National Poetry Month: Aliah Lavonne Tigh

I’m excited to share with you tonight a poem by Aliah Lavonne Tigh, who read at The Mutable Hour last week. She has a chapbook coming out soon; the launch event is this weekend. You can message the publisher @TramEditions for the event link.

Tonight’s poem, “A Dam is A Form of Failed Diplomacy,” is first published in the chapbook Weren’t We Natural Swimmers (2022).


A Dam is a Form of Failed Diplomacy                                               

In my father’s house,  
                                    floods took the kitchen.  Still he welcomes you 
to any of the other rooms.      Hospitality lives inside us.     Overseas, a cancer eats 

my uncle’s bones.     

.                                         He doesn’t know

what his body grows—no voice but pain speaks

          to the host.        

                                     My aunt, nieces, and nephews hope

for cancer drugs in Iran.    This is what sanctions mean.    Here, someone sanctioned

the sale of a flood plain. Barker’s Dam could not protect

these families downstream.  In this development,   

                                      who among us now   would not pray 

.                       against rain.  Or not ask that a loved one can board a plane.  We are all

.                                                               the person we become           

once watching      water fill someone’s room.                       Come in, see— 

          all this drywall’s new. I stand here painting small squares

                                    in likable shades of blue.


Aliah Lavonne Tigh is the author of Weren’t We Natural Swimmers, a 2022 chapbook with Tram Editions out now, and her poems have appeared in Guernica, The Texas Review, Matter Monthly, The Rupture, and others. She holds poetry and philosophy degrees from the University of Houston and an MFA from Antioch Los Angeles. Tigh lives in Houston, Texas, and you can find her on Twitter at @ALoveTigh.




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