The Common Women Poems, III. Nadine, resting on her neighbor’s stoop

By Judy Grahn Judy Grahn
She holds things together, collects bail,
makes the landlord patch the largest holes.
At the Sunday social she would spike
every drink, and offer you half of what she knows,
which is plenty. She pokes at the ruins of the city
like an armored tank; but she thinks
of herself as a ripsaw cutting through
knots in wood. Her sentences come out
like thick pine shanks
and her big hands fill the air like smoke.
She’s a mud-chinked cabin in the slums,
sitting on the doorstep counting
rats and raising 15 children,
half of them her own. The neighborhood
would burn itself out without her;
one of these days she’ll strike the spark herself.
She’s made of grease
and metal, with a hard head
that makes the men around her seem frail.
The common woman is as common as
a nail.

Judy Grahn, “The Common Women Poems: III. Nadine, resting on her neighbor’s stoop” from love belongs to those who do the feeling: New & Selected Poems (1966-2006). Copyright © 2008 by Judy Grahn. Reprinted by permission of Red Hen Press.

Source: love belongs to those who do the feeling: New & Selected Poems (1966-2006) (Red Hen Press, 2008)

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Poet Judy Grahn


Subjects Social Commentaries, Gender & Sexuality, Class

 Judy  Grahn


Poet, activist, and scholar Judy Grahn was born in Chicago and grew up in New Mexico. She joined the Air Force but was discharged at 21 for being openly gay. A central member of the west coast feminist poetry movement of the 1970s, Grahn received a PhD from the California Institute of Integral Studies. In a 2009 essay for the Boston Review on the poetry of the women’s movement, poet Honor Moore spoke of hearing Grahn read her . . .

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SUBJECT Social Commentaries, Gender & Sexuality, Class


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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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