Frank X Walker

Horseshoes Only Lucky When They Miss

Isaac Murphy
When I’m up there dodging mud and sprinting to the post
I don’t think about winning. Don’t think the horse do either.
I can’t even hear the crowd cussing me hard and loud
for leading my mount pass their first or second choice.
I never consider how easy it is to fall out of the saddle.
How trying to dodge the thunder ‘n lightning
of a thoroughbred’s hoofs would be like tiptoeing through
a cotton gin. When a thousand pounds of horse
is on the other end, your rib cage is just a bird’s nest,
your head no safer than a watermelon kissing a knife.
It takes runaway-slave nerve to risk riding that fast and fall,
but it takes more to just lay still and leave it up to the horses
to see you curled up in the mud and step around you.

Frank X Walker
“Horseshoes Only Lucky When They Miss” is from I Dedicate This Ride: The Making of Isaac Murphy (Old Cove Press, 2010).