Lynne Stewart, Our Lady Mandela

POETRY FORMAT, 27 Mar 2017

Gary Corseri – TRANSCEND Media Service

Author’s note: An earlier version of this poem appeared at various websites in December, 2013.  Some notes on Lynne Stewart below….

For Lynne, October 1939-March 2017

She is ten feet tall… and dying in her cage….

While Obama and Cameron take “selfies,”
shedding crocodile tears
at Nelson Mandela’s final farewell,
our Lady Mandela gazes over
the path she has made by her walking.

After the great man’s funeral, American drones
kill fifteen people in Yemen.
(“Where in the world is Yemen?”
schoolchildren and their parents wonder,
while American shoppers rampage, and trample
those in the aisles of their trinkets.)

She said she believed “directed violence”
(just as Mandela had said)
would topple the anarchist State
(engorged by its own helter-skelter
in the best tradition of Manson).

In New York City or Yemen,
with drones or tasers or wars,
the Manifold State is watching,
its “laws” abated by judges,
conducting kangaroo courts.

“Who will judge the judges?”
Juvenal wrote about Rome,
which crucified a preacher
for driving money-changers
out of the House of God.

They slashed his back with lashes,
collapsed his lungs on a cross,
then shot him into the sky
(for mourning or redemption,
depending on one’s view).

Now Deep State imposes its laws
on a woman wedded to Law,
one who fought for the truth of the Law,
to publish it like Luther,
on pain of execrations:

and the pain of separation
from family, home, and her Cause.
Even a sentence of cancer
cannot deter her Cause.
She can never betray her Cause!

Over the matricide planet
her thoughts take billowing wing:
the State’s cells metastasize
in every corporate prison,
in every farmed-out heart.

Miley Cyrus twerks her ass
in the face of the hubbubbed mob—
in the bubble of our amnesia,
forgetting who we were
and the dream of what we could be.

Annointed pundits feign disdain,
then tweet pictures…, but none
of Lynne alone in her cage—
so far from family and friends,
in timeless, infinite space, enclosing
her solitary point of light.

The “people” scurry like ants,
monitored and maced, liable,
without notice, to be snuffed;
emulsified like dung
under the heels of the State—
above the Law, acting in the name of Law,
sanctioning crime and murder,
in the name of marmoreal memes:

“We the People” in “the home of the brave,”
“created equal” in “the land of the free.”

From Wikipedia:

“Lynne Stewart (born October 8, 1939) is a former attorney who was known for representing controversial, poor, and often unpopular defendants.  She was convicted on charges of conspiracy…and sentenced to 28 months in prison. Her…conviction led to her being…disbarred.… She was re-sentenced on July 15, 2010, to 10 years in prison in light of her alleged perjury at her trial.”  Update: Her breast cancer has metastasized, and her doctors predict she has about 1 year to live.  Her requests for a “mercy” release have been repeatedly denied, despite some 40,000 signatures on a petition for such a release.”


From the Democracy Now! Website (March 8, 2017):

“Radical civil rights attorney Lynne Stewart died Tuesday at her home in Brooklyn from complications of cancer and a recent series of strokes. She was 77 years old.

“A former teacher and librarian, Stewart was known as a people’s lawyer…. Many considered her a political prisoner herself when she was given a 10-year sentence for distributing press releases on behalf of one of her clients, Omar Abdel-Rahman….

“In 2010, Stewart was re-sentenced to a 10-year term, nearly five times her original sentence, after an appeals court ruled her original punishment was too light.

“Attorney Leonard Weinglass said Stewart’s sentence would “mark this era as the era of the war on terrorists, which includes the war on lawyers who defend those who are accused of terrorism. To put her behind bars when no one was injured, no one was harmed, when those who produced the torture memos, those who produced the war are going free and even prospering is really the irony of our time.”

“While held in federal prison for nearly four years, Stewart suffered from stage IV breast cancer that metastasized, spreading to her lymph nodes, shoulder, bones and lungs. She was given 18 months to live.

“Calls to grant her compassionate release came at a time when the Federal Bureau of Prisons faced increasing criticism for refusing to release terminally ill prisoners.”


Dr. Gary Steven Corseri is a member of the TRANSCEND Network for Peace, Development and Environment. He has published and posted articles, fiction and poems at hundreds of venues, including, TMS (Transcend Media Service), The New York Times, Village Voice, Redbook Magazine and Counterpunch.  He has published 2 novels and 2 collections of poetry, and his dramas have been produced on PBS-Atlanta and elsewhere.  He has performed his poems at the Carter Presidential Library and Museum and has taught in universities in the US and Japan, and in US public schools and prisons.  Contact:


This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 27 Mar 2017.

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3 Responses to “Lynne Stewart, Our Lady Mandela”

  1. This is a beautiful poem about a woman who fought valiantly for justice and truth and suffered terribly as a result. Corseri is a poet who possesses the artist’s touch and the political sensibility that is so missing these days. He may be a youngster, but he is a throwback to those writers who had soul and an astute political consciousness that once existed but that seems to be in very short supply these days. Bravo to Gary Corseri!

  2. Gary Corseri says:

    I am proud to have Ed Curtin’s comments here (on my birthday, no less!). And, I’m especially pleased to have Lynne Stewart’s work acknowledged and praised by an astute critic and poet’s poet like Ed Curtin. Thank you, Ed, and thank you, and Antonio and the Galtungs, and all those who struggle to protect truth, humanity and our precious planet-home.