National Poetry Month Selection: "Dancers at the Moy" by Paul Muldoon

The Ancestor

April is National Poetry Month, and over the next three weeks, we will be posting poems from our poetry titles and from those of our distributed presses. Our first selection is taken from Chinese University Press’s new collection of poetry, Words & the World. This collection is available in paperback form, in an expanded box set, and in small chapbooks featuring individual poets.

Dancers at the Moy
Paul Muldoon

This Italian square
And circling plain
Black once with mares
And their stallions,
The flat Blackwater
Turning its stones

Over hour after hour
As their hooves shone
And lifted together
Under the black rain,
One or other Greek war
Now coloured the town

Blacker than ever before
With hungry stallions
And their hungry mares
Like hammocks of skin,
The flat Blackwater
Unable to contain

Itself as horses poured
Over acres of grain
In a black and gold river.
No band of Athenians
Arrived at the Moy fair
To buy for their campaign,

Peace having been declared
And a treaty signed.
The black and gold river
Ended as a trickle of brown
Where those horses tore
At briars and whins,

Ate the flesh of each other
Like people in famine.
The flat Blackwater
Hobbled on its stones
With a wild stagger
And sag in its backbone,

The local people gathered
Up the white skeletons.
Horses buried for years
Under the foundations
Give their earthen floors
The ease of trampolines.

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