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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 a 2019 Creative Writing Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, the 2017 Furious Flower Poetry Center's Gwendolyn Brooks Centennial Poetry Prize, and the 2015 Rattle Poetry Prize. She teaches creative writing at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.

Cross/Bite

                                                 I was born into this world sideways.
                                 Doctor said,
                                                 surgery, to break my face
                           set it right again
                                                 as if breaking were simple.
      Wet places my lips have been:
                                                 all the boys I've kissed—
             so many caves I've licked
                                                 saliva & sweat
            holy water on my tongue.
                                                 I grind my teeth at night
wake to white sand in my mouth:
                                                 nocturnal silt, gritty loam.
              My jaws pop when I talk
                                                 but if I had the surgery, went cosmetic?
Oh, the typewriter in my bones—
                                                  yes, I would miss that click/clack the most.

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

recovered letter from Obour Tanner

 

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

I'm a

poem
   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
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