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About this poet

Thylias Moss was born in Cleveland, Ohio, on February 27, 1954. She earned a B.A. from Oberlin College and an M.A. from the University of New Hampshire. Her books of poetry include Slave Moth: A Narrative in Verse (Persea Books, 2004), Last Chance for the Tarzan Holler (1998), Small Congregations: New and Selected Poems (1993), Rainbow Remnants in Rock Bottom Ghetto Sky (1991), At Redbones (1990), Pyramid of Bone (1989), and Hosiery Seams on a Bowlegged Woman (1983). She is the author of a memoir, Tale of a Sky-Blue Dress (1998), and two plays, Talking to Myself (1984) and The Dolls in the Basement (1984). Among her honors are a MacArthur Fellowship, a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Dewar's Profiles Performance Award, a Witter Bynner Award for Poetry, and a Whiting Award. She lives in Michigan.

Lessons from a Mirror

Thylias Moss, 1954
Snow White was nude at her wedding, she's so white
the gown seemed to disappear when she put it on.

Put me beside her and the proximity is good
for a study of chiaroscuro, not much else.

Her name aggravates me most, as if I need to be told
what's white and what isn't.

Judging strictly by appearance there's a future for me
forever at her heels, a shadow's constant worship.

Is it fair for me to live that way, unable 
to get off the ground?

Turning the tables isn't fair unless they keep turning.
Then there's the danger of Russian roulette

and my disadvantage: nothing falls from the sky
to name me.

I am the empty space where the tooth was, that my tongue
rushes to fill because I can't stand vacancies.

And it's not enough. The penis just fills another
gap. And it's not enough.

When you look at me,
know that more than white is missing.

From Pyramid of Bone by Thylias Moss. Copyright © 1989 by Thylias Moss. Reprinted with permission of the University of Virginia Press. All rights reserved.

Thylias Moss

Thylias Moss was born in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1954. She earned a

by this poet

poem

         Thanksgiving 2004: I’m thankful for

Columbo’s eye, Peter Falk’s indivisible
from the other’s vitreous dupe that he can pocket,
rub into, off of, and shine the crystal eyeball after
it subs in a game of table pool. Oh yeah!

The future of fortunes is manufactured

poem
This did not happen



although I have memories of it:
a doctor unwrapping a tutu 
so I knew I was in a hospital
but one unlike any other
practicing strange medicine 
but this strangeness has been effective


A hospital for dancers?




I was in pink,
sequined

I had been in a street,
an alley and

I was left