[Why the dead] and other poems

Jane Huffman


[Why the dead]

Why the dead
This woman Jean

Come after me

In their crowns
I don’t know why

The dead come
After me in

Crowds of Jeans

That the god
Of death before

The door to life
Was shut

Slipped out
Into the slapping

Rain today is easter

And I’m reading
Jean again

[Public Abstract]

I swept
and am sweeping,
have slept
and am sleeping.

I heaved the head
of the mop
to the hod
and I’m heaving.

I’m sweating,
I’m wetting
the corn
of my broom.

I’m washing
the floor
in the room
where I waited
for reason.

I reasoned,
I teased
at the edges
of reason.

[I found a sequence]

I found a sequence in my way idea

Where there was no idea before

And plucked it up as if it was already

Mine an interruption like a sequin

That fell off my sleeve in childhood

And through the sieve of time

[Without work]

Without work
I’m still
Sure work will come

It always does
Like flu

Expects to find
A lung
Or drought

The desultory

In the stove-

And the leaves
I hope
For accident

To be bowled
Down pat
Dry sent home

Where work
Will wait

For me

The eaves
And wave its

Broken plank
At me

Jane Huffman’s poems have appeared or are forthcoming in POETRY, The New Yorker, The Nation, and elsewhere. She was a 2019 Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Fellowship recipient from The Poetry Foundation. Jane is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and currently teaches at the University of Iowa. She is editor-in-chief of Guesthouse (www.guesthouselit.com) and reviews poetry for Publishers Weekly. Twitter @janechuffman

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