Christopher T. Keaveney

HOW NOT TO CULL WILD HORSES

 

Wisdom dictates there is a right and wrong way
to do everything,
and if that is true of cracking a walnut,
accompanying a jig on a bodhran,
or getting out of the sand trap
then it is true
of culling wild horses,
in the public lands out West
where some suggest that mustangs have outlived
their charm
and become nuisances
like sourpussed former
Mousketeers
fallen on hard times,
staggering drunkenly around the county fairgrounds
picking fights with all comers.

In the best of all possible worlds the wind
that spins dust devils and rattles
the panes of loosely shut windows
would also fret the manes
of horses sprung from their makeshift pens
and carry the scent of the hunter
with his rifle trained from a comfortable distance
to the spooked herd.
In the best of all possible worlds
there would be a Plan C
and their would be room for compromise,
even as in late summer the sage grass
long and lush
that stretches out as far as the eye can see
bends beneath the whir of the patrol chopper.

The clouds prove
to be anvil shaped
conundrums for the splaying
from where we gather on the capital steps
waiting on a late reprieve,
bluer skies to adjudicate
the final compromise that may be arrived at
only after fierce debate,
the fruit of smaller scrums fought
in the dust that rises along the fencelines
that hold nothing of value in
and keep nothing of value out,
where sentimentality huddles
in the darkness of the bitless, fetlocked nights
that begin in the canyons
where even the memory
of the echo of the thunder
of hooves is held dear.

 

 

 

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Christopher T. Keaveney teaches Japanese language and East Asian culture at Linfield College in Oregon and is the author of three books about Sino-Japanese cultural relations. His poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Columbia Review, Spoon River Poetry Review, Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review, The Minetta Review, Stolen Island, Faultline, Wilderness House Literary Review, and elsewhereand he is the author of the collection Your Eureka not Mined (Broadstone Books, 2017).