“The Reckoning”, “Three poems working against my smile” and “Home”


The Reckoning

We want fires that burn. Poems that hurt. Words that are so painstakingly blunt they break
barriers. People that are so honest it brings others to their knees.

Eventually, they will beg and they will plead. “Please end your statement with a period and not
a dagger.”

They will cry. They will deny all your claims. But push through and let blood flow. If you don’t
write it, nobody will. And then you’ll be subjected to anybody’s will. And we don’t have time
for that shit. We don’t have time to sit. We are in a revolution. So, use your words precisely.

We want fires so big your bigotry dissipates. We want poems that hurt. We want words so
painstakingly blunt they break barriers. People that are carriers of the truth.

People that dispute. People that bring you to your knees. Beg for forgiveness. Plead for people
who placate. Who pacify. Who fear the fire. Go with them. The Begging and the pleading. And
show them that you are the force to be reckoned with.

Three poems working against my smile

1. You get up

and walk

towards the

hallways I’ve

closed off

from you,

to the rooms

and beds and

heads I’ve

decided were

no longer meant

for occupying.

I don’t tell you

to follow me,

but you do

I don’t tell you

I want your

hands to grip

my hips either

2. At this

point, I am

done sifting

through the

notion of

love or lust

or zippers or,


At this

point, I am

filled to the

brim with


with men

who feel

it is their

duty to fill

me, even if

I never asked

them to.

3. You never

stopped to see

if it made me smile

like it used to.

It didn’t.


When I got the call, I knew

that the singing of your voice

against my ear was no longer

an option.

I’ve never before been so

affected by two words.

I figured mom would be off

consoling her own grief

to call me.

When I saw dad’s name

flash on my phone I felt

a heat cower over me.

Our conversation was as

brief as words amongst

passing strangers,

Dad: “She’s gone.”

Me: “Okay.”

*dial tone*

I felt too much.

My knees buckled.

Every eye that caught

mine turned into silent panic.

I remember two hands

close enough to reach

out and catch me.

I was too scared to look

in her eyes but I knew she

felt my thankfulness.

At that point, gravity

no longer suited me.

Nor did comfort.

Nor did voices that were

anyone’s but yours.

I felt too much.

I played the image of

crinkles forming from your

skin as you laughed in my head

on a loop.

I touched my hand

and closed my eyes

and pretended it

was your touch.

I tried to smile like

I knew you were smiling

now that you were finally home.

I tried to imagine a life

without your light and sat

in the stillness until sleep

finally settled me.

About the Author

Danielle Williams

Danielle P. Williams is a writer from Columbia, South Carolina, currently residing in Washington, DC. She is a 2016 graduate from Elon University receiving her BA in Arts Administration. Her debut collection of poetry, The Art in Knowing Me, is currently available.

Read more work by Danielle Williams.