Issue > Poetry
Sheri Allen

Sheri Allen

Sheri Allen's poetry has appeared most recently in the Tampa Review and is forthcoming in Lilith. She was chosen as one of the 2010 Best New Poets and received an Honorable Mention for the 2011 Academy of American Poets' Prize. Her manuscript, American Alefbeit, formed part of her 2013 doctoral dissertation in English at the University of Cincinnati. She is Visiting Assistant Professor of English at Miami University of Ohio in Hamilton.

Winging It: A Reverse Negative

I was a Sabbath baby, born with what my Grandma called the second sight.

A fallen angel left a mark on my thigh.

And I've had to live like tribesmen and passerines, never outstaying my welcome,
     and never welcome for long;

And I traced cursive letters while my people were breaking in two.

Among the four horsemen of Pacific Coast Highway earthquake, brushfire, 

     mudslide, drought—we upped sticks.  

And I flew back and forth across my continent till I had to earn another fare.

And faced Greenwich Mean Time,

And fell into The Barrow, in County Clare, and breathed coal dust over the Vltavá,

And stood on the fault-line of the Jordan, till I became Levantine,

And returned to my continent to labor seven years beside the Mississippi,
     a disconnected Jacob in lust with the word.

Each of these waters gave me hardtack no woman could chew without bruising          a tongue,

But my strength is from a people who run gauntlets, and my way is hand-to-mouth,

Like my great-grandfather who could only sign his name with an O

Though I have sinned against the dream that carried him across the Atlantic and     

      made his descendants sit in rows for the cameraman.

And I have sinned in telling a tale mein landsman wouldn't tell,

And I sin again in telling it to you.


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