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Our stone wall was built by slaves and my bones, my bones
are paid for. We have two
of everything, twice heavy
in our pockets, warming
our two big hands.
This is the story, as I know it. One morning:
the ships came, as foretold, and death
pearl-handled, almost
and completely.
How cheap a date I turned out to be.
Each finger weak with the memory:
lost teeth, regret. Our ghosts
walk the shoulders of the road at night.
I get the feeling you’ve been lying to me.

Camille Rankine, "History" from Incorrect Merciful Impulses. Copyright © 2016 by Camille Rankine. Reprinted by permission of Copper Canyon Press, www.coppercanyonpress.org.
Source: Incorrect Merciful Impulses (Copper Canyon Press, 2016)
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  • Born in Portland, Oregon, poet Camille Rankine earned a BA at Harvard University and an MFA at Columbia University. Rankine’s nimble, urgent poems are often concerned with landscape, history, and intimacy. Slow Dance with Trip Wire (2011) was chosen by poet Cornelius Eady for the Poetry Society of America’s New York Chapbook Fellowship. In his 2010 introduction to her work in the Academy of American Poets journal American Poet, Eady states, “Almost all the poems in Slow Dance [w]ith Trip Wire seem to occur in an ever-present, ever-widening past tense. The private and public, the light and dark, and the spirit and “normal” worlds co-mingle freely, sometimes stanza by stanza, at times almost line by line.” In an interview with Marietta Papic for 12 Questions, Rankine states, “I tell the truth, but I try to be kind about it.” Her first book of poetry, Merciful Impulses, will be published by...

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