Momma House*

Yvonne final headshot 2

from Rosetta on the Bus


Touring is a kind of homelessness,

The price the body pays as the soul takes wing.

Fans brought to their feet, the faithful to their knees!

Yet meals on a tray in her lap left its sting.

Under the spinning stars on a midnight bus

Sleep came and washed away the heaviness

Of the heart. Sleep and the wisdom of dreams.

Miracle child with flowers in her voice

And in her fingertips unquenchable flames—

Did she ever have a choice?

Echoes awake and bend laggard legendary.

Momma, beloved Marie, a far galaxy.

The end of the line. Everybody’s got one.

Same old same old. For decades, no tombstone.


*In 2011 a marker at the corner of 11th and Master Streets in the Yorktown section of North Philadelphia was set to commemorate where Sister Rosetta Tharpe lived in a modest rowhouse from the mid-Sixties until her death in 1973. She is buried in Northwood Cemetery.

First poetry editor of pioneer feminist magazines, Aphra and Ms., Yvonne has received several awards including NEAs for poetry (1974, 1984) and a Leeway (2003) for fiction (as Yvonne Chism-Peace). Recent print publications include: From the Farther Shore (Bass River Press), Home: An Anthology (Flexible), Quiet Diamonds 2019/2018 (Orchard Street).