The Mare of Money


Jean-Michel Basquiat, ‘Cassius Clay’, (Gagosian Gallery) 1982.


The Mare of Money

By Roger Reeves

Another dead mare waits
in the shoals of some body
of water, waits to be burden,
borne into a foaming ocean,
where it might become food
for whales, or, simply empty
signifier—hair latched to the sea’s undulation
like Absalom’s beauty
caught in the playful branches
of a tree desiring union,
entanglement, thick confusion—
but not this mare;
she does not get the luxury
of a lyric—a song that makes our own undoing
or killing sweet even as we go down
into the fire to rise as smoke.
This horse must lie, eyes open,
amongst the stones and fresh water
crawfish in Money, Mississippi,
listen to the men’s boots break the water
as they drop a black boy’s body near her head,
pick him up, only to let him fall again
there: bent and eye-to-eye with her
as though decaying is something
that requires a witness
—as though the mare might say:
on Tuesday after the rain fell,  
the boy’s neck finally snapped  
from the weight of the mill fan;  
he never looked at me again.
Or the boy might say:
No more. They part
here—the boy’s body found
in another man’s arms, carried back
to town, as the horse says nothing
because horses don’t speak, besides
this one’s dead.



Trayvon Martin (1995 – 2012) [undated screen capture]


Roger Reeves‘s poems have appeared in journals such as PoetryPloughshares, American Poetry ReviewBoston Review, and Tin House, among others. He was awarded a 2013 NEA Fellowship, Ruth Lilly Fellowship by the Poetry Foundation in 2008, two Bread Loaf Scholarships, an Alberta H. Walker Scholarship from the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center, and two Cave Canem Fellowships. He earned his PhD at the University of Texas-Austin and is currently an assistant professor of poetry at the University of Illinois, Chicago. “The Mare of Money” appears in his first book King Me (Copper Canyon Press, 2013).