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  • Butterfly
    Thick busy animal tail hair
    Untamed wild, rare.
    Follicles speaks
    yesterdays’ tweets.
    Battling combs, eyes that frown, judge
    strands cannot budge.
    Hair distorted
    is contorted.
    Cut like felled trees, hair dots the floor.
    Mighty no more.
    Her, alive, new
    shining like dew.

    I am not the devil in church, grinning
    I am bronze colored mountains, mauve sunsets
    Collective hate dresses me as sinning
    A forgotten island, you never met.
    We are black, brown, white rice varieties
    Harvested in uplands, lowlands of tears
    Orbiting separate societies
    Cultivating, wide bitter fields of fears.
    Imagine the world before we were born
    Before silent caskets, cremated bones
    Before autumn elm trees became forlorn
    We saw magnificence in color tones.
    Apart we both sip water, coffee tea,
    Liquid of sameness scalds our throat, we flee.

    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.

    About The Author

    Phylise Smith

    Phylise Smith is a dance educator and teaches at Scripps College and College of the Canyons in California.  She received her M.A. in Dance at UCLA and has studied writing with author Leslie Schwartz, Ayana Mathis and poets, Peter Murphy and Rick Bursky.  Phylise has published non-fiction articles in dance choreography and scholarly journals focusing upon dance and identity.  In 2014, she was one of four finalists for the Victoria Hudson Emerging Writer Contest.