Jolie Marie’s Story

Facing Poverty in Muncie, Indiana, Poverty

as told to and written by poet Jeffrey Own Pearson


The age my life changes
Nevada highways on a Harley
through The Valley of Fire.
I didn’t know how low
low could be before the crash.
I’m surrounded by too much fire.
If I can’t move,
I can’t live.

New Millennium

A case of fire and ice.
A broken back the doctors missed
thirty years ago
broken again on the slick driveway.
Too short to lose two inches
in height.
Too small to lose so much blood.


is like owning cats.
They both want to be served.
And having no money.
That too.
I can’t work and make it to appointments
at the same time.

At the end of the day,
I cook sweet potatoes and rice.
Divide my pantry in half again for tomorrow.


Even the most menial workers delight in malice.
Tell me I’ll be evicted within months. Kick at
my dog. But I stand in the way.
Call the president.
I had steel in my spine
before the doctors added their own.
I raised sturdy sons. Tall as sequoias.
Sons who know what it’s like to be human.


I’m the mom
that sons of other mothers
come to. As I say,
like spirits run in packs.
Days I spend with my boys
give pain less time to set in
and fester. A good heart
can hasten healing.

Maybe next year my back will mend.
Maybe the fire in me can clear out the back wood.
Find the best when I feel worst.
Find the way out of this deep valley.

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