• Vol. 10
  • Chapter 03

Joust Nights

The knight and the knight's horse
share the same bad dream.
A lance snaps its cracked back,

an end begins. The worst of it is shame:
hind legs pumping air, horse cock
waving at a crowd that doesn't care –

a berfrois full of schadenfreude,
a joke about a gauntlet, where it might
have landed: tilt yard, list field, or lady's lap.

The horse screams with khaki teeth,
the knight pukes his morning porter,
a half-digested lark. The second worst is pain:

a shredded bolt of hide, scrape of skin,
fractured fetlock, hock, spine, skull, pelvis;
a cuisse's weight of smashed thigh,

a greave's length of splintered shin,
spaulders full of shattered shoulders.
The best thing would be death,

but knight and horse will not be spared.
They wake into the nightmare of
their daily lives, like you and I.