Carleasa Coates


after lucille clifton

I left the boat
Galilee under me
I walked on water
Only your gaze
Holding me

Forget about three cock’s crows

I didn’t want to let
You go
I cut off
A man’s ear
To prove it

Forget, I mean really forget,
About a crowing cock

I was there at every trial
(there were six)
When you turned I turned

I watched them tear
Your skin from bone
Your blood dessert

Forget the fucking crows

I was always there
When I wasn’t you told me
I couldn’t be
You said that’s the way
of Paradise


Carleasa Coates writes, “Lucille Clifton deeply, profoundly and forever influenced me and my writing and my world view.” Lucille Clifton (June 27, 1936 – February 13, 2010) is the recipient of a National Book Award, the Ruth Lilly Prize, the Shelley Memorial Award, a Coretta Scott King Award for children’s literature, a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, and a Lannan Literary Award. She was a chancellor of the Academy of American Poets. Her fourteenth book of poems, published posthumously, is Collected Poems, edited by Michael Glaser and Kevin Young (Boa Editions, 2012). She attended Howard University from 1952 to 1954, was the Poet Laureate of Maryland from 1979 to 1985, and was Distinguished Professor of Humanities at St. Mary’s College of Maryland for two decades.


Carleasa Coates is a writer and trial attorney in Washington, DC. She was awarded a Fellowship from Cave Canem, and has been published in Mezzo Camin, and in the anthology Full Moon on K Street: Poems about Washington, DC, and has been a featured reader at the Sunken Garden Poetry Festival. To read more of her work: Five Poems, Spring 2008.