Sheila Black


Sheila Black holds a BA in French literature from Barnard College and an MFA in poetry from the University of Montana. She is the author of Iron, Ardent (Educe Press, 2017) and co-edited the anthology Beauty is a Verb: The New Poetry of Disability (Cinco Puntos Press, 2011) with Jennifer Bartlett and Mike Northen. In 2012, she received the Witter Bynner Fellowship from the Library of Congress. Black is a cofounder of Zoeglossia, a nonprofit organization that promotes the work of poets with disabilities, and is the Director of Development of the Association of Writers and Writing Programs. She lives in Texas. Source


How you bisected me —

the elegance of the scars.

The disease? It was not chemical.

You could not cure it.


I cling to this chill.

Watch how I unfurl

before it, flag of myself,

a mirror distorted. This body —


it is nothing. In an instant

I could transform it.

Now it is a lake spreading

outward, now small and blank,


a flat stone poised

in a hand. Now it breaks apart,

only the grains of it.

Listen, how they drift and scratch.


The old story, the forms

that were broken are still here.

Now they reassemble, a buzz,

a communion.


They promise me courage,

other virtues, the rough shield,

freedom from pain. They tell me

I am this, or this —


calcium, magnesium,

a vitamin that is missing,

blue phosphorus burning.

Chips fall from a chisel.


Joints burst into loud

red flower. A bird flies

out of my mouth,

into the ceiling.





Literary Movements:


Anthology Years:


Body & Body Image


Health & Illness

Literary Devices:


visually descriptive or figurative language, especially in a literary work


an instruction or a command

Interrupted Clause

a word group (a statement, question, or exclamation) that interrupts the flow of a sentence and is usually set off by commas, dashes, or parentheses


a comparison between two unrelated things through a shared characteristic


A stanza made of four lines.

Varied syntax

diverse sentence structure