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About this poet

Tiana Clark is the author of I Can't Talk About the Trees Without the Blood (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2018), winner of the 2017 Agnes Lynch Starrett Poetry Prize. She is the recipient of the 2017 Furious Flower Poetry Center's Gwendolyn Brooks Centennial Poetry Prize as well as the 2015 Rattle Poetry Prize. She teaches creative writing at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.

Bear Witness

   after Carrie Mae Weems’s Roaming series

Before I knew
how to fill my onyx body
with slick measures,

dip every curve
in my skin with dark sway,
I needed a picture.

Before me stood
a long black dress I called Woman—
you stand opaque

with your back to me,
a statue of witness,
the door of Yes—

I can Return
to the monument
of your silhouette

to find my longest muscle.
We both stare down
the ocean to stillness.

O, Carrie—
what are you trying
to tell me here?

I’ve been standing by water 
my whole damn life
trying to get saved.

From I Can’t Talk About the Trees Without the Blood. Copyright © 2018 by Tiana Clark. Used with the permission of University of Pittsburgh Press.

From I Can’t Talk About the Trees Without the Blood. Copyright © 2018 by Tiana Clark. Used with the permission of University of Pittsburgh Press.

Tiana Clark

Tiana Clark

Tiana Clark is the author of I Can't Talk About the Trees Without the Blood (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2018).

by this poet

poem

Tell me about your baptism she asked.

I rose out of the water, a caught fish—slippery,
gaping for breath, brand new with righteousness.

I walked down to the frothing whirlpool,
Pastor Lonnie—a white man in a white robe,

extended his hands and helped me down the steps.
The

poem

recovered letter from Obour Tanner

 

To Phillis Wheatley in Boston [Massachusetts]
                                                                                        New Port, February 6th, 1772
Dear Sister,

I'm a

poem

after not wanting to watch “Time: The Kalief Browder Story” on Spike TV

It rained inside me
it is raining inside my neck
the rain falls in sheets inside long sheets inside
all the rain is falling inside collapsing spit
I don’t want to watch another black man die
today or know

2