The Wardrobe’s Best Dressed: My Name & Other Languages I am Learning how to Speak by Marissa Davis

This selection, chosen by Guest Curator H.V. Cramond, is from My Name & Other Languages I am Learning how to Speak by Jai-Alai Books in 2020. 

What Is Written

is body is leg is face is torso is script
scrawled in bark. is oak trunk nose. is back
to the cotton fields. back
to the kitchen. is eye is iris is the iris’s
full petal lips. is their diffident curl.
is the river is the waist. is slutty. is the shoulder. is ugly.
is cumulonimbus. is the coils on the head
is a torrent scraping plains
is violence. is violent. is beauty. is the body. is a corn snake
peeking through the brush. is the shadow
of a fox on the bank of the creek. is the shadow
of the knee. is fat. is the creek. is welfare queen. is the leech
lurking in sludge. is that your sister
or your baby? is the blood
gummed to its lips is the body. is angry.
is the body is the body.
is undesired. is the batting lash.
is Jezebel. is the weeping scar.
is dusk. is cloud. is the moon-eaten lake.
is the sheet of flesh. is a solstice night.

Photo by Caitlin Vazquez

Marissa Davis is a poet and translator from Paducah, Kentucky. Her poetry has appeared in Poetry, Poem-A-Day, Great River Review, Southeast Review, Rattle, West Branch, Mississippi Review, Muzzle Magazine, and Best New Poets, among others. Her translations are published or forthcoming in Massachusetts Review, New England Review, Mid-American Review, The Common, Rhino, American Chordata, and The Offing. Her chapbook, My Name & Other Languages I Am Learning How to Speak (Jai-Alai Books, 2020) was selected by Danez Smith for Cave Canem’s 2019 Toi Derricotte and Cornelius Eady Prize, and she was the runner-up of Narrative Magazine‘s 2021 30 Below contest. Davis holds an MFA from New York University.

H.V. Cramond holds an MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and was the founding Poetry Editor of Requited Journal for 10 years. In 2018, she helped pass the Survivor’s Bill of Rights as the Illinois organizer for Rise. Recent work can be found in Soundless Poetry, Ignavia, death hums, Crack the Spine, BlazeVOX, Menacing Hedge, Adanna, So to Speak, Thank You for Swallowing, Dusie, Masque & Spectacle, Matter, and at


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