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Friday Feature: Ari Foster


Ari Foster was born in Japan to parents serving in the United States Air Force. Raised in South Carolina, Ari has been writing poetry as a means of reflection and expression since early childhood. Currently, she serves as a social worker and licensed therapist, providing advocacy and therapy to children, adults, and families impacted by violence, abuse and trauma. Ari’s writing most frequently visits themes of coming of age, odes to southern imagery and black art, and reflections on motherhood and relationships. She tells stories of hurt and healing, including her own, and believes deeply in honoring the aesthetic of her nostalgia. As with her own healing, she finds beauty in the healing experiences of others, and continues to be inspired to creativity and storytelling that honors the unique journeys within and around her. Follow Ari on Instagram.




stale smoke and hot sauce


sometimes i was attracted to sadness

or rough things

but when i wasn’t

in grown folks’ conversation

i could stir up my own essence with

grown folks’ music

tingly feelings and love poems

thrust upon my naiveté

my role models had

glasses of beer mixed with contempt

a shared hurt bubbling over fried wings and

lips that cursed the fathers of

their children

blending their bitterness and

exchanging sorrow between bellies under a

glass table

steady choruses of Mary J. and other proverbs

a strange peace when they hum together,

candles burning with the cynicism of wives


the younger ones, a little older than me,

cooked for boys from school

had already learned how to feed the

male belly and his

body

watched American Pie and

circled smoke between their mouths

filling their lungs with familiar mood dust

numbing their skin as they

got tattoos in back rooms

pierced their bodies and

colored their lips and nails with

dark lacquers and cremes

rebellious pain, patterns of hormonal prerogative

for the love of abandoning rules and

boxes made for brown skin

curves cloaked in oversized jeans

minds drinking the melodic and

obscene from their boom box

yells from the kitchen

turn it down!” just to

slowly turn it up again


though i often hid from smoke and

venom in the glass

there was something attractive about that darkness

watching a dignified grief wrap their military serving bodies in song

too enraptured to hear or

see their daughters mindfully straying





Torch Literary Arts is a 501(c)3 nonprofit established to publish and promote creative writing by Black women. We publish contemporary writing by experienced and emerging writers alike. TORCH has featured work by Colleen J. McElroy, Tayari Jones, Sharon Bridgforth, Crystal Wilkinson, Patricia Smith, Natasha Trethewey, Elizabeth Alexander, and others. Programs include the Wildfire Reading Series, writing workshops, and retreats.


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