Horse Poem

Horse Poem


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.