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About this poet

Jennifer Chang received a BA from the University of Chicago in 1998, an MFA from the University of Virginia in 2002, and a PhD in English from the University of Virginia in 2017. She is the author of Some Say the Lark (Alice James Books, 2017) and The History of Anonymity (University of Georgia Press, 2008). She currently serves as an assistant professor at George Washington University and lives in Washington, D.C.

A Horse Named Never

At the stables, each stall was labeled with a name.
 
Biscuit stood aloof—I faced always, invariably, his clockwork tail.
 
Crab knew the salt lick too well.
 
Trapezoid mastered stillness: a midnight mare, she was sternest and tallest, her chest stretched against the edges of her stall.
 
I was not afraid of Never, the chestnut gelding, so rode his iron haunches as far as Panther Gap.
 
Never and I lived in Virginia then.
 
We could neither flee or be kept.
 
Seldom did I reach the little mountain without him, the easy crests making valleys of indifferent grasses.
 
What was that low sound I heard, alone with Never?
 
A lone horse, a lodestar, a habit of fear.
 
We think of a horse less as the history of one man and his sorrows than as the history of a whole evil time.
 
I fed him odd lettuce, abundant bitterness.
 
Who wore the bit and harness, who was the ready steed.
 
Or: I think there be six Nevers in the field.
 
He took the carrot, words by own reckoning, an account of creeks and oyster catchers.
 
I named my account “Notes on the State of Virginia.”
 
It was bred for show and not to race.
 
Never, I cried, Never.
 
Were I more horse than rider, I would better understand the beast I am.
 
Our hoof-house rested at the foot of the mountain, on which rested another house more brazen than statuary.
 
Let it be known: I first mistook gelding for gilding.
 
I am the fool that has faith in Never.
 
Somewhere, a gold door burdened with apology refuses all mint from the yard.

 

From Some Say the Lark (Alice James Books, 2017). Copyright © 2017 by Jennifer Chang. Used with permission of The Permissions Company, Inc., on behalf of Alice James Books, www.alicejamesbooks.org.

From Some Say the Lark (Alice James Books, 2017). Copyright © 2017 by Jennifer Chang. Used with permission of The Permissions Company, Inc., on behalf of Alice James Books, www.alicejamesbooks.org.

Jennifer Chang

Jennifer Chang

Jennifer Chang is the author of Some Say the Lark (Alice James Books, 2017). She lives in Washington, D.C.

by this poet

poem

                        on my birthday

I want a future
making hammocks
out of figs and accidents.
Or a future quieter
than snow. The leopards
stake out the backyard
and will flee at noon.
My terror is not secret,
but necessary,
as the wild must be,

poem

The daffodils can go fuck themselves.
I’m tired of their crowds, yellow rantings
about the spastic sun that shines and shines
and shines. How are they any different

from me?  I, too, have a big messy head
on a fragile stalk.  I spin with the wind.
I flower and don’t apologize. There’s

poem
Dark matter, are you 
sparkless 

for lack of knowing
better? The room 

you've spun is distant
and indivisible—

a flickering lapsarian,
you satisfy no mute

progress but 
collapse, spiral, winded

by unwinding. Dear 
enigma kid, dear psychic

soft spot, I write you
from under eight spastic 

lights, each