Every Friday night we feature a short story, essay, personal narrative,
poem, spoken word, or short film for your enjoyment.
Tonight’s poem is from F. J. Bergman
“I can tell you 3 things this horse won’t do,”
the groom said, handing over the leadrope.
“He won’t bite, won’t kick—and he won’t run.”
Not one of the many colts ruined by the track;
the star fracture in his right front pastern was
from being hit by a truck in the backstretch,
a trainer driving drunk. “3 months
of stall rest, and you’re good to go.”
It wasn’t like he was green, or not even broke.
He’d already been in training, so I didn’t
expect much trouble, not from him. After all,
he’d served out his sentence with good behavior;
hadn’t ever pinned his plain, long ears at me
when I dumped hay in the corner of his stall,
hadn’t fussed when the other horses got grain.
He didn’t throw his head or clamp his jaw
when I bridled him, like others, roughly
handled. The saddle had been expensive,
even second-hand, but was too old to carry the smell
of new leather. The nylon longe line hadn’t the heft
of the cotton it had replaced, but my gloves
would give me enough grip, I thought.
He trotted quietly in a circle around me, 3 times.
Beyond the sand arena, sparse shrubs of honeysuckle
fringed the edge of a 3-hundred-foot drop.
Without a crack of pure, violet light, with no wreath
of cordite smoke left hanging in the perfumed air,
he detonated and came at me, a shockwave
that flung me to the dirt and ripped the line free.
In 3 enormous bounds, he cleared the edge.
I got to my knees, hands burning empty,
spitting what I hoped was sand, not teeth.
I could almost see a hole in the air
above the cliff, a glowing, blank space
in the shape of a horse.
F.J. Bergmann writes poetry and speculative fiction, often simultaneously, appearing in The 5-2, Black Treacle, North American Review, On Spec, Right Hand Pointing, and elsewhere. Editor of Star*Line, the journal of the Science Fiction Poetry Association, and poetry editor of Mobius: The Journal of Social Change .