War cry

What are little old ladies made of?
What are little old ladies made of?
Powder and pearls and frosted curls –
that’s what little old ladies are made of.

Old women – what are we made of?
Young eyes can’t pierce our camouflage,
their gaze slides away.
We remind them of things they would rather forget,
have knowledge of things they fear and regret.
Mothers and grandmothers.
Time, our sister. Death, who walks with her.
They carry our life sentences in their hands,
rob our enemies of vengeance.
Let’s change everything when no one is watching –
which is always.
Our bodies do less but our flesh knows more.
Use our powers of invisibility
for surveillance, stealth missions, covert operations.
When we are ready, we will cast off our disguise, reveal ourselves,
with triumphant cries, the hags and crones of childhood nightmare!
Gorgons, we will roll our rheumy eyes, flaunt our wrinkled skin
dangle empty sagging breasts and swollen bosoms that smother men.
Crumpled faces amplify our expressions to deafening volume,
the tendons in our necks will strain with the strength of our fibre,
our loose flesh will undulate like earthquakes.
Then, with the bones of our enemies and our foremothers
in our sparse white hair,
let’s run together screaming
to throw our remaining days
on to the fire
of the future.

Jacqui Malins


Jacqui Malins is a performance poet and artist based in Canberra. An Australian Poetry Slam finalist in 2015, and winning walk-up poet at the Woodford Folk Festival 2015. She is also the co-founder and organiser of Mother Tongue Multilingual Poetry events.

© 2017