“If It Heals At All defines personal moments that conjure reincarnations of straightforward sensibility with language that names, ‘my black is a heartbeat.’ Ali Black dares metaphors to not get it twisted as she creates a universe fresh with imagery that paints the audacity of reclaimed narratives with such brilliance as ‘mouth as a disorder.’Jaki Shelton Green
This collection is searing poetry that will not allow us to forget the unknown grief buried inside of boundless pleasure. If It Heals At All traces the slim boundaries between life and death, blundered justice, and the boldness of Black love reimagined.”
“This book offers us a fully voiced Black poet with a deep understanding of love, family and community and the true difference between survival and thriving. Her poems explore many ways that love and danger catalyze her imagination. Love is a challenging theme for any poet, but in Black’s deft portrayals of her mother; her husband, the children wearing purple on a bus crossing her beloved Cleveland, that challenge is met. If It Heals At All is an excellent start for this poet’s publication’s journey and we get to be with her at the beginning.”Patricia Spears Jones
the day after the baby is killed
by a gunshot wound to the chest
you still have to ride behind
death’s bloodred breath.
you still have to picture
the baby in the car trying
to grab the bullet as if it were
a glossy sweet thing.
you do not want to imagine
the pitch of the baby’s wail.
you do not want to see the women
walking with bright white Save-A-Lot
bags wrapped around their wrists.
you do not want to see the man
at the RTA bus stop swatting at a bee.
you do not want to see
anyone trying to hurt anything.
you do not want to face
the red lights, the teddy bear memorials,
the trash, the raggedy strollers, the slow
slow walk of the low-down folks.
you do not want to ride by
the hand-painted Casino Trip! sign
stapled high on a pole like a goal.
you do not want to hear the radio
scroll through tragedy and woe.
you hear the beginning of the word
Oregon and you know the next
stories will be about more shootings.
you think about the baby killed by the bullet.