“The Token Rose”

The Token Rose

It is spring here in the South, and the tenderness and fragility of life brings memories of those who have died over the years.  Token was a suicide, driven to this by the intolerance of her family, and mine.  Her ‘sin’ was that she became a lesbian, after marriage and children to a fundamentalist pastor.  Religion can be a ‘cup full’ of bigotry, intolerance, ignorance.  It’s not supposed to be so, but in the hands and minds of narrow bigots, it becomes something with the capacity to maim and kill.

Token was very kind to me when I was severely injured in an accident.  When she died, it was a shock. . It was incomprehensible to me that a beautiful young woman could be driven to such an act.  I planted a white rose bush in my front garden many years ago in remembrance of Token.  It is the first rose to bloom and continues on throughout the year until frost. 

Token’s kindness and beauty are present in those blossoms. They are a reminder to me to show compassion and acceptance to others as was given to me by Token.

Lady Nyo

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.

Too early this spring,

This rose started to bloom,

A miracle of season,

A miracle of mercy.

Named for a woman

Who died by her own hand,

A hand forced by ignorance


Isolation, and

No Mercy.

We are so hard on those

We say we love,

We lack compassion

To those who march out of step,

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

A Short definition of Humanism:

an outlook or system of thought attaching prime importance to human rather than divine or supernatural matters. Humanist beliefs stress the potential value and goodness of human beings, emphasize common human needs, and seek solely rational ways of solving human problems.

Religious Fundamentalists hate the thought of Humanism.  It’s not only the ‘absence of theology’ in humanism, but the inability of fundamentalists to control the thoughts and creativity of humanists.  Power and Control seem to be the two legs of fundamentalism.  Where they can’t achieve this ‘order’, they will raise Hell. In my opinion, there is no difference between the oppression and ignorance between Christian/Jewish/Muslim fundamentalism.  They are of the same cloth.

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2 Responses to ““The Token Rose””

  1. ayala zarfjian (@ayalazarfjian) Says:



  2. ladynyo Says:

    Hi Ayala! Good to ‘hear’ from you! And thank you!

    It’s a sad and important issue. And sad because this kind of intolerance destroys lives.

    Hugs, Jane


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