“Teenage Mother Spurns Welfare” by Marlena Johns

May 30, 2016

Call me to mind
when I’m strong
and I walk,
head held high,
away from fear.

Remember who I am
when I push doubt aside
to decide
my future and that of my child.

Remember when my needs flow
like milk from a swollen breast
that I was strong ’cause I had to be.
No one ever took care of me.

Don’t mock
when you see
seriousness crease this youthful visage
or I have to pluck gray strands.
I earned maturity before its time.
I stole wisdom from the crones
and wore it like a crown
of premature wrinkles.

Know that I have loved and lost.
Resurrected my pride
and arisen
and free.


Marlena_Johns-smaller_6Marlena “Zen” Johns graduated from University of Houston in 1994 with a B. A. in English. She taught high school, all grades, in the inner city as she raised twin sons. She also teaches English as a Second Language, was Teacher of the Year for AHS in 2011-2012, a Claes Nobel Educator of Distinction and University of Chicago Distinguished Educator. One of her plays was performed at a local community center. She won a prose writing contest given by the University of Houston when she was an undergrad student. She’s also had poetry published in local community papers. She’s recently come back to writing since her kids graduated high school, and lately she’s been writing and performing poetry.

One comment on ““Teenage Mother Spurns Welfare” by Marlena Johns

  1. Y. Picazo says:

    Marlena “Zen” Johns continues to impress me with her wealth of knowledge and writing ability. Excellent work, Marlena!

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