“The Token Rose”, a plea for compassion and tolerance.

The Token Rose

Outside it is cold,

No leaves flutter

In bitter winds,

No birdsong to

Sweeten the air,

Just the Token rose

Trembling in fierce gusts

Howling round the eaves.

Right before Xmas,

This rose started to bloom,

A miracle of Winter,

A miracle of mercy.

Named for a woman

Who died by her own hand,

A hand forced by ignorance


Isolation, and

No Mercy.

Ah, we are so hard on those

We say we love,

We are lacking in compassion

To those who march out of step,

Those who don’t believe as we do,

And then we hide from

What we have wrought,

Uneasy but still righteous.

If there is any hint of shame

We bury it deep as deep as the grave

She now lies in.

The Token Rose flutters in the cold.

Pearly white tinged with pink

Catches the feeble sunlight

And waves a forgiveness

That we, hardened of heart,

Do not deserve.

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2014

– Many years ago, Token killed herself, a victim of religious intolerance.  I have planted a rose, called The Token Rose, to remind me of her and her spirit.  Most of all to call me to kindness and compassion.

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7 Responses to ““The Token Rose”, a plea for compassion and tolerance.”

  1. Caliban's Sister Says:

    love love love this. Bless Token.


  2. ladynyo Says:

    You know the ‘fuller’ story on this. People will think she was Muslim, etc…but the religious intolerance was of her (my) family. And it still marches on…with no thought, no change. Token was a lesbian, but didn’t know this until after marriage to a fundamentalist preacher (of my brother’s ilk) and two children. I still can’t get my mind around all this. The behavior of these people contributed directly to her death.

    Thank you, CS. this was such a slight poem, and I had to rein in my anger. Thank you, thank you.

    Yes, Bless Token.


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  4. czbz Says:

    Oh! I thought, well, why not read Jane’s new post before going to bed. I’m so glad I did.

    We need a call to kindness and compassion in our world…so many hardened hearts denying mercy and compassion—even for themselves.

    Love, CZ


  5. ladynyo Says:

    Hi CZ…..thank you for reading this (before bed…) and your comment.
    The story behind this is truly tragic. I haven’t said much about it. It just haunts me and it is so much about religious intolerance and power and control issues.

    It put me off God for decades, because when you see God in the hands of such people…what is the difference between this unloving behavior and extremists all over the world? People kill in the name of their god.

    Love, Jane


  6. TR Says:

    Beautiful poem. Being different in any way makes you a target for standing out and on the flip side the word ‘token’ in English refers to representing something – the irony in this. It really made me think of this hidden cruel irony and how much need there is for more compassion.

    Thank you for sharing this. I am sorry for your loss.
    xx TR


  7. ladynyo Says:

    Hi TR! Oh, you got it. Token is also a diminished state, a piece of something. Not a whole.

    Jesu. The cruelty done in the name of “God” just keeps marching on, neh?

    I’m going to write a blog entry soon, very soon, about fundamentalism and fear…and how religious, academic fundamentalism oppresses creativity and life. Compassion seems to be in short order nowadays. Perhaps we need to be trained in this? It certainly doesn’t seem natural to people anymore.

    I remember something when I first came to the South of USA. When a funeral procession passed, old men, black and white, would get out of their cars, trucks…and stand on the side of the road, removing their hats (men wore hats then…) and place them over their hearts. They didn’t know the dead, but they did this out of general respect.

    Haven’t seen that in years….what I have seen is people honking or trying to cut through a funeral cortege. Ah.

    Just a little example of how decency and compassion has flown the coop.

    Thank you, TR…for reading and your comment.

    Hugs, Jane


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