there they were moving without aim unlikely
coalescing of muscles beneath a tarp pulled taut
bringing down relentlessly the quiet rhythms
of hooves as they stepped to stoop to eat
the grass received each density of hoof possessed
something meteoric in the small impact
of the scene I stopped and watched the outliers
wearing their green overcoats looking up now
and then to let gaze go to the end of the field
the fence threw it back to the eye like a ball
their lips like the slender blue lip of a bowl
pouring out a dark liquid of flank and pupil
pouring out the centrifugal swirl of tea leaves
pouring out the vision of horses that could be
of moderate wildness pouring round the field
and out of the frost-bit gate the immense fear
of their fearfulness that their bodies are funny
sacks of boulders with a mind to avalanche or
without mind but whose mind goes out nuzzlingly
among the coral-quivering of their nostrils
the bitterweeds of tails unfurling at flies
who pays mind in the sunlight currency of look
here at the glints in their eyes watching you
that is the music it is of interruption
it is the forceful rhythm of pause and void
the void of oppressive body of the stampede fear
the void of the fear of the circling
and once the gate closes once the gate opens
there is no difference it’s the maelstrom hiatus
that opens out and closes out to the field
of not-horse the unending coalescing of likely






it is prisoner to its prisoner, the one
with the constellated antlers, the one
with the Aztec head-dress, the one
with the gauntlets of familiar gods
or the moccasins or even the schoolgirl
socks that fall down repeatedly,
its walls at mercy of picking fingernails
or osmotic colour of dank stems in a vase,
and the days and nights as they are
observed from what windows it allows
and what sight allows it cannot control,
though the eye ball is much like one
of those cages a showman motorcyclist
throws his centripetal force against,
but all this is speculation, the foreign
prying apart, the speculum mirror,
and there are no things but in ideas,
and if the vase were totally invisible
would it be water, and if the walls
let in a little time to lend experience
and a weathered facade, would air
erect its force-field, and what I mean
is the idea, what I mean, would it go
out amid the pocketless spaces
of thrashed autumnal releases
and the unsandwiched afternoons
and would the prisoner bring his
witnesses and which prisoner is that





[James Midgley has published poems in various journals, including Cordite, The Kenyon Review, Poetry Review, The Rialto, Shearsman, Stride, Tears in the Fence and The Warwick Review. His poems have also appeared in the following anthologies: Salt Book of Younger British Poets, Dear World & Everyone in it, and Lung Jazz. He used to edit the little magazine Mimesis. In 2008 he received an Eric Gregory award.]


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