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Recorded for Poem-a-Day, February 6, 2018.
About this Poem 
"I'm not sure where this poem came from, honestly. Not all sources are known. My job is to follow Her lead. I do know I'm trying to find a new language, or I should say a new English—one that both acknowledges the historical ruin inherent in English, but—because of that ruin—is also a vast open space. I like the ashes. I'm always trying to talk about blackness from the inside. I'm not interested in ‘race’ at all. Race is a fetish, and not a very compelling one. I am, however, madly in love with my culture. In this poem, and others, I'm trying to find a way to make English bow to that love."
—Robin Coste Lewis
 

Landscape

Pleasure is black.

I no longer imagine

        where my body
        stops or begins.

Skin transparent.
Face speckled

by the spit
of several centuries.

All the borders stare at the same fires.

Oh Mamere,

        I'm sorry.

Here I am.

Copyright © 2018 by Robin Coste Lewis. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on February 6, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.

Copyright © 2018 by Robin Coste Lewis. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on February 6, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.

Robin Coste Lewis

Robin Coste Lewis

Robin Coste Lewis is the author of Voyage of the Sable Venus (Alfred A. Knopf, 2015), winner of the National Book Award in poetry.

by this poet

poem

(An erasure of Grant Allen’s Recalled to Life)

I don’t believe
I thought

or gave names
in any known language.

I spoke
of myself always

in the third person.
What led up to it,

I hadn’t the faintest idea. 
I only knew the Event

itself took place.

2
poem

Last summer, two discrete young snakes left their skin on my small porch, two mornings in a row. Being post-modern now, I pretended as if I did not see them, nor understand what I knew to be circling inside me.  Instead, every hour I told my son to stop with his incessant back-chat. I peeled a banana.  And cursed

poem

God goes out for whiskey Friday night,
Staggers back Monday morning
Empty-handed, no explanation.

After three nights of not sleeping,
Three nights of listening for
His footsteps, His mules sliding

Deftly under my bed, I stand
At the stove, giving him my back,

2