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Barbara Winder

The Problem of Wild Horses

“Many wild horses are small, scrawny, and often undernourished. . . . Yet, these wild horses are increasing at an astonishing rate.”

—Dr. Walt Conley


Wild horses graze under a ripening

moon up country in Carson Forest.

Unlike tame horses who lie down

in stalls, they will sleep

all night under the stars,

tails giving an occasional

flip against flies.

It’s good they don’t know

how old they are, or that

winter is always coming, or

that somewhere there are bins

of grain and bales of hay.


Wild horsed gallop on the dry

river-bed. Red flags quiver

in their nostrils when they run.

They don’t know to be ashamed

of their washboard ribs.


At night if I close my eyes

tame mares and geldings go through

their paces shining and predictable.

So I lie with my eyes open, hoping

to see the watering-hole where

wild horses drink. If I am lucky,

some night I might even lie

beside them, sucking the good water

between my teeth.

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