Sheri Strobaugh makes it 25.

“My hair is kinda kinky, but my man, he don’t care.

My hair is kinda kinky, but my man, he don’t care.

Any man’s fool to want a mamma … for her hair! (Bessie Smith)


Our good friend and frequent contributor to this site, Sheri Strobaugh offers a light touch to our contest with this poem.

Before you read, let me remind everyone that we (actually, his moiness) will stop accepting entries after March 7th, the 52nd anniversary of the march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge.  We have enough stories backlogged to continue posting for at least another month or two, and I want to give each story some hang-time to allow comments before posting the next.  When all have been posted, three finalists will be selected, and given a new prompt.  From these, Pulitzer Prize-winner, friend and publishing client Jonathan Freedman will select our winner, to be announced at the Fifth Annual Writer’s Reunion to be held at the hacienda of my long-time friend, best-selling author Victor Villasenor in Oceanside, (the only event that could pull me away from Prague, where the metamorphosis of Kafka’s spirit  and timely discussions with Einstein are all relative, and where my being has the incredible lightness of Kundera).   The winner will receive $500 and a trophy created from the plaque “The Drinking Fountain” that has served as the prompt for your entries. I have avoided entering the fray with comments of my own, but please don’t think I am on auto-pilot.  I will have a few words when we’re finished.

So, let’s hear from Sheri!

Black Poem

by Sheri Strobaugh


Black is the color of my mother’s hair.

Oh, how I adore brushing it, with its deep, dark shine.

Black is the color of my best friend Sarah.

Oh, how I yearn to have her beautiful dark skin.

Red is the color of my long, unruly hair.

Oh, how I wish I could have that flowy, dark mane.

Black is the color of my best friend’s eyes.

Oh, how I wish mine would be as dark as pools.

Black is the color of prejudice.

Oh, why can’t people see through my eyes?


and now, Nina!


17 thoughts on “Sheri Strobaugh makes it 25.

    • Sarah Crysl Akhtar says:

      “Oh, how I wish mine would be as dark as pools.”

      This is a lovely line; it hints at layers of complexity and internal conflict, and takes the poem in a deeper direction; and then the last two lines, in their jarring earnestness, drop it into “here endeth the lesson.”

  1. Lady Pafia Marigold says:

    Sheri, (my dear friend) my departed predecessor often said that if she had been allowed to make the selection of whom her mother would have been, she would have choose you over all other women from her lifetime including her own birth mother. I agree. There is a pure selflessness about you, your family, your faith & devotions to friends which no poem or brief prose could adequately capture. The spirit of the last line moved me therefore to say that I wish humans could see each other through your eyes, feel what is in your heart & from that absence of prejudice, uplift others as you do. You live your faith with a pure love as few ever do.

      • Sarah Crysl Akhtar says:

        One of the most difficult things for a genuine friend to do is give an honest critique of one’s writing. We tend to believe that loyalty means always saying “I love it.”

        And that’s why professional-quality writing is rarely birthed in writers’ groups. The best writing comes from the solitary struggle, and the most useful critiques come from and are received by people who know that growing pains can’t be avoided.

        • Sheri says:

          Cheryl, I am not expecting to win the contest with this simple poem. I was sharing a memory of my friend who I will never forget.

          • Sarah Crysl Akhtar says:

            That’s fine, but this is a literary site, and the introductory editorial indicates this is a contribution to the current contest, and readers interested in writing will naturally think to take it seriously as a piece of creative writing, and respond to it as such.

  2. Lady Pafia Marigold says:

    The word “comment” does not restrict any contributor, including myself, to a definition of a review, a critique or rewriting of any offered poem or prose without permission. “Comment” as fully defined allows the option of a personal reflection between friends. AWWYP has been far more than just a publishing site/editing services (not a writers’ group) of poems & prose. Many, if not most of the people entering these 50 some contests have never made even one pence from writing nor have any intention ever to do so, but they do care about what they create in their own words & value each others’ offerings as given.

  3. Sarah Crysl Akhtar says:

    “A contest” does sort of imply an invitation to attempt to produce an entry superior to any other, keeping in mind, of course, the motto on the masthead…

  4. Michael Stang says:

    There are two creatives who live between these walls and under our roof, my wife and I. There is no peace when one wants critique from the other. We learned long ago to say it as we see it, never mind the cold dinners and separate rooms. When we prove each other right or wrong and the painting is purchased before it is hung and the story is perfect; the editor wants to see more, we look at each other and dance.

    • Lady Pafia Marigold says:

      The key to conversations Mr. Stang is (in your own words) “when one wants critique from the other”. Your wife & you have an implicit agreement making your disagreements consensual; whereas if either of you say no to being insulted, but it continues, it is an abusive, non-consensual act of false superiority. I consent to respectful, constructive discourse, but not to Narcisstic Personality Disorder meanness from the ill-mannered. The winning entry (not the superior person in life) will be decided by Mr. Jonathan Freedman, a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist & published author as willed by the only editor here, Mr. Thornton Sully.

      • Sarah Crysl Akhtar says:

        When one submits one’s work to a public, non-password-protected literary site describing itself as advocating fine stories [which is a subjective description], and which provides an open comments section, one should be prepared for honest feedback from readers interested in quality writing and what makes it or does not make it so. There’s no dearth of private by-invitation-only sites for those who prefer a more controlled environment.

        • Sarah Crysl Akhtar says:

          You’re free, of course, to use the premises for any purpose you deem appropriate, including extended stream-of-consciousness offerings, interspersed with ventings of emotions apparently too powerful to be restrained, but some of us are interested, as I said, in examining the inner workings of creative writing and why something is effective, or less so, and how any particular writer can make his or her work stronger.

          • Sarah Crysl Akhtar says:

            I’m sure, though, that we all admire the passion with which you repel imaginary assaults, and the fervor with which you defend that which has not been attacked.

      • Michael Stang says:

        I beg your pardon, Lady Pafia. I don’t believe I have ever heard a superior person in life’s position explained like this before. The ill-mannered, use to refer to this as what ever gets you through the night. Why does the winning entry burn so brightly?

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