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Claressinka Anderson

Michelle Boisseau Prize Winner

This is Not the Mouth

                        meant to kiss me 

but here it is     a breath 

close to my face 

                        lush fiction 

covering my own 

            These are not the words I know 

the ones that crest 

every night      along my back’s curve 

But the lips just seconds 

                        from my face 

are not an abstraction 

            They belong to the irrefutable world 

where transgression is both ordinary 

& ordinarily punished 

            I’ll live in the two wet mouths 

of this poem forever 

            Over & over       on a plate 

I’ll deliver my eyes 

                        like Saint Lucy 

unseeing      to run my hands 

along the fervors of the day 

to know these lips 

                   now scathing mine 

Not everything 

                        wrong is wrong 

My body already bears 

the sentence     My mouth offers


Claressinka Anderson’s poems and essays have appeared in Best New Poets 2022, Los Angeles Review of Books, Autre Magazine, bedfellows, Chiron Review, Contemporary Art Review Los Angeles (Carla), and elsewhere, as well as in the anthology, Choice Words: Writers on Abortion (Haymarket Books, 2020). Through her ongoing collaborations with artists, her work engages the interstitial spaces of contemporary art, literature, and music. She recently wrote her first libretto, and the opera is now in development. Anderson holds an MFA in writing and literature from Bennington College. Born and raised in London, she lives in Los Angeles and dreams about rain. You can find her at

Bear Review


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