Full Gallop

[Animal locomotion, 16 frames of racehorse “Annie G.” galloping], by Eadweard Muybridge, circa 1887. Image courtesy of Library of Congress.

I return to the house a little more burned,
a little more
peopled by your faces turned toward that horserace
the past

where we are from, where winter warps
        the film we need
to prove
horses leave the ground at full gallop.

The break was clean, my always fate—
how they move like ice shadows lengthen,
gathering belief—

they are time machines.
Watch as I do,
a film of my own life unspool.
       How frantic are those snapping heads?
I am tied to a chair watching ghosts gather
near home—

I mean finish,
where it starts to matter who feeds
their colts gunpowder before the race.

By gunpowder
       I mean cocaine—
speed, if you’re up to it,
       will teach you the value of time.

You tell me to count,
to calm myself, to leave
       that broke down that went for broke
where I found it.

How could I forget
       that colt who tests positive?
How could I not
as I heed my own voice speaking
the warbled language of film played backwards—

I have been here before—

come home shuddering world of last chance, beat
of horses’ stillness
       before the gates fling themselves open—

I should go.
I should go

for the throat.
I should destroy the chair.

Jill Mceldowney is the author of the chapbooks Kisses Over Babylon (dancing girl press) and Paradise Woods (forthcoming). She is also a co-founder and editor for Madhouse Press. Her work can be found in Vinyl, Fugue, the Sonora Review, Timber, Whiskey Island, and elsewhere.
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