by Victoria Walls
[from the archive: these poems first appeared in print in Big Muddy 18.2]

we talked about the light

the man in front of you
has made your blackness sexy
the way stars are
brightest when they die

the lot is empty
but for your car idling
& holding your two bodies
moving inside themselves

both speaking for you
& writhing beneath you
are two mouths you want
to press to his

his mouth tells you the way
the street light hits you
makes you amber
a special kind of black

say to yourself             when
we talked about the light
my blackness was—

& when the man in front of you
disintegrates & you plummet
from that space youve found
where the light touches you
just right
remind yourself
about the light


when i walk

youd let me be lonely?
— claudia rankine

i want to move to the other side
of the street before he gets
too close to me
with that blueblack body
& i think of how it will be
when he passes me & turns around
& when his blueblack arms
wrap around me from behind
& i think of how no one will see
his blueblack hands
cup the sides of my ribs

& i feel what we all feel
when somebody dies
but the person dying
is the idea that you
are one complete person
& its the idea that
no one else can see
the black bones
sticking out of your skin
& its the idea that
your small brown body
is saved by walking white
& its the idea that
you are the exception
& the exception allows you
a perfect loneliness
            youre not ready to lose

Victoria Walls, a Tennessee native, is an alumna of Saint Louis University and The University of Missouri–St. Louis. During her MFA, she held multiple artistic leadership positions such as poet laureate and president of the Graduate Writers Association. She is now a professor of English as a Second Language at Saint Louis University and an assistant editor for Boulevard Magazine and WomenArts Quarterly. Her poems are featured in Slippery Elm, Architrave Press, The Seattle Review, Big Muddy, and december magazine. She can also be found in “Voices at the Corner,” a blog for The Center for Social Empowerment where she served as Poet in Residence.