The Ties That Bind. a poem by Mary Alice Williams

Mary Alice Williams

The Ties That Bind

I am of fieldstone walls,
thundering seas. I am of salt air,
of sand squeaking in summer heat, 
of snow squeaking in winter cold.

I am of Tammany Hall and the chicken
it put in my childhood pot. I am
of urban grit, its attendant grind.
I am of unskilled labor, 

of the guy who knows a guy who’ll fix 
your furnace when the landlord 
won’t and while he’s at it   
fix your parking tickets. 

I am of the Irish who need 
not apply, of the ones 
who became Union Organizers, 
Precinct Delegates, President.

I am of candles lit and Latin hymns,
Gregorian Chant and devotion
to the Virgin. I am of Roger Williams
and his heretical stands
on freedom of religion, separation 
of church and state. I am 
of the Narraganset Great Grandmother, 
the odd Swamp Yankee, 

three teenagers who came steerage, 
came solo, with only their wits 
from Kerry, from Cork, 
from Leitrim.

I am of hunger strikes, picket lines,
sit-ins and walkouts.
I am of reels and Rebel songs.
I am of the teeming masses,

the tubercular, the foreclosed upon,
the alcoholic. I am of big tents, 
big government and too-big
for-your-britches dreams.

I am of fieldstone walls,
thundering seas, salvific salt air.
I am of wheels squeaking
for justice. 

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Mary Alice Williams, a native of Providence, RI, lives and writes in Grand Rapids MI. Winner of the Dyer-Ives Poetry Contest judged by Conrad Hilberry, she has been published in Boston College Stylus, Voices, Potato Soup Journal and Shorts Magazine.  She received an Honorary Doctorate from Aquinas College in recognition of her long engagement in community organizing for social justice. Since retiring from the human services arena Williams has focused on honing her voice as a poet.

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Published by darcie friesen hossack

Darcie Friesen Hossack is a graduate of the Humber School for Writers. Her short story collection, Mennonites Don’t Dance, was a runner-up for the Danuta Gleed Award, shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers Prize and the Ontario Library Association's Forest of Reading Evergreen Award for Adult Fiction. Citing irreverence, the book was banned by the LaCrete Public Library in Northern Alberta. Having mentored with Giller finalists Sandra Birdsell (The Russlander) and Gail Anderson Dargatz (Spawning Grounds, The Cure for Death by Lightening), Darcie's first novel, Stillwater, will be released in the spring of 2023. Darcie is also a four time judge of the Whistler Independent Book Awards, and a career food writer. She lives in Northern Alberta, Canada, with her husband, international award-winning chef, Dean Hossack.

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