May 2016 Poetry Feature

Please join us in greeting new contributors Jane Huffman and Jeff Hipsher.


Spanish Riding School 

A mannequin diligence to pallor, to possession.
That’s what they look for in their Lipizzaner

stallions, and in their riders, calf bicorne hats,
white suede gloves, all animal material and gin

clean manes braided in the same practicing plait.
They go transparent fast. They prance in light

campaigns, pretty like warfare. I went as a child
to the arena where you could see through them.

The summer stables, men in swan neck spurs,
and the sun that cooks the piss into the ground,

I watched them school around and around, ghosts
in mud tails and cruppers. The riders

could have been headless for all I cared. Costumes
affixed to nothing, reins pooling nothing

into fluid obedience, no wolf tooth to snag
the snaffle. The absence of horse flies struck me

like horse flies. I was in the presence of empire.
I bought a souvenir topper and crop, pretended

Taraxippus, the patron of spooking Hippodrome
horses, was trotting under my broomstick. No

Pegasus. No Norse eight-legged horse or St. George
peeling out of heaven, deus ex machina with a strap-on

horn. The dead here are dappled grey and flea-bitten,
and they can be ridden. When a Lipizzaner dies,

they let the earth take him quietly. Relief from one
ceremony begins with another. I lead him away,

into the summer by his halter. Before we canter,
I salute you with a skedded hand, o embodiment.

I never stopped wearing the uniform

I never stopped wearing the uniform

of the kind of woman
who presses her white shirt
into a whiter shirt,
who quenches

her cigarette
in the birdbath
outside of the cathedral
and goes in
trailing pewits.

I was never christened
The residual furor of mass
made my collars go
up in plainsong.

In high school, I watched
a woman pause
to rub a scratch off
her boot. I measured

in the significance
of numbers. Compulsively,
I began transforming
into snow. Snowier,

until the field
I used to be was gone
and the girl
no longer could be called
or counted on.

Church clothes
became conventicles
for us lightweights.
Jesus would step
down from his sun
an tell us what to wear

nothing in him was transitive.
Not even his marred,
subaltern horselaugh.

Jane Huffman has recent poems in Witness, West Branch, The Adroit Journal,SOFTBLOW, Radar Poetry, Word Riot, and elsewhere in print and online.



Asleep in the Retreat at Twin Lakes



You can’t quite see it, but they say
at night, as you lie on the pullout couch
all the things you’ve failed
to understand push themselves
back into their own neighborhoods. A place,
if we’re being reductive, called The Wilderness. Still,
out in that unmappable distance,
you imagine them. Under the imported palms
shading the car port. A dark rumor
spread across your lawn. Inside, you turn
to face the drywall. Its certain white
ancientness. Its cool vibrating drawl.


Thy Clean White Hand Is Open Wide 


Lord, & thou are just, Lord, just
very tired. I spent twen
ty years there            one night.


Y’all’s woods were full
of policemen, ya’ll. But y’all,
y’all just talk trees            All Day
In the riven troughs, the splay-
ed leaves pile up. Here by
the sagging gate, stopped
by the wall.            Had to move
my family out  the country,
            the sunken fields of hemp
out from under the shade
of the trees, the crazy hemlock
’s point, before,            the sentinel
of the grave,  All Day,  turnt
out the way it were, turning out

to greet y’all.

Allen Tate – “Ode to the Confederate Dead”
Alethea S. Burroughs – “Savannah”
Kanye West – “All Day,” “New Slaves”
Dick Gregory – Nigger: An Autobiography
Bertolt Brecht
John Ashbery – “The Chateau Hardware”


Of the Out of Style


I know I braid too much my own snapped off perceptions
of things as they come, televised from that pasturage


of dishwater where soaks an opulence of bridges, electrical
grids, clandestine tunnels, and so forth. That immense


tract of dazzling whiteness, its hand rising through
the terrible science of clouds over this place that leads to


all others. And having enforced its will would have all of it
tremble at their coming, the only accepted celestials


of the new and unknowable intelligence that fills
my mind like cold milk, until all that’s left is something


so anomalous to my function, I could not immediately
detect it. And when I do, it shifts to something else


altogether, not for itself, but for the self it has tended
for so long. And it must look pretty appealing, the acreage


of might flung far out on the land. An entitlement of damp plains.
The pale and foggy freeze that sometimes it feels like


in this morning that has seized us again. But baby, I’m amazed
I don’t feel I can negotiate disinheriting such a thing, unafraid


of the savage and continuous disorientation of losing
privilege. And it knows there’s so much we want


to say, but also how easy to lay under its invisibly open spaces
broad waking in a mood of remote orchards, soon forgotten.


Jimi Hendrix – “1983…(A Merman I Should Turn to Be)”
John Ashbery – “The One Thing That Can Save America”
Bad Religion – “It Must Look Pretty Appealing,” “Sometimes it Feels Like,” “You”
Jethro Tull – “Auqualung

Selected phrasing from Marvel Comics’ “The Eternals” as written by Jack Kirby
Jeff Hipsher is the founding editor of Catch Up;a journal of comics and literature.

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