XANTHUS, ACHILLES’ IMMORTAL WARHORSE, RODEOS IN AMARILLO
Ah, why did we give you…to a mortal,
while you are deathless and ageless?
Was it so you could share men’s pain?
Nothing is more miserable than man
of all that breathes and moves upon earth.
—The Iliad, XVII, trans. Stanley Lombardo
It was meant to be a gift, though the gods
should know by now it never is: sick of it
themselves, grown fidgety, restless, meddlesome.
It was harder on me of course than Balius,
him having never known speech while I tongue
the narrow trough of my mouth and half
expect words to return. Where he is now
I don’t know. After a time, we gave up being
untamable, and let ourselves be led, be put
to whatever tasks men could imagine. They call
this place Texas, hot enough for wandering
souls, where all of time stretches before me
as an endless tunnel of wind. The children wear
strange hats and their boots point like nettles
between fence boards. Men wish to be thrown, and,
understanding, I toss them, light as milkweed,
as burdock. But how tiring to make a living
from this act of riddance: spur in the side and belly
raw, summoning the body’s rage, a strap of leather
and bone buckled and desperate for breaking.
—from Rattle #38, Winter 2012
Tribute to Speculative Poetry
Corrie Williamson: “After college, I embarked on a trial career as an archaeologist. A year later, I gave it up to pursue my poetry MFA, but for me, the disciplines remain closely related. Poetry too is a process of excavation which I think at its best, for reader and writer, involves dirt and dust, gentle brush strokes, and the piecing together of something buried or broken that gets held up to the sun either to illuminate or expand the mystery.”