Mary E. Weems

Mary E. Weems is an accomplished poet, playwright, author, editor, performer, motivational speaker, and imagination-intellect theorist. Weems has been widely published in journals, anthologies, and several books including Public Education and the Imagination-Intellect: I Speak from the Wound in My Mouth (Lang, 2003), developed from her dissertation which argues for imagination-intellectual development as the primary goal of public education. She won the Wick Chapbook Award for her collection white in 1996, and in 1997 her play Another Way to Dance won the Chilcote award for The Most Innovative Play by an Ohio Playwright. Her most recent chapbook Tampon Class (Pavement Saw Press, 2005) is in its second printing. She co-produced the text and video program Odd the Page with Patricia Harusame Leebone (CSU). In 2008 she co-edited Cleveland Poetry Scenes: A Panorama and Anthology (Bottom Dog Press). Mary Weems currently teaches in the English and Education departments at John Carroll University, and works as a language-artist-scholar in k-12 classrooms, university settings and other venues through her business Bringing Words to Life.

Mary Weems at John Carroll University



The Cleveland Indians
by Mary Weems

Every time I see one of those red caps

I see: riggas red as fireball candy,
STOP! signs, one-trillion drops of Indian

I don’t understand. Is there a curse?
Ignorance thicker than cold grits,
the depth of dirt, a stack of t-shirts on
game day? Nothing works. Sayings
get broke, protests go up in smoke hotter
than fireworks on White Independence
Day. The demands of the few typed up in short
columns in the PD on page 73, when the paper
is 65 pages long.

The face smiling with teeth bigger than a white whale’s,
wearing a feather pulled from the ass of a monkey held on by
a white man’s belt—could be Black if it wasn’t
so red. Spit and cuss words shame in a face open
as a rotten buffalo

on game day. I put my ear to the ground and blood
rains on rigga hats, starter jackets, and blankets.
It’s the ketchup on the hot dogs, the foam on the beer,
the litter in the luxury lounges, the ink in the sports writers
pens, the wind in the bats, the sweat on the owner’s face, the wet
in the mouths of the players.


On Almost Meeting Alice Walker
by Mary Weems

IdeaCenter, Cleveland, Ohio

She is stature-small, wears the universe

and comfortable shoes. Center stage,

the ancestors dance around her like the fire

next time, their spirits the light coming

from the ceiling, the voices that echo

when the distance-learning children

ask their questions.

I am listening to the white and black people

address her as Alice, wondering if they think

they are lost in the looking glass

of a fairy tale where respect disappears

in the drink that takes that Alice

to the Mad Hatter.

In the live audience, all

of us reach for her breath; a wisdom

of purple, solitude, and love

slowly reversing evil, one word at a time;

like a water drop on a mountain

timeless, and as much a part of the world

as her wire rimmed glasses, her poignant

morality, a wildflower—unbowed.