Friday, September 7, 2018

Red Shoes, Kickass Women, and Stiletto Gang Magic

"She speaks for her clan" by Dorothy Sullivan
We here at The Stiletto Gang are celebrating a newly designed logo for our blog and the diverse makeup of our membership. We are women writers from various backgrounds, but we all share one thing in common. We're pretty kickass women. We are all strong in our own ways, some quiet yet powerful, some flamboyant yet solidly dependable.

I feel very comfortable with my Stiletto Gang blogmates, because the Cherokee have traditionally had strong women who shared power with men, who owned the land and houses, who could go to war with the men. Consequently, I tend to look for strength of one kind or another in the women with whom I surround myself. The women with whom I'm friends are women who are comfortable with their own power, rather like my varied pals here in the Stiletto Gang. I write a lot about strong women and women coming into their own. It's part of my heritage and part of my life today.

Like many of us, I don't wear high heels any longer, more interested in comfort and practicality, but I think the symbol of our red stilettos signals the world that on this blog sits the writing of a cadre of kickass women, often read by other kickass women. So here's a poem for all of us and the magic that happens when strong women come together to share their strength and their vulnerabilities.


and pours it over her body,
drenching hair and face,
standing in pools of herself,
dripping excess. She takes up her power
with strong hands and holds it close
to her breasts like an infant, warming it
with her own heat. She draws her power
around her like a hand-loomed shawl,
a cloak to keep the wind out,
pulling it tighter, tugging and patting it
smooth against the winter.
She pulls her power from branches
of dead trees where it has hung so long
neglected that it has changed from white to deep
weathered gold. She wraps her hair
in power like the light of distant stars,
gleaming through the dark emptiness
in and around everything. She lets her power down
into a dank well, down and down,
clanking against stone walls, until
she hears the splash, a little further
to submerge it completely, then draws it
hand over rubbed-raw hand, heavy enough
to make her shoulders and forearms ache
and shudder with strain, pulls it up
overflowing, her power,
and drinks in deep, desperate gulps
out of a lifetime of thirst. She weaves her power
into a web, a cloth, a shroud, and hangs it
across the night where it catches the light of stars
and refracts it into a shining glory,
brighter than the moon
and colder. She holds her power
in her hands at the top of the hill
in the top of the tree where she steps out
onto the air and her wings
of power buoy her to ride the thermals
higher and higher toward the sun,
her new friend.
When she returns,
she folds her power over and over
into a tiny, dense pellet to swallow,
feeling its mass sink to her center
and explode, spreading throughout to transform
her into something elemental,
a star,
a mountain,
a river,
a god.

Published in Heart's Migration (Tia Chucha Press, 2009)

Linda Rodriguez's Dark Sister: Poems has just been released. Plotting the Character-Driven Novel, based on her popular workshop, and The World Is One Place: Native American Poets Visit the Middle East, an anthology she co-edited, were published to high praise in 2017. Every Family Doubt, her fourth mystery novel featuring Cherokee campus police chief, Skeet Bannion, and Revising the Character-Driven Novel will be published in 2019. Her three earlier Skeet novels—Every Hidden Fear, Every Broken Trust, and Every Last Secret—and her earlier books of poetry—Skin Hunger and Heart's Migration—have received critical recognition and awards, such as St. Martin's Press/Malice Domestic Best First Novel, International Latino Book Award, Latina Book Club Best Book of 2014, Midwest Voices & Visions, Elvira Cordero Cisneros Award, Thorpe Menn Award, and Ragdale and Macondo fellowships. Her short story, “The Good Neighbor,” published in the anthology, Kansas City Noir, has been optioned for film.

Rodriguez is past chair of the AWP Indigenous Writer’s Caucus, past president of Border Crimes chapter of Sisters in Crime, founding board member of Latino Writers Collective and The Writers Place, and a member of International Thriller Writers, Native Writers Circle of the Americas, Wordcraft Circle of Native American Writers and Storytellers, and Kansas City Cherokee Community. Visit her at


  1. Great post. Thanks for the kick start this rainy day.

  2. Linda, this post and poem are so beautiful. They remind me of your resilience and tenacity. Thank you!

    1. oops, I didn't reply directly to your comment. See my reply at the bottom of the page.

  3. "...standing in pools of herself,
    dripping excess."
    Wonderful images, dear Linda.
    Power to the people.
    Power to the women!

    1. Thank you, Kay. Power to all of us--we have it, so let's use it.

  4. As usual, your post kicked ass. I love you, Linda.