horse dying in the here and now

ahh christ

the horse bleeds like
something you almost

stumbles away from the teeth
towards the light
and by the time you arrive
it’s all over

the throat vanished
the flies beginning to gather
the song all but

the carnage rises up

swarms against your eyes like
one of your father’s stories
from viet nam

like your mother or
even better
your sister

how many years ago?

four at least
maybe five

left arm broken
two teeth gone and still
she wouldn’t call
the police

said she loved him

said she loved
the next one too and
the one after that and
the bruises were clouds in
an autumn sky

the sky was
a pack of dogs circling
the sun

was something you
never managed to forget
and then this horse dying
in the here and now and
all you can do is

all you can do is wait

your life up to this point
the small frightened
dream you always
knew it would

the poet takes his place in the actual world

fuck this idea of
poetry reaching back to
embrace the past

i will not worship
the martyred or the immortal

it’s enough to be stuck in
this town of defeated old men
as they shuffle aimlessly
up and down anonymous streets

it’s enough to watch the
factories burn

and i have driven in every direction
and i have seen nothing but
more of the same
and i am only waiting for the news
that reagan is dead

i am only waiting to hear
from a friend
who hasn’t written in a decade
that all is forgiven

and i have a job that will never be
anything worth describing
and i have a son who will someday
want nothing more than to
escape his father

what i give you hear is a
pale blue november sky bleached to white at the edges

the drone of a plane and the
sound of wind through bare trees
and there is a house of
delicate bones in this picture
that i call my home

there is a river that holds
the body of
a fifteen year-old boy

it doesn’t bother me that i’ve
outlived him
but maybe it should


[b]Ruminations over morning tea[/b]

Maybe it’s time to start again
and reinvent myself
in warmer weather wearing wool
only when winter thoughts
plague me at night
as I miss the morning snow
and white Christmases I used to know
and white pages of books printed on good paper
not newsprint, brown and rough as I turn pages
of my days
to see what comes after
the heroine decides

that maybe it’s time to start again
and reinvent herself
on other shelves
turn her life from drama/mystery
into bestselling comedy
erasing all the misery
of missing midnight cups of tea
with people giving sympathy
like crumbs to park pond ducks
like candy to a crying child
like coins to a weeping fountain
that one day thinks

maybe it’s time to start again
and reinvent myself
as water in a bedside glass
or rain that falls on suburban grass
or holy water blessing multitudes at mass
and so the repentant prodigal child
comes home
to start again and reinvent herself
as fatted calf.

[b]They spoke about a sunrise[/b]

If you could, would you,
he asked at the crossroads
of Cross Street and High.
She smiled with eyes
that didn’t answer his question
or give reason why she should.
Listen, he said,
close your impenetrable eyes
and I’ll ask you again.
Could you, if I would–
she stopped him there,
I don’t know if I should.
Let’s walk awhile
a mile, maybe two
down to where the sky roses
grow, says he.
Maybe, and she stepped
lightly on his toes
with a teasing smile.
And the shadows held hands
and left empty spaces
where they would have stood.

[b]When the doorbell didn’t ring as promised[/b]

You left me hanging
by the rope
woven from the ever-tightening,
lengthening list
of ways the world doesn’t look
like the fingerpainted fiction
I foolishly fashioned as a child.

You left me holding
on to what I thought were wishes
blown from birthday candles
that turned out to be the smoke
that chokes me,
black like the scarf I wear
in memorium
as I bury you every day
(yet you rise up, always, won’t you stop).

You filled me with
the tears that every poem is made of.
In the hole left from your absences
I will drown,
I will drown.

by Shiloah Matic � 2002
([email]smatic [at] wesleyan [dot] edu[/email])

[b]Author’s Note:[/b]
Shiloah currently has poetry published online at and has contributed to the December issue of Soapbox Girls, a webzine for women.

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