Horses in the Dark


Do non-horse people grasp how massive horses are?
Look, I’m just one person googling ‘do horses have elbows’,
just one point of anecdata, but I’m going to say no.
It turns out horses are big like an early computer was big.
They’re bigger than three people in a sack or a wardrobe
full of firemen’s suits or a broken family’s broken family car.
In the dark and up close they’re bigger still, the way a fly
near your ear sounds like a World War II fighter plane.
What you can barely see looms larger than what you can.
Each horse in this rustling, moonless paddock is
a heavy emptiness, a black hole hanging strainingly from a crane.
It’s like the universe is twenty large things with eighty legs.
It’s like all knowledge is contained in twenty grazing heads.
Am I getting the bigness across? What if I called a horse
a ‘hoss’ and made a flank-slapping gesture and mimed
galloping away on a tremendous untameable beast
like someone riding a missile aimed at the US Northeast
to convey the power of one of these animals, the annihilating
potential of HORSE? And you could join in and we could stage
a contemporary mystery play of big horsey bodies moving
around on Earth with undreamt-of grace and open-air precision
in the way that only things that are never understood can do.
This is what I believe instead of religion.


Erik Kennedy (he/him) is the author of the poetry collections There’s No Place Like the Internet in Springtime (2018) and Another Beautiful Day Indoors (2022), both with Victoria University Press, and he has co-edited No Other Place to Stand, a book of climate change poetry from Aotearoa New Zealand and the Pacific forthcoming from Auckland University Press in 2022. Originally from New Jersey, he lives in Ōtautahi Christchurch.