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Monday, March 08, 2021


by Mary K O’Melveny

I.  Jalalabad, Afghanistan
Mursal Waheedi
Saadia Sadat
Shahnaz Raufi
Buried in fresh graves
along with their hopes
Journalists without portfolio
Peace flags at half staff tonight
II.  Mandalay, Myanmar
Ma Kyal Sin
a/k/a “Angel”
Age 18
At the protest front lines
Garbed in bright red lipstick
her black t-shirt emblazoned
“Everything will be all right.”
III.  Bangalore, India
Disha Ravi
Climate advocate
Age 22
Helping farmers on Fridays
turns seditious
toolkits tied to treason
Democracy’s promise reviled
IV.  Rochester NY
Unnamed girl
“Person in crisis”
Age 9
Pepper spray
even in handcuffs
antidote for “family troubles”
Cops say “You’re acting like a child”
V.  Rochester NY
Unnamed woman
with unnamed toddler
Age 3
Allegations of shoplifting
More pepper spray
New policy questions
‘I didn’t steal nothing” she said tearfully
VI. Pentagon, Arlington VA
Unnamed women
Service members
Ages varied
Sexual assaults
reported – more than 7,800
unreported – 20,000
“You’re more likely to be raped by
someone in your uniform as shot by the enemy”
VII.  Washington DC
Unnamed women
formerly working
Ages varied
2.3 million departed
from the workplace in just one year
140,000 in December alone
70 cents per male dollar --“Motherhood penalty”
VIII.  Yambio, South Sudan
Margaret Raman
Single mother of five
Age 38
Beans and ground nuts
for sale at Masiya Market
now rotting in noonday sun
business stifled by COVID’s legacy
IX.  Maiduguri, Nigeria
Hundreds of schoolgirls
kidnapped by gunmen
Ages 12-18
Bandits in uniforms
barefoot children
education turns life-threatening
“Abduction is a growth industry”
X.  Indiana, Montana, South Carolina, Kansas, Wyoming, Tennessee
Anxious women
seeking autonomy
Ages unknown
Bills passed or pending
legislators emboldened by extreme
agendas and judicial appointments
Choices determined by geography

Mary K O'Melveny is a recently retired labor rights attorney who lives in Washington DC and Woodstock NY.  Her work has appeared in various print and on-line journals. Her first poetry chapbook A Woman of a Certain Age is available from Finishing Line Press. Mary’s poetry collection Merging Star Hypotheses was published by Finishing Line Press in January, 2020.