Jane Huffman

Read the introduction by guest editor Diane Seuss.

Of Habit


which is a fig leaf way of saying that I used
to be fearless, clambered onto the stage (yes,
I clambered) with all of the glamour of a jack

terrier, climbed the chicken wire tree

and bellowed (yes, I was still so green) into
the tree line of silk, and waited for review,
smoking my candor like a clove cigarette

in the dressing room inside my brain,

(yes, I suckled the imagination, to great relief),
(yes, I suckled it, and still do), and even bowed
like the bow of a viola against a body, (yes, I

bowed, made a gesture of my fearlessness);

o habit, (bowed and clamoring, green and suckled)
make a habit out of me.



Sestina, Spiraling


I won’t repeat myself.
Before the spiral,
I refused the paradigm
that grief has stages,
watched the matinee
of grieving
in the house of grief
I watched myself
perform the matinee,
recall the spiral,
of center stage.
I was a paradigm
of my own paradigm.
I watched my grief
from above the stage.
Threw lilies at myself.
I spiraled, staged
a private matinee,
a little, grieving matinee
of lesser paradigms
and spirals. The spiral
staircase grieved
its spiraled self.
I grieved stage
left from the stage
right wing. The matinee
of self meeting self.
My lily paradigm.
The lily of grief.
Its orange spirals
toward the stage.
Another lesser grief.
Another matinee,
an afternoon paradigm,
of self lauding self.
The matinee grieved me:
My stage-door paradigm.
My spiraled self.



Chasteness, a Gesture


Love – too Vaudeville,
and lust, too literal –
Like “Starry Night”
is to “Self-Portrait

with Bandaged Ear.”

In the former,
the hyper-feminine:
bulldozer of a jukebox,
devilled egg served

face-down in a Dixie Cup.

In the latter, the artist
wears soiled gauze,
and over that,
a beaver fur hat so oily
and densely packed
it glows blue at the part.

Jane Huffman has an MFA in poetry from the University of Iowa, where she is currently an instructor for the Magid Center for Undergraduate Writing. Her poems have appeared in POETRY, The New Yorker, and elsewhere. She is editor-in-chief of Guesthouse, a literary journal. Twitter @janechuffman