Book Cover

a more perfect Union

Teri Ellen Cross Davis

74 pp. 5.5 x 8.5

Pub Date: February, 2021

Subjects: Poetry

Series: The Journal Charles B. Wheeler Poetry Prize

Imprint: Mad Creek

Order Paperback 14.95$11.96 Get 20% off plus free US shipping   ISBN: 978-0-8142-5778-4
Order PDF ebook$9.95   ISBN: 978-0-8142-8088-1

Finalist, 2022 Hurston/Wright Legacy Award

“Teri Ellen Cross Davis has written us a blood-oath ode to Black motherhood, to Love’s primal ecstasy, to the R&B royalty of Prince, all prismed through a seasoned awareness that is international in scope and homegirl-homegrown in its vernacular and dizzying heat. A more perfect Union is an urgent outcry, a galactic guitar riff of blues that echoes in the turmoiled space between America’s promise and the place where fear is always / a whip, or White lady / calling 911.” —Tyehimba Jess

a more perfect Union is nothing short of a collection that will move us as much as it will make us laugh, cry, and rethink how we interact with the world. Hold onto this book. It will no doubt teach us how to live better than we did before.” —Lucy Zhang, Quarterly West

“‘I have become an ordering of the unpredictable,’ Teri Ellen Cross Davis writes in the poem ‘The Goddess of Blood,’ and she could be describing her own work: unpredictable in the best sense, ordering chaos as the best poetry must do. This is an important collection, full of anger and tenderness and a sure command of language.” —Linda Pastan

“These poems are hopeful, yes, and also smart and honest. They are as purple as a funky lyric or a keloidal scar. You’ll find resilience and resistance and rough sweet magic in these poems by Teri Ellen Cross Davis. You’ll find the truth.” —Camille T. Dungy, author of Trophic Cascade

In the tender, sensual, and bracing poems of a more perfect Union, Teri Ellen Cross Davis reclaims the experience of living and mothering while Black in contemporary America, centering Black women’s pleasure by wresting it away from the relentless commodification of the White gaze. Cross Davis deploys stunning emotional range to uplift the mundane, interrogate the status quo, and ultimately create her own goddesses. Parenting, lust, household chores—all are fair game for Cross Davis’s gimlet eye. Whether honoring her grief for Prince’s passing while examining his role in midwifing her sexual awakening or contemplating travel and the gamble of being Black across this wide world, these poems tirelessly seek a path out of the labyrinth to hope.

Author photo

Teri Ellen Cross Davis is the author of Haint: poems, winner of the 2017 Ohioana Book Award for Poetry. She is a Cave Canem Fellow and works as the Poetry Coordinator for the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington, DC.


Part I

The Goddess of Blood

Black Berries

A Black Woman Gets a Window Seat on Aer Lingus

The Goddess of Scars

Bad Girls Album Cover

White Barbie

3939 Strandhill Road, Cleveland, Ohio

The Goddess of Parenting


Baby Girl

Don’t Act Like A


Knowledge of the Brown Body

Knuckle Head

Part II

The Goddess of Interracial Dating

Prince Album Cover

Houses of the Holy Led Zeppelin Album Cover

A Black Woman Learns Ireland’s History by Bus

The First Gospel of Prince

Vous êtes ici

The Second Gospel of Prince

The Goddess of Lust

Her 21st Summer

The Third Gospel of Prince

The Goddess of Idolatry

Love Letter

“Don’t Disturb This Groove”

Ode to Orgasms

Slow Drag

Escape Ladder

Part III

The Goddess of Anger

Lola Visits the Underworld

Back-up (An Ode to Weathering)

When I Am the Only One in the Room

The Goddess of Cleaning

Partus sequitur ventrem

The Account of Katie Mae

The Goddess of the South

Thank You Jesus


This Poem Suggests Revolution

a more perfect Union

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