Joy Priest

Ghost Ride

I don’t mean the midnights I steal at fifteen
floating air & fuel down Dixie Hwy, under
the streetlamps’ orbed glares                  invisible                 after I slip
my 1988 Cutlass Supreme from my father’s
driveway. & this isn’t code between my
phantom love & I for when                      we meet                in a shadow-
thick park near the Downs & I vanish
behind illegal tint. Not the dips we take,
the smoke in twisted wisps                      hovering               near quiet lips
sheets of white brick beneath the floorboards.
Nor the time we get lost & disappear
into morning’s dark part                          hours cuffed          on a curb
refusing to let the enemy search our person
for an evil that isn’t there, or how he came
& went that time, unable                         to touch us           an unclean thing

wandered into the wrong realm. A girl
I can’t remember, is what I mean: me
behind the wheel in a                              brown boys’          procession
of candy paint. Each one the same age,
then, as his ghost now. My baby cousin
a reckless angel next to me                     going dumb         shotgun
on my bench seat, when he still had teeth
in his head. When he still had yet to touch
flame to the underbelly of a spoon.         With my boys       I mean
my sex became neutral–a gear I shifted
into before swinging open the long coupe
door & placing both feet on                    the risk of            pavement
West Coast sound bubbling into a night
country & silent, save the tire’s slow crunch.
I mean I had to get out, leave                  the whip             with no direction


joy_PRIESTJoy Priest is a writer from Louisville, Kentucky. She has received grants and fellowships from the Kentucky Arts Council, the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, and Rutgers University-Newark, where she will be an MFA in Poetry candidate beginning Fall 2015. Her poems have appeared in Best New Poets 2014, Drunken Boat, Muzzle, and The Breakbeat Poets: New American Poetry in the Age of Hip-Hop.


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