Between The Lines

Standing strong by staying seated

to help right wrongs.

Walked for miles until their feet

were tender and torn.


Praying and singing hand

in hand seeking justice.

Needing to be seen as people

not just colored.


Marching in the day getting

showered by hoses.

Not cowering in the night covered

in crisp white.


Blessings of angels tending

to the left and right.

Our ancestors paved a path

of hope and determination.


They talked with pride

and walked with dignity.

Each and every stride carried

with it generations to come.


The future now exists as todays

youth of the 21st century.

They don’t know the fear

of dogs chasing them in the night.


Don’t understand the effect

and decay of white flight.

Elder generation you must tell them

what textbooks hide between the lines.


First published Feb. 16, 2011 on

(c) 2007 by Joyce M. Rose-Harris


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A Poem: Calling

He called my name,

my full given name

pronounced each syllable

that my mother spoke

the day I was born.


He called my name,

like he knew my gait

how each foot landed

when I walked to Sunday School

in too tight patent leather shoes.


He called my name,

as though he were calling

his church congregation to pray

at the altar and cast out demons,

healing the lame and sick.


He called my name,

with engagement ring in hand,

calling my soul to be a part

of his side; his rib

forming this woman from clay.


He called my name,

with a voice filled with tender

caresses instead of brutal

beatings that occurred

every week since we met.


He called my name,

and I said, “no, you’re not

worthy to say those syllables

from a serpents tongue”;

he no longer calls my name.


(c) 2015 by Joyce M. Rose-Harris

This poem was inspired by women I have spoken to women directly impacted by domestic violence.  It is to highlight that domestic violence is present in varying relationships even those we don’t suspect.


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A Poem: Forced Entry

He broke into me-

stole something.

Brazen thief


never charged with forced entry,

and no one sees the bruise prints

the scratch marks on my spirit-


these don’t make police reports.

The dignity missing from my step

doesn’t qualify as physical evidence.


I shake when I see him.

Only my homegirls seem to notice.

His boys’ mantra is lying bitch.

They mutter it with machete-sharp eyes,

occasionally one rouses himself to say it


lying bitch


and for the first time,

I see these men not as men


but terrorists in training, camouflaged

bombers on the ground floor of truth

taking dynamite to tis foundation.


I see myself as a prisoner of war.

An exile, a survivor.

I wish this wasn’t my story


but it it is,

a million times over,

and just when I think it has gone away

it reappears at my doorstep

in another woman’s face

or on the ten o’clock news


and although I have loved men since,

maybe another sister can’t,

so this our story


and it will be ours

until we don’t have to claim it anymore,

until women from Brooklyn to Oakland to South Africa

can sit back in amazement and say


I can’t believe such things ever occurred


until the word rape

can be wiped out from vocabularies,

stamped out of our memories.

Until then, this will be our story

and wounded eyes will tell it

even when we don’t.


Copyright © 2011 by Mariahadessa Ekere Tallie published by permission of poet; and previously published in Listen Up! and Karma’s Footsteps


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Poetically Speaking

Claude McKayApril is National Poetry Month here in the United States.  National Poetry Month is the largest literary celebration in the world, with tens of millions of readers, students, K-12 teachers, librarians, booksellers, literary events curators, publishers, bloggers, and, of course, poets marking poetry’s important place in our culture and our lives every April.  It was started by the Academy of American Poets in 1996.

Those who follow PaisleyPerspective know that I am a poet.  Of my many activities, poetry is one of my oldest passions in addition to politics and social activism.  I have written poetry since I was nine years old. I’ve studied the art of poetry while in college as well as currently.  There are so many poets I have yet to read and study.  Today the “Poem a Day” poem from the Academy of American poets is by Claude McKay.  I have also received poems by him in February via The Poetry Foundation.  The art of poetry surrounds us each day, especially if we listen to lyrically based music.  Join me in learning about poets of the past and the present.

Claude McKay was born in Jamaica on September 15, 1889. His older brother, who possessed a library of English novels, poetry, and scientific texts, educated him. In 1912, McKay published a book of verse called Songs of Jamaica (Gardner), recording his impressions of black life in Jamaica in dialect.  McKay was a key contributor to the Harlem Renaissance in addition to speaking out against racism.


After the Winter

by: Claude McKay, 1889 – 1948

Some day, when trees have shed their leaves

And against the morning’s white

The shivering birds beneath the eaves

Have sheltered for the night,

We’ll turn our faces southward, love,

Toward the summer isle

Where bamboos spire to shafted grove

And wide-mouthed orchids smile.

And we will seek the quiet hill

Where towers the cotton tree,

And leaps the laughing crystal rill,

And works the droning bee.

And we will build a cottage there

Beside an open glade,

With black-ribbed blue-bells blowing near,

And ferns that never fade.

This poem is in the public domain.


To learn more about Claude McKay click here to visit the Poetry Foundation website.  To learn more about National Poetry Month click here and visit the Academy of American Poets website.  I encourage you to open your mind to the joy of poetry, read a poem, find an event near you, or take your hand at writing a poem

Sources: and


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My Granddaddy Hamilton


Today is the day when we celebrate father’s in the United States. I’ve highlighted my dad in past Father’s Day inspired post but today I am paying homage specifically to my granddaddy Hamilton. Due to various reasons, which I choose not to discuss today I had four grandfathers but granddaddy Hamilton was at the top of the list. A retired primary school principal, he dedicated over 40 years to the education of children.

Granddaddy Hamilton & Me

Granddaddy Hamilton & Me*

In 1996 after my granddaddy had a heart attack scare as well as a very cold Chicago winter my husband and I decided to relocate to South Carolina.  During the six months that I lived with him, I learned a lot about what made him the man he’d become. Upon his death just months shy of his 95th birthday, over the years he’d received a minimum of 33 awards including the esteemed Silver Beaver Award given for over 50 years of dedicated service with the Boy Scouts of America and an Honorary Doctorate of Education from Morris College in Sumter, SC. However one of the most interesting things I learned about him was that he played Hamlet in college while attending Temple University. This was revealed while in the middle of watching a PBS program, he began to recite Shakespeare.

Another fun fact was that he always wanted to be a medical doctor but didn’t have the money for medical school. I remember telling him that as an educator he probably touched more lives than he would have done as a physician. Outside of the Silver Beaver and Doctorate, among the numerous awards he received some of the most prestigious and special were the Jefferson Award for Public Service given in Washington, DC; and the South Carolina Order of the Crescent for being the longest person to serve, on any county district school board.  My granddaddy took his first plane ride at the age of 91 to receive the Jefferson Award.

Some of the best advice I have received came from my granddaddy Hamilton. One of the main things he told me was that it is part of my legacy to be socially  involved but the most important things I do will come via invitation. I have found this advice to be very true,specifically dealing with my political activism and most recently joining the Corporate Responsibility Council associated with my employer. I am blessed to have been raised in a two parent household having the benefit of a loving dad; but the love and example of my granddaddy has also helped make me the woman I am today.




My teacher said, “she has taught all she knows,

time for me to get more learning down the road.”


Papa packed the truck with one suitcase;

Mama made me lunch with a weepy face.


Uncle and Auntie welcomed me openly,

it was nice to have my own bed even if lumpy.


Next morning woke up early to make first bell;

day one sped by and life seemed like it was going well.


Came home to a house filled with emptiness;

felt alone sitting on the stoop in despair and distress.


Shopkeeper walked by and listened to my plight,

he and his wife offered me a place for the night.


Night turned to days; days went into weeks;

six years later, all degree classes were complete.


The world welcomed me with open arms,

I met a girl whom I courted and charmed.


My beautiful girl agreed to be my wife,

new house, new baby we had a good life.


Educated the young and helped fight

incognito for human freedom and civil rights.


Worshiped and honored the Lord above,

I cannot think of anything I was devoid of.


After striving to be a good humanitarian,

I aim to make my next stop a heavenly destination.

by: J.M. Rose-Harris (c) 2011


*Photo Credits: All photos property of the author.

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In Memory of Mom


My Mom

My Mom

Mother’s Day weekend is tough for me. When my mom was living, I would enjoy showering her with gifts this weekend. However, I didn’t wait until Mother’s Day to tell her I loved her or to treat her to dinner. Each month I would do something nice or maybe deposit a little surprise in her bank account. My mom was a good, kind, and loving person. She sacrificed for me when I was growing up and I believed it was the right thing to do, showing her that I appreciated all she had done for me.

This will be the third Mother’s Day without my mom. I decided that rather than focusing on being sad, I would honor her memory with an act of kindness and charity. Through my Facebook page I created an event titled ‘In Memory of Mom’. The idea behind it is for people whose moms have passed, to honor their mom’s memory by donating to their mom’s favorite charity, group, or organization during the Mother’s Day weekend. I will be donating to the Chicago Lighthouse for the Blind and one of my sister-friends is donating to the American Stroke Association in memory of her mom.

It is normal to miss our loved ones and especially our mom during significant holidays. But if we are blessed to have been loved by a beautiful mother we must envelope sorrow in happy memories. If you are like me honor your mom’s memory by helping someone else. And if your mother is living show her love this weekend and always. Finally to all the mom’s out there I wish you a blessed and beautiful Mother’s Day.


Little Wooden Box


Encased in velvet lined pine,

memories lay dormant

coming to life when held;

sparking remembrances of laughter,

love and spankings for touching

treasures now left behind.


Silver ladybug no longer keeps time,

dangling from a tarnished chain

it’s priceless in mournful hands. Rings

once worn to announce engagements,

weddings and anniversaries clink

together seeking a finger to encircle.


Precious metals bring comfort

held against cheek. Carefully placing back

in box cherished mementos, a daughter’s

tears still fall, forming reflecting pool

puddles, remembering a mother’s vessel

that has long ago set its soul free.


by: Joyce M. Rose-Harris © 2013


A Poem: Winter Solstice


Winds swirling, whipping

whirling throughout trees

releasing their final Fall

leaves. Hibernation taking place

throughout natures spaces.

Sleep comes now, letting God

work, creating additional rings

of growth on old oaks.

Preparing bulbs buried deep

for a long winters nap;

be dormant, we shall see

your beauty again in Spring.


by: Joyce M. Rose-Harris © 12/21/2012




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