Call and Response

Call and Response: Sam Owens and Chad Smith

  Sam Owens . January 3, 2016. Dakota Flowers spends an hour boxing on the front porch, eventually busting his hand open, at his house. Flowers, who works out nearly every day in-between his busy schedule of working for Coalfield Development Corporation and going to community college. Lincoln County, West Virginia.

Sam Owens. January 3, 2016. Dakota Flowers spends an hour boxing on the front porch, eventually busting his hand open, at his house. Flowers, who works out nearly every day in-between his busy schedule of working for Coalfield Development Corporation and going to community college. Lincoln County, West Virginia.

Evenings are the best part of my day. A time when it all slows down a
touch and one can look back on the toil and look forward to hope.
After supper’s done, I thumb through the Gazette on my front porch and
wait for the sun to slip behind the hill. Once Night has fully hugged
our holler, I venture out for a stroll with my four-legged friend so
he can recoup the claimed telephone poles of hours gone by.

Summer nights have a way of making time seem infinite. Its humid
embrace, the crickets and whippoorwills melting together with the
faint scent of honeysuckle and smoldering campfire. The staccato of
distant laughter. The splash of a backyard cannonball. Yeah, a good
night walk opens your senses to the revery of a fading day.

Up yonder, right past the creek, he’s there like he always is,
steadfast. I hear him long before I see him. The chain clanging and
jerking against the old wooden truss; the muffled thud of leather
against weight, bone against sand; strained exhales of winded might.
There he is, up on that porch, hitting that bag, giving the day the
old what for.

Dad called it the sweet science. Mom, barbaric machismo. Me? I saw the
fire in the belly, the beauty of will unbroken. For a few minutes I
watch in silence under the cloak of an ancient oak’s shadow. I
question my routine. I guess we all have our fight.

I return to my trailer shortly after and award my pooch with a
milk-bone and a belly rub. I cut up some onions and cucumbers and soak
them in vinegar for the dusk to come. Tomorrow evening is pinto beans
and cornbread with sour kraut and fried potatoes.

Maybe I’ll offer him some. I’m sure he’s worked up an appetite.

Chad Smith. Charleston, West Virginia.


Call and Response is a photo-literary exploration devoted to the relationship between photographs and words. Using photographs from the Looking at Appalachia project, writers are encouraged to respond narratively to a single image in 1,000 words or less. We hope to use this platform to expand our community and encourage collaboration between photographers and writers. Learn more about how to submit here.