffered—a sisterhood scorned, abused, shackled, 
spat upon. More said no. More said no more. 
Some said me too. Then more. Now, not to doubt 
or dream but live—uncaged & mighty. We spread 
a thousand wings of joy—dissolve great granites 
of despair, hold possibility in our palms. We were 
hobbled & bound, pressed our bodies into shapes 
inhuman, muffled & silenced, lived life sentences. 
More say no. More say no more. Each of us 
a cloud—always moving, yet always knowing 
exactly where we are.

"The Women Before Me" was StoriArts Grand Prize Maya Angelo contest winner, 2018.

I Am A Nasty Woman

I got it from my mother
who never said never
who tucked five kids
into hard seats at our local
public library while she went off
to Mount Vernon’s Co-op College
where free education was provided
to the city’s young “Afro-Americans”
                      My mother marched
into the dean’s office convinced him
that as a woman and Italian-American
she too was a minority and he couldn’t
turn her away because of her color or age
                     My mother marched
into city hall with her degree
and became the Human Rights Commissioner
                    My mother marched
wherever she was told she couldn’t go
even if it took three buses to get there
our father would drop her off at the station
and we’d wave goodbye. We stayed home
with our TV dinners while she went
to Denmark as one of Carter’s cultural
ambassadors, Florence to remember her Italian.
We had no money but we had my mother.

"I Am A Nasty Woman" was part of an art gallery exhibition in the Arts MidHudson Artists Respond to Poetry Show 2018.

Dream (Nov 19. 2017)

We were dancing,
the music and the rhythm
all there and I remember
his hair: long, dark, wavy
against my face, and soft,
this man I knew slightly.
He reached down, pressed
his hand hard between my legs.
The shock of it shuddered
through me, a spasm, a doubt.
Did he really? I paused still
my mind a thousand questions
and he did it again.
In a public place, in this private space.
This time I grabbed his hand. No.
Pulled his wrist and with a strength
from I don’t know where
flipped him, stomped on him,
hard, stood on his wrists. No.
Someone asked, “What did he do?”
“Get a manager,” I cried. “He groped me.”
The whole room paused, then turned
back to dancing.
I dragged him through the crowd.
No one helped. No one cheered.
I dragged him down a long dark hall
toward a door marked, “Manager.”
Another man I knew slightly
asked, “What happened?” Smiled
when I told him. He knew
the guy. It was expected. “But not okay,”
I said. He shrugged, walked away.
The manager’s door never opened.

Linda McCauley Freeman has been widely published in international literary journals and anthologies, including a Chinese translation of her work. Most recently she appeared in Chronogram, Amsterdam Quarterly, won Grand Prize in StoriArts poetry contest honoring Maya Angelou, and was selected by the Arts MidHudson for their Poets Respond to Art 2020 show. She was a three-time winner in the Talespinners Short Story contest judged by Michael Korda. She has an MFA in Writing and Literature from Bennington College and is the former poet-in-residence of the Putnam Arts Council. She and her husband are professional swing dance instructors in the Hudson Valley, NY ( You can like and follow her work on her author page

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