Stick Horse

by M. Brett Gaffney

I find him in the garage where the rats
have worshipped his ears,
gnawed the plastic.
His tinker-ball sighs, the reins snap loose.
He is much smaller than I remember,
and dirty.

I cradle him to the trash
where his head hangs over
the worn can lip, a retired pony
in a rusting trailer stall.
I pet his snout,
sweet boy,
trace the eyes that no longer
recall the pollen caking my grandmother’s
windowsill, the wet tongue of our Dalmatian
buried out back–I kiss his nostrils,
peppermint on my breath,
a candy cane half eaten inside the house.


You’re the hero of this adventure, and every hero needs an antagonist. Pick an enemy:

When I am running, everyone who is not running is the enemy.
The candy boy.
My joints–ankles, wrists, knees…
“No more sandwiches,” he’d said…