Crystal Simone Smith

Our Born Runner

From the dark tunnel of me
he breech birthed, feet
like skis, long and ready
The blur of crawling
to the whir of brown legs
barreling down narrow
grocery aisles, vibrating
shelves of glass condiments.

Me, clasping the back
of a toddler's collar the way
a flabby lineman might bring
down a sleek wide receiver.

Everywhere we went, from
or clamped arms he slid.
That famous bolt down
the eternal hangar
of the farmer's market
through elderly Sunday shufflers
curved over peach stands—

and his father,
that most composed man,
holding a bulky watermelon
in humiliating pursuit.

I stood that day, mere observer,
and finally saw it—
gulf of white light,
that edge in the distance,
to reach and at last leap.

© 2014 Crystal Simone Smith

Author Biography

Crystal Simone Smith grew up in Prince George’s County, Maryland. She was educated in North Carolina at Bennett College, UNC-Greensboro, and earned her MFA from Queens University of Charlotte. Her poems have appeared in African American Review, Nimrod, Barrow Street, Callaloo, and elsewhere. She is the author Routes Home, Finishing Line Press, 2013. She is an alumna of the Callaloo Creative Writing Conference and the Yale Summer Writer’s Conference, as well as a member of the Carolina African American Writers Collective, the North Carolina Poetry Society, and the North Carolina Haiku Society. She is the Managing Editor of Backbone Press and lives in Durham, NC where she teaches English Composition and Creative Writing.

Critical Response

The speaker in Crystal Simone Smith’s collection of poems, Running Music, stays keenly observant while wrapped up in life’s daily routine. She is both world-weary and hopeful, engaged and curiously amused. Here she is—coming upon a field of buttercups in the rain, poised in a pack of runners at the start a race, nursing her son through a long night. Time and again in these sane poems, she lays out her experience, and her insights, with the resolve of an expert craftsman. In poem after poem, Smith boldly embraces the challenges life hands her, then she calmly sets them down and runs swiftly into the night.

—Sebastian Matthews, author of We Generous and Miracle Day

Running Music is a necklace of tales interloping rich narratives from beginning to end…endless in surprises. Crystal Simone Smith captures the miracles and horrors; the sublime found in the mundane; the haunting awareness of entanglement. These are poems shot straight from the heart… intentionally hitting or missing, sometimes both. Running Music sings with solidarity for the children, for the relentless love of life and living…a tribute and offering to the breath of the running spirit.

—Jaki Shelton Green, 2014 NC Literary Hall of Fame Member

©2015 Longleaf Press at Methodist University | Fayetteville, NC