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  • The Horse and the Holy Man, and: Winged Hussars, and: God the Condor, and: Mothers, and: 1963
  • Sandra Alcosser (bio)

the horse and the holy man

Spirit is not in the I, but between I and thou. It is not like the blood that circulates in you, but like the air in which you breathe. Martin Buber

The stable shadows indigo as the boy strokesThe neck of his beloved that coatsHis hand with a must of sweat and leatherThe dappled gray leans into the pressureWhile the boy in the red riding habit poursPeppery oats into a mangerThen large teeth with small scratches from grazingBegin to chew inside its sensitive lips

What better expresses beauty of the innerThan infant tenderness toward another—I have watched two alone in a pastureWhicker, exchanging weathersNo longer beasts, no longer orphan beings—They breathe into the nostrils of each other

winged hussars

Once we wore swan feathers—Eagle Vulture Ostrich Goose.

O the beauty of our fear—

Winged Hussars charged toward usToward us and through.

We wore cymbals and feathersTo make ourselves biggerTo deafen the others— [End Page 6]

Fear snaps like a banner.Fear chatters. Like now. Like footfall.Like clatter. I hearA heart coming for me, charging throughThe vestibule, charging throughThe bony labyrinth of my ear.

god the condor

I pull the God of Thunder I pull HimFrom a nest I pull a little nestling limp

Hold Him to my chest from His stomach takeHalf a cup of plastic half a cup of glassAnd from His crop lift four bottle capsWhat will make us well again what will makeUs sing poisoned by ideas poisoned by machinesGod is cleaning up now God is eating

Inside a clown-pink face lead bullet casingsA black boa frames His shoulders like a paintingImagine no more soaring no more PleistoceneNo more clouds pulled together by His wingbeats

God's coming for us now He looks a little queasyHe rubs his head against the rock He sharpens His beak


From under water and under tar,Down from the walls of cavesThey came The biologist madeA circle with her armsThat calf's heart must have weighedTwenty-five pounds she said. Deep insideEach bison there is a bible,Otherwise how could they surviveOur bullets and cliffsOur cities and flamesOur soups simmeringWith the heads of their babiesEach mother grazes patiently—A ton of flesh made of grass blades [End Page 7]


1 presidents and premiers address the young ladies of the seminary from outer space

Birds shimmy seeds into topknots of treesBeget strangler figs dangling toward gravityTo shelter the seminary

Who sit in a circle of white pleatsAnd blue blazers and listen to their leaders'Voices from outer space preaching—Mutually assured destruction by land or sea

Who will they rocket next—a chimpanzeeFruit flies, a dog they snatch from the streetWe cultivate anomie—roaring at realityWith its roots in everything the king can see

One girl lacquers her hair into a torpedo

Who can we believe? We girls of the seedBed, we—young ladies of the seminary

2 i had just come to terms with fallout, and along comes rachel carson (cartoon in saturday review)

1963 and the earth said a little less poison pleaseWith rustling sounds through fallen leavesThe sparrows flitting understorySaid yes please less for me—the ant hoistingHis brother's body in the nest said yesAnd sharks feeding in the sea and fish eaglesBuilding cribs of mops and lawn chairs yesAnd vultures who couldn't stop eatingCould not stop eating

A little less 2-4-d—less ddt and bhcA little less in our well a little less in our bloodstreamFrom the nerves of earthworm to the ovariesOf thrush and their exquisite melodiesFor everything eating and eaten—a little less poison please [End Page 8]

Sandra Alcosser

Sandra Alcosser is the author of Except by Nature (1998) and A Fish to...


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