Fireworks For Freedom: A Memoir in Verse (3)

Posted on October 1, 2020


Posted on September 30, 2020

Installment 3

Over a few days, I am publishing my verse memoir, “Fireworks For Freedom,” in 4 installments.

I started this piece in 2017, writing memoir with my high school students. I was very inspired by Out of the Dust, Karen Hesse’s historical fiction in verse, as well as verse memoirs, How I Discovered Poetry by Marilyn Nelson and Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson, and I wanted to try to write one, using some of the same techniques I saw at work in their writing.

In this memoir, I explore the meanings of freedom as a girl coming of age just after the federal Title IX law passes, insuring my rights to equality at school–and from the prison of an abusive dating disaster.

See Installment 1 Here

See Installment 2 Here


Independence Day

The annual Independence Day Parade

is followed by the chicken BBQ.

We trail behind 

the last 

antique tractor

as the parade ends

at Grass Lake County Park.

The whole town is here, 

waiting in line,

as the Lions Club members

manage the chickens,

smoking on grills in long lines

stretched across the playground. 

We feast on chicken and gossip

all afternoon

as the townspeople, kids and adults alike,

let loose

in crazy contests 

like adult tricycle races

and Tug-O-War.   

When night falls,

the Francisco Five

take the stage, 

and we dance 

all the slow songs, 

holding each other close. 

As the first stars appear, 

fireworks light the sky, 

in bursts of pink, yellow, green,

and red, blue, and white.

Grass Lake, MI, July 1981



Fireworks burst up high in the sky, 

then anger flashes in his eye.

He imagines me cheating,

then gets himself so mad,

he burns up all the fun we had.

All the warmth, and all the care–

it isn’t in him–anywhere.

He accuses, he rages;

I’ve got no defense.

This night is–suddenly–

way too intense.

Stop, I cry. Let go of me!

He has no intention of setting me free.

I break away and try to run

or call for help from anyone–

his mom or dad,

his brother, my friend–

I hope they come soon

and make this pain end.

No one comes to help, so

I crouch down in the brush,

but he finds me and squeezes me, 

making me “Hush!”

He opens the car door,

throws me in the passenger seat.

Then he drives me home 

in smoldering defeat.

When morning comes again,

I am fully and truly awake.

I know that my life and my freedom–

they are NOT for him to take.

I wake up bruised.

My ribs are cracked. 

The time is now

to take my life back. 

Brooklyn, MI, July 5, 1981


Wake Up & Break Up

I don’t want to see you anymore.

What you did was WRONG.

For a few months,

you controlled me, 

but I remember now: I’m strong.

You can’t.

This can’t be happening.

Just tell me it’s not true.


It’s really happening.

I’m breaking up.

We’re through. 

Grass Lake, MI, July 1981


Sometimes Nothing

(Can Make You Feel Better)

It’s a hot July morning;

the sun is high in the sky.

The air is humid and thick.

It’s going to be a hot one today.

When I open the door

To the back porch, I expect to see

Sunny, my tiny fluff-ball of poodle puppy–

but–I can’t believe it–

she’s gone!

I search the area;

she can’t have disappeared.

She’s too small to get out! 

My mind’s awash with fear. 

And then it dawns on me.

He’s stolen her.

He knows how much I love my tiny girl-dog,

how I couldn’t wait to bring her home.

I’m afraid that he’ll kill her,

that I’ll never see her again.

I fall on the floor.

I’m crying and shaking.

I want my puppy back!

Where is she?

My heart is breaking.

How cruel can he be? 

Grass Lake, MI, July 1981

lisa eddy is a writer-for-hire, researcher, educator-for-hire, youth advocate,  musician, and gardener.

On Twitter: @lisa_eddy

On email: