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To the Blacksmith

                                    Erica Dawson

     At the end we preferred to travel all night,
     Sleeping in snatches,
     With the voices singing in our ears, saying
     That this was all folly. 

                 T.S. Eliot, “Journey of the Magi” 

Nope. You don’t need to sharpen up that shit.
Just put it down. The forge’s yellow hot
Flames in the glory hole are delicate
As dancers’ arabesque penchée. The spot
Where bellows breathe and feed the fire births smoke
And Armageddon ashes from a cloak
Of amber leaves. I would mic
Each stretching flame, the logs now husband-like,
Cuckolded as the tinder bites its lips,
Suppressing screams to just a spark, unlike
The four horses of the Apocalypse

Who need sixteen new sparkling shoes that fit
Conquest, Famine, and War, and Death, all shot-
Out-of-a-canon with no candidate
For destination, vagabonds. They got
Their harbingers in croker sacks. Let’s stoke
The coals one last time. Puff. Puff. Give. Let’s toke
Around the hearth once more, leave business-like—
Savage’s country folk will see a tyke
With a new toy who needs apprenticeships.
See, we ain’t got to lie—just leave with boots and spike
The four horses of the Apocalypse

With their thick lips hanged low, who chase a bit
Unseen. Let’s cross the old Patuxent, spot
And throw a bone for yore’s own requisite
Bitch eating out her feral crotch. Let’s not
Stop for a fortnight, or whatever. Ok-
ey-doke? The horses’ manes whip back. We’ll choke
Down Rattle-Skull. Glory. Our hymns will hike
“Halfway to Concord.” Though it rains, no grike
Will split the Cumberland Gap. Glory! The clips
And clops won’t drown out Hallelujah!
No. Four horses of the Apocalypse

Are just laying their burdens down. They spit.
They foam. They read’ to go. Let’s hunt the rot
Lying in wait in forests. We have no kit
To help the wounded so let’s “Goddamn trot!
Now gallop!” Glory. Glory. Let’s not yoke
The reins. Let’s get to going. Let’s invoke
A patriotic wind netted through fyke
And drum as fascinating as the shrike
Who kills more than it needs to. Though our hips
Ache and our thighs are bruised and black, let’s strike
The four horses of the Apocalypse

With gentle pats and gallop fast. Let’s split
The difference; let time have no distance. Naught
For no one, let’s make ends approximate
Goals—glory. Glory. Hallelujah, ought
It be enough, at Chincoteague, to poke
Our toes into the spume and stop, unyoke
Ourselves beneath the ceaseless clouds that pysch
Us into thinking we don’t move: alike,
Night-stuck and triple-beamed, each bright star slips
Further into the dark and widening grike
The four horses of the Apocalypse

Have disappeared in, too. Our bodies dike
Nothing, dear Blacksmith. Winter’s ocean is like
The island’s wild ponies’ huffing nips
At the shore sprawled like a turn and toll, take, pike
And the four horses of the Apocalypse.

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