Tag Archives: spousal abuse

Cold Jack Ice

The dVerse Poets prompt was to write a poem inspired by one of these vegetable names. I’m going to try to use them all: Black Beauty, Trail of Tears, Lazy housewife, princess, purple queen, Jacob’s cattle, The Czar, Wizard, golden acre, dazzling blue, purple sword, Jack ice, Reine de Glaces, blue fire, aurora, tender and true.

Cold Jack Ice

As accomplished in his love-making as at a game of dice,
his name was John Dukakis, but they called him Cool Jack Ice

because his smile could warm or freeze, depending on the way
his luck played out or didn’t, as it changed from day to day.

When he purchased Jacob’s cattle and his Golden Acre Farm,
He thought that he would use them to impress the new school marm.
He’d be a wizard as a cowboy, a czar of cultivation.
He’d win her as his bride before the coming school vacation.

He’d heard she was an ice queen a real “Reine de Glacé.
And since he was the King of Ice, he knew the game to play.
He donned his purple sword and a coat of dazzling blue.
If he was to be her Lochinvar, he knew just what to do.

He swooped down on his Ellen at the school fete,
saved her from the stag line and took her on a date.
The aurora borealis shone down from far above
As, feigning true and tender, he declared undying love.

He called her his sweet princess for those months he sought to woo her.
It was only after they were wed that he began to rue her.
She was a lazy housewife, he said, and counted coup,
taunting her as his black beauty as he beat her black and blue.

She fled into the freezing cold, a trail of tears behind her,
taking refuge in a secret place where he would never find her. 
And as her bruises turned her into a purple queen,
she plotted out her vengeance, silent and unseen.

They say it was blue fire that streaked across that night
that both Jack Frost and Black Jack Ice took their final bite.
What footsteps there were left were so filled up with snow
that not a single tracker could tell where they might go.

Severed from its body, Jack’s face had ceased to smile
as the one who wiped it off his face sped onward, mile by mile.
on Jack’s steed, and since that day, no one has defamed her,
for to put it bluntly, not one who knew him blamed her!

And, in case you didn’t read it before, here’s another poem I wrote about an heirloom tomato: https://judydykstrabrown.com/2020/02/12/aunt-lous-underground-railroad-tomato-for-black-history-month/

FordVerse Poets prompt.



It was that night, as they lay choking in the stench of jasmine,
that he unmasked his rage. Their whole life, it seemed,
was a cipher that obscured his former truths.
Now he seemed socked in by this sudden swirling fog of memories
that suddenly parted, giving him access to his rage.

It was his mother, not her, he said later, that he had struck out at,
but in trying to confront his past,
he had obliterated any hope for their future.

Prompts for the day are unmask, rage, jasmine, cypher and sock.



“Can you get even closer to the tree?” he said—so I went inches from the trunk of the tallest of the trees, crowding the fern that reached tentative tentacles from the tree’s shade into a ray of sun that escaped the fast-collecting clouds. “I’ll protect you,” he had said years ago, when we declared our union. But now, in this time of the approaching storm, I wondered about both tree and one who over the years had been in turn protector and threat. In times of gentle rain, a shield. In times more volatile, that sudden bolt that left bruised places easily hidden. I saw the tree’s scar, devoid of bark, burned at the edges––that place now easily overlooked in the shadows. And I moved away from the tree, walking with new confidence to the car. Uprooted, finally, after so many years.


Italicized line is from Sharon Olds’ poem, “Pine Tree Ode.” For the dVerse Poets Pub prompt–to develop a prose piece of 144 words making use of a line from another poet’s poem about a tree. Go HERE to read what other writers did with this prompt or to participate yourself.


I Keep Your Promise

I Keep Your Promise

Rain beats a riff on the back window
as I drive away from your familiar
promises, like lyrics of a worn-out song.
“Never again,” is made true this time,
my choice instead of your vow.

It’s only truth I take away with me:
torn buttons, bruises, broken dreams.
The empty baby carriage
you’ll find in the spare room,
one more unused space
in a house too rarely
a home.

I was the house
you entered
but never
spread out in—
the rumpus room
battered with misuse—
a refrigerator
filled with carry-out and cartons
with their “use by” dates all lapsed.

I was the melody
to that false chord
you loved to strike,
proud in your outlaw status—
that anchor that held your music to the page.

I see its strains floating after me,
as though that part of you
knows what it will miss
and even now
is trying to be found.


The prompt word today is riff.

“To the Moon, Alice!”

“To the Moon, Alice!”

On “The Honeymooners,” Ralph Kramden (played by Jackie Gleason) had a phrase that those of us of a certain age can’t help but remember.  “To the moon, Alice, to the moon!” he would rasp at his wife (played by the inimitable Audrey Meadows) whenever he had no less predictable comeback to her never predictable jibes. Of course, the idea was that this was how far he would knock her.  An upraised fist often accompanied his threat.

The audience, of course, would roar.  So hilarious this empty threat, for America knew that Ralph would never make good on the threat. Even Alice never flinched–supposedly because she, too, knew those words signaled an empty threat.  But underneath those words and the fact that viewers found them to be so hilarious, was the idea that such threatened violence was funny–and, somehow, that such treatment of his wife was a man’s right.

Alice’s only defense was her wicked wit, and unlike many abused wives then and now, she was never really punished for it.  Somehow America knew that if he ever made good on the threat, that Alice would be out the door and probably within a manner of days, on the arm of a man who didn’t weigh 300 pounds plus–a man who made more than the $65 a week Ralph made as a bus driver.

All-in-all, the situation was not very believable–that trim beautiful (sharp-tongued) Alice would ever be wooed and won by fat, acerbic, not-too-clever Ralph required a suspension of disbelief we were well-accustomed to in the early years of TV, not to mention the movies.  From “The Honeymooners” to “Doctor Who,” we were willing to believe anything to be entertained, but the element of violence toward women found so howlingly funny in the Jackie Gleason show was at least not echoed in the wildly implausible “Dr. Who” plots.  There it was highly likely that one would in fact (or in this case, fiction) be flown to the moon–something that never quite happened on “The Honeymooners.”

How far would I go for someone I loved?  Certainly not as far as Alice went. For although it is true that in my lifetime at least a dozen men have “sent me to the moon,” that is beyond the limits of where I’d allow anyone to knock me to!  Yes, I would and have done many things for those I’ve loved.  I have faced up to a gunman, done nursing tasks I never thought I would have done in a million years, faced up to a police captain to release a man  from jail (and succeeded) in a situation I should have had the good sense to know was impossible, and stayed in a country torn by revolution until I knew the man I loved would live, but one thing I would not do is allow myself to be knocked to the ground, let alone to the moon.  Abuse is something I would not take–by a husband, a lover, a parent or a friend.

It was inevitable that one clever cartoonist would come up with this answer to the question, “What did the astronauts find when they landed on the moon?”  Of course, Alice Kramden! But let me tell you, one person she would never have as a companion there is me! “I’d do anything for you, dear,” is a song those of us “of that certain age” will find familiar, but in my case it is not true.  I will not take abuse–either orally or physically–from anyone, no matter how close the connection, and have absolutely no expectations that anyone would take it from me.

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Take Me to the Moon.” How far would you go for someone you love? How far would you want someone else to go for you?