Sunday Jul 14

Priest Headshot Joy Priest grew up in Louisville, Kentucky across the street from the world’s most famous horseracing track. She is the 2018 Gregory Pardlo Scholar at The Frost Place, the recipient of the 2016 Hurston/Wright Foundation’s College Writers’ Award, and has received support from the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference and the Fine Arts Works Center in Provincetown. Formerly an associate poetry editor at Narrative Magazine and a senior editor at Yemassee Journal, Joy is currently an MFA candidate in poetry at the University of South Carolina. Her poems are included or upcoming in Blackbird, Callaloo, Drunken Boat, espnW, Four Way Review, The Rumpus and the anthologies Best New Poets 2014, Best New Poets 2016, and The Breakbeat Poets, among others.



The four-wheeler is a chariot. Horse-wraiths
Kicking up a plume of spirits in the dirt.
Her arms kudzu around my middle. Out here,

In the desert, everything is invisible.
Only the locusts’ flat buzz gives
Them away. Everything native & quieting

Perennial & nighthawk black
As we ride through: the cowgirls,
The witch & the water sky-mirror-split,

The severity of squall lines. Also, the lips
Parting air like lightning & the girl
Blowing bubbles—in each one
                                               a rainbow.


She thinks I am worth a burnt tongue.

Her small gifts, oddities,
Meet me at my mailbox.
Sheer curtains glitter
Above us in the currents, dance

In the heat that suffocates this land,
The lone harp & low grind of
Its history. We hold.

She takes me to dirt raked
Into rows, to stadium lights
In the middle of nowhere. A bed
On a porch. I am a horse

Skipping sideways down her lane, the stem
Of an American flag that’s been cut into strips
Dangling in my mouth like a toothpick.


Our shadow town       Underneath the motherboard.
Our sudden lapse         Of sound

I buck. This undertow, caught
Beneath hooves. Swept up by her current—

Butterflies collide with my whipped tail,
My tremoring eyelashes, my heavy teeth.

My fattest loc grazing a breast.


Tonight                       she finds me like this:

Blood                           lacing my chin
Two wide eyes             peering over the torso

Of a bronco                 from the other side.