by Kelley Aitken

Their gait our thought before
we think it, merest shift
amends their direction, we
should be so subtle.

Who wouldn’t
gaze into that big eye
with its long lashes,
press against that wide
warm neck to smell dust, distance
and the way home?

They run toward whatever
we ask them to—
fence, cliff, a finish
line, the enemy’s armour,
arrows flying to new sheaths

while those as yet
unpierced thunder forward
to embrace the spears and spikes
of pointless wars. They deliver
what we ask: perfect blend of fight
or flight, pushing their limits to
vault us over ours.

Some horses will stay when the reins
are dangled from velvet muzzles;
no need to tie them to tree or post
and though the skin of the plains
once sounded with their timpani
we always corral what we love.


If wishes were horses they could
carry me over this course
careen me on the broken
wooden wheels of my dismay.

Could I wear the bridle again;
slip into the familiar gait;
lead you to water;
make you drink?

— from Juniper Volume 2, Issue 2