For the last Wednesday in May…walk the “Avenue” with us

Remembrance and joy.

Legacy and Consciousness


History and ancestral beginnings

Enjoy the poetic nuances of Phylise Smith.  Her words move in a lyrical dance of words. Feel her flow.


Halloween night, in a persona I’ve never become
I bewitched and twitched wearing a black and orange striped elevated hat
spider web marked cape, charcoal knee high black boots. And carrying
a tiny broom made of dead leaves.

When I was a child 
Pulsating black lights glimpsed
through house doors smiling wide. Streaming organ music
fake howls, yells, signaled candy would flood
my wrinkled paper sack.
Puff it into a brown balloon piñata 
of chocolates, marshmallows, caramels, suckers amid occasional
cigarettes thrown in by adult pranksters.

Long ago, candy was my Halloween.
Whether my costume was a princess, comic book figure, pirate, ghost,
fairy, witch- it didn’t matter
In play, these roles were ribbons in my hair.
At night, I shed them,
like a young snake.  

A New Hair Style

Unafraid of my hair, they gaze
at its night like they see stars.

Unafraid of my hair, they comb
as if their hands share my hair’s tongue.

Unafraid of my hair, they caress
it like they stroke new-born babies.

Unafraid of my hair, they shape  
its tendrils and bangs into history.

They braid my hair. 
Centuries of great- grandmothers, aunts, age-mates
leap into my thirsty scalp. 

Publication: 2018 African American Heritage Calendar and Cultural Guide 
Los Angeles, California

Phylise Smith (photo provided)
Phylise Smith is a dancer poet who hails from Pomona, California.  In addition to aaduna, her poetry has appeared in “Los Angeles City” and “Museum of Northwestern Art” (La Conner, Washington) publications.  


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  1. While reading Ms. Smith's poems aloud, one can really hear the musicality. Her imagery continues to dance in my memory. I will probably be able to recite her poetry, or at least specific phrases without looking at the page. Had to share her feature on Facebook. Peace.

  2. I forget where I first read Ms. Smith's poetry, but I keep an active eye out for it, since it is always engaging and thought-provoking. These fine poems are no exception and "New Hair Style" is simply incredible.

    Thank you, Bill, for publishing these wonderful words.


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