I have a new book due out next week, a collection of poems entitled “Old Horse, What Is to Be Done?” It’s my seventh book and my third poetry collection.
The poems were written slowly over the past five years although some of them are mined from old notebooks I kept in times of deep solitude. The book is dedicated to Robert Bly. In my late twenties and early thirties, struggling with blindness and the overwhelming question of “how to live and what to do” Robert counseled me to accept imagination and loneliness as my secret companions.
This proved to be good advice. Blind, I wasn’t going to drive a cab in New York. A bookish life was certainly available.
The poems are about many things: seasons, music, books, journeys, chance encounters. The title poem is about watching my wife’s old horse “Luigi” a thoroughbred as he looks out the window of his stall:
“Old Horse, What Is to Be Done?”
—for Robert Bly
I also want to live tonight
My pockets filled with ghost silver
The real coins I spent long ago
There are weeks, whole months
When I read only the ancients
I mean the dark one the river compulsive
A man who made clocks from string…
Time is a game played beautifully by children
Lately this is all I can think of
When I was very small I lived by a meadow
You loved me and I wasn’t confused
The “dark one” is an allusion to Herakleitos the Greek poet who said we can never step into the same river twice. Time is fleeing, our mortal lives are precious and short. I don’t know about the loneliness of horses. I don’t know if they meditate on growing old. But I knew as a child I loved them and as the poem says, I wasn’t confused.
I’ll be reading from the book THIS THURSDAY at 7:00 Central Time alongside my dear friend Ralph Savarese who also has a new book coming out, a collection of poems entitled “When This is Over” about the struggles we’re facing in a time of pandemic. We’re reading virtually and you can register for the event here:
Here’s to the poets, all, who keep on singing in dark times.
Cover, “Old Horse, What Is to Be Done?”