White Patsy: Raised Racist                                                 by Ronda Miller

Rust-colored hair and
freckles like mud specks
made me a target, easy
prey for schoolmates
of mixed races. Brown
children chased me through
the mile-high city projects
of Denver with worms,
they threatened,
sometimes managed,
to slip down the back
of my shirt as I ran screaming
toward the direction of wherever
home was those days. My
older brother pummeled
them with balled-up fists.
Determined grit showed
in his eyes and mouth.
He blocked their pathways,
took their wrath, as I ran and
ran and ran from their chants
of, “White Patsy! White Patsy!”
We were five and six years old.
It was the full-bodied, black-
skinned woman, who lived in the
same building as ours, who
motioned me in as I watched
hungrily from her open doorway. She

kneaded white flour mixed with brown
into loaves of bread. Soon,
delicious smells of rising yeast
floated throughout the cold, rat-infested
building. She’d lift the top from a barrel
beside where she stood, rub her warm
brown hands across her apron, take
a slice of day-old bread, sprinkling
sugar and cinnamon on it, before
placing it into my outstretched hand, then
pull me against her for a quick, firm hug. I
was a stray she fed daily. Decades
later, the day my stepsister
called to tell me my father
had killed my mother, I learned
her name was Myra Hodges.

Ronda Miller is a Life Coach and author of five books of poetry. Her latest book, I Love the Child, took first place at the 2020 State Kansas Authors Club Convention. Miller is a former state president of Kansas Authors Club, 2018-2019, and created poetry forms Loku and Ukol. Miller’s presentations across the United States include, Rewriting Your Trauma, and Talking to Crickets (we all live until we die).

Guest editor, Denise LowKansas Poet Laureate 2007-09, is winner of a Red Mountain Press’s Editor’s Choice Award for Shadow Light. A new book of poetry from Red Mountain is Wing. Other recent books areThe Turtle’s Beating Heart: One Family’s Story of Lenape Survival (a memoir, U. of Nebraska Press); Casino Bestiary (Spartan Press); and Jackalope, fiction (Red Mountain). She founded the Creative Writing Program at Haskell Indian Nations University, where she taught and was an administrator. Low is past board president of the Associated Writers and Writing Programs. She has won 3 Kansas Notable Book Awards and recognition from the National Endowment for the Humanities, Sequoyah National Research Center, Poetry Society of America, The Circle -Best Native American Books, Roberts Foundation, Lichtor Awards, and the Kansas Arts Commission. Low has an MFA from Wichita St. U. and Ph.D. from Kansas U. Her literary blog is http://deniselow.blogspot.com.


6 thoughts on “White Patsy: Raised Racist                                                 by Ronda Miller

  1. Ronda  Great poem.  Way to go.  Get me in touch with the Coop if possible. Perry.

  2. Perry and Sally, thanks so much for reading it and responding.

    Let me know if you still have issues finding the means to submit a poem of your own.


  3. A deep and moving poem showing how the light gets into our lives through the cracks [metaphor courtesy of Leonard Cohen]. I think this is a fine poem.

    • Thanks so much, Gretchen.

      I’ve really appreciated your support these past few weeks.


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