Sarah Wetzel

Two Poems

Normal Obsessions with Horses


I never encounter horses
except in dreams and circuses
when a horse without rider,
a transparent mane,
takes my neck
between wolf teeth,
but quietly, which makes it
more frightening.
Like milk teeth,
the teeth don’t pull away
until their purpose
finishes, when they become
I only bit the hand of a man
once (but deeply),
drew blood enough
that he liked it. Still
I was too tame for him.
At night, the horse
forces me to remember
the bite of a man,
how flesh tastes.


I’m a girl wrapped in damask, a river,
a female centaur who doesn’t wait
for a lover. I’m an arrow
painted in poison and I’m shot straight
toward your heart. As a token
of our love, I’ll take your shirt soaked
in blood. But I won’t give away
the tainted shirt by mistake. In fairy tales
there aren’t any accidents
and I’m already writing the rest
of my story. Going over again the end.


Save me from circuses,
tamed animals and ring leaders
shouting encouragement.
Save me from yellow tigers leaping
through hoops on fire,
elephants climbing
onto the backs of each other.
Save me from chimps riding ponies,
ponies trampling
chimps, seals juggling
balls and bowling pins, blowing
horns for fish,
all of those dead fish.
Save me from black horses,
conquered and blind
in circuses.
Save me from tamed horses.


In Brooklyn, a man’s hand slips
from the ledge of a building
giving in to a craving
for matter. The same way
a cave

when the soluble rock
dissolves. The hum
of a dial tone. The phone pressed
to my ear. Most mornings
I put it down

because the time for begging
has passed. Listen—
I’m the sound of surf
with nothing
to smash against.

return to SHAMPOO 37