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Horse-Hearted - De File
Does Collecting Make You Feel Dirty?
Time for another archival moment. When your word-hoard is ill-suited to the present, a foray into the past may do the trick.

This is one of the first poems my first girlfriend -- first of two, I should add -- Annalee wrote to me, for me. You can tell how early it is in the relationship, because she still calls me "Charles." It only took her a couple weeks to reclaim my childhood name of "Charlie" for me. I'd date it early September, 1987.

Annalee had a way of focusing her attention on her desire of the moment that was hard to ward off. As inexperienced as I was, I had no chance of resisting.

But I'm glad, because I wouldn't be here right now if I had blunted the force of her words with armor developed in previous romances.

I had so little positive sense of self when I met her, so little imagery at my disposal that her language became "me" to an extent I now find difficult to comprehend. Although returning to this poem after so many years was painfully intense, I now feel restored:

You are a balking animal,
huge and unsure of your feet.
You are horse-hearted.
Somewhere you are galloping,
but here you lumber like a draft-horse.
Each foot-fall is like the clopping of hooves,
steady and measured upon any surface.
It seems that you are domesticated,
but in your lit eyes I can see
a bit clenched between your casual teeth.
How can your plodding, deliberate soul be so free?
The narrow bar upon my tongue
rips at the edges of my mouth;
it makes my lips bleed and froth.
I scream like a half-crazed wild beast,
I buck and kick and send dust in all directions,
but my head is in the bridle
and I am
so tame.

There is a handwritten note appended to the poem:
This is a bad poem, so just don't think that I normally write like this. I mean, the stuff about you probably isn't even true. Bist du beeindruckt? I remembered.


The Circus Poet

The irony is that her words were addressed to a void. They weren't "true" or "not true," because there wasn't anything to measure them against. I incorporated them and made them the truth of my existence, without even realizing it.

I'm not sure why she felt it necessary to qualify the poem with the self-deprecating note. She was probably unsure of how I would react to the characterization.

Reading the poem again, as I typed it in, I'm struck by the slippage from second to first person.

How thoroughly is the speaker identifying with the "horse-hearted" addressee?

Am I to suppose that Annalee herself -- yes, I'm going to lapse into straight biographical criticism -- felt herself to be more "tame" than me, even though she made more of a fuss about the metaphoric bit in her mouth?

I still like the idea of plodding freedom a lot, even though I have a hard time remembering what it was like to feel free.

Tags: , ,
Mode: placid
Muse: Cut Your Hair - Pavement - Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain

1 comment or Leave a comment
kdotdammit From: kdotdammit Date: February 10th, 2004 06:16 pm (UTC) (LINK TO SPECIFIC ENTRY)
It's funny that you found this poem. I keep thinking of when I interviewed Annalee for that audio montage I did for KPFA. She was talking about how much she like to pretend she was a horse when she was a kid. Of course, since Bean and her friends pretend they are horses, I have been thinking about Annalee's description of her horse memories. It's no wonder that she saw you as a horse and then imposed herself onto the image. I love moments like these.

PS: This poem has a lot of truth to it regardless of what you or she thought. Were you a horse to begin with, or did you become a horse? I'm not sure. But you definitely fit the description now. It's pleasing.
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