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Wednesday, July 25, 2012

I Am Not a Poet

I am not a poet. But I love working on pieces that feel like poetry. Therefore, I’ve signed up for an online course in a program called Coursera. (I suggest you google it) It’s a social entrepreneurship company that partners with the top universities in the world to offer courses online for anyone to take. It’s free and sounds pretty amazing.Their idea envisions a future where the top universities educate millions of students. My idea is to post this poem now and then at the end of my ten week course post it again to find out if I’ve actually learned anything. 
So, for any of our followers who happen to have an affinity for, or knowledge of, the genre, I’m taking a tentative step and posting a piece I wrote a few years back. It is the recollection of my 11 year old self, coming home in the dark on a horse that I simultaneously loved and feared. 
It’s open game for critqueing (constructive, please) since I am in the enviable position, as I’ve said, of claiming no knowledge of structure or . . . uh . . . whatever guidelines define poetry.     
Night Travel
The smell of evening earth,
unfurling mayapples,
still warm gravel,
mix with the leathery smell of horse sweat.
His neck, steely hard
damp beneath my hand
signals that I need to stay calm,
he’s scared enough for both of us.
We’re losing light
Evening shade draping itself 
across his flanks, my bare shoulders, 
making home seem a lifetime away.
Yellow warmth from kitchen lights,
hidden by distance and the rising road,
keep me nudging, 
keep him walking on.
Taught calves against quivering sides
green shadows turning black,
all could skew his judgement,
turn hind quarters into dynamite
My breaths are too shallow.
His come in snorts.
I know what it means. But he needs to stay calm, 
I’m scared enough for both of us.
“Easy, Boy.”
The words come from a tissue paper mouth.
“Easy boy,” 
from hands, to reins, to bit.
My memories whispered
of summer fields hammered by flying hooves
stopping short of creek, road, ravine,
just in time to save my life.
His listening scattered
trusting the voice that speaks to him
whenever golden nuggets of grain
fall into his bucket.
Time tested trust.
It’s all we have.
It will have to be enough,
since the night has finally swallowed us. 

Posted by Fran McDowell

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