Wild, Wild Horses

I remember Jimís Rack Ďn Cue, in those pockets of time between sleep and awake, those times my mother let me out of the house long enough

to dart out, the silver smoke clouds that gilded the ceiling, the way the bottles on the dusty bar gleamed a spectral blue

under the fluorescent lamp, and of course, Scotty Southcomb, his flannel hung partially unbuttoned, bowed like a reed over the green

meadow of the pool table. Then, the resolute click of the white cue ball against the maroon, then the mauve, then the green, the thump of the each one

into the pocket. His eyes black as bonfires put to ash reignited when Stretch, Cookie, or Lucky had words to say

that werenít resourceful as they should be, causing him to drag the man who crossed him into the parking lot and shove a fistful

of gravel in his mouth. Drag him down in a pyre of fists and torn shirts. I remember him pulling into my impossibly long driveway. Saying my life was perfect, as light

flooded the front door, my motherís outline in front of it in her bathrobe, hands on hips. Sheíd drink, smoke, and lecture, but still believed in college degrees,

though not always in me. But someday Iíd leave the house, destined for a future she shone in my eyes like a policemenís flashlight each night she

clicked on the porch lights. Scotty, wasnít in school anymore, his parents I never saw, just heard when his motherís voice

through the wafer-thin ceilings for us to keep it down in the basement, Scotty replied, ďItís always somethiní ainít it?Ē the air so thick

with tension you could lick a dollop off your finger, his stepfather also invisible, but for one day as Scotty got into my car, his

Led Zeppelin shirt ripped to ribbons on his back. I wanted to tell him it isnít a sin to fall, but to fall from no great height, those nights

and mornings he stayed up. Wild as those horses in the song he played while shooting pool, driving aimlessly with the boys, they couldnít be dragged

away from the night or morning. Drinking beer until the gray dawn. All of it the mark of freedom, I would have traded my life to feel.

I didnít want to be dragged away from him by my mother, but I wasnít wild, and so I was. But one day on the phone, his mother in a flat tone said Scotty had gone away,

that he wasnít well, that he wasnít making sense, that heís been telling her the devil lives in her eyes, and he was gone. I couldnít believe the wild

horses that sent him into this life could have dragged him out, flailing so hard he left a dust-angel in the sand. I had a dream of six horses, tawny, dark, russet and white, paraded

onto ice by proper jockeys. Suddenly the shatter, and the horses going down, and the jockeyís falling down also, and how I wanted them to be pulled out. Their hooves flailed, and their teeth

pulled back to show the pink, and their lean muscled necks thrashed and strained, as they slid further into the ice. I woke, knowing I wouldnít hear him again

until years later, from the free mental health clinic payphone. I was staring out the window next to me, At the brick apartment. There was a slant of sun in the courtyard below meó

I realized no matter how wild I had become then, an early adult that we were looking at the same thing. No matter how much freedom I thought I had.

I pictured him: heís in shelters now. Sitting at a long table with a row of men. The salt grit of their jaws. Their eyes, deserts from not

crying because this isnít what a man should do. And I have not seen him go down kicking. And I have not seen him descend into ice, but rising

with icicles in his hair. Nights I walk to the ocean, and watch horses emerge from the dark surf, I want to touch them canít. Because there is no saving what emerges at night, and just

because I canít see him doesnít mean he isnít there. Just because I canít see him, doesnít mean he isnít rising atop one of them, to ride out of himself into the brief bruise of day,

as if to say, Iíve beat you.

Maria Nazos received her MFA in Writing from Sarah Lawrence College. Her work is published or forthcoming in The Chicago Quarterly Review, Poet Lore, The New York Quarterly, Harpur Palate, The New Plains Review, The Sycamore Review, Main Street Rag, The Dead Mule School of Southern Literature, Tar River Poetry, the anthology Double Lives, Reinventing Ourselves and Those We Leave Behind, and elsewhere. She lives and writes on the edge of the world, in Provincetown, Massachusetts. Visit her at

Boxcar Poetry Review - ISSN 1931-1761