April 8, 2014
The Fourth Race at Ellis Park—Henderson, KY
Wild as its Arab forebears must have been,
the horse pumped its bulging frame—
the Sunday set buzzing as the dark mane
pulsed the air, gate jumped and jockey bucked
before the starter’s shot.
Muscles stretched like rubber bands, the horse flew
across furlongs—away from round-up riders
trotting lazy under the firecracker sun.
The spooked horse spooked again, and sweet motion
swung to zigzag—a convict caught mid-break.
The clattering hooves pitched clay and clod
as a lather soaped the riderless back.
An ambulance whined as a section of rail
opened, the horse driven out but not captured,
disappeared behind the clustered stables.
The hum of the grandstand shrank as the crowd
turned back to bottled beer and betting sheets.
And the horse ran for who knows what—
hillsides robed in purple wildflowers,
a brimming trough of oats, or open fields
where the weary roam and ride a hot sea of broken luck.