Back to Issue Fourteen.

A Psalm for the one



O taste & see David’s lips,
his mouth: a crucifix for my wet begging.

When he sang worship songs—

I emptied my pockets, my purse,
& let down my hair for a tenth of his blue gaze.

The Lord said He was the One,
so church girls bought wedding dresses.

O to be saved by a man who could sing like that—
silky vocal runs
warm on fingertips melting sin.

I never sought to be like the stupid girls

but when he grabbed my crotch, I said—Yes.
An altar for his drossy hands was my body.

I became the Easter poinsettias too,
open & red, shiny with lacquer.

Yes to curry that laced our tongues with yellow spice.
We laid in bed & burped & laughed all night.

We saw a couple having sex in a car.
He stayed & watched as they watched him.

I held his hand on the streets walking home,
thought I heard a voice say He was the one, but—

the summer wind can mimic almost any wish.

A grown man crying in my car—
A grown man picking a speck of black pepper
from the wet groove of my gums with a toothpick

like wheedling a soft prayer. Amen.

He almost destroyed New York,
but I didn’t want New York anyway.

How every tug & tough was a bite that drew no blood.                                                                                                                                                      Amen.

The last email said I was just
a really good friend… a sister in Christ.

We slowly gnawed at the savior of desire,

a valley of dry humping
that made raw heat but no spark. Selah.

& when he wasn’t singing I was lying
with my body.

& when there was no more milk—
I left him,

but in some ways
I am still walking down this aisle on my knees.

Tiana Clark is a Pushcart Prize nominee and recent recipient of the 2015 Rattle Poetry Prize. Tiana is an MFA candidate at Vanderbilt University, where she is a Poetry Reader for the Nashville Review. Tiana serves on the board for the non-profit literary center, The Porch Writer’s Collective. Her poems have appeared in Word Riot, Rattle, Crab Orchard Review and Best New Poets 2015, and are forthcoming in Muzzle Magazine, Southern Indiana Review, and The Offing, among others. Find her online at

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