The Horsemen, by D.S. Martin
In the depth of a dark dark night down in the ravine
the wind comes up & stirs the leaves of the myrtle trees
where a corral of shadowy horses grow restless
Your approach is barred by a rider on a red horse his hand
rests on the hilt of his sheathed sword You ask Whose
are these and why are they here? His reply Come and see
But that’s when a thundering voice shouts Come
& a powerful white stallion pulses from the black woods
Its rider has an arrow notched in his bow The wreaths blow
back from his hair & from the garlands in his horse’s mane
We are the ones sent to roam the earth the first rider says
to ride to the four compass points & to hold back the wind
Beware the coming of pestilence he continues Beware
the coming of wild beasts that leave a country childless
the coming of famine & the one he adds as his heel
digs into his horse’s flank the one who brings a sword
He too rides off as the voice roars Come leaving you
alone beneath the breathing myrtles
You walk toward the whinnying herd & see starlight
shimmering on their coats brown & black & white
red & dappled Come the voice echoes through the ravine
& a black horse & rider race past almost hitting you
with the scales he carries He shouts No bread
no bread but plenty of distractions for the well fed
You feel drawn to pick up a three-tined pitchfork & toss hay
into the corral The strong horses push against each other
begin to kick & bite You offer hay to a skeletal pale nag
He doesn’t fight as you impulsively climb onto his back
You lift the trident in your hand With unexpected strength
he surges to a gallop at the sound of the command Come
This poem first appeared in the journal Three One Six, and in the poet's collection, Poiema (2008, Wipf & Stock), and in the anthology Adam, Eve & the Riders of the Apocalypse.
D.S. Martin is the author of four poetry collections, including Ampersand (2018), & Conspiracy of Light: Poems Inspired by the Legacy of C.S. Lewis (2013) -- both from Cascade Books. He is Poet-in-Residence at McMaster Divinity College, the Series Editor for the Poiema Poetry Series, and has recently edited two anthologies -- The Turning Aside (2016), andAdam, Eve, & the Riders of the Apocalypse (2017). He and his wife live in Brampton, Ontario; they have two adult sons.
1/10/2019 08:05:01 pm
I love the visceral insertion of the reader into the action and the art - the language and the theme are simultaneously timeless and present moment. This piece manages to be both gorgeously tactile and contemplative. Beautiful!
1/11/2019 05:43:00 pm
A pleasure to read this fine poem about one of my favorite works of Dürer! It sent me back to my art books to immerse again, this time with all my senses engaged.
1/29/2019 07:37:48 pm
The writing draws me back to re-read and be drawn deeper into the experience, again and again.
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