Old Horses Make Whis­per

Prairie Fire - - TABLE OF CONTENTS - TAMMY ARM­STRONG

With our pale minds lean­ing

to­ward the first few min­utes

in the Year of the Horse

we watched last year slip away

through shed doors and lit­tle win­dows—

a dim-eyed groundling

es­cap­ing the lift­ing light.

And with its long-tailed leav­ing

it took a woman who stepped be­tween two boats

and dis­ap­peared

it took foxes on tram­po­lines

and bears walk­ing up­right

it took the chil­dren of Yaku­tia

snow-tramp­ing to school

armed with hatch­ets and wolf fear.

And then it took long-teth­ered ro­bots

snook­ing the Black Sea’s floor

for me­dieval car­racks—

stoved holds filled with lost horses, pelts and peo­ple.

And it took the Mars rover

climb­ing Nauk­luft Plateau of Lower Mount Sharp

hum­ming “Sun­day Morn­ing Com­ing Down”

over and over those friend­less, red sands.

And it took a pri­est of half-be­liev­ers

and a recipe for rein­deer tongue

(though not the tip as it com­pels one to lie).

And be­fore the new year rushed us on

all pa­per horns, prom­ise

and barn-sour fu­tures the old year left be­hind

our badly-healed bones

our torch songs our wan­der to­ward mus­cle and shovel

while some­where rusted slag loos­ened from a hill.

A war be­gat a war.

Trees ig­nited. Sand glassed.

And five of a newly damned species slept.

Still we rat­tle on

open­ing the shut forc­ing the tight-folded

be­cause it’s early Jan­uary

and the days to come

like all loose things

stirred up, made bright can only es­cape

up and out into this win­tery air.

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