by Alan Buckley
Cutting across to the Abingdon Road
westwards from the towpath,
I walk along an unfamiliar track.
A soft green lung reveals itself.
Along three sides trees flourish,
framing the view; like a stage’s deception,
that makes a theatre disappear
as it draws the audience in.
Horses are gathered in the middle.
They trim the blades meticulously,
or snuffle the late summer air,
staring at nothing in particular.
They look untroubled. Maybe some
Odysseus has plugged their ears
with wax. How else are they not driven
mad by the low rumbling of cars?
Perhaps they too allow the trees
to fool them, believing in fields beyond:
there for the reckless galloping,
if only they would choose.
(first published in Smiths Knoll, June 2007)
Alan Buckley works in Oxford as a school writer-in-residence for the charity First Story.
The Man Who Raced Fire
by Sarah James
He’d never seen such a horse before:
the size of its flanks, black but
an unending tail of orange and reds.
The galloping stallion was racing his truck, jumped
bushes, fences, trees, homes…
His speedometer soared and then
he couldn’t keep up with the pound of hooves
kicking up smoke, gas tanks exploding,
as stones cracked his windscreen sky.
(published in The Rialto, March 2012)
Sarah James is a poet and short story write. Her most recent poetry collection,
Be[yond], is out now with Knives, Forks and Spoons Press (July 2013).
by Angela France
They line up around the towns;
dark faces hang over fences,
gates, stable doors.
They don’t turn away.
They flick at flies,
shuffle, jostle a little.
People stop looking, drivers
keep eyes ahead, windows
on trains and buses blinded
by newspapers, coats, bags.
in petrol stations. Badgers play
on motorways. Verges widen.
The horses toss their heads
at changing weather,
blow gently, don’t whicker
They stay in line,
creak light from their joints
as they stamp, swish tails.
(published in Lessons in Mallemaroking, Nine Arches Press, 2011).
Angela France’s most recent collection is Hide, Nine Arches Press, March 2013. Angela is features editor of Iota and runs a monthly poetry cafe, ‘Buzzwords’.
by Lesley Quayle
Because they have no other place,
the tethered horses graze among piss anointed tenements,
crop black grass shrouding martyred cars,
rasp fly twitched muscles against
overthrown shopping trolleys and orphaned prams.
Here in the tribal, high rise plains
where the world swallows children,
maggots their souls with a carnal eye,
the horses flame, burn beneath the puny sprawl of boys
like a furnace of angels.
No swan necked thoroughbreds;
couplings of the tinkers’ whiskered piebalds
and the carters’ hacks, soft and brown as stout.
The boys, gauchos of the gutter, bareback, tarmac riders,
nail the sour air with shrieks, feel the Gods at their necks
and the miraculous tug of wings on their heavy heels.
Because they have no other place,
the silent children gather, cockroaches of the stairwells,
horse riders, pumped up with serpents,
their veins boil, sucking dreams from curtained eyes.
(first published by Second Light)
Lesley Quayle is a poet, writer, folk/blues singer and retired sheep farmer. Her most recent collection is Sessions (Indigo Dreams).
Horse smoking a Cigarette
by James Giddings
Have you ever seen a horse smoke a cigarette,
blow halo’s from his nose holes, like a dragon
with a mohawk, seen one hoof the dirt, grunt
and let out hot air, every exhale a water pipe
bursting? You probably can’t imagine, the lit stick
burning to the filter between his pursed lips,
that stuttered walk that should be a canter, but
looks more like a marionette, hopelessly caught up
in the storm of its strings. If you had seen this horse
you’d tell him to nip the cigs in the bud, go back
to grazing on grass, riding through the acres; you’d
remind him of the days when all he did was jump.
James Giddings is 23 and currently studying for an MA at Sheffield Hallam University. Recent poems in Black & Blue, Antiphon and The Cadaverine. @giddingstweets