horse in field.National Gallery.jpg

                                                             A Plow Horse in a Field

                                                             Stanislas Lepine

                                                             National Gallery of Art

coming in 2022 from Terrapin Books

my new collection of poems

Horse Not Zebra

Horse Not Zebra

 When med students are learning

 how to diagnose symptoms, they’re told

 think horse, not zebra—the common, not the exotic.

 Which is good advice even if you’re not a doctor. 

 Like when your phone rings at 3:00 in the morning,

 think wrong number, not who died?

 Or if your love is over an hour late

 for dinner and hasn’t called to explain, think

 gridlock, not head-on; dead zone, not dead.


 When the guy in the truck doesn’t slow down

 much less stop when you step into the crosswalk,

 think distracted, not son-of-a-bitch. Recall the time


 your mind was still at work, how shocked you were

 to see in your rear-view a woman in the crosswalk

 flipping you off with both hands.


 And if you’re steaming in a mile long back-up

 because protesters have blocked the bridge again,

 don’t think where are the damn cops


 when you need them, think how,

 when popping sounds wake you at night,

 you think firecracker, not gun.


  first published in Verse-Virtual, June 2021

  forthcoming in Horse Not Zebra (Terrapin Books, 2022)