Sunday, 10 March 2013

A Dream Sequence of Horses in Five Movements

One night sleeping, dreams pressing heavily
down on me, I become a child, wandering
lost in the vast dark of the American
wilderness. I wander into a paddock,
somewhere in Rochester, Minnesota,
and see the horses, shining like spectres
in the glade: wisps of horse, crystal outlines
in the moonlight as it filters through their manes.

They bray with bated lungs and nay
when I disturb the scene, parting the air
with my presence. In a quiet prayer,
I ask them to forgive me, to have me,
and they both bow: setting aside their iron pride,
and I am happy, I am proud. I climb over 
the fence, over the stoop, and approach
the more golden of the two, bending

to tug at a handful of dewed grass, tenebrous
and tense with the touch of moisture. She
approaches, nuzzling into my palm and taking
the feed: she could have bitten me right there,
stirring me from my dream, but she didn't.
Eyes peaceful and yet watchful, she chews.
If horses could smile, hers would be a rainbow,
showering a spectrum. I look down

at my hands, and they've started cracking.
I glow a light violet, the smell of flowers eeking
out from me. I have become a nocturne, spilling out
fragrant notes. The horses champ, standing there 
still, glistening, and listen.


Now I am a young man, a horse wrangler, on
the sprawling hinterland of 1850s frontier West:
to the East, a dream of Democracy and ahead
of me a peopled land to be unpeopled: Indians
to steal from, settlements to come: railyards,
whiskey bars, tenements, steeples.

It is darkness before dawn, and I have been
on the trail of the horses for days. On the back of
my steed, in Navaho territory. A star is rising
hungry, gulping down the blackness and lights,
breakfasting, turning on its brother, the night.
And before the red tears raw and erupts, there

in the glare cresting a hill, in the morning twilight,
I see the quiet herd. I am about to charge, lasso
at my side, saddles firm around my feet, my steed
tense with understanding, charged with knowledge
of the pursuit: less equals and more my inferior,
implicit in being reigned, implicated with me.

And in the growing grounding of man and horse,
the morning now stirring, I see amongst the animals
a man, walking quietly and proud, as if his feet are
hooves, and the horses know. His feathered hairpiece
bristles gently in the breeze and he seems to put the
beasts at ease. Quietly, I watch and weigh: 

I'll stay, and wait it out another day.


The sands shift, and now I see a woman
riding a horse by the sea, its four legs
lapped at by the water, scalloped in the tide.

The air washes them both and the sea is a gulping,
the horse sparkling like salt crystals, its mane
the white rush of waves cresting and breaking.

Sleeping and yet waking, dream pouring into reality,
the woman’s wet golden locks streak the wind,
the white silk of her dress caresses this velvet horse.

His troughs of muscle quiver like waves on his bones,
his breath the long and steady pull and release of the moon,
and the two of them swim through an ocean of air.


And now I am an old man
at the races, watching
the horses,
my youth: 
when I was a boy
uncorrupted by 
when there was no nullity,
when the beauty 
overcame me.

And I remember 
a dream of horses,
a dream within a dream:
feeding them cubes of ice,
their soft warm slobbering tongues
pouring forth from them,
their heads like the heads of eagles.
So gentle, they could have bitten
me, but they didn’t.

They were so good and strong.
And now I only come to watch them
in order to place a bet,
to watch the hopeless crowd
feast on the American Dream:
earning and losing, betting and winning,
and carrying on the same broken tune.
10/1 on Chariots of Fire:
I put down five.

A scotch on the rocks.
I sit in the stands and watch.
The long shot. A good runner.
He comes in first. The eagles are no more.
The racing pigeons endure.
But how magnificent.
How terribly sad, and sadly


I stir from my sleep
and I am child, young man, woman
horse, old man. But I am twenty-three,
to put a number on it. I turn on my side

hoping this turn will send me under
the waves, back into dreams
where horses endure, strong and wise
and silent. Just let me dream, please.

And I crack and roll across the 
hills: thunder on four hooves:
I am the horse now. I am the hills.
I am the sky now. I have been set loose.

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