Jane Huffman
Four Haibun

On theatre


I wrote a play, out cold in urgent care. Heated blankets toweling

my sweated hair. When staged, the actress playing Mother held

a wicker broom for acts two and three, with which she beat and

beat the rug — a heavy tapestry rolled across the deck. It jumped

with fleas — a cast of tiny specks that leapt with urgent hunger

as she swept. Lucidly, I slept. I always do, when in duress (no

escape from the world of the page). So I wondered how I would

create the effect on stage — what props and practical effects —

and who would clean up the mess?






I quit theatre / because it spoiled other / darknesses for me.







On dreaming


I walk across the wide array of teeming arrow barns. A hundred

teeming prefab barns with silver hoop-house roofs. Inside, a

hundred-thousand horses, decommissioned for the evening of

their gleaming, crib their crooked teeth against their stalls. And

then, a docent wind, and I’m standing in the centriole. Error

garden. Its treasure guarded by a foal.







I sleep like sleep is / water. Sleeping lugged around / in steel








On knowing


What I didn’t know grew over what I knew. Like sober news

from home, it sobered me. It touched down like a flea of doubt

touched down on me. And bit. So suddenly, like tardy students

at the door, a little sadness on their faces as they make their plea.

My grace, a sham, a fraying pillowcase.







Helicopter seeds. / Annunciation amid / Iowa weather.






On difficulty


Difficulty is sacred. Even this thought. Like a yawn that fights

its way out from the cochlea. Private as a runny nose. The word

“Say” that begins Kay Ryan’s seminal poem: “Say when rain /

cannot make / you more wet.” “Say” its own unit of meaning

until “when” arrives, and the unit is transformed. “Say when” is

then tripled by “rain.” Tripled by the rain — which rhymes with

the poet’s name.







Rhyme is so public. / Weeping openly / in a crowded latitude.


Found In Volume 52, No. 05
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Jane Huffman
About the Author

Jane Huffman is a doctoral student in poetry at the University of Denver and is a graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop. She is editor-in-chief of Guesthouse, an online literary journal. Her work has appeared in The New Yorker, Poetry, The Nation, and elsewhere. Her collection Public Abstract is the winner of the 2023 APR/Honickman First Book Prize.