Barbara Dove

Houghs Neck, MA, 2009

(Click play button to hear story)

Portrait by Emile B . Klein, oil on canvas mounted on panel,  9 x 11.5″

(Click image for hi-resolution)

Afraid of No Man.

by Alexei Wajchman

At 13, she handled a wood bayonet to the envy of little boys who stood with hands clenched in tiny knots. An ROTC cadet marching to the discipline of steel men in iron helmets barking commands at her feet, legs, arms, ears, eyes, lips. “I’m afraid of no man and they don’t mess with me,” she says. Everyone should learn to use a weapon. She wanted limits, defined and relentless, the clarity of the scope and the ease of the trigger. She enlisted.

Decay is everywhere
in the barracks of soldiers
who are
something other than human
Strange that she’s
by worms
and armored insects
with custom mouths
for destroying
and creating
She learned
the names of enemies
break down
flesh and blood
And carved perfection into the faces of stone and wood planted in dark earth moulded by her hand. A blue-star pagan descended from ancient Kings and Essex County witches who cast uneasy shadows on New England trees, she eats sloppy joes and drinks frozen wine even when the moon is full.
In Quincy, MA
birthplace of the American Dream
the Granite Railway and the Iron Furnace
where she lives at water’s edge
and never swims
three jobs are lost
and three men gained
“I’m Afraid of No Man”
Watch her
tempted by speed
riding a motorbike across the world
from Houghs Neck to Stonehenge
to secret Sabbath dances in the Alps
Barbara Dove!
Thanks for the Kandinsky post cards
and the hundred dollar bill
for your armor
which I’ve painted

I won’t mess with you.

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