Richard O’Connell

High Horse

I tried to ride my Pegasus indoors,
Twisting and turning, bending over backwards
To clear each lintel and get through every door.
Like Doctor Johnson’s standing dog, I made
Such tricks a legend in the riding trade—
The wonder that it could be done at all,
But poetry’s a wild and willful jade
Not easily tamed, nor locked up in a stall;
Not made for pawing in a lecture room
Or fancy jumping at a riding school
Or prancing children on the carousel.

I tried to ride my Pegasus indoors
To please a pack of asses, come to bray
At my fool antics, grudging me applause
And letting me collect a little hay.
I should have seen they hated my high horse
—The naked force of poetry itself
(Unless it was book-glue, bound on the shelf).
I throw away the bridle, bit and whip:
My Pegasus was made to mount the stars.
What if he throws me, breaks my neck in mud.
I clutch his mane and whisper in his ear
And hug him closer to me than my blood.