Graham Barnhart



What explanation is required? I dream
of horses in a field of soldiers
sleeping. Mist and the morning ravines release
like fists disappearing.
                                             Awake, I can't decide
which of the hands was letting go, or if I am
even awake, my hammock strung on the handles
of two MAT-V trucks when, gentle
                                                                   as any wild animal
threatens not to be, a horse shoulders itself against me.  

A dream horse would do this. A real horse—might,
but mist lifting from the flattened grass,
lifting from its coat wouldn't
                                                        need to mean anything.
If it breathes, it breathes softly,
and without thought, except—wonder perhaps
at what we are and at our hanging here, as such, suspended.     








In October of 2016 I was lucky enough to participate in a 24 Pearl Street online workshop through the Fine Arts Works Center led by Carolyn Forchè.

Carolyn asked us to write in the anagogic mode with poems like Brigit Peegen Kelly's "Song" and Louise Glück's "All Hallows" as examples. I'd had the idea for this poem floating around since 2012 when the scene depicted actually took place. It felt like a potential poem, but I couldn't seem to get it started. Something in Carolyn's prompt suddenly cracked the whole thing open. I also have to say that James Wright's "A Blessing" was very much in my head while I worked on this poem. In the same way, I imagine, it would be hard to write a poem about a fish without some consideration of Bishop.