Glory Be to Odd Ducks Who Have Lived Across My Streets and For All Us Odd Ducks Everywhere   Leave a comment


“We push the same earth ’round and ‘round trying to make a life,” said my neighbor who painted his gravel driveway like a highway – black base, white-striped edges, and yellow-center marks.

Were you crazy like everyone said, or did you want to trick a teenage boy into mistaking the driveway for the highway and catch him and his buddies who called your brilliant daughter cyclops because of her one drooping eye?

From my kitchen window, another neighbor in another city, flits across my yard making me believe in middle-aged fairies, so waiflike I wonder how she survives her mild-mannered-blank-as-a-slate man by day, alcoholic ogre by night who waits until neighbors sleep, then screams, “I AM JIM MORRISON” over and over. He does this 3 to 4 times a week. I tried turning lights on, stepping onto my porch, after weeks of this I yelled under a full moon, “SHUT UP”, then YOU ARE NOT JIM MORRISON, then OKAY, YOU ARE JIM MORRISON, NOW GO TO BED. Nothing stopped him until he was ready to retire in early morning. Police might come, talk to him, he’d go into the house, police leave, he’d return to his post and begin again.

The fairy picked lilacs from my yard to give me, and said with a sweetness only fairies must have, “He’s okay. He just drinks a little.”

She wished me well and worried over my move away. She tried to pay for my garage sale rugs held tight in her skinny arms. Her black fingernails dark against weaved beiges.

All us odd ducks walking around aware and unaware that our senses continue to touch as we push this ball of earth ‘round and round’ shoulder to shoulder even if we pretend we don’t see, smell, touch the one next to us or those across the tracks. Like Sisyphus the big ball keeps rolling back over us even as our anomalies slip up the rotation each time one stops to paint gravel, yell from a deep echoed well,  believe in rock-n-roll reincarnations, or any other out-of-aligned step.

What does a collection of odd ducks, flitting fairies, and all those Jim Morrison’s of the night do but cause a stutter in the earth’s roll, a break in time. This lapse from what some consider forward progress of the earth’s roll, this pause, offers others a time to touch, mend, apply the gauze, offer water, use our feelers, until on any given day, we might hear, “If I was any happier, I’d be dead!” Words of my next odd duck neighbor.




Posted September 24, 2017 by strongjacksonpoet54 in Uncategorized

Elli Drops Thor to One Knee   Leave a comment

Elli drops by for tea in a tank top

bragging of dropping Thor to one knee

flexing her muscles as a threat


Crone stares into Elli’s rheumy eyes,

“Even gods are aging losers.

One might think you’d weary of winning

when each conquest requires owning

one’s own whys. It’s a sort

of sorrow of its own, winning is.”


Elli sneers

veins pop from her neck

down the back of her wiry hands

red lipstick bleeds into her wrinkled lip


Crone wraps her own strong arms

around Elli, “Lets embrace time

until we call the hour of our final bout.”



Mary Strong Jackson

Posted July 29, 2017 by strongjacksonpoet54 in Uncategorized

A Body From My Own Country   2 comments

my body has become a compatriot of mine

I am slim from love of it and cinnamon rolls

body and mind ache in ways known only to us

ache for past places and dead people

but are soothed by tiny leaves caught in the gutter

and a dog’s breath on our pant leg


my compatriot’s full on coupling

with my mind makes me marvel

at our conjoined responses

until we aren’t sure if the mind

stubs itself on sharp corners

and the body ponders ideas

or if it matters


as memory enters body and mind

both remember the joy of falling

the sorrow of endings


this day we have a new love

we allow the risk of the fall again

ignore old pains    past languages

press our skin against another

with fresh words never heard before



                                                Mary Strong Jackson


Posted March 24, 2017 by strongjacksonpoet54 in Uncategorized

From Other Tongues   Leave a comment

Just as her book, The Never-Ending Poem by the Poets of Everything, brings the freshest of approaches to a body of work, From Other Tongues is equally original and delightful. Mary Jackson’s language and imagination invite me into a mind well-traveled and I am an unabashed admirer.  I want to thank her for writing such a book, it will be coming on and off my shelf with frequency.

Joan Logghe

Santa Fe Poet Laureate Emerita

Mary Strong Jackson’s From Other Tongues is a book of poetry that makes us reconsider the most commonplace words, by making us more aware of the concepts we can’t easily express because their nuances are not easily rendered in the English language. It’s a book for word-lovers, and philosophers who have pondered how to say, or approximate the unsayable.

Darryl Lorenzo Wellington

— poet and Writing Fellow at the Center for Community Change

Jackson writes poems that illuminate words seemingly untranslatable into English. In poems that are sometimes spare and yet enlightening, she plays with the idea that language may unite us human beings. In her poems, words and meaning are fluid and moving.  They will make you wonder; they will make you smile.

Karla Huston, Wisconsin Poet Laureate 2017-18, author of A Theory of Lipstick, Main Street Rag Publications.


Posted February 24, 2017 by strongjacksonpoet54 in Uncategorized

Waves   4 comments

give me your huddled masses, tired and poor,

from under bridges, in soup kitchens,

in shelters, sleeping in cars,

give me the billionaires building

their excess like Easter Island chiefs

big, bigger, biggest


America the beautiful

I have a dream


68 year old veteran shot in his home

by police “I’m OK. I didn’t call you. Please leave me alone”

audio recorded by his medical alert gadget

police called him nigger before they killed him


Bobby Kennedy visited Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota

his plane landed in my town     closest airport to the rez

I touched his elbow over the chain link fence

Roger Mudd helped my cousin to her feet when the fence fell


Mom said    dirt    soft as powder

felt good under bare feet coming up between toes

congress knew of the man-made dust bowl

the deaths

but acted only after the black day

when dust blew across states

darkened the windows of the capital

as Hugh Bennett gave his plea

for the people from the plains                                                 24

at school we crouched, hid, feared the Russians

mom said their leaders lie to their people


Mom was 11 when Guthrie strummed his machine that kills fascists

singing    “This Land was Made for You and Me”

we sang it at the Assumption Academy

and sang “how many times must a white dove sail

before she can rest in the sand

yes’n how many times must the cannon balls fly

before they’re forever banned”?


just wanted a buzz bike like everyone else

Gulf of Tonkin-lie to invade Vietnam

flag-covered caskets on every night’s news

Weapons of Mass Destruction-lie to invade Iraq

no caskets on any news


Karla Faye Baker accepts Jesus into her heart

like George Bush who made June 10th  “Jesus Day” in Texas

where he put Karla to death

so as to give equal rights to women


a child waves to the soldier in Iraq

a text comes across from his Dad

“Patty has five new puppies”

the soldier smiles                                                                                             25

tips his combat helmet over his face



ring around the rosy, pocket full of posy

ashes to ashes we all fall down


Charlie Rose interviewed Steven Pinker

whose research says the world is less violent

masses of violent voyeurs

watch 24 hour news-entertainment

and elect Donald Trump


Mary Strong Jackson

Posted December 20, 2016 by strongjacksonpoet54 in Uncategorized

Something Has To Die for Something Else to Live   3 comments



will it be the dream that dies

a dream so old it’s become the hardness of the bones

letting go          leaves a spot        a space

of heart-sized vast expanse      opened with goodbyes


so the next dreamer

of hummingbirds that cradle into an open spot

flash their necks at dawn

beat their wings in tranquil turbulence

can breathe ideas into bone


it’s about love not lack of



sunlit swallows catch drops of water tossed

into the air by a churning river

a river that gathers and carries

gives and takes


this is about light not lack of


something has to live

paint from the last painter’s brush

rhymes from another poet’s tongue

dreams from another dreamer’s life


from mountain snow

melting in sunlight

giving water to a river that gathers and carries

gathers what becomes

the hardness in the bone


carries dreams      that won’t die

Mary Strong Jackson


Posted November 10, 2016 by strongjacksonpoet54 in Uncategorized

Returning a child to the Rez   2 comments

we drive under a dreamer’s sky

the whitest of clouds plumped

and placed in a precise hue of prairie blue

in what might be entry into a sweet town

where men in overalls stand with hands

in pockets     talk of rain and when the wheat

will be ready to cut


instead it’s Whiteclay, Nebraska

the 2nd of the month

checks have come in

bodies are strewn like discarded bottles

of beer    broken    leaking    some face down on the street

some braced in doorways

“they’d get it somewhere and if they had to walk further

there’d be more dead on the roads”

say the wealthy sellers of beer in Whiteclay


population 14

2 miles from the dry reservation

4 establishments sell beer   just 4   just beer

3 to 4 million cans a year

10 to 13,000 a day

sold to the 28,000 Native Americans

from Pine Ridge Reservation, South Dakota


skinny little Angie Kills-in-Water wakes

to meet my eyes in the rear-view mirror

“Wanna stop for a coke?”

“No” I say


“No. We can stop”

“Never mind” she says


sorrow seems to steam from the streets

rising like heat

my vision feels wavy the way mirages

appear on oiled country roads in July

what country is this?


Angie leans over the seat to whisper

“I’m almost home!”

miles away from the white house

white fenced foster home

of cut lawns and leashed dogs

back to cars that take 4 Hail Mary’s to start

where sunlight  wind  and snow comes in around

door frames and windows

where Auntie Sue will gather all their blankets

and coats to wrap the two grandpas

and two children and herself

not just a popcorn cozy warm

but so they will not freeze

so they will not die


and be dead like Angie’s father

hit by a car on his way home from Whiteclay

Angie’s one memory of mother is her yellow death skin

or Auntie Sue’s babies 1 and 2 and 3

dead like other cousins in car wrecks

or her sister who hanged herself after the 3rd rape

from white men who come to the rez

to get away with it


Auntie Sue brings me

inside her dirt-floored house

bare wood walls      one page from a coloring book

hangs near the door

the child beside her withered in some way

holding her returning cousin’s arm

as if never to let go

two old men watch a small TV

there are no rooms

just quilts covering places to sleep

and two hard-backed chairs


I sit in one and explain paperwork

to Auntie Sue who wants to speak aloud

the names of those gone

to tell the agony of a family tree

made of dead branches

Sue says, “it’s the funerals     all those funerals

made me give up beer long ago”


gracious Auntie Sue sees me to the door

does she know her life expectancy is 52

outside under that perfect hue of prairie blue

we say goodbye         I step into my car


a 2002 Honda Accord

seats with no holes

the engine starts on first try

my sleek black traveling mug

fits in the cup holder

I’ll drive to my small stucco house

where my two dogs wait in a big grassy yard

with  cactus  wildflowers

and garden tomatoes


I can’t shake the feel and stink

of wealth from   my skin or gut

an exit out of my country

into my country

how can I have so much

Mary Strong Jackson



Posted September 12, 2016 by strongjacksonpoet54 in Uncategorized

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