“They Say We Make Our Horses Run” by T.R. Poulson

T.R. Poulson


“It’s breeding, and it’s training, and it’s something unknown.”
—Dan Fogelberg

Well, yes. We do. We do so many things,
like hook men, dead or dying, to machines

programmed to make them breathe. We fight
on streets, in class, about the fates and rights

of human embryos, though only those
in wombs. We breed the best of roses,

cattle, dogs, and horses, all hardwired
to smell good, repel insects, roast on fires,

attack, wag tails, and run. If I could stand
up on a soapbox, I would reprimand

the human race. I would rant and rave
about the bees, that (though they misbehave

sometimes, and sting) make food chains bloom
like black-eyed Susans. I would fume

about the animals, the lasts of kinds, captured,
no mates found. I have read about the rapture,

the horse and rider thrown into the sea, in meekness,
good guys saved. Consider, now, the Preakness.

A horse rears up and throws his jockey at the gate,
and in that moment I forget to speculate

about the good, the bad. No human hands,
no whip, no voice, no heels, no demands

at all, he runs wide, one lap with the rest,
a second lap, alone. I must confess,

I’ve found magic in a flowing mane
and hoofbeats. I stop there again, again,

and I glimpse how Allah might have felt, all sins
aside. The horse, born from condensed wind.

from Poets Respond
May 26, 2019


T.R. Poulson: “This poem was inspired by Bodexpress, who ran the entire Preakness Stakes, plus more, without his jockey. ‘The horse and rider thrown into the sea’ is Exodus 15:21.”

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