J. Quinn Buckley



Before the horses fell                                                                                                                             I was a princess. There was nothing to restore.                                                                                                                                                


                                                  mired in middle tar puddles. Middle of Main Street.
                                                  Or Chestnut. Middle of Borne. I should clarify—
                                                  The horses' chains had been removed. They fell.
                                                  Equidistant and flailing, in their black flanks, a hardness.
                                                  Glazed, even. The Community shielded their eyes.
                                                  The hands of dictators in frozen salutes;
                                                  their uneasy ankles belonged to new dancers.
                                                  Wobbling, poised to snap. I should clarify—
                                                  They came for brochures; for chaste tones
                                                  from the ceiling vent saying get, get and enjoy;
                                                  for a story as if told in fact was; to churn;
                                                  to froth; to mock; to watch Me,
                                                  pull and gnash in the muck. The horses, not me
                                                  or was it young men thrashing in the tar? I should clarify—
                                                  I would rather a golden arrow, but there was the child
                                                  wrapped in donkeyskin, smelling of hair washed
                                                  in orange juice and cream, swinging
                                                  and sailing, pushing the rust to exhaustion.
                                                  Watch the chains up further, up, tip and jump
                                                  or else swing over yourselfandthensnap—





                              I take the babe,

                    ginger curled and bundled, down to the trainyard

          and watch the many

                    maybewidows line the tracks

                    with such abeyance, hung as scarecrows, arms pinned up

in hopes of a loved one landing.

          These women, bulging brick walls and we ought

                              to be their alleyways the babe tells me then asks


          Do you want to see my face

          smile? I didn't know an empty space

          could swell.

                    The babe came in winter. After I swallowed

                    a snowflake, squatting in the garden,

          chewing Angel's Trumpet, the babe

                    came in spring. It was one or the other. I can't recall


                                        which unwoke me. I lay there thinking,

                    must track my cub,

                    plan to stay stretched, love

          so much I could eat you

                                                                      up, gobbling allowed

                    at the table, we never

                              have guests for supper. When one of us runs

                                        from the other, I am too hungry to tell

                    which is which. She gets

                                                                                small enough to fit

                                                                                          inside my mouth. Light touches

                                                    the shoulder, the lump

                              in the throat.






Aarne-Thompson is a classification system for fairy tales. The subheading found here has been altered. Here is one that is unaltered: Aarne-Thompson type 1281: Burning the Barn to Destroy an Unknown Animal. These poems contain language found in Audrey Chapman's 1986 self-help book, Mansharing: Dilemma or Choice.