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  • Preferring, and: The Backward Hiss, and: The Zebra’s Stripes
  • Shane McCrae (bio)


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

But some of us have moreUs and the rest of us aren’t us at allYou love your own kind don’t you can youlove without     / Preferring

no     I do not say we areFirst among equals yes but nothe difference sounds too bigI say we are     whites are the created

among creatures [End Page 141]

The Backward Hiss

Whenever I and hesaw it was hurt hurtbadly     as a child and heSaw it     whenever he was near / Whenever I was hurt and bleeding hurtBadly enough to bleed and heWas near and hadn’t hurt meHimself     and sometimes even then you hit some-body you’re not supposed to hit and afterthe first thing you ask yourselfis did you hit too hard

Whenever I was hurt and hesaw it except for whenI fell from the weeping willow cracked my ribsbut I     / Wasn’t where he could see it bleeding thenHe made he bentover me made a sound     an indrawnlike a backward     / Hiss as he bentover me and inspected / The wound     the sounda snake makes     butmixed with the sound a snake would make

Who loves the rat between his teeth [End Page 142]

The Zebra’s Stripes

It’s not that I I don’tHate anyone I don’t or any race it’sJust that I love     the white raceYou see it in the natural world

Beasts of the same kindchoose to live together and apartFrom other beastsBut not too far from those they hunt / The lion

not too far from the zebra and another thingthe zebra’s stripes are no / Metaphor     blacks and whitesare nothing like a zebra’s stripesThe zebra is a black his mother

is a whoreThe black stripes are his skinNot stripes     / The white is herLooseness in him [End Page 143]

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.



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pp. 141-143
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