Crystal boson: The bitter map

an excerpt & interview



15:7 go ahead and wipe yourself down
you ain’t decent enough for daylight eyes
but bring yourself back round midnight
then i reckon we can do this again


15:16   blood an sweat wash up
just as good outta shirts
as other juices comin outta a man


26: 16   the book says my rival
will eat up my seed
so boy you best open
wide your jaw  


19:13   boy if you done say
his is yer house
then i recken
you done best
pay me


26:14      just so you know
i’m not above crushin
your hopes  dreams  and balls
just to prove my point


18:19     i’m not supposed to touch nothin
that bleeds damn near a week
and only just wants to die


8:24    you sure do say
alotta things


19:17     what i need to know is
how much land gotta stretch
tween your and my front door
till we ain’t neighbors no more



How would you characterize your breath as a poet?

I honestly characterize myself more as a breathless poet. I only allow myself small spaces to write in, so I try to pack as much as I can into a line, a thought, a word. I’m not trying to be pithy here. I really don’t breathe much in the poems, through the poems, and it all comes rushing in and out at once.

Your poems in Bitter Map align against the right margin. What or who else are these poems in opposition with?

The poems are really in opposition to all the narratives I’ve internalized growing up about my own body, blackness, queerness, and my work. I think about the Bible a lot in terms of design and space, and try to push up against that. My moving to the right positions my poems in a place of absence, emptiness, and slight discomfort for the reader. I want folks to be uncomfortable. My work is oppositional to comfort and ease.

How and to whom do your poems pray?

They are the prayers I wished I knew when I was younger, and I guess they pray to the multitude. I want them to be prayers to my ancestors so that they see their work is moving forward. As prayers to myself and my own process. As prayers to the collective Blackness as a request for us to keep doing the good work. But the most of those three to myself.

In your artist statement, you write “I write about the land because it is just as dynamic and bloody as the people that populate it.” Where have you found the most blood in the soil?

Oregon. I never thought I’d say that. I mean, I lived in some of the most conservative spots in Texas, but the Pacific Northwest has a particular fondness for Black blood. The racist history of Oregon as a state is telling enough, but there is a veneer of liberal politeness that covers up the physical violence, police brutality, and general racism of the people that makes the soil more steeped in blood. In the South, you expect to get your shoes muddy. In the Northwest, you just get soaked in it, and told that it’s only the rain.


Crystal Boson makes poems that look like her body: made of dark matter. They are short, dense and vicious. She is a Southern, specifically Texan writer, that can sometimes handle living in the Midwest. She is a Cave Canem fellow, former academic and perpetual reader. She has published poems in Callaloo, Pank, The Black Bottom, Beechers, The Watershed Review, and Parcel and has two chapbooks: the queer texas prayerbook and the icarus series with Seven Kitchens Press.  In 2014, she was awarded the Langston Hughes Creative Writing Award and her poem, Kansas up south, was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2015. She is currently working on her first full collection, bitter map. You can see her other writing and performances at: