• Call + Response

Two Poems by Valerie A. Smith

"Burn the whole thing" and "Alice Walker's 75th Birthday Celebration, Eatonton, Georgia"

Photograph by Seyi Ariyo

Burn the whole thing

inside out, buy ancient roots online.

Exercise and Vitamin D will help.

Meanwhile, I set an appointment

for the doctor to confirm the long

dry spells my body has reported.

It will take distance, years maybe,

to drive through this country town

with one red light: no one knows

when I entered or when I’ll leave.

Days circle black around my eyes,

drawing what little iron I have left.

Night bursts lightning, poured-out

sweat, wet everywhere except where

he wants me, because time pulls

my womb like a ship out at sea.

Alice Walker's 75th Birthday Celebration, Eatonton, Georgia

First, quiet


take less space

than a body

needed, knees

stacked neatly,

thighs so close

they equaled

one of mine.

Then, that air

couldn’t weigh,

sealed frozen

in a black wig.

I wanted to say, Honey,

we are all



She has taught us

to fly.

Valerie A. Smith is a PhD candidate at Georgia State University and a graduate of the Master of Arts in Professional Writing at Kennesaw State University. Smith delights in writing poetry that expresses truth.