Poet’s Nook: “On a White Horse” by Mike Galsworthy

The hooves, they drummed a devil’s tattoo 
Upon the woodland path.
The mechanical horse, it was angel white 
And never had had a sin in its mind.
The rider, he was the admired man 
And he saw no end to his sight —
A captain of industry with bags of golden leaves 
That he ripped from the trees
As he kicked his horse to ride on ride on 


To the rhythm, the rhythm, the rhythm of hooves;
The gathering of leaves and the rhythm of hooves.
“I built this horse for riding,” said he. 
“This horse, I built for riding.”


But the weather-clerk stepped across his path:
“Stop!” he said, “look around. 
Your riding whips the winds and strips the trees
It shifts the rains and lifts the seas! 
Slow down,” he said “or change course”


“No! I cannot risk that I’ll be overtaken”,
The rider he said to the clerk
“There are other riders chasing me 
And I built this horse for riding,” said he
“So move out of my way, I ride on.”


To the rhythm, the rhythm, the rhythm of hooves.
To the gathering of leaves and the rhythm of hooves.
“I built this horse for riding,” said he. 
“I built this horse for riding.”


But one mile on, people cluttered his path 
Crying “We’ve seen the darkening skies! 
Please hook back some leaves onto our trees 
To catch the winds that bring disease 
And rot the fish in our waters!”


“But it’s not just me,” the rider said. 
“There are too many people on this earth
And when they crawl and breed in the mud, 
they bring the winds and the rains and the floods.
I earned these leaves, now move out of my way”
And the rider just rode on.
The rider just rode on.


To the rhythm, the rhythm, the rhythm of hooves.
To the gathering of leaves and the rhythm of hooves. 
“I built this horse for riding,” said he
“I built this horse for riding”


But then the air turned dark and the rain it poured down; 
And the horse it broke and stumbled and fell
Deep into the mud it stumbled and fell
With the rider, it stumbled and fell. 


The rider then saw his daughter 
And called out to her in the panicking crowd —
“My daughter, come see, I have the leaves
To buy an ark to sail the seas when the waters rise.
Though others perish, we will survive.”


But as he put his hand into the bag, 
Those leaves crumbled to dust and blew away. 
Up to the dark storm they blew away.
So strangely from his hand they blew away.


“Oh father,” said the daughter 
“Your leaves, they have no magic now 
Because nobody will trade them. 
The farmer gives his food to men-at-arms
To keep off the jackals of jagged towns 
That come running through the ragged woods


Since the rats overran the granaries 
From the flagstones to the rafters,
When the miller’s children all fell sick in the squalid dereliction.
And where’s the doctor? He’s fled to higher grounds 
To drink the untouched rains —
Because poisoned rivers run overland 
Through eye sockets and open mouths
Of people fallen in burning famine upon the putrid earth.


And this is not how it was meant to be;
That our once green earth should rot to black like this
And our children walk the rain, drenched in war, fear and pain.


It is a dark time
It’s a dark time for humankind.
And you, father – you led in the other horsemen
To the rhythm, the rhythm, the rhythm of hooves,
Riding, riding, on your white horse.”


                                                       **********


OneLove
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