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Volume 26, Number 4 — April 2019

The Arts as Therapy: Poetry and Life

Rise, Woman. Rise by Delilah O'Haynes

August 01, 2007

Editor's Note: A couple of these poems will appear in the poet's new book, Rise, Woman. Rise.


in the night,
into a red cab
that waits
in the

onto mommy,
like she can
protect us,
taking nothing
with us
but our fear.

on an aunt's
at midnight,
there's no
extra bed,
no extra food.

coming home
in light of day,
there's no place
else to go

- by Delilah Ferne O'Haynes



Wake up, Woman.

You've sold your soul
to others for nothing-
others who've called you stupid,
ruled over you with iron fists,
beat you down to a scream.

Get up, Woman.

Shake off the dirt
and buy back your soul.
You won't need money.
Put on your best dress.
Put on your strength.
Put on your faith.

Break out, Woman.

Cast off fear and shame
and stretch yourself in every direction.
No more oppression; no more terror!
Even the wagging tongues
will fall silent behind you.


*Isaiah 52-54.


I Believe

I believe

I am more than others have tried to make me,
more than a punching bag, a maid, a stupid idiot,
a clothes' manikin [sic], boobs and a vagina.

I believe

I can be anything I want to be, who I want to be,
not just a woman in a suit or army boots, not an
imitation of a man, but someone only I can create.

I believe

I can do anything because I am a survivor. Rape
did not stop me. Abuse did not kill me. Molestation
did not change me. Cancer did not defeat me.

I believe
I matter in this world of throw-away people.
I was not an accident or mistake; every
fiber of my being pulses with purpose.

I believe
I can change my world.


About the Poet: The daughter of a coal miner, with Irish and Cherokee heritage, Delilah Ferne O'Haynes grew up in Clintwood, Va. and has resided all her life in the Appalachian region.

A survivor of rape, abuse, and cancer, O'Haynes now devotes much of her time helping other victims become survivors through her books and workshops on journaling to healing, using poetry as therapy, overcoming violence, reclaiming native heritage, and surviving cancer.

She is a widely published and celebrated author of fiction, non-fiction, and poetry, with educational and literary articles in journals, poetry in many recognized publications, and Appalachian fiction in publications such as Potato Eyes and Potomac Review.

Her first book, an artistic collaboration of poetry and photography entitled The Character of Mountains, has been nominated for the Appalachian Book of the Year award. Upcoming books include Rise, Woman, Rise; Walk Free from Fear of Cancer; Fearless Woman; and From Fearful to Fearless: Real Stories, Real People.

O'Haynes is currently Creative Writing Professor at Concord University in West Virginia and owns a publishing company, Walk Free Press. She is a member of the Appalachian Authors Guild based in Abingdon.

READ ON: Meet Rebecca Lowry who uses expressive arts as therapy.