The Horse Who Bears Me Away

The Horse Who Bears Me Away

by Jim Peterson
The Horse Who Bears Me Away

The Horse Who Bears Me Away

by Jim Peterson


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In the first section of The Horse Who Bears Me Away, “The Fall,” an assortment of characters descend inwardly to the point of personal despair. In the second section, “Anywhere but Omaha,” they begin, with difficulty, to see more clearly who and what they are and to climb their way out of the nadir. In the final section, “Mutation,” the characters embark on a path to transformation—an awakening into a new way of seeing and existing in a world that is constantly testing the validity of their identities. This collection of poems, Peterson’s seventh, challenges readers to consciously embrace the dark side of their American psyche and to reach past it to a new way of being at peace with both the known and the unknown, which is called freedom.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781597094115
Publisher: Red Hen Press
Publication date: 09/22/2020
Pages: 160
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x (d)

About the Author

Jim Peterson is the author of six collections of poetry, three chapbooks, numerous plays, and a novel, Paper Crown, published by Red Hen Press and recently made available on Audible. His poetry collection The Owning Stone won Red Hen Press’s Benjamin Saltman Award for 1999. His newest collection, Speech Minus Applause, was released by Press 53 in 2019. His poems have appeared widely in journals including Poetry, Georgia Review, Shenandoah, Poetry Northwest, Prairie Schooner, and many others. His stories have appeared in the Los Angeles Review, South Dakota Review, and The Laurel Review. A collection of stories, Many Small Fires, is forthcoming from Red Hen Press. Retired Coordinator of Creative Writing at Randolph College, he is on the faculty of the University of Nebraska-Omaha Low-Res MFA Program in Creative Writing. He lives with his charismatic corgi, Mama Kilya, in Lynchburg, Virginia.

Read an Excerpt

In the enormity of bone and flesh

that splits the night with blood and breath;

in the rising brushstroke of pastern, fetlock,

cannon bone and stifle; in the rolling sloop

of dock, croup, withers and poll,

I discover my body.

In the barrel that takes to the grip of thighs,

the flank that accepts the needling heel;

in the mane where I bury my hands at last;

in the forelock and muzzle of that long face;

in the chin groove, jaw and throat

that swallows my words like cracked oats;

in the two black eyes that glean the full circle

of horizon; in the shell-song of each ear;

in the heart, in the heart, the horse who bears me away.


Yesterday, I strolled among the cold meats

and the small bland vegetables in their bins

and could not find anything I wanted.

I admit, I took some pleasure in ramming

the metal cart into the long stuck row of others—

make of that what you will—and walked

into the street happy with my hunger.

I could feel my body retreating

into bone, my skin pulling tighter around me

in the wind. A seagull fed on tiny morsels

of something on the trashy asphalt,

a hundred miles from ocean.

Two miles away my wife was packing to leave me.

I left my car in the lot and walked into a neighborhood

among sparrows plunging their heads

into the blades of grass. Even the housecats

stretching and licking on windowsills

had something definite on their minds for later,

pausing mid-lick in case it might

be me, now. But today, I’ll stay home,

making do with what I have. Outside,

everything is leaning into one

decision after another. A freight train

slows down to cross my street, one hand

emerging as if to wave from the long window

of a boxcar. In here, the fridge

is busy saving what is left of what is left.

The TV is a voiceless flickering in the corner

of my eye. Weeks ago I wrote the checks

for this brief future. Today I lie down

on the lawn I will not bother to mow again.

Table of Contents


The Horse 19

The Fall / one

Breakfast at the Western Café 23

Laid Off 26

Whatever 28

Your Hand 31

Manpower 34

Insomnia 37

The Hobo's Invitation 39

Thin Air 41

The Fall / two

Rain, 47

Tundra 49

Progress 51

The Fall 53

Signs 54

Spring on the Yellowstone 56

Carvings on a Prayer Tree 57

This One Hat 62

The Day of the Shark 64

The Fall / three

Blink 69

Drunk Tank 71

The Mole 76

Anywhere But Omaha

Rethink It 81

Masks 83

The Brave 85

The Radiance 87

Why She Did It 90


Full 95

Dollars 97

Salute 99

The Necessary 103

Old Listener 104

Hunger in a Small Town 106

The Keys 110

The Origin of Mouths 112

Listening to the White-Throated Sparrow 114

Mutation 115

The Ambush Garden 118

Open House 120

New Animal 123

Goya's Dog 125

Sayings of an Old Slash Pine 128

Breaking the Sage 131

Night, and the Mockingbird 141

What You Know 143

Study 146

Wolf 148

Eternal House 150


Naked 157

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