Consider the sportsbook at Ballys
it could be morning at Belmont,
noon at Laurel,
night at Bay Meadows,
dreamtime at Aksarben and Narraganset.
A pale man in a yellow shirt,
a banker perhaps,
pours over the Form like a Kabbalist
decoding and releasing the numbers.
The half in 26 flat, six furlongs in one ten
and change, track bias minus three.
Five minutes to post and it's raining at Belmont;
Clear Mandate, Rising Sun,
Spanish Man working their way toward the gate.
The banker rocking now, filled with potential,
dreaming of foreclosures, silken mouths,
the vaselined return of youth thrusting in his hand,
and up comes a picture of his poppa
in a second floor apartment,
shooting himself for thinking of sin.
Poppa believing that the virgin birth
required him to bathe each newly formed idea
with God's grace, and lately he'd been forgetting,
and the number of forgets grew larger than
the national debt and Poppa declared bankruptcy
right then, it made economic sense,
and took out his thirty eight, cradled the trigger,
smooth as the clean slate of forgiveness,
and wiped himself pure as he sucked on
the barrel and squeezed.
The banker starts, lays down his cigar,
thinks maybe he should chuck it all and write,
write till he dies so the moon can find her way.
So he could notice which things rise
and which things turn their head
and those that hold their grandpa's arm
and those who tell a tale by spreading out
and those who teach
and those who guess, who pray, who bounce along alone,
who go the way
that leads them out of night.
But he shakes it off and nibbles at a roll,
dreams of midnight pasta and now
it is pouring at Belmont,
outriders drenched in orange slickers,
and they're off,
no animal wanting to run in this rain,
this sloppy sea, saddle cinched belly tight,
ridden and whipped,
straining on the bit,
the three horse shifting in the center of the track,
suddenly tasting the rain,
and singing to himself,
I am language of the wind
and I run as all things called and beaten run,
not for the love of it but to shed off the weight
on my back that stretches near my neck
whispering promises, lies,
of my beauty, of touch, of spring pastures
birthing all leggy in grass,
now covered in mud pounding down the backstretch,
all care disappearing and rumbling in gear,
flying across the speaking earth,
now miles ahead of the whip,
hungry for ground and
through on the rail,
promise cascading through fetlocks and hooves,
the yielding track alive,
the slick rumped poetry of me melting in the rain,
the barn whispering, come here, come here now,
and I do.