Sunday Jul 14

KaneJulie Julie Kane's two most recent poetry collections are Jazz Funeral (Story Line, 2009), the winner of the Donald Justice Poetry Prize, and Rhythm & Booze (U of Illinois P, 2003), a National Poetry Series winner and finalist for the Poets' Prize.  Her poems have been featured in Poetry Daily, Verse Daily, and The Writer's Almanac.  Recent journals in which her work appears include Prairie Schooner, Drunken Boat, Valparaiso Poetry Review, The New Laurel Review, and Poemeleon.  She teaches at Northwestern State University in Natchitoches, Louisiana.  Her website address is



Gift Horse

There was nothing in my hand
back then;
no carrot stub, no sugar lump
to tempt you;
but you came to me at dusk.
Out of the shadows
of birch trees, of crabapples
you chose me;
and our first rides together
were purely crazy ones:
me with my fists knotted
in your silk,
my knees clamped
to your flanks;
desperate to last you out,
to not get thrown.
Then I began to relax;
my spine uncurled;
I could track what flashed
in the branches;
and I sought out lessons
from the masters
ahead of me, behind me
in those woods.
You were always so finicky,
would never once approach me
when the wind was rank with poisons
from my skin,
and where I thought
we were going
was seldom where
you would take me
in those years before you let me
bit and bridle you.
Half a century now
bound together,
our rides slowed down
to a measured canter,
the barn rarely out of sight
as we round our turns—
How can I help but dread
that white gate
looming ahead
which I must
leap across
unknowing:  with you
or without you?