Falling Angel

You plaster your dreads with the skin of serpents
enmeshing a Medusa, compelling society
to look the other way. A seditious struggle
pierces flesh with iron and ink,
rendering the sacred lost
beneath its pledge.
A stigma.
A falling away.

Wingless limbs falter while
sporadic sparks of truth
flint off your soulโ€™s tufted feathers
and fall like tread from your feet
through this nether world
appled in sinโ€™s black veil.

Process Notes:
“Dreads” are dreadlocks. When I was in Ohio we dreaded my daughter Julie’s hair. People treated her differently. One woman actually pulled her children closer to her in a protective effort as we passed. It was disconcerting. Now I think Jules is an amazing young woman, not a falling angel, but obviously this poem contains a bit of her dreadlocked experience.

Visit The Sunday Whirl for more poems constructed around the wordle words below. I used all of the words except hinder. I had it in there as “hindering the sacred lost” – rendering made more sense.

36 thoughts on “Falling Angel

  1. Brenda, I just have to say I’m glad I wrote my poem to those wordle words before I saw your poem. I would have just given up. I would have posted a link on my blog sending everyone here.

    Your poem is amazing. I keep re-reading it and these thoughts just keep coming to me. I love how you’ve tackled the problem of appearance, how we adorn ourselves, and are judged for it, as if it really reflected the soul inside. The reflections on mythology, Medusa, and religion, “appled in sin’s black veil” are inspired. Thank you for this.



    • In return, Richard, I’m glad for your piece on these words….it helped ready me for the classroom. Thank you for rereading this one, I revisited it with your comment, and I like it better with the distance between its writing and now. Interesting how that works, isn’t it? To a certain extent, time brings objectivity. I’m glad the poem engendered deep thinking. Appearance is half the battle. That’s what my lovely middle school thugs understand all too well. ๐Ÿ™‚ They dress for rebellion. I can’t wait….three more days, and they’re mine (evil laughter fades).


  2. I don’t like people who judge me by a hairstyle.. but it happens. Sometimes even judgment happens for the number of freckles I have. Its sad and strange.. Your poem is quite wonderful, Brenda.. and I’ve subscribed to your blog…


  3. I especially like your process notes. They give the poem a different meaning and I can really see it referring to that experience of your daughter’s. I guess we all respond to appearances in life though. Thanks again for the wordles. I tired to “like” this but it would not let me do so.


  4. WOW! What a great line: “You plaster your dreads with the skin of serpents enmeshing a Medusa, compelling society to look the other way.”

    “Sporadic sparks of truth flint off your soulโ€™s tufted feathers” also called to me. Beautiful rhythm and cadence.


    • Thank you Tilly. I enjoyed the dialog around this piece, too, every now and then something sparks a bit more conversation. For me it’s a time thing. I don’t always comment back here, because I’d rather be reading other people’s poems…and time runs too short to do both.


  5. Wonderful poem and process notes, Brenda. There’s far too much book cover judging in this world.

    I’m blessed to be in a church where two of the members own a tattoo studio, many of our members are inked (including some of the preacher’s kids) and those who aren’t are either thinking about it (like me) or don’t see anything wrong with it.

    No dreads have come through the door yet, but if they did, the person they adorned would be welcomed just as everyone else is.


  6. Racism is alive and well in America. Any type of dreds are considered suspicious. My daughter has tats she designed herself, and though gorgeous, they still put people off. Sorry your girl had to go through that.

    Now, about the poem itself, seamless! “Appled in sin’s black veil.” Never heard apple as a verb, and yet it works. Loved this, o queen of wordles! Amy


    • I have tats I’ve designed, too, and as a school teacher I feel like I need to keep them secret. A few students have caught glimpses, and there are some I share with, but there is definitely a stigma that I feel in my home community…not so much in other cities…then it doesn’t bother me if they show.

      Thanks for your comment about apple as a verb…when that line came, I knew the piece was complete. I love it, too. You rock Amy, thanks for stopping by and visiting.


  7. Dreadlocks, tattoos and piercings may be the only way to stand out in a crowd anymore. Forty years ago, they were relatively rare, but every generation wants to push the envelope a little more. I wonder what the youth will look like in another forty years.


    • Wow, thank you Elizabeth. Your comments give me insight to my work that I deeply appreciate. Process notes can help….it would be interesting if it were common for books of poetry to include them.


  8. I really liked this. As I read the first few lines I immediately thought of dreads being dreadlocks, then went back and read again and it works just as well being ‘dreads’ in the conventional sense.

    I thought
    ‘A seditious struggle
    pierces flesh with iron and ink,
    rendering the sacred lost
    beneath its pledge.’
    was wonderful, and enjoyed the whole piece very much. ๐Ÿ™‚

    You used the wordle words really well.

    Here in England, I always think of those with the dreadlocked hair and the colourful clothes as the gentle people, the hippies of today. In fact in my novel ‘Learning how to flt a kite’ that I wrote for nanowrimo last year (and am still editing. aargh!) my main character (and hero/good guy) Zach, has dreadlocks. ๐Ÿ™‚


    • Susannah, Thank you for your thoughts. Jules is one of the gentle people. It is strange to see disregard, fear, and even ridicule in people’s eyes.

      In his book, On Writing, Stephen King says he puts pieces away for six months then takes them out and “kills his darlings.” He cuts at least 10% of the stuff he put in there for himself, not for the movement of story. Take heart with your novel, and let us know when it’s completed. Thanks for stopping.


  9. I took another look at my effort, Brenda, realised it’s much, much too long winded and have sliced a huge chunk of it away.LOL They can always follow the link I put there I had second thoughts about how long it was and thought that not everyone likes history as much as I do and, I certainly don’t want to bore the pants of anyone! ๐Ÿ™‚


  10. What a lovely read. I always used to think that about people who had their hair in dreadlocks. Other folks would look down on them a bit, too. Shame to be so typecast.
    Great use of the wordle words with a lovely piece of prose, Brenda ๐Ÿ™‚


  11. Oh, this is dark, Brenda! Excellent use of language:

    “You plaster your dreads with the skin of serpents
    enmeshing a Medusa,”

    I’m impressed with what you did with the wordle words. They brought out the “dark” in me too.


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