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Hoofprints; Horse Poems

When had anyone listened to you,
bay mare we bought
for your genetics
and your womb?
Yet you were eloquent,
meeting my eyes,
then turning your gaze,
wide and dark,
on the lush grass growing
outside the fence--
then back to my face.
Could it have been clearer?
I took a step in the right direction.
You encouraged with a nicker,
and I began to value you.
You.
You.

In e-book format from Open Road Integrated Media

Horses from prehistory to today, our ecstatic and tangled relationship with them, and their profound effect on world history, in 101 poems.
Our lives have been intertwined for ten thousand years. History is horse stories . . .

History,
Horse story,
My story,
Your story.

Hoofprints ends with a brief prose history of horses, and a glossary. More detailed horse history may be found in Horse Crazy!, and in Storey's Horselover's Encyclopedia, due out in 2016.






Winged Team

Simply a good little chariot team,
Broad-chested, high-crested.
The ears prick, the nostrils flare,
The short-clipped mans spring back
like roosters' combs,
And the wings are lifted.

Twenty-three hundred years ago,
Somebody's pride,
They were driven forth like this before the sculptor,
And pranced beneath the hot Etruscan sun.
On a pair like this the wings, you understand,
Are really just a slight exaggeration.

Etruscan winged horses from Museo Etrusco, Tarquinia, Italy, as they appear on the back cover of the Greenwillow edition of Hoofprints.

A piece created in support of the New York carriage horses

My sister, Martha Haas, laid out this piece in April 2014, in support of the hardworking carriage horses of New York. We grew up in a Teamster household, on a farm, and we support horses' right to work. We also know what may happen to them if they don't work. Mayor DeBlasio needs to understand--if you ban them, most will die, and not in a green pasture somewhere, but in a Canadian slaughterhouse.
As the signs on the highways say, Let 'em work, let 'em live.

This Rider


This rider,
in black jacket, white breeches,
is accountable for each step taken.
Each hoof touches earth
precisely to her bidding.
Cadence, elasticity,
metronomic rhythm,
even the ears,
even if the tail swishes,
or does not,
is her responsibility.

This rider slouches.
In each direction
he sees miles and miles
of miles and miles.
Get over the ground,
look at fences,
look at cattle,
then eat, sleep,
do it again tomorrow.
Let the horse shuffle
any old how,
as long as
it doesn't
raise a blister.

This rider goes as fast as fast can go
for less than three minutes.
Ideally, she doesn't get killed.
Ideally, she'll do it again,
three or four times an afternoon,
ending as often as possible
ahead of all the others.

This rider stays on
--that's all--
eight seconds.
Legs fly loose,
spurs scratch fore and aft,
and then at last the whistle blows.
Let go!

This rider
sits
motionless
in a tall
narrow
sentry box
outside
the
palace,
pretending
not to hear
what people say.

And this one hopes
the judge did not see that.
If her mistake was overlooked
she'll win.