HomeSouthern Voice4 Poems by Patricia Neely-Dorsey

4 Poems by Patricia Neely-Dorsey

The following four poems by Patricia Neely-Dorsey of Tupelo, Mississippi, were taken from her book “Reflections Of A Mississippi Magnolia” in honor of National Poetry Month in April. Read our interview with her here

Preaching Sunday

In the old country church,
Preaching Sunday was quite a big deal;
In just a few words, I’ll give you a feel.
White gloved ushers monitor each bench and pew,
Wearing uniforms starched to look like brand new.
Little girls decked out in ruffles and bows,
Sit with mothers in hats sharp
From their heads to their toes.
The minister quotes scriptures
With deep breaths
And a long pause,
He makes so dramatic each and every clause.
At the end of the message, when some hymn is sung,
Shouts ring out between every rung.
There’s jerking and fanning and some falling out,
Small ones wonder what all the commotion’s about.
When everything’s over and the service is done,
Everyone enjoys a grand feast on the lawn.

Neighborhood Groceries

Cherry Street
Pickled Souse
Rag Bologna
Liver Cheese
Dill Pickles in a jar
Penny Cookies
Chocolate Chip
And Butter
Stage Planks
Moon Pies
Apple Sticks
Tootsie Rolls
Point out what you want
Behind the glass.
Service with a smile.
Home folks you know.

Right to Vote

I love to hear the stories,
That my mama and daddy tell;
Sometimes, we’ll just sit a while,
And they’ll talk for a spell.
They’ve told me of how hard it was,
For them to get to vote;
They’d go down to the courthouse door,
And there would be a note;
“Out To Lunch” or “No One’s In,”
“Come Back Another Day,”
In all kinds of ways you wouldn’t believe,
They were turned away.
Even when they did get in,
There were more hurdles they had to cross;
They’d be asked to answer questions
That would put anyone at a loss,
“How many bubbles in a bar of soap?”
“How many pennies in that jar?”
“How many raindrops to fill a barrel?”
“How many miles to a star?”
It seems almost incredulous
That this was how it was;
But, believe you me, no matter what,
I vote, now, just because.


The small town where I am from,
Gets its name from the Tupelo Gum.
No matter where in the world
That I might roam;
This is the place
That I call home.
Though I’ve been northeast for my education,
I’ve stayed fiercely Southern
In dedication.
In Memphis, I lived for many years,
By my own election,
And even still, there was that Tupelo connection.
At Elvis’ Graceland,
Fans come to mourn;
But it’s Tupelo, Mississippi,
Where he was born.
Tupelo is known as the All-American City
If you’ve never enjoyed it
That’s quite a pity.
It’s so warm, so hospitable and so neat,
Everything about it to me is so sweet.
I love the trees, the flowers and birds,
I can’t really describe all its beauty in words.
Though many places in my life
Have played a significant part;
It’s Tupelo, Mississippi, ya’ll,
That still has all my heart.

Strawberry Fields
Mississippi in Verse