It is one or the other: too many horses
in poems, or too many poems
galloping through the west.
Always, it seems, the poet becomes the horse—
never rides it, or owns it, or uses it
for meat or to compete. It is one
great statement about beauty and how
it’s almost over. No farms or barns. No big red stable
with pigs rolling around in plenty of mud.
It is one horse after the other: Thoroughbred,
Warmblood, harnessed, sea ridden, Drum,
two Indian ponies breaking into blossom.
All those horses will tell you
that their teeth are larger than their brain,
and if you stand too close, they’ll kick you
back to Milton. They only care about the apple
in your hand, avoiding sunburns, and drinking
their daily twenty-five gallons of water.
They fatten themselves with pasture
after pasture, and four will come forward
when there’s apocryphal disaster.
You’ll pray to Tulpar, Embarr, the knights
of Bayard. And when you’re not looking,
they’ll grow through Demeter’s long fallows.
When I finally write a poem
about horses, I want to become the wildest one—
braid uncurled from my straight-laced mane,
my young gallop even in old hooves.
I want to write the poem where the horses
shoot their owners in the leg, and burn down
their own stalls. I’d stampede
with a mouth full of matches. I’d whisk by.
I’d watch the sun set fire to the sky.