Horses and Beggars
“It’s a wonderful, wonderful opera, except that it hurts”
—Joseph Campbell, The Power of Myth
We took confetti in our mouths
and wished on everything:
bridges, pennies, cars with one headlight,
train tracks, matches, first stars.
We were the Corps of Engineers
calling out to our veins, Will the dam hold?
And the dam was matter.
Under the same old moon,
Chögyam Trungpa drank whiskey
the color of holy robes. His hands trembled like pages
and he said, Whose hands, whose birds are these?
We rode skateboards
down the helix of the parking tower
and didn’t feel the need to repudiate our bodies,
and didn’t foresee.
The thing of it was
time still came back after all that,
us scrambling up the banks of the Vermilion River
with giant flowers on fire in our arms like flags,
that night of the surprise frost that caused the bees to waltz
from the petals giddy with solidarity as we sang out,
as we recited mathematics,
stained us like pollen,
and we shared the orange juice that was the only thing in the world,
as the various shapely contestants
for Miss Meaning of the Universe
disported for our favor.
Cause and effect, snap,
the brutal angels
in smoke and lurched
away, leaving us
with breath and lack,
systole and diastole alone
in the maw of the world
and we swallowed
asked for water
in our bodies as in a large room
whose exit we have misplaced
and we and the suns and planets
were juggled for a while, then dropped
Shannon Holman, New York, 1995-1999