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Poem: Horses

Books & Poetry

This week marks the 12th anniversary of Poet’s Corner, which began as a regular feature in InDaily’s print forerunner The Independent Weekly. In republishing the column’s first poem, poetry editor John Miles looks at other things also past.

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After Raymond Carver’s ‘The Brass Ring’

Whatever happened to horses
and the carts they pulled?
Young childs of 1950s
skip-hopping the tarred streets of Ovingham
old Adelaide by the hill
knew them in their diversity.
First there was the baker man with his two-wheeled
high float, stylish platform up front
from where he stood and slapped the reins.
Then came the milkman early so
in old sulky style
churns and dippers ghost clanking
in the pre dawn still.
The rabbit-o and iceman, again had different rigs,
their wares all draped in old wet jute sacks
still smelling of Conrad’s docks and India.
Then there were the Clydesdales and their drays,
giants both that rumbled down the street
leaving childs wide-eyed at their size and nobility.

I have asked around:
‘Do you know what happened to horses
and the carts they pulled, piebalds clip-clopping,
chestnut mares high prancing,
black stallions and big shires chomping at the bit?’
My neighbour, and the couple down the street
who have travelled the world
and therefore know much,
still could only give an answer strangely like mine.
Yes, that
what happened to horses and the carts they pulled,
was they just faded into the mists of time
like four other things:

last summer’s end, faith,
the no need to lock doors, and childhood.

John Miles has published four collections of his own poetry, as well as ‘Penguins That Flew: Paul Pfeiffer & Modernism in War & Peace’ and ‘Lost Angry Penguins, D.B. Kerr & P.G. Pfeiffer: a Path to the Wind’. The latter is on university reading lists in Australia and the UK and was nominated for the Walter McKay Russell Prize for literary history and criticism. The recipient of a number of poetry awards nationally and internationally, John’s work – also in the form of stories, articles, reviews, papers and poems – has appeared in print, online and on radio in Australia and overseas.

Readers’ original and unpublished poems of up to 40 lines can be emailed, with postal address, to Submissions should be in the body of the email, not as attachments. A poetry book will be awarded to each accepted contributor.

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