Title in deed

CPS’s hands care to uproot my three blackberry haired girls
from our ground, a pallid gray 2-story off I-13, a house built

by the back spasms of my grandfather who raised swine—
traded innards, bacon, and souse parts for Solomon’s milk—

a land baron neighbors clucked, who owned town’s farmers
market and leased grandpa a plot of land a sad house sits on.

The sad in grandpa’s female offspring is why nature ravages
everything my grandpa and father bequeathed. It broke them

to cardiac arrests, arthritic joints. It broke my mother down
in a crumble, in a sad blood pool. Nature broke architecture

like tots pummeled Lego blocks. My heart, no toy, and with
every nail to plank of oak I rearranged, I have hurt womb’s

gift—my three daughters left to me from a man who married
a woman not her hard dirt. He took interstate, west. The sad

was my blindsiding by nature’s cleansing. Indiana plays to
last breath, how too much Lake Tippecanoe stayed inside my

son, even after we pulled him out a dark, wet, murk. It being
the time my husband got off his butt, out of catatonic longing,

times when change jingled in his jean pockets—the last time
I saw the man who left behind his name. Ever since lake spit

back my boy, ever since my husband took our good years to
Tempe, ever since lease payments never made it to Wachovia’s

vault, the state bites my butt, questions if my hands leave dirt
marks can make the change from swine to bovine. No one

wants the other white meat—they all want Kobe and Angus.
The males in my life thrust me into old land like a sign post—

a ghost scarecrow, dangling. The Potawatomi soil I craved—
unsettled—pushed by a sad so sharp, like a hog’s squeal, how

the blood hesitates before telling the retina in the eye to pop
because magenta’s rebirth. All this Indiana and they want me.




Curtis L. Crisler was born and raised in Gary, Indiana. He received a BA in English, with a minor in Theatre, from Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne (IPFW), and he received an MFA from Southern Illinois University Carbondale. Crisler’s book, THe GReY aLBuM [PoeMS], was picked by Steel Toe Books for their 2016 Open Reading Period, and published in early 2018. His recent poetry books are Don’t Moan So Much (Stevie): A Poetry Musiquarium (Kattywompus Press) and “This” Ameri-can-ah (Cherry Castle Publishing). His poetry chapbook, Black Achilles, was published by Accents Publishing. His previous books are Pulling Scabs (nominated for a Pushcart), Tough Boy Sonatas (YA), and Dreamist: a mixed-genre novel (YA). Other chapbooks are Wonderkind (nominated for a Pushcart), Soundtrack to Latchkey Boy, and Spill (which won a Keyhole Chapbook Award). He is the recipient of residencies from the City of Asylum/Pittsburgh (COA/P), a Cave Canem Fellow, the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts (VCCA), Soul Mountain, a guest resident at Hamline University, and a guest resident at Words on the Go (Indianapolis). Crisler has received a Library Scholars Grant Award, Indiana Arts Commission Grants, Eric Hoffer Awards, the Sterling Plumpp First Voices Poetry Award, and he was nominated for the Eliot Rosewater Award and the Jessie Redmon Fauset Book Award. His poetry has been adapted to theatrical productions in New York and Chicago, and he has been published in a variety of magazines, journals, and anthologies. He’s been a Contributing Poetry Editor for Aquarius Press and a Poetry Editor for Human Equity through Art (where he’s now a board member). He’s the Coordinator for the Faculty/Student Reading Series, creator of the Indiana Chitlin Circuit, and an Associate Professor of English at Purdue University Fort Wayne (PFW). www.poetcrisler.com




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