For years it nibbled at his tired routine:
The urge to book a fortnight at some inn
Beside the sea. An inspiration clean
As ice and bracing as a splash of gin
It kept returning like a melody
From vanished days until his brain
Looked forward to its questioning refrain.
But with each passing year, he grew less sure
Of how to leave the house, compiling lists
Of things his settled ways could not endure
For long: the lumpy beds and drizzling mists
Of beige motels and plane connections missed–
Postponing the escape that none can stay
By snuggling deeper into yesterday.
Lubricated Delta Taus on infield grass
Egg on their dates to flash the TV crews
While solid seconds float between starched tents
Of towering hats and cable interviews.
Far from the off-track bets and whispered touts
In dim seclusion wait the thoroughbreds
With grooms and stable cats to calm their bouts
Of nerves before the solemn post parade–
Their blinkered eyes indifferent to raw slits
Of blazing sun and viscous smears of rain
Where uncrowned champions must either catch
A second wind and triumph on the rail
Or stumble gamely down the final stretch,
Deaf to the painted crowd and pounding track,
The shingle of one dangling hoof askew
Beneath flawed bone’s hereditary crack.
Doug May has published two chapbooks, Song From The Back Row and Cold War Piano, and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. His poems have appeared in many online and small press publications, including Raw Art Review, Cathexis Northwest, Rat’s Ass Review, Breath and Shadow, Wordgathering, and Beloit Poetry Journal.