Main Course and Other Poems



Art by Barbara Earl Thomas


Main Course

the knife
it cuts the
meat off the

& there you are brown
& shaved in the center
of whiteness

how they will
dress you up
all eco & green

& turn you into
a roast beef

when all you’ve
been trying
to do is survive

off the fat of
your own land

& make sure your
kids are protected
& paleo


After Mr. T

i pity the fool
so empty with
disrespect that
they fly through
the world thin
& coasting

for the man who
cannot love his
mother while
he casts shade
on her earth

i pity the fool
in a feverish
tik-tok sweat
who does not pause
to give credit
the original
artist who sang
the song & died
of cancers gentrification
of the black woman’s body
before she posts
the carbon copy
of a 60-year-old
song and says it’s
“the best new banger”
she’s heard this week

i pity the fool
who cannot apologize
for the ways in which
they wire-hanger-momma
anything too black & fist up
& selsun (black) when
everything white to them
is an allegory for
clean clean clean



tiny plant open up
in front of my
eyes show me
something explosive
that does not involve
pieces of black bodies
cluttering a hoarded
land. tiny plant
i see you trying
i see your burst about
a day & a half from
damning anything
in your way.
i chant
make me a believer
in all things born again
pop your pussy plant

make me see you
as a god on a petal
a redirected list
of all things pristine
tiny plant i know you
hear me pleading
see my sweet & taffy
tears show me there
is life in the center of
this cyclone show me
there is softness
underneath my
calloused skin  


Every Week a Girl

it’s another day of news
of another little girl
killed by another relative
or boyfriend or father or
mother or somebody

you want to believe
there’s a reason for
that god is going to
tell you ha ha ha
just kidding the girls are
safe & not bloody
the girls have their
limbs & hearts intact

in which part of the phrase
observe don’t judge or
turn the other cheek
or inshallallah are the
girls hiding (in)
if i
turn the other cheek will
the girls pop out as pimples
can i stop their steady bursting  


Ring on High

the bells they ring
in this church of a
body & i don’t mind
the clang & reverberated
echo of thrill
campanology—is it the bell
or the ringer who experiences
the highest rung like climbing
chest first & dropping down
into a choirs last song
canonical vertebrae i challenge
you bleed my walk into 33 sections. shrill my upright
back to when
24 was the belle of the ball


Fall / Winter 2023


Anastacia-Renee is a writer, educator, interdisciplinary artist, TEDx speaker and podcaster. She is the author of (v.) (Black Ocean), Forget It (Black Radish), Here in the (Middle) of Nowhere, and Side Notes from the Archivist forthcoming from Amistad (an imprint of HarperCollins). Renee was selected by NBC News as part of the list of “Queer Artists of Color Dominate 2021’s Must-See LGBTQ Art Shows.” She was a former Seattle Civic Poet (2017–19), Hugo House Poet-in-Residence (2015–17) and Arc Artist Fellow (2020). Her work has been published widely.

Barbara Earl Thomas

Barbara Earl Thomas is a Seattle-based artist whose career spans thirty-five years. She is known for large-scale installations that employ light as the animating force. Her tension-filled paper cuts and prints draw on mythology and history to create narratives that challenge the stories we tell ourselves about who we are as Americans. Her solo exhibition, Barbara Earl Thomas: The Illuminated Body, organized by the Chrysler Museum of Art (February 24 –August 20, 2023), is currently at the Wichita Museum of Art (October 8, 2023 – January 14, 2024), and will travel to University of Pennsylvania’s Arthur Ross Gallery (February 17 – May 21, 2024). Thomas’s works are included in the collections of the Seattle Art Museum, Tacoma Art Museum, Portland Art Museum, Chrysler Museum of Art, Minneapolis Institute of Art, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and Microsoft.

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