Chris Tusa




The Birth of Night


The earth was without form, and void;
and darkness was on the face of the deep.

--Genesis 1:2


When the earth was merely a lump of phlegm
sticky in the hollow of God’s throat,
silence wheezed and I was born,
dark and clean, a black breath sucked deep
from an empty space in his lung.

It was I who swallowed the sun,
who woke before the orange-red blush
ripened in the leaves of trees
where fruit hung heavy--
I who carved the edges of the moon,
who sharpened stars like teeth.

Gloriously divided from light,
I was the world’s one dark element,
long before the shape of Man
blinked in a red puff of clay
and Eve’s pale-fisted body squirmed
in the bony womb of Adam’s rib.


Marie Laveau Talks About Magic From
A Confessional in St. Louis Cathedaral

Marie Laveau, a colored woman who eventually became known as the Voodoo Queen of New Orleans, often used her knowledge of Voodoo to manipulate and acquire power.



In one quick lick I waved my mojo hand,
made the Mississippi’s muddy spine
run crooked as a crow’s foot,
scared politicians into my pocket
with lizard tongues and buzzard bones,
convinced the governor to sing my name
under a sharp crescent moon
white as a gator’s tooth.

Now my magic got the whole Vieux Carré
waltzing with redfish and rooster heads,
got Protestants blessing okra and cayenne,
Catholics chasing black cats down Dumaine,
even got Creoles two-stepping with pythons
along the banks of Bayou St. John.

They say soon my powers gonna fade,
that there’s a noose aloose in the streets
looking for a neck to blame.
But I’m just a lowly colored woman
and ain’t nobody gonna blame a worm
for scaring a catfish onto a hook.


"Marie Laveau Talks About Magic From A Confessional in St. Louis Cathedaral" previously published in Spoon River.

"The Birth of Night" previously published in Prairie Schooner.


435569-1589622-thumbnail.jpgChris Tusa was born and raised in New Orleans. His work has appeared in Connecticut Review, Texas Review, Prairie Schooner, The New Delta Review, South Dakota Review, Southeast Review, Passages North, Spoon River, New York Quarterly, Louisiana Literature, Tar River, StorySouth, and others. He has studied under a number of notable writers, including Tim Gautreaux, Sidney Wade, and Debora Gregor. With the help of a grant from the Louisiana Division of the Arts, he was able to complete his first chapbook of poetry, Inventing an End. His debut collection of poems, Haunted Bones, was published by Louisiana Literature Press in 2006. His debut novel, Dirty Little Angels, is currently agented and under consideration. He holds a B.A. in English, an M.A in English, and an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from the University of Florida. Aside from teaching in the English Department at LSU, he also acts as Managing Editor for Poetry Southeast.