White Whale Review: An Online Literary Magazine Untitled Document
Elizabeth Hughey
Elizabeth Hughey is the author of Sunday Houses the Sunday House (University of Iowa Press) and Guest Host (forthcoming from The National Poetry Review). She teaches creative writing and literature at the Spencer Honors House at the University of Alabama in Birmingham. She is also a founder of the Desert Island Supply Company, a free creative writing program for kids in Birmingham, AL. New poems have appeared or will appear in Free Verse, 42 Opus, Lungfull, Invisible Magazine, The Nervous Breakdown and Starting Today: 100 Poems for Obama's First 100 Days.
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Elizabeth Hughey

How to Be in the Movies


The guests are billeted to their quarters, the men striking matches and the women coughing into hankies. Hear the drone of electric razors and feel the explosive thunder from the neighboring screen. Laugh, now. Laugh, again. Watch the bachelor toss on the couch splashed with jungle flowers. Howl. You are a hound called to the hearth. You want in. Scratch at the door, smelling a hen wrapped and tied in the icebox of your memory, a memory before you were born, in your bones, an instinct. You are a well-bred blur, a shadow on the stoop. On the other side of the screen is a life that is part yours. You own it like an escalator or an airport terminal. A public life. And how many you have lived in a day, in a year, loving common women into higher classes, massaging your mustache, jotting facts into your notebooks. What do they really say? Scribbledy scribble. The encyclopedias are painted wood. The vodka bottle is filled with water. Still, you drink it. Shot glass by shot glass, you gulp it down. You are getting thirstier and more sober. The usher helps you out of your seat. You drive slowly in case someone is following you. At home, you undress quickly and crawl into bed. You pretend to sleep, sure that you are still being watched. You can hear an audience clapping from your neighbor’s apartment. They’ll clap for you next.

Elizabeth Hughey

Leave-taking, Etiquette of


I can’t see the night

because the night

doesn’t want me in it.

Go inside, says the night,

but I can’t make myself

vanish from someone else’s

mind. Arms out, slaps

of cold leaves, I find the knob

and go in. Your mind

is a dark classroom,

and I am a slide projected

on the cinder blocks.

When you type me

into another scene,

I feel reborn, but

the feeling passes

and I feel only 35.

I probably want to

fall in love. Maybe

I have a heart condition.

No, I am running


Elizabeth Hughey

to answer the telephone.

No, I am the voice

on the telephone calling

with terrible news.

I am the terrible news.

I want to be a gate

swung open. I will be

one barb in a wire,

and you can zoom

away from me until

I blend into the pasture.

Elizabeth Hughey

When to Snowball


You left us there, in our kitchens, untying our aprons. You left us in our bedrooms, spanking the pillows. You left us in department stores applying our lipsticks in Zinzolin and Bellini. You left us in restrooms clasping our pocketbooks, tipping the girls. You left us frozen in our rabbit earmuffs on the slopes of Gatlinburg. We opened our Avocado freezers, and you left us, and we never closed a door again. We can’t pick up the receiver. We can’t steam the drapes. We cannot remove the flaming rump from the oven. We are sitting on our sofas in Bisque and Brulet, and we are opening our magazines. We are in the magazines. We are reproduced. There you will find us, in Vogue and in Sister. You can rip us out. You can smell our inky bodies. You can ask for our hairstyles at the salon. You can bake our cherry fools. You can cover our wingbacks in Pavement and Portobello. Set our jewels in your pendants. You will try us on. You will think you feel like us. You will feel new and improved. Smoking without the smoke. You are clouding up, though. You are discoloring. You are becoming a little less born every day. And we are preserved. We are glistening in our gelatins in darkened refrigerators. If we are in the dark, though, then, you are in the dark. We can’t help but contain you. Recall our photograph. Was it the flash, or were we closing our eyes to see you better?

Elizabeth Hughey

The Muse


Lying in your bed after watching your short film in which children leap into flight, I know that I have been used. I have always felt like the muse of car commercials and stenciled billboards. I’ve always felt like I could be the shape of somebody’s pancake. I should be waking up now. I should be breathing breath into your mouth. Did the ground shake, or just the things on the ground – houses, armoires? Today, I will be the white radish that stays plugged into its earth. I have had enough light. I have been captured in enough photographs. Now, I will wait for something to look at. I will wait for someone to bring me my eyes. Here are yours. And here are your keys.















Copyright © Elizabeth Hughey. White Whale Review, issue 4.1

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