Joan Jobe Smith Voss

Joan Jobe Smith Voss

Joan Jobe Smith's poetry was recently published in SCHIZZO; she last read in UK in 2017 at the Hull Literature Festival.

I can't breathe
Wednesday, 03 June 2020 20:20

I can't breathe

Published in Poetry

I Can’t Breathe

by Joan Jobe Smith Voss

I can’t breathe.
The smoke from the pyre burning me alive
because my name is Joan in Rouen chokes me.
Othello smothers me with a pillow.
Bill Sykes bludgeons me with his walking
stick till I fall to the floor, face down in Dickens dust.
Jack the Ripper slices as he writes his initials across my
throat.
A Nazi shaves my head and hands me a bar
of soap for my shower in Auschitz

and right now I am watching a video
of a big cop sitting on my chest
as he laughs, tells me a joke, while
he punches me in the face with his big fists
a cop big enough to sign with the NFL
play first string, win a Super Bowl.

Have you ever had a big dude
with a big ass like that
sit on your chest?
Scream hyena in your
face?
I have.
Cracks your rib bones,
busts your eardrums
and carotid
and breaks your heart.

That happened to me nearly 50 years ago
and it just happened to me again right now
fuck
I’m watching it on a video here in my dining room
of him, you, me,
in the privacy of my own home,
minding my own business
now minding him, our own business
and I can’t fucking
BREATHE.

Can YOU?

IWD 2019: My Mother Margie & Rosie the Riveter
Tuesday, 05 March 2019 20:25

IWD 2019: My Mother Margie & Rosie the Riveter

Published in Poetry

My Mother Margie & Rosie the Riveter

by Joan Jobe Smith

In 1942, my mother Margie age 22 in World War 2

moved to Long Beach, California to work as a Rosie

the Riveter at Douglas Aircraft factory and though she

had been a hard-working farm girl in Dust Bowl Texas,

helped nanny her two baby siblings, carrying them when

she was 6 on her hips, had milked cows, picked cotton

and worked as a waitress since age 13, working in that

factory bending, twisting, lifting, grasping steel tools to

make 100s, 1000s of airplanes to fly away to bomb our

enemies, pushing and pulling overhead cranes with her

bare hands hurt her bones and even though she got paid

good wages, overtime and double time earning enough

to pay rent with 4 days’ pay and got vacation pay, too,

and restful coffee breaks and free bus rides, my mother

had to quit, the job just too hard even though years later

when my father left the Army and they bought a house

and she painted it and wallpapered it herself, mowed the

lawns herself every week, lay down floor tile in the den,

doing the jobs of 5 men, the blisters on her hands and

feet, those wrist and ankle and hip pains when she was a

Rosie the Riveter the worst she ever got in her life—oh,

and even that bandana she had to wear so tight to protect

her long black hair gave her a migraine and then in 1952

when she saw again that WW2 poster of Rosie the Riveter,

Rosie holding up her big hard bicep and fist, my mother, as

she sat in a comfy chair, smoking half of her once-a-day

cigarette with a hand the size of a pink half-blooming rose,

her white bicep soft as meringue, smiled and said, Oh, those

Rosie the Riveters, such tough brave ladies. Without those

women’s biceps and fists we might never have won the war.