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Preferring, and: The Backward Hiss, and: The Zebra’s Stripes

From: Colorado Review
Volume 40, Number 2, Summer 2013
pp. 141-143 | 10.1353/col.2013.0056

In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:


Human is different human here / A
privilege no no     privilege if it were a privilege
those who do not have it would be underprivileged no-
body is underprivileged here

But some of us have more
Us and the rest of us aren’t us at all
You love your own kind don’t you can you
love without     / Preferring

no     I do not say we are
First among equals yes but no
the difference sounds too big
I say we are     whites are the created

among creatures

The Backward Hiss

Whenever I and he
saw it was hurt hurt
badly     as a child and he
Saw it     whenever he was near / Whenever I was hurt and bleeding hurt
Badly enough to bleed and he
Was near and hadn’t hurt me
Himself     and sometimes even then you hit some-
body you’re not supposed to hit and after
the first thing you ask yourself
is did you hit too hard

Whenever I was hurt and he
saw it except for when
I fell from the weeping willow cracked my ribs
but I     / Wasn’t where he could see it bleeding then
He made he bent
over me made a sound     an indrawn
like a backward     / Hiss as he bent
over me and inspected / The wound     the sound
a snake makes     but
mixed with the sound a snake would make

Who loves the rat between his teeth

The Zebra’s Stripes

It’s not that I I don’t
Hate anyone I don’t or any race it’s
Just that I love     the white race
You see it in the natural world

Beasts of the same kind
choose to live together and apart
From other beasts
But not too far from those they hunt / The lion

not too far from the zebra and another thing
the zebra’s stripes are no / Metaphor     blacks and whites
are nothing like a zebra’s stripes
The zebra is a black his mother

is a whore
The black stripes are his skin
Not stripes     / The white is her
Looseness in him

Shane McCrae  

Shane McCrae is the author of Mule, Blood, and three chapbooks—most recently, Nonfiction, which won the Black Lawrence Press Black River Chapbook Competition. His work has appeared in the American Poetry Review, Fence, Gulf Coast, and elsewhere, and he has received a Whiting Writer’s Award and an nea fellowship.

Copyright © 2013 Center for Literary Publishing
Project MUSE® - View Citation
Shane McCrae. "Preferring, and: The Backward Hiss, and: The Zebra’s Stripes." Colorado Review 1.2 (2013): 141-143. Project MUSE. Web. 5 Aug. 2013. <http://muse.jhu.edu/>.
McCrae, S.(2013). Preferring, and: The Backward Hiss, and: The Zebra’s Stripes. Colorado Review 1(2), 141-143. Center for Literary Publishing. Retrieved August 5, 2013, from Project MUSE database.
Shane McCrae. "Preferring, and: The Backward Hiss, and: The Zebra’s Stripes." Colorado Review 1, no. 2 (2013): 141-143. http://muse.jhu.edu/ (accessed August 5, 2013).
T1 - Preferring, and: The Backward Hiss, and: The Zebra’s Stripes
A1 - Shane McCrae
JF - Colorado Review
VL - 1
IS - 2
SP - 141
EP - 143
PY - 2013
PB - Center for Literary Publishing
SN - 2325-730X
UR - http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/colorado_review/v040/40.2.mccrae.html
N1 - Volume 40, Number 2, Summer 2013
ER -


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