GIRLS ON FIRE by Jeannine Hall Gailey

And now, as promised, the prosey companion to “Girl on Fire” from the other day. It’s the questions Jeannine asks in this piece that get me. They’re ones I’ve asked myself, though not so eloquently. They really do get to the heart of what Gurlesque, Villainess, and The Plot are all about. They’re the questions we’re constantly attempting to answer.


Girls on Fire

Why create these heroines, Joan-of-Arc style, blazing in the sun-crusted waste of a landscape, blighted by nuclear-plague-crop-failure? Why do they run from the flames, an arrow in their hand all ready for the next enemy, sleeping in trees, in training for more martyrdom? Why can’t we have something besides mere survival as our goal not necessarily love but something? Not burned at the stake not jailed not beheaded not falsely accused not hiding not a torch a saint a satin vampire a scarlet villainess not clothed in flame? Allowed to continue their march, grim-lipped, towards a future they will build with battered hands, with tools of their own making, their stiff boots leaving footprints we can follow in the blighted dirt towards the future?
Jeannine Hall Gailey recently served as the second Poet Laureate of Redmond, Washington. She is the author of four books of poetry: Becoming the Villainess, She Returns to the Floating World, Unexplained Fevers, and The Robot Scientist’s Daughter. Her poems appeared in The Iowa Review, The American Poetry Review, and Prairie Schooner. Her web site is


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