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Sunday, November 26, 2006


by Chad Faries

--February 6, 2005: Mules laden with sacks of ballots were led into Haiti's countryside Monday to reach remote villages on the eve of elections aimed at putting Haiti's experiment with democracy back on track.

My hoof prints are cracked hearts in the pebbles and sun baked soil
that blow away in puffs of dust. I may bray. At the summit I pause
and lift one hoof in a heroic pose, seared to the sky and great distance.

Pray that I might drink of water on the other side.
I carry the messages in fat leather packs.
Freedom pokes at my guts, heavy, with every step.

I’d trot if I could. I’d love fine conditioners for my mane; my locks
flaming in the moonlight. A farrier takes my step
in his calloused hands and gives me the attention I deserve.

Instead I sleep tied to a tree with mangled rope. In my dream
it is an earthly umbilical cord of threads of gold hand picked from rays
of the sun and streaking stars pulled brilliantly through atmosphere.

But what I have done is sacrificed all that for utilitarianism.
I have a message and it is a dream that only I can channel.
I could stop and stand stubborn and bow to stereotypes but I refuse.

This is the birth of freedom, in the stride of a neglected beast
whose wildness has been bred out. It is still in me, that adolescent
precariousness and I rub it all over these pieces of paper.

I allow myself to be a pawn, dispensable, when in my soul I am brook,
I am knight and castle, and men in parks take me in their fingers and plan great
moves all in their hopes of finding a new promise and a better game.

A plane flies overhead. A truck mumbles in the distance, a mule brays;
and below, along the briny shores, emerald leaves flutter not from wind,
but from the movement of beasts with heart and machines with naught.

Chad Faries has published poems, essays, photographs, interviews, and creative non-fiction in Exquisite Corpse, Mudfish, New American Writing, Barrow Street , The Cream City Review, Afterimage, Post Road , and others. His book, The Border Will Be Soon: Meditations from the Other Side was a winner of Emergency Press’s open genre book competition. It chronicles his visits to Yugoslavia between 1995-2000 and will be published in May 2006. He has a PhD in Creative Writing from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and was a Fulbright Fellow in Budapest . His memoir, Some Houses, is seeking a publisher. When not traveling he is a carpenter and professor. He recently purchased an old Victorian home and now is planning his next Triumph motorcycle in order to solidify his artificial existence as a renaissance man.