Saturday, January 20, 2018

Tell a Woman

Sahara Peace Choir singing for Women's March,Asheville NC 2018

Tell a woman that, deep inside,
deep in her heart, where no one can see,
she holds the flame that lights the world.
Tell a woman that no one can ever extinguish that flame.
Not anyone,  be he bigger than her, stronger than her, 

faster than her,
angrier than her, drunker than her, 

more convinced he is right.
This flame is our secret, all women’s.  We are born with it.
With this flame, within our hearts, 

we work two jobs while raising three kids.
And we give them piano lessons.
With this flame, we cross oceans
so our children can grow up strong without stigma.
With this flame, we nurse our elders, 

and our young ones too,
often at the same time, keeping an eye on bill payments,
scrounging for food and rent.
Tell a woman she has a huge bright flame 

ready to flare up in her heart,
and she’s not alone.   We all have one,
we who walk tall, and we who are under the thumb,
we who speak here now, and we who have been silenced,
we all share this flame, it’s an eternal flame,
it’s hot, and it’s brilliant, and it never goes away.
Tell a woman, this is our birthright, this is who we are,
we, the women, the people of the womb,
who carry the world, who yearn for love and honor,
who, somewhere deep inside, will never be denied, 

will never give in.
Tell a woman, this is who we are, 

all of us aflame, all of us women,
all of us carrying that precious fire
that guides our days, 

that reminds us of what this life really means,
that shows us its light and tells us how to move,
how to be, how to turn, how to love each day.
Tell a woman, she has a pure flame deep in her heart
that can never be extinguished, that cannot be pushed under,
that can never be broken, that does not bleed away,
that cannot be raped or beaten down,
that can only rise higher, that flares up within us,
and with each step brightens, and lights our way,
brighter and brighter, as we see our flames
more clearly, more loudly, more assuredly, more proudly,
all of us gazing at that brand new day,
not much longer now, just on the horizon,
when we look at a woman and know,
with her light, she leads the way.

Annelinde Metzner

January 23, 2013

Audience at "Rise Up Asheville," January 2013

 Girl Scouts at Black Mountain march

Young high school women who organized the Asheville march!

Friday, January 12, 2018

The music teachers

Around the ocean drum

“Shake it to the east, shake it to the west,
     Shake it to the one that you love the best....”

The young music teachers’ eyes gleam in their college cubicles
     as they study, study, study
     the music of all the world.

“Step it, step it, step it down.  Remember me....”

On the diploma, “Fine Arts,” a college degree,
     each note, each measure of music gathered up and treasured,
     building a matrix of joy in the heart
     to support us all for a lifetime.

“De colores, de colores se visten los campos en la primavera.....”

Studying the songs and dances
     that bring us all together, the whole human race,
     passed down from person to person, child to child
     over millennia, yes, millennia.
Why? “It’s good for the children,” says Bessie Jones,
     Sea Island mother of music,
     surehandedly guiding us all.

“Shalom chaverim, shalom chaverim....”

We study each culture, ever more in love
     with how this music is what truly matters,
     this music that holds the world together.
We memorize details of steps, costumes, melodies, harmonies,
     songs in ancient modes, polyrhythms,
     feats of mind and body set to music,
     all for this shared joy.
The smile on the partner’s face,
     the warm touch of hands clasping,
     the harmony in two, three, four, five parts,
     pulling us all together, tighter and tighter.

“A ram sam sam, a ram sam sam...”

The music teacher comes to her classes full of children
     and she knows, she knows
     we will endeavor to preserve this, to love this,
     to keep the proud meters and the intricate steps,
     with our bodies and our voices joined in love,
     remembering as we move and sing,
     what is important in this world.

“Sansa Kroma, nee-nay wo, a-che-che koko-ma...”

The music teachers with years of experience
     hear the new politics, the hatred, the viciousness,
     the ignorance, the bigotry, and we say, “NO.”
Decades of our lives, pulling this all together,
     the pride and the joy in children’s eyes learning the dance, the song,
     and “NO!” We will not give way
     to suspicion, lies and separation after all this joy.

“Miss Mary Mack, Mack, Mack,
     all dressed in black, black, black....”

All our lives have we woven our children, your child and mine,
     into a fine tapestry of all our abilities,
     stepping and singing to the World’s beat,
     together creating a future full of love.

“Brown girl in the ring, tra-la-la-la-la......”

With the people of all cultures we stand,
     knowing this is a world filled with music,
     every imaginable rhythm,
     new sounds yet unheard,
     steps we have yet to find,
because this is what matters: the love, the love,
     each people unique and brilliant, our lives all interwoven,
     all of our notes a symphony,
     all of our steps a path.

(Words in italics are from children’s songs of the world.)

Annelinde Metzner

October 2, 2017

Three kids in preschool music

Jayma studying piano

Orff instruments and recorder

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Among the Galax

Galax in bloom

I’m entranced by the smell of boiled cabbage!
     or a mean old skunk, maybe,
     or some moldy old boots.
I’m standing thick in the Galax,
     blooming now in June,
     rain so plentiful the white noise of the branch
     fills my ears and carries me away.
I’m entranced among the Galax,
     enchanted really, as this thick abundance
     of shiny round greenness sings to me,
     standing here, wet, wet.
Yes!   It’s a rainforest, wet and cool,
     lichen and moss growing up the tree trunks,
     ferns growing from stones,
     magic, magic everywhere.
Who lives in that twig house atop the standing stone?
Who giggles at me from over my shoulder, entranced like me?
It’s June!  and the Galax is flowering,
     proud white candlesticks among the rounds of green,
     here in Gaia’s garden, so perfect, so huge,
     the rhododendron buds sticky and bright pink,
     opening to white,
     the leaves so pale green and new.
I’m entranced among the Galax, and it’s June,
     a wet one, a rightful rainy one,
     and the moss is green upon the stone.
White Indian Pipes, ancient as time,
     arise like magic among the Galax, hidden and shy.
Be still!  Receive what She has for you,
     all this, the wetness, the ancient ones,
     the skunky smells, the whispers.
You are in Sacred Time now.  Don’t go too fast.
She is here for you, in the Galax.
She is more than you or I will ever know.

Annelinde Metzner
Greybeard Mountain, NC
June 16, 2012

Twig house

Rhododendron bloom

Gnome tree

Indian Pipes

There is a great story about Indian Pipes told by Mary Chiltosky in the book, Cherokee Plants...
"Before selfishness came into the world-that was a long time ago- the Cherokee people were happy sharing the hunting and fishing places with their neighbors. All this changed when Selfishness came into the world and man began to quarrel. The Cherokee quarreled with tribes on the east. Finally the chiefs of several tribes met in council to try to settle the dispute. They smoked the pipe and continued to quarrel for seven days and seven nights. This displeased the Great Spirit because people are not supposed to smoke the pipe until they make peace. As he looked upon the old men with heads bowed, he decided to do something to remind people to smoke the pipe only at the time they make peace."
"The Great Spirit turned the old men into greyish flowers we now call "Indian Pipes" and he made them grow where friends and relatives have quarreled. He made the smoke hang over these mountains until all the people all over the world learn to live together in peace."

Monday, January 1, 2018

Ice Bells

The icy branch

Twenty degrees, the very earth
     crunches and cracks under my boots,
     ice forming everywhere.
The world is bracing, nose-tingling,
     eye-opening, and brand new.
The lovely little creek is water-full,
     singing, singing,
     heedless of the cold,
     ice bells tinkling from each fallen branch.
Winter, and alive, and new again,
Lo!  It all begins again,
     crackling with anticipation.
The first day of the year.

Annelinde Metzner
Montreat, North Carolina
January 1, 2013

Thursday, December 28, 2017


Sunset on the marsh

Coming home to St. Helena’s, 6 PM,
the autumn sunset is a blood orange,
then a thin line bleeding into indigo
over the vastness of the inland marshes.
O Mystery!
You weigh on me beautifully,
like a coat of fur.
My “not-knowing” cushions me all around,
as if my soul were my Mother cautioning me,
“not yet, not yet,
you don’t understand this yet.....”
The evening’s profound quietude
is a not-knowing,
heavy as owl’s wings,
almost imperceptible among the ancient oaks.
I sit back and breathe,
as more and more I see I do not know;
the night grows darker, quieter still,
and like a child sliding under an ancient quilt
sewn by many hands,
I give up, and fall asleep.

Annelinde Metzner
St. Helena’s Island, SC
November 10, 2017


Friday, December 8, 2017

The Forgiveness of Snow

Three days of deep snow.
A pillowy meringue has met each branch,
has had a dance with the meadow grass,
has floated into each niche, soft and hard,
until today in the final sun
all is brilliant, brilliant.
Walking, there’s an insulated hush
so in the cove, each argument, each compliment,
each complaint and daily praise
is gone now, as if never been.
A forgiveness in this, the starting anew.
Each white pillow says, “I’m forgetting the car crash,”
“I’m forgetting the toppling of trees,”
"I’m forgetting the soldier’s fire, 

and the theft of a village’s water.”
Each six-faceted flake encapsulated
something of those horrors,
something of the looming offensiveness of this life.
“I contain all your sadness,” calls the brilliant snow,
“and don’t I make a pearl?”
Over there by my fence-post is some mother’s wailing grief.
Over there in the white-trimmed fir tree
is the diesel exhaust of a thousand semi trucks.
This morning in the quiet, quiet,
I know what forgiveness is.

Annelinde Metzner         

February 13, 2006
Phoenix Cove

Friday, December 1, 2017


The trail from Sullivan's Island beach

My cousin in Guinea-Bissau, West Africa sends me photos-
     the little town, Cacheu, on the sea,
     quiet, sleepy, on the edge of the world,
     a few boats aligned on worn docks,
     ready for fishing.
But the ghosts there, how they wail!
     The people gathered up, captured,
     the simple bliss of freedom lost forever.
The slaves  were loaded here,
     a human cargo in the hulls of ships
     with all their history, all their futures,
     their families, their gifts, their art.
No matter!  They were loaded into ships,
     packed head-to-foot with utmost efficiency,
     and died in a thousand ways.

Yemaya, Orisha of the sea,
     grieving, grieving for all Her beloveds,
     carried the ships in Her salty waves,
     Her great heart broken.
How Yemaya grieved!  And gave the choice
     to Her beloveds, sick and lost,
     to escape this madness in death with Her,
     Her warm salty waters carrying them away.

The rest, day after suffering day,
     arrived on shore, the other side,
     Sullivan’s Island, the American shore,
     beautiful, green, a place one day
     after generations of suffering and courage
     to remember Africa in language, in family,
     in arts, in food, in music, in Love.
But that day, that time, far from home,
     each one alone, heartsick, in pain,
     and less than human in their captor’s eyes,
trudged up the narrow path,
     at the mercy of the winds,
     to the unknown and horrifying future
     of their lives.

Annelinde Metzner
Sullivan’s Island, South Carolina
June 6, 2012

   My poetry chapbook from 2012, "This Most Huge Yes," features this poem inspired by my cousin Keith's residence in the tiny African country of Guinea-Bissau, and my own explorations around Sullivan's Island, SC.  These are the beginning and end points of the "Middle Passage," carrying enslaved peoples from West Africa.  I am honored that this chapbook is available for sale at the Penn Center in St. Helena's Island, South Carolina.

Slave market in Cacheu, Guinea-Bissau

Historical sign on Sullivan's Island near Charleston, SC   

Yemaya by Cuban artist, Celia Gutierrez Cienfuegos

Vicissitudes by Jason de Caires Taylor, an underwater sculpture of enslaved people

My chapbook containing the poem "Passage"

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

And So We Sing

Womansong with Debbie Nordeen directing.  Photos by Tamara Gregg.

Our lives go on in endless song
as the wailing laments of Earth grow louder.
We sing and remember the great gifts of women,
obliterating the war shouts of the ones in power.
We sing for our interwoven abilities
which birth a brilliant future,
pulling together in harmony
for each other’s sake.
We sing for the generations
and insist on providing for their rights
to live, to love, to thrive.
Our lives go on in endless song,
in endless trust of each other,
in the divine plan unfolding petal by petal,
deep below the surface, where all music begins,
in the lotus bloom of our energies working together-
and so we sing.

Annelinde Metzner
September 20, 2017

In 1987 I founded the Asheville women's choral group Womansong, and nurtured it for seven years, choosing and arranging music, performing benefits, and creating a nonprofit, the New Start Fund, so that our earnings would help boost local women who were starting life over and needed help.  Our focus has always been women's empowerment, equality, world peace and understanding.
     Now Womansong is 75 singers, and we had a 30th anniversary concert a few weeks ago!   Thanks to Debbie Nordeen and all the many women who have developed Womansong and carried it forward.  The New Start Program has now earned and given away over $160,000.  
     As Debbie retires, her very able assistant director, Althea Gonzalez, will be carrying on as artistic director.
    Thanks to all the many women for our shared creativity!
    I read this poem to introduce the song "How Can I Keep from Singing," at the anniversary concert.

Myself reading at the performance

At rehearsal-  Introducing a song with "And So We Sing"

Althea Gonzalez directing "Coffee"

Dancing and singing to "Well, All Right"

Wednesday, October 4, 2017


"Healing" by Autumn Sky Morrison

Release your fears of this world!
Angry men carry guns
and everywhere they shoot,
enraged, they shoot,
carrying away women, children,
everyday people.
Far from feeling remorse,
they shout all the more,
proud, swollen with hate.
“We should all carry guns,” they cry,
meaning them, or men like them,
as if this world had somehow slighted
the muscular, the Caucasian, the loud.

If you are not afraid, you are somehow tired,
hearing of these senseless acts
day after day after day.
Like the bully on the block,
they take all the attention,
voracious for your gaze.

Thousands of years, we have found ways to live
integrated into Earth life, warm, colorful,
artistic, joyfilled, unique to each place.
Each corner of this perfect globe
has its arts, its languages,
its people ingrained in the life of that place,
seeds sprouting in native soil.
Yes, we were born for this!
A daily life of magic, of ingenuity,
creativity, days spent unearthing
the gifts of our soul’s being.

Now I hear, “protect yourself,
shield yourself, be on your guard,”
warnings that seem to make sense
for these crazy times,
a natural response
to the ugly, the unwarranted,
the cruel, the violent, the unjust.

But here I sit beside the quiet waters,
pen in hand,
life still churning within me,
joy bubbling up from nowhere,
and I am on notice:
“I am coming,” She cries,
“and you will see...
Soon I will bring the spring flowers to bloom,
the migrating birds to return to your window.
Regenerate! is My call,
all you who are heavy laden.
Rebirth is our watchword, all we ever are.
Look to the East with me,
the bright burst of sun in the sky,
and call out to Her with your urgent voice,
your ancient joy and pleasure,
with all the pure love you can wield.”

Annelinde Metzner

January 30, 2016

Another mass murder, one of the largest in history, and once again I call on the Goddess, regenerate this world, make us new!

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

In Dell's Backyard

Live oak with Spanish moss


In Dell’s backyard the live oak grows horizontally,
a highway for air plants and owls,
over beds of fern, lettuce, elkhorn and hibiscus.
In Dell’s backyard each growing thing
is proud, calm, and whole in its place,
well-fed with compost.
Oregano, sour orange, broccoli, peas,
the most enticing scent of lemon blossoms
filling the air.
The kind neighbor, big-hearted,
comes to say that he remembers
planting that oak as a little boy,
bringing it back from the woods.
As if his big-hearted love were contagious,
the wide oak spreads its branches,
Grandmother of all the beings there,
sheltering every one of us with Her love.

Annelinde Metzner

March 13, 2011
Maitland, Florida

  After surviving Hurricane Irma this week, the first thing Dell asked for was this poem.  The beautiful,"horizontal" live oak in her back yard had survived.  A home for so many creatures!   Giving thanks for all of us who have survived and live to love our precious Earth another day.

Oak at Meher Baba center

Grandmother tree at Ifetayo's house

Friday, September 1, 2017


Jewelweed-  the drop of dew is the jewel.

Delicious! the astringent scent
     of wet leaves, wet humus
     on the forest trail
     in this rainy, dark and brooding August weather.
It is late summer, and our Mother
     warns, “Change is coming!”
So good to delight in change.
The virgin’s bower, sweet-scented,
     arrives late to the party, thinking it’s Spring.
Jewelweed, orange and yellow,
     offers her healing profusely, ready to pop.
One leaf of a sycamore releases
     and drops oh-so-slowly,
     its big boat of a leaf
     zigzags slowly over here, over there,
     unhurried in its long fall,
     casually meeting its destiny,
     alighting in the rushing creek below,
     a true boat at last.

Annelinde Metzner

August 29, 2017

Sycamore leaf

Virgin's bower

Sunday, August 27, 2017


Redbud flowers and bee, photo by Ruthie Rosauer

I can’t translate this!  I can’t write it!
It’s spring, my eyes dilate with an ongoing delight,
no end, no end!  Ah me!
Still in April bare grey trees remind me 

that this is no dream,
this everyday, this every new day-
The cherry blossoms, first to bloom,
then scattering in breeze, reminding of snow,
and now today, lush and greener by the hour,
intent on producing sweet red fruit.
Every day, every day, no end!
The hummer’s return, a long, long drink,
fitting for one returned from Guatemala!
Welcome, wee warrioress!  Battle on!
And then, ecoutez!  Welcome the wood thrush,
her deep multilayered melody guiding me back.
Welcome thrush!  Welcome me!
I can’t translate this, I can’t write it.
My eyes dilate, hummers buzz, 

and the chickadee not two feet from me,
cocking and cocking the wee head, 

seeming to want my finger for a perch.
A bluebird, shy as Spring’s first new,
and cardinals, and goldfinch!  A riot of color!
I can’t translate this, I can’t write it!
Along the banks of the river, red bud, 

misnamed in her purple gown,
paints filagrees in the forest canopy, 

here there and everywhere,
suspended in a perfect ballet, sucking my breath away.
The new dogwood, still clinging to green,
not yet ready for the full openness of total white.
I can’t translate, I can’t write.
Pale yellows and greens creep tenderly up the mountain,
a turkey buzzard gliding on the thermal winds.
A great peace relaxes me all along my spine,
up to my tippy-top, my eyes dilate, 

for the everyday of this, it won’t go away, 
tomorrow and tomorrow, hooray and hooray,
here’s my world come back again, 

this day, this day, 
this very day.

Annelinde Metzner
April 21, 2005

This poem and the above photo appear in "These Trees," a beautiful labor of love by Ruthie Rosauer, who photographed trees all over the United States. There are sections on bark, seeds, fruit and leaves, as well as the whole body of trees, and poems are scattered throughout.  Her work is available at

Dogwood blossoms

Friday, August 18, 2017

Be strong, Mama

Sacred mound

The little hemlock where I left your ashes
     is so new this May!
The wee green nubs have appeared on each branch,
     the ones Elsie loved in her bath.
The tree made of you and me!
In this holy place,
     right by the Sacred Mound,
     the oaken guard, so tall,
     is just beginning to leaf out,
     for here in the High Country, it is Spring.
Around our two trees, I cast small stones,
     offerings for the Mother we so adore.
Onyx, tourmaline, and last, turquoise,
     to nourish our roots with love.
It is busy here, this Memorial Day,
     people passing by,
     as you would have enjoyed.
At my feet, not strawberries ripe and red,
     but the newest blossoms, close to the ground,
     never giving up.
Ahead of me in the field, boneset,
     blessing me in the wind,
     calls, “be strong, Mama, be strong.”

Annelinde Metzner
May 27, 2017

       This poem was written at the place where I left my son's ashes, a day after his birthday this year.

My son Peter

Portrait of Peter by Arline Boyce