Black Crow Dress cover image

Paperback Price: $15.95
Paperback ISBN: 978-1-882295-95-1


Selected Poem
Press Kit

The Slaves Arrive and Do Not Leave for Months

I take dictation from the slaves for three weeks and then I begin to bring home flowers. My apartment becomes their grave. A roomy casket they are impressed with, glad that death has turned out so good. They lie down in pairs and discuss life back then as I sleep. They lick newspapers for words. They chew up books like bad dogs. And so, my dreams are noisy with their nonsense, their ugly tales. A teacher says that I cannot be the narrator of their story, I’ve got to get one of them to do it. Clea? Caroline? Maybe Zebedee. I try for a year and that is when they disappear. Or rather, they fade and droop, their heads like sweet old lilies. Their stems gone soggy in all that water.

Black Crow Dress


33rd Annual Northern California Book Award Nominee

“. . .a stunning collection that evokes a tragic, unjust world; Johnson has a gift for metaphor and narrative that builds throughout.”
Library Journal, starred review

“. . .Black Crow Dress is a vital addition to any contemporary poetry assortment.”
Midwest Book Review

“These poems move forward like a novel in verse with a real understanding of the differences between the past and history.  Or, as Johnson herself says in the opening poem, ‘Each one is hungry for a voice & music to re-bloom.’  This is a poet the best readers will be reading for the rest of their lives.”
—Jericho Brown

“Roxane Beth Johnson reminds us the poet’s inscrutable work is to listen.  Her abiding presence creates a lamplit space to commune with the ghosts of her ensalved ancestors and to breathe them onto the contemporary page.  The result is startling: narratives tender and haunting, of an unforgettable intimacy.  These voices were in the room with me; I felt them in my body.”
—Jennifer K. Sweeney

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