03 June 2023

new poem: out stealing horses

"Out Stealing Horses" is published in Red Rock Review Issue 50 (available for purchase) and viewable online in a new digital edition of the issue: Out Stealing Horses.

Once when I was a teenager, my mother woke me up to say one of our horses had gotten out and was down the way at old Mr. Arvey's place. We hitched up the trailer and drove down there, I was told to go in and get that horse. Except that the horse in the paddock wasn't mine, which led to a disagreement. My mother will tell the story the way she remembers it, but we agree on one detail—no horses were harmed or stolen that night. At least not by us.

That night sticks in my my mind forty-five-ish years later when I think about how two people can remember things so differently. And the audacity of a couple of women to pull up to a dark farm with a trailer and (potentially) load up a horse and drive off into the night. 

I am often asked which parts of my work—story or poem—are real. All of it, I say. Every bit comes from the world I know. It's time that's fuzzy. That's what makes me a fiction writer—the manipulation of time and space. Good fiction takes the best real-world details from different times and places and stirs them into the perfect mix of story, tension, character and plot with implications of meaning and something larger. Easy. It's non-fiction writers who have the task of sorting through discrepant stories to get to what really happened that night. 

I'll never tell.