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Brandon Shimoda


A horse went walking in the river once
And fell into a hole
To its neck. The horse got stuck
People came around. Some people came around
And some people came around
And approached the horse
The people who approached the horse
Were at a loss. They could not extricate the horse
From the hole. They tried
To remove the earth
But only succeeded
In dropping

The horse was not wounded, however
All attempts to free the horse failed

The horse's neck and head were free
The horse could move its head
And breathe, and eat
So people brought it food
Bags of carrots, apples
Grass from right there in the river

The horse was especially enthusiastic about lemons
Yellow godmothers. The horse's eyes blushed
Yellow godmothers. The horse's eyes squealed inwardly

Let us go
To the horse
Wet underneath

Let us climb the horse
Let us wrap our arms and legs around
The horse's neck. The horse is now
Where people go
When they want to climb something local
And reach the apex without climbing
Out of Sunday

The horse becomes
In statue form
Four faceless, inanimate people
Embracing in the form of once-was-horse
Torn into additional

A field of carnivorous grass
Comporting an emerald kingdom

Figures are not FULL OF LIFE
Figures are quarantined
By fear
And make of love
A coping

Climbing, I am shredding

Fermented milk
Around the horse's gnawing mouth


I was, while urinating on a bank of snow
Against a deli, asking myself, what is it
I'm supposed to do? What is it I'm returning to?
My friends were passions in the parking lot
Twisting beneath, I remember
My shadow
Turning into the wall. Will I know enough?
To know I've left?

To return?

To the lowest point?

The dissolution of the primal screw
Or chew the Gatorade
The horse loves, hangs its head over the fence
Am I supposed to touch? Enough
To see the yellow godmothers in the horse's eyes
Emblazoned with black Christmas trees

Fruit is blind. Only the tree sees
—René Char

What is the horse
That keeps on giving

There's an old man in the river
Bringing food
On a tray
To feed the horse

The old man falls. The laughs pull off

People never outgrow
The desire to be
A hat upon the head
Of a body that cannot move


The basic obscurity
Of an animal in a field
Unknown because of speed

Talking to persons who are not there
The dirty horse is the journal
Of the absent persons' mental

Riding the horse, believing a voice
Satisfaction of the waste

A woman rides a horse into the desert
To make a portrait of herself
In the desert with a horse, her horse
She will BE the desert, FROM the desert
As if she lives there, and has always

The portrait will be: THE DESERT UNDERSTANDS ME

The desert
And I

The background is mostly sky. The ground tilts up
Where the ground meets the sky, the balance of the woman's body is
Not in it, the portrait: a horse, a dog, a river
Brush in the river, cactus in the river
Stars, the sky, crosses on a chapel
Small, insignificant flowers
Growing in the shadows of each
Cross imbuing with silent color
A critical double-portrait


What is the point? Hey you, ruining the view

Of fertile essences
When the desert is gone
All around is one
Way to regard it
Never was?

Brandon Shimoda was born in southern California, and has lived most recently in west Texas and southern Taiwan. His books include Evening Oracle (Letter Machine Editions; winner of the William Carlos Williams Award), and a broken mirror in which used to be reflected the face and body of his dead immigrant photographer grandfather (unpublished). His poem "The Horse" was co-written with a horse in Tucson, Arizona.