64 Parishes


Poetry by Clare L. Martin

A glimpse into the world of horses

Published: March 1, 2020
Last Updated: June 12, 2023

Poetry by Clare L. Martin

Edgar Degas, Library of Congress

Drawing of a horse at rest in a field.

Clare L. Martin’s poems invite us into the world of horses. The poems are part of a new manuscript that, as Clare puts it, “is inspired by real and envisioned encounters with horses that have fueled nearly a lifetime of dreams and awakening affinities with this keen and prescient animal.” Clare’s poems do much more than describe the physical. They capture the quiet mystique and “spirit-ways” of the animal as both a creature of nature and a friend of humans. In doing so, the poems beautifully give us a rare glimpse into both the power and intimacy that the animal personifies. The poet’s use of brevity makes each poem an intensely quick flight flush with feeling. 

—John Warner Smith, Louisiana Poet Laureate


I Dream of Horses 

I dream of horses
but the horses are topless,
raw sienna-toned women.
Crowns of electric roses 
woven to tendrilled manes.
Stately queens. I ride sidesaddle.
The scent of tea roses
and sweat storm my mind.
I grip the leather reins. I stroke
the horsewoman’s taut neck. 
She neighs and snorts, galloping faster.
We breeze. Each thrust forward
is a lightning strike against the dark.
Roses stream behind us. We take flight. 


I Speak to You of the Horses 

I speak to you of the horses
dead on Navajo land.
Dying of thirst,
they sink in a water hole
that is a mud hole.
Two hundred of them
gasp their last breaths. Mud locked.
Mud in their lungs—

Unbridle me.
Lead me to wildlands and rivers,
mountain valleys with sun
and green leaves; a place
to run free, with slow
creeks to cool and drink.
In that free country,
my spirit will flower,
and fear will reckon
with my nobles’ courage.
I will find my companions
and thrive in all seasons.
I will settle into the hills
like a crush of gold sunsets.  

Poet Clare L. Martin’s most recent book, Crone, was released by Nixes Mate Books. Her collection, Seek the Holy Dark, was the 2017 selection of the Louisiana Cajun and Creole Series by Yellow Flag Press. Martin’s debut, Eating the Heart First, was published by Press 53. She founded MockingHeart Review, an online poetry and art magazine. Nominations include the Pushcart Prize, Best of the Web, Best New Poets, and Sundress Publication’s Best of the Net.