What I Believe (Post-2016) by John Erickson

Ever since the election of You-Know-Who, I have been doing a lot of creative writing.

Ever since the election of You-Know-Who, I have been doing a lot of creative writing. Unlike academic publications, policy reports, or my dissertation, creative writing, much like my mentor Dr. Marie Cartier has written about, provided me with a needed escape from a world that seems to grow darker with each passing day.  In college, I served as Poetry Editor for the Wisconsin Review, the oldest literary journal in Wisconsin.


I have been rereading the poetry that I wrote during this time when I was just entering into the world of Women’s Studies in Religion while under the tutelage of Dr. Kathleen Corley and my Creative Writing Professor Pamela Gemin.

What follows is a poem that I have been repeating to myself a lot lately. Like a mantra for salvation, I too, find myself fixed with trying to understand some aspect of the divine feminine, in a world that emphasizes masculine dominance.

Whatever you’re doing to get through these difficult times, I hope it brings you as much solace as creative writing has brought me.

A Ghazal to Eve, from her friend Mary

I am neither the hand-folded statuette nor the painted picture of virginity;
I am a wild woman trapped inside a holy vessel.

I am not the encrusted image on a burnt grilled cheese sandwich,
sold on eBay for a quick buck.

I am neither the perfect, blessed virgin
nor the woman held so highly in the prayers of millions.

Neither carefully ironed white sheets
soften my lustrous red lipstick.

Eve, you are my divine inspiration,
heroine of my son’s bedtime stories.

Floating red apples plague my dreams,
but I am not strong enough to take the apple like you.

My life was adventurous
but full of soliloquies in the darkness.

Slithering serpents wrap around my ankles,
I’m neither free nor independent but tied down.

Throngs of people crowd churches praising me, Mary,
whilst I pray to a woman, my hero, Eve.

*Originally Published in The Wisconsin Review, Vol. 43, Issue 3, Spring 2009

Author: John M. Erickson

Mayor Pro Tempore John M. Erickson was elected to the West Hollywood City Council on November 3, 2020 with the commitment to uphold the city’s founding vision for a forward-thinking, diverse and tolerant community. Mayor Pro Tempore Erickson first planted roots in West Hollywood in 2010 when he was selected to intern for the City Council. The internship set him on a path that connected his work for social and economic justice with his passion for public service. He went on to become Council Deputy to former Mayor Abbe Land and then served as City’s Community Affairs where he advanced policies and programs to increase awareness around LGBTQ+ rights, women’s rights, the environment, and civic engagement. After leaving City Hall, Mayor Pro Tempore Erickson served as a Legislative Representative at LAX (Los Angeles International Airport) and is currently the Interim Vice President of Public Affairs, Communications, and Marketing at Planned Parenthood Los Angeles. The immediate past Vice-Chair of the City’s Planning Commission, Mayor Pro Tempore Erickson’s priorities on the City Council include: overcoming COVID through sensible health practices and economic recovery; creating more affordable housing and protecting renters’ rights; reducing traffic through alternative transportation strategies, fighting climate change and making our city more sustainable; and implementing policies that make the city truly free of prejudice and welcoming to all. Mayor Pro Tempore Erickson has earned a reputation as a fearless, tenacious and effective voice for those who need one. His advocacy work includes serving a National Board member of the National Organization for Women and President of the ACLU Southern California. In 2017, he became Governor Brown’s appointee to the California Commission on the Status of Women and Girls and served as an organizer for both the Resist March and the historic Women’s March, Los Angeles that year. He serves on the Board of the Women’s March Los Angeles Foundation Mayor Pro Tempore Erickson was part of the End Statute of Limitation on Rape (ERSOL) Campaign, which overturned California’s statute of limitations on rape and sexual assault in 2016. Mayor Pro Tempore Erickson received his Ph.D. in American Religious History from Claremont Graduate University and a Dual-Master’s Degree from Claremont Graduate University. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh with a B.A. in English and Women’s Studies.

11 thoughts on “What I Believe (Post-2016) by John Erickson”

  1. Like you, as the days grow darker I turn more and more to writing for solace and for sanity. I simply cannot bear what is happening on this planet. My body often feels lead -like or numb and everywhere I turn I see destruction. I don’t own a television and I don’t listen to news but living so intimately with Nature forces me to witness strange and ominous happenings. The lack of songbirds, the way the maples are dropping their leaves from drought and root loss…I could go on and on here. I have never felt this unbalanced.


    1. I know what you mean regarding the unbalanced aspect! I too, find myself struggling to watch or read the news these days. All I normally say out loud anymore is, “But those emails…” to bring some sort of humor into a dark, hypocritical, and sexist world.


  2. Love it, though I support efforts to view Mary as the Goddess, I feel deeply that Mary and Eve must be reconciled. As long as one is sexual and naked and the other is clothed and virgin, women will continue to be slut shamed!


  3. Right on, write on, John! Thank you for sharing. I think you might enjoy The Maeve Chronicles and also The Wild Mother (being reissued in a 25th anniversary issue next year). Both sound themes and contain imagery similar to those in your inspiring poem.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. It seems like the whole world is living with increased violence, and in danger of nuclear war with two deranged people acting like spoiled children.
    I look at the resistance and know I’m not alone. Thank you for sharing your poem, John


  5. Bravo! I find myself repeating the Tara mantra–Om Tare Tuttare Ture Soha–and signing online petitions against the Troll-in-Chief. As Elizabeth says, right on, write on.

    Liked by 2 people

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