Veteran Feminists of America, Inc.


VFA Poet's Corner the language of imagination




Anne Hazlewood Brady

Marjorie DeFazio

Daniela Gioseffi

Lois King

Joyce Nower

Joanna Peak

Betty Cook Rottmann

Elayne Snyder

Virginia Artrip Snyder

Joan Tobin

Gina Walsh

Grace Welch




Joanna Peak


Joanna Peak once taught theology at Mount Hope Historical Conservancy in New Jersey. She turned to the goddess many years ago. She was one of the members of Mavra Stark's ( coven for fifteen years before she moved to Maryland , where she lives in a small fishing community. To reach her -

* once upon a time
by the light of the full moon
women made their way
to the sacred grove
to offer cakes and honey
pour libations
sing and dance
honor the Goddess

* once upon a time
on the full moon
i made my way
to a small room
on the third floor
hidden and unnoticed
candle lit
women sat in a circle
told their stories
honored the Goddess

* once upon a time
in the full moon light
in a large room
open to all women
i was priestess
forty women or more
sang and danced
told stories
honored the Goddess

* and now
by the full moon light
I honor the Goddess
because women still
need the Goddess

* as long as men
try to control our bodies
define who we are
and what we can do
make war
and destroy our homes
have a society where our values
are discounted
women need the Goddess

* the Goddess reinforces
our belief in ourselves
our power to make things change
our desire to have a world
where women are honored
omen need the Goddess

* by the full moon light
gather together
at least in spirit
say the words
unite our hearts
honor the Goddess

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Anne Hazlewood Brady



We took to the streets like a river
flowing into history .Women.
Women who have borne the world's children.
Women who are jailed for whoring and for loving.
Women who will not be fouled, fooled or frightened anymore.
Women from the Grecian urn; truth and beauty made flesh.
Women like tribal queens.
Women from the sounds of silence
from the sun's first beam
from the wind's hot advances
and the sea's murmuring.

Women out of the earth's very beginning
arose and walked arm in arm
past stunned and jeering faces,
and we will not know today
nor yet in the blue tomorrow's wake
what churned behind those faces.
It was enough, being a woman, to be there,
Demanding, by our numbers,
our rightful place to make a better world.

August 26, 1970

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THE SIGN OF THE CROSS for The Mother of Us All
A Poem by Daniela Gioseffi, of VFA, born 1941-
-- dedicated to Gertrude Stein.


Because of the cat's eye marble of your passion,
you old sage of roses, I slap my hand
on your big rump, old word whore!
You discovered the secrets of your body
only to keep them silent to the grave.

You, contemporary of my late Italian grandmother
whose cadaver appears before me in my dreams,
her clitoris gleaming like a ruby jewel-
grandma who gave birth to twenty children
alone in her bed, her own midwife. Grandma,
who never knew the numbing power of orgasmic
potency, pool of cosmic energy
for the tormented body.

For you, Dear Grandma, and for you, Ole Gertrude,
for all the women who were buried in their
living bodies, hiding sexual hysteria from doctors
who performed surreptitious clitoralectomies,
so men might go on supreme through
thrusting centuries,

for you,
rain of the womb, spindle of Aphrodite,
bud of Venus, tree of Daphne, moon of Diana,
I chant the song of the three, "Tender Buttons,"
the sing of the trinity:
and the Holy Ghost
is "The Mother of Us All!"


Copyright, © 1976, 1995, 2011 by Daniela Gioseffi from her book WORD WOUNDS & WATER FOWERS, VIA Folios/Bordighera Press, 1995, The City University of New York: Calandra Institute. Reprinted by permission of the author. All rights, including electronic, are reserved by the author. Daniela GIoseffi is a widely published American Book Award winning author of fourteen books of poetry and prose, most notably WOMEN ON WAR; INTERNATIONAL WRITINGS FROM ANTIQUITY TO THE PRESENT, her women's studies classic (The Feminist Press, NY, 2003) now in print for over 25 years since its first 1988 edition from Touchstone/ Simon & Schuster. She is winner of the John Ciardi Award for Lifetime Achievement in Poetry and two NY State Council for the Arts Grant Awards in Poetry. Her work is widely published in leading magazines and anthologies, and she edits




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Lois King


Athena, Aphrodite, Iris, Artemis,
Hippolyta, Hera,
how swiftly the winds carried away
your uncommon souls of fire!

Had you known woman's destiny would
become as thought enclosed in caves
You'd have hung your heads in shame…

But all is not futile!
The embers that lay smoldering
for centuries have, once again,
become eternal flames!

Lois King
Wimberley, Texas

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Joyce Nower



The Jayne Leslie Table

This is her table -

grains of reddish wood, horizontal,
a three inch edge at right angles,
in the curved base each dowel
fitted carefully and secured.

An illusion, of course -

a fake painted over the fake blond
plastic of a junk shop lanai table,
four chairs with curved
backs thrown in for the price.

Jayne was no illusion,

all five-three of her in a dentist chair
near the lacquered tree-stump table
in her living room, offering us home-bred
snails sautéed in butter.

The ship fitters were appalled -

on her belt half her weight
in metal, up and down the hundred foot
ladder slanted on a hull at NASCO.
Passed the written too.

Then they changed the rules:

a few more pounds,
a few inches taller.
She didn't care -
why fight stupidity?

By the time the rest

of the story got to me
she'd left the city and headed for Colorado,
bought up a small town and turned it into
a skier's paradise.

c. Joyce Nower 2007



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Elayne Snyder


Statues for Women

What we did, we did
at Duffy Square
on that island in the
middle of
between blinking porno
pictures –
a robber’s run from
Forty-second Street.

We …
we did a dastardly thing
a hundred of us –
maybe more than a hundred …
having marched there –
burdened, but singing
with sparklers in our hands.

We came with purpose
and permit and police.
We walked there from
Seneca Falls
from suffrage and
from out of the skin
of our private experience
to raise the statue of
a feminist high above our heads,
A symbol.

We watched silently
as the sculptor,
her arms around the
paper mache skirt,
shimmied up over
old Duffy’s bronze body
and gently … breathlessly
placed the hollow statue
at the crossroads of
the world.

Triumphantly stepping down,
she was arrested.

Minutes later, the statue …
Susan B. Anthony
was recklessly toppled to the ground
- stomped, kicked, crushed
and completely destroyed
by chuckling pigs.

There are, however, four, perhaps five
statues of women
still standing in the city of New York:
Mother Goose
Joan of Arc
Mother Cabrini
Mary Poppins
and Alice in Wonderland.

© Elayne Snyder February 12, 1972

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To Mary Anne Krupsak
by Joan Tobin
On reading that she thinks falter by her will be called a falter for women, November 10, 1974

A man who is elected to public office
Doesn’t bear the extra burden of being
The measure of an entire sea;
Why should you?

And: hasn’t everybody who has ever tried
To make improvements learned that
The only way to be sure of not faltering
Is never to make an attempt?

Anyway, Lieutenant Governor-elect of New York State, Mary Ann Krupsak,
If falter should elicit the view,
It would an honor and privilege for anyone
To falter with the likes of you.


Keep Walking
by Joan Tobin

originally appeared in Directory of Women Writing (Feb.1977)

Clothes here are beautiful
Look at the prices keep walking

Stop for a drink maybe wine
Maybe coffee keep walking

Pickups passing by bright paint
Like new keep walking

Place has benches there stop
For a while keep walking.


Horn Blower
by Joan Tobin

originally appeared in The Feminist Special

Gabriel Fallopious

Discovering the oviducts

Named them Fallopian

How malapropian.


by Joan Tobin
originally appeared in The Winning Woman in the '80s

I'm thinking about the first step

And about the memory of it

Uselessly unrecallable until we


One of our likenesses outstarting

And get reminded of the will

That must be in us


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Thoughts of Kate Swift

to Kate, with love from Gina Walsh

Two weeks ago
we brought you in to die.
Definite, unwavering, non-apologetic,
you wanted what you wanted
and didn’t take ‘no’ for an answer.

You had a time-frame in your mind,
a reason for your decision -
it was so much like all of the previous ones
in your life: the decisions
of who you were,
what was right and fair,
whom you believed in and championed,
the people you loved, and
those you didn’t.

This time you’re fighting
for what you want and deserve,
but the battle is bigger and longer
than you
had imagined.

Two weeks ago
we brought you in
and have watched
as you’ve slowly slipped away
in your uninterrupted journey
toward forever.

GONE - MAY 7th
by Gina Walsh

Where are you
now that the life and fire and intensity
is gone
from your being -
and all we have is a vessel
that once contained so much?

So much
so many stories
and dreams,
and books and papers and thoughts
and pieces of lives -
good and bad.
Those things that helped teach us,
inspired us,
pushed us to be all we could be -
only a fraction of you.

Twice my age,
half my size,
I so wanted to lift you up and hold you,
embrace you
so my strength
and heat, and soul
would flow into you -
into this vessel
that had once held so much,
but now is

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Grace Welch





pictured: Wedding Day Frank and Grace

Special personal note – My husband, Frank, a VFA member and ardent feminist, listed in Barbara Love's "Feminists Who Changed America 1963-1975" (Page 486), suffered a paralyzing stroke on Sept. 9, 1993.

For eleven years I was his caretaker.

During that time I started to write poetry.

Here is one, which I dedicate to all the Caretakers of the World:

When The Life Went Out of Your Left Side

Looking at you across the counter at breakfast,
a shadow of your former self, I thought of ways
to engage you in the warp and woof of life.

Since your stroke sucked the life out of your left side,
your slow recovery was a gradual two steps forward,
one step back.

As caretaker, I had to see beyond what I was seeing,
Always seeking the glimmer in your eyes,
the response in your voice that told me we were
going in the right direction.

As a mighty river sluices through the mountain gorge,
So, too, my lifeforce funneled into your service,
your recovery, your very life.

© Grace Welch -- 2004



There exists a vacancy so broad,
so deep, they've given it a name,

That emptiness where women's existence
has been denied,
Her achievements unrecorded,
her courage usurped,
Her pronoun excised.

Who will speak for woman?
Who will write her story,
her wondrous talents,
her irreplaceable Gaia connection?
Women must speak for women,
Sing her song,
Dance her dance.



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Virginia Artrip Snyder


I lived for Beauty
And not for Truth,
But that was in
My foolish youth.

As I grew older
And knew my duty
I lived for Truth,
And not for Beaufy.

Now that my life
Is almost done,
I know that Beauty
And Truth are one.

Virginia Artrip Snyder -- Delray Beach, Florida

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Marjorie DeFazio


Beauty colors have gone
Blown away with the leaves
Grasses still grow
The trees stay
A red fox lingers
An itinerant white cat
Searches prey along the woods edge
Three doe wander out and munch the grass
The sun and still air warm everything
August is back
Will snow arrive before All Hallows' Eve
Or wait for Thanksgiving

Marjorie DeFazio
October 13, 2013

Marjorie DeFazio
September 20, 2001

In a week the trees
Changed from green
to yellow, to orange
to reds and browns
As though this is
An ordinary September
In a moment the tall trees
Made of steel, of stone, of glass
Changed from vibrant colors
To grey dust
Nothing is ordinary
In this September

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Betty Cook Rottmann


For many years I have been watching you
At first in morning papers, now
By satellite and video --
Black-shawled, black-veiled and wailing,
Arms cradling your dead, or flung imploringly at sky,
In funeral lines to destinations
Off the page or television screen...

You were remote,
Some Other Women,
For whom I was briefly sad.

Then yesterday brought grief to me...
Today, in heart, I join your sisterhood.

(from Tyrant's Tears, collection of poems
by Betty Cook Rottmann, copyright 1990
reprinted after 9/11 in Columbia Missourian newspaper
and Boone County Democrat newsletter)

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