“The Token Rose”, a plea for love 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 eaves.


This rose started to bloom

Too early this spring,

A miracle of season,

A miracle of mercy.


Named for a woman

Who died by her  hand,

A hand forced by ignorance



No Mercy.


We are so hard on those

We say we love,

We lack  compassion

To those who march

out… of… step.

Those who don’t believe

as we do,

Then we hide from

What we have wrought,

Uneasy but still righteous.


If there is a hint of shame

We bury it deep as the grave

She now lies.


The Token Rose flutters in the cold.

A pearly white

Catches the feeble sunlight

And waves a forgiveness

That we, hardened of heart,

Do not deserve.


Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2014-2017

At the beginning of the year, I post this poem in tribute to Token, a woman I knew a long time ago. She, a minister’s wife, with two small daughters, believed she was a lesbian and left her family.  She suffered harassment and intolerance, little compassion from those around her.   She came to the end of her rope after about a year, and while talking on the phone to relatives, shot herself in the head and died.

I don’t know what those involved felt. Was there any guilt or remorse? These people considered themselves “Christian”.   They still do.

Faced with the issue of unconditional love, this isn’t of Christ. I struggle with this issue of unconditional love myself.  I don’t know if I can ‘love’ those who take such judgement into their own hands and a woman dies.  How do you love such people? How do you love anyone who threatens your life?  Token  was a woman who went against something  she could not bear.  Right or wrong, she deserves our love and compassion.


Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2017







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6 Responses to ““The Token Rose”, a plea for love and tolerance.”

  1. Brian Says:

    Thanks for writing about Token and the abuse she suffered in the name of piety.


  2. Brian Says:

    Btw, you should link to The Daily Post ‘Speak Out’ prompt.



  3. ladynyo Says:

    Thanks Brian (so good to read you on anything!)….I’ll consider it…but there are many voices much stronger and better than mine.



  4. ladynyo Says:

    Brian…it’s been over 30 years and I still can’t forgive my family. How in Hell can you have this happen to a family member and not be changed???? It seems they, these bigots…just dug in deeper. And, the list goes on….these ‘religious’ offenses. I can’t write them without great anger, so I won’t publically. However, they and their brand of “Christianity” has kept me from joining them in their narrowness. I once believed this was because I was strong, intelligent….but now? I believe there was a purpose that I didn’t drink the Kool-Aid. I don’t think that God needs another ignorant person on this beautiful earth. And…as someone (actually two people) have expressed to me..one here and my chiropractor …Jesus is unconditional love….Everything else is just human fluff. Everything. Since these folk don’t believe in unconditional love, how in HELL can they be Christians???

    I am no theologian, and perhaps that is a good thing.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Sherry Marr Says:

    The forgiveness we do not deserve….how that line impacts me. A beautiful tribute to Token, Jane, and such a sad story about her life and death. How families can hurt each other! All anyone wants is the freedom just to Be who they are. Great write.


  6. ladynyo Says:

    Hello Darlin’ Sherry! So good to read you this morning. Yes….the forgiveness we don’t deserve. She nursed me a short time when I as abed with a spinal injury. She was gentle and kind….and funny. I knew nothing about her…my sister in law, being ashamed of her for her sexual choice…and sister in law being a “Christian”…well, Token was a lovely woman. If her husband acted like my brother…another misogynistic “Christian”…I can well understand her leaving him. What is it with some self proclaimed Christian men? Why the pompous, arrogant, self righteous behavior….I can understand a bit their misogyny, but why do their wives tolerate this, too? It’s just a power and control issue with these people, but there is nothing Christ like in their behavior. Jesus, as has been explained to me very recently…was the embodiment of unconditional love. Well, then to me…these are not Christian folk. And that this woman was of their family? Jesus Christ!
    The sadness was hidden, there didn’t seem to be any introspection on these people’s part….they continue today with their usual bigotry and judgement. What brought me up with the some of the same bigotry was this: I didn’t want to be like them because I suffered (a straight, married woman) their same hatred and rejection. So, I made a choice. There are things of God and things of evil….and we all are able to choose. Thank you, Sherry, for reading and your comment.


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