When I Am the Only One in the Room

Teri Ellen Cross Davis

The Southern roots of y'all
makes music in my mouth's map.

In the North I cuff the C hard for couplet
then soften it for child and chain.

When bookin' I drop the g—
depending on the audience,

I find it again running. By ten
I knew when to let the W whistle

in whom but darken the room
for the D to fall asleep

in I un't know nothin' but the beauty
of when a double negative will do,

how to make this English buck
then soft shoe when I see you.

To celebrate National Poetry Month we are again presenting an April Celebration: 30 Poets/30 Presses (#ArmchairBookFair21), a feature we initiated last year to help promote new releases whose publicity opportunities were thwarted due to the pandemic. Please join us every day for new poetry from the presses that sustain us.

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Teri Ellen Cross Davis is the author of a more perfect Union, (Mad Creek Books, 2021) winner of the Journal/Charles B. Wheeler Poetry Prize and Haint,  winner of the 2017 Ohioana Book Award for Poetry. She is the winner of the Poetry Society of America’s 2020 Robert H. Winner Memorial Award and recipient of grants from the Sustainable Arts Foundation and The Freya Project. A member of the Black Ladies Brunch Collective, she has been awarded fellowships and scholarships to Cave Canem, the Virginia Center for Creative Arts, Hedgebrook, Community of Writers Poetry Workshop, the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, the Hermitage Artist Retreat, and the Sewanee Writers’ Conference. She is the Poetry Coordinator for the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington D.C.

“‘I have become an ordering of the unpredictable,’ Teri Ellen Cross Davis writes in the poem ‘The Goddess of Blood,’ and she could be describing her own work: unpredictable in the best sense, ordering chaos as the best poetry must do. This is an important collection, full of anger and tenderness and a sure command of language.”
—Linda Pastan

“These poems are hopeful, yes, and also smart and honest. They are as purple as a funky lyric or a keloidal scar. You’ll find resilience and resistance and rough sweet magic in these poems by Teri Ellen Cross Davis. You’ll find the truth.”
—Camille T. Dungy, author of Trophic Cascade

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