Who wouldn’t be drawn into the credible world of Jibade-Khalil Huffman’s poems by the details of their craftsmanship? By turns charmingly familiar (a “boy’s prize of / a gumball bank”), disarmingly uncanny (a bullet’s beginning “as a / stopper / in a jar”) and even downright harrowing (“dynamite from a balcony”), Huffman’s poems beguile the reader with their careful particulars. Most of the poems have a dark message. “Anyone can purchase flags” presents a voice holding forth on the themes of power, hypocrisy, and sleepless danger, citing curious examples of each, such as “emptied / pearls from on a strand”—what treasure has been lost? We note Huffman’s deft handling of the primetime phrase (“guest appearance”), the canned vernacular (“it never troubles me none”), and the lingua Neiman Marcus (“purchase” seems pretentious, unlike “buy”). Halfway through, a “dear” one is addressed—we must adjust to being in a dramatic monologue, after all. The final three lines are a smooth yet highly ominous seal to the poem, with a character “misplacing patrol cars / and badge and baton so / no one believes him.” “Palimpsest” is powerfully titled: the poem can contain erasures, fragments, translucent markings, embossings, mistakes. It can and perhaps must mislead. Varied sentence patterns continually guarantee the argument, and we have the pleasure of never knowing exactly what’s going on. You can see the emotional depth in this murkiness, though, in a phrase such as “tine / of phobia” for agony. While a single, fixed meaning in these poems may elude our grasp, they are charged with significance, and their suave style makes them satisfying and complete.

Caroline Knox

“Anyone can purchase flags…”

Anyone can purchase flags
and everyone can exclaim
dynamite from a balcony
it never troubles me none
here to have emptied

pearl from on a strand, here
a harbinger, there a conks-fire

my hair bright substance
and separated on the
eighth note in eight days divided
by fire from the jazz killer
whose ill cannot come if
through a door, tongue estranged

if on good terms
with an invention

preventing sleep, with the
officer in guest appearance
in end of this season
of misplacing patrol cars
and badge and baton so
no one believes him.


In this country you have
never named your child
“rattle,” “that’s

for saints and I
am a man she held.” “A stopwatch”
one such haberdasher

his saying “theatrical figures, three colored—

in dining cars.”

The illustration
of its walls; why it is
the variety of the ax in hand, guiding

a tarp over her, the
French school of doting
Founders Day, each former name.

“Oftener, golden rule; nude . . .”

Oftener, golden rule; nude.
Now blurry from the
salt-shook; at the meeting
of the camera club
Sadie shown into open
thrown from her seat
as the

train came. Her purse spurned

full of tablets to cure

a weakling child.
In that line
the questioning of measures
now that
they have often switchblades
and are distinguished

by bandanas; that night

after the shopping center
in the parking lot there
were seventeen of them sitting

legged in a circle; now they follow
her inside the building
and separate into pairs; now there

are two days later

agents everywhere
in a disguise; fuses lined
up, eroding

in self defense, now boarding
on the last track.


The chartreuse, in an album
called, “The Crude Jokes”
the bric-a-brac, glow particular

without hearing
the one violet, its lake of many
black bonnets

aiming the starlet
beginning with whir
at a time the

body is gone
and teary
heart of the hammock

boy’s prize of
a gumball bank
swung in a circle

even forty dollars
under Jesus Rock.
Palimpsest, had written

600 for 600 tiles.
By diapers white
to see a shadow.

On worm silk as particular
unburied tine
of phobia, number five

to a direction
for our vacuum for
rounding linens around

the former, boxed
parts to a tea set.
For Carol, for

closed door Ford.
In the meantime
on such a very. Brought

of the current
by no means
which were fabrics

of other uses
yet walled water, yet
lip-synched, the Holy

Ghost catches you
and you fall down.

Diamond Zones

Rehabilitation of
the burned parent

in a rowboat
a knock-kneed

the mind tries
to find
with a body
itself over again

on top a stage. The way
they heard when you

were speaking, Dutch chime
picture plane, sometimes
the child tears
at my mouth

so that it seems
he can collide

free of envy
into rocks
after the
dinner mint

plate cleared away, awhile
others still eating of
a half light, obedience in
leaving thumbs trapped

under fallen off flake
of ledge. For the sake of
good planning
I have never once traced
the bullet to
its beginning

as a
in a jar.

That which he will remember
as true, agreeing with me, that

ordinary listing. Eastern
hog’s call; Cezannes’ “diamond zones,”
hour of burning hooks
caught broke in space

the third try in
as many years
on my life, all
the same night

these and those
like them, said to
have been held captive.