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  • Horseflies
  • friday poems by petehorsepoetryrobert wrigley

Horseflies




HORSEFLIES

By Robert Wrigley

After the horse went down
     the heat came up
and later that week
     the smell of its fester yawed,
an open mouth of had-been air
     our local world was licked
inside of, and I, 
the boy who'd volunteered at twilight--
     shunts of chawed cardboard
wadded up my nostrils
     and a dampened bandana
over my nose and mouth--
     I strode then 
into the ever-purpler sink
     of rankness and smut,
a sloshful five-gallon bucket of kerosene
     in my right hand,
a smoking railroad fuse
     in my left,
and it came over me like water then, 
into my head-gaps and gum
     rinds, into the tear ducts
and taste buds and even
     into the last dark tendrils
of my howling, agonized hair
     that through the windless half-light
hoped to fly from my very head,  
and would have, I have no doubt, had not
     the first splash of kerosene
launched a seething skin
     of flies into the air
and onto me, the cloud of them
     so dense and dark my mother in the distance
saw smoke and believed as she had feared  
I would, that I had set my own
     fool and staggering self aflame,
and therefore she fainted and did not see
     how the fire kicked
the other billion flies airborne
     exactly in the shape
of the horse itself,  
which rose for a brief quivering
     instant under me, and which for a pulse thump
at least, I rode--in a livery of iridescence,
     in a mail of exoskeletal facets,
wielding a lance of swimming lace--
     just as night rode the light, and the bones,
and a sweet, cleansing smoke to ground.
  • friday poems by petehorsepoetryrobert wrigley