The Ballad of Jolly Jane By Daniel Brennan

The Ballad of Jolly Jane

I’m only the good left scraping under heel.
I’m not the daughter that comes conventionally;
my face simmers in the dark blues of night.
When I’m ready to sleep, I ask myself when?

So it was, I’m not the daughter she chose conventionally.
They said papa sewed his own eyelids shut;
too tired, the weight of his brain and the question of when?
I like to imagine I’m more than Honora.

It isn’t true; papa didn’t sew his eyelids shut.
But I was a child and walls and halls would listen,
and with those stories I was more than Honora,
I was more than just another pile of limbs’

instead I was a child who could make others listen,
even if I would grow into an un-daughter she
would only ever treat as a story, no more than Honora.
I would take their last name. A name takes all things,

even if you grow like a shadow of them, an un-daughter.
The world demands so much of a woman;
barely halting its grinding crunch to give a last name, of all things.
Decades unfold like rumors and lies and jealousy;

not because you’re cruel, but because you are a woman.
Yes, they will remember the body count, the morphine.
Yes, they will remember a dead sister who wasn’t a sister, the strychnine.
Decades will unfold with a history of family lies and jealousy,
that there was no good left in me, only the scraping under heel.

Daniel Brennan is queer a resident of New York City, where he works full time in advertising as he pursues creative writing. His work has appeared in CP Quarterly, and has upcoming work in The North Dakota Quarterly.

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