Casualties . by Janet Jenkins-Stotts

A dream left me aching with past tense

longing. An impossible situationjjs2

a long time ago, but dreams have no

calendar. Why wake now, remembering


the intensity of his need hidden

behind a triangular smile. Instead,

recall telling him you now understand

your role in his life, as a shield from


emotions he can’t unpack. He does not

want to grasp my message, but I see it

flash across his face. War-torn Germany,

a mother selling the only thing she


had to feed her son in a city bombed

to dust. His shame? Being the reason for

her shame. How long can a son’s shame remain?

A lifetime, shown in his distrust of all


women’s love, shielding his heart behind

the barbed wire of a camp, built years ago.

Reaching out, he grasped my hand, and pulled it

through the shredding wire, wounding us both.


I lock him away again in nights’ dream

casket, filled with rue and rosemary.

Stay inside forever, I whisper.


No, don’t.

Janet Jenkins-Stotts is a late blooming author of both poetry and prose.  She published her first novel “The Orchid Garden” in 2015. Jenkins-Stotts lives in Topeka, Kansas with her husband, Stan and Romeo, their miniature pincher. When not at the computer, composing, you can usually find her at a bridge table.


Guest Editor Laura Lee Washburn is the Director of Creative Writing at Pittsburg State University in Kansas, and the author of This Good Warm Place: 10th Anniversary Expanded Edition (March Street) and Watching the Contortionists (Palanquin Chapbook Prize).  Her poetry has appeared in such journals as TheNewVerse.News, Cavalier Literary Couture, Carolina Quarterly, Ninth Letter, The Sun, Red Rock Review, and Valparaiso Review.  Born in Virginia Beach, Virginia, she has also lived and worked in Arizona and in Missouri.  She is married to the writer Roland Sodowsky and is one of the founders and the Co-President of the Board of SEK Women Helping Women.

3 thoughts on “Casualties . by Janet Jenkins-Stotts

  1. Incredible poem. You have obviously mastered the balance of “enough”/”too much” that distinguishes poetry worthy of the name.

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