[from Fanny Howe's The Lyrics, Graywolf, 2007]
Rain and a splash
of backward glances from horses
climbing out of the river.
They are factored out of all equations,
the luckies. Their shoes
ring like elfin hammers
and echo on the granite.
From the yellow mist she came to the hospital
bruised all over and the man asking
Who did this to you?
But now I don't recall
what she answered.
The more you lie, the less you remember.
Her plan is not to become a ghost at any cost.
A female ghost is at the bottom of the barrel.
So what's to blame
except the horse in the sun.
The battlefield is where
bombs are planted in a trash can
roosters are crowing
and ink is like mud.
A chicken lives in the kitchen.
That gas lamp provides a silhouette.
History, there are no surprises coming from you.
From bodies, less than none.
Less than none means there is no meaning.
Even among bags, needles and bed pans
Raindrops make ornaments
out of the lights that shine in them.
Old human breath and an animal soul
lie down on those horse-hair pillows.
The worst was saved for the best.
The worst was served to the children of the non-avaricious.
A black tomb
of family life, body parts for sale and no sympathy at all.
How can this be happening?
Averted face, a grin.
And these were kind men to everyone at home.
Women loved them.
Horses have fallen on horses
And a heap of laughing soldiers.
No more drama of sulkiness.
They are humans and horses together, they are one thing.
Genesis foot-tap, first out of the yard,
once wrongly placed, the rest
of the hooves follow.
And the pricks
in their pants under massive horse-brown tables
draw up the plans
for continuing slaughter.
"The dragon represents history."
I am running from
these lessons. I am running from school.
Will a new mistake produce better results?
Say I experience once again.
lips on my nipple and the rush
of grief turned into milk. Those
were the days when I understood
emotion as flesh's feelings.
I felt other people more than I knew them.
There were no vapors, even words
stank of milk and mouth.
Love was like a horse. Once I rose
from the bed and left the earth
and my nursing baby and flew
into the likeness of heaven.
But then I volunteered to come back.
Yes, I was a brave soldier then.
I remember baby's eyes were closed
and the sky never looked so smart.
Say I had never had this happen.
Where would I be today?
The horses' flanks are shiny.
They are ears even as they are meat.
They listen to the music
of human voices and leaves and twitch.
Sodomize them, the crowd of bodies cries.
Call on the diligence of the penis
and carnal clitoris, cry the rest.
In music there is rest.
Why did God leave us, isn't it obvious?
Of meaty flanks I sing.
I will go down with the polis.
Let the police drag me away.
"Get rid of those tickets,
Go to the show."
I knew everything was backwards
I didn't need to be told
you were out there, God, or hear
all those cafeteria sounds
in the light that I am,
turning around on a pencil.
Teacher leaned forward and amended
my story about the yellow horse
at the bottom of the road
facing up to where I stood
and coated in silver fog.
He said there was never any fog
in that part of town and I said nothing
though I was the one who went there.
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