Louis Bernofsky (1929-2002). Poet. Books include Balzarines, Last Screw, The Usual Plan and his award-winning collection, The First Dead American Whale. “I took a wrong turn. I was a lousy poet. I should’ve been a pipefitter, like my old man. That’s what the world needs more of: pipefitters who love poetry, not another lousy poet.”
Napoleon’s horse belongs to Elizabeth Taylor now.
The grand steed he rode into Moscow now feeds contentedly
in a Welsh barn. Sometimes a groom takes him out
for a ride, to get the blood going, and to feel, for a moment,
like Napoleon. (Who was still, at this time, a strong folk memory.)
On the rarest of occasions, Elizabeth Taylor comes by.
She feeds the horse carrots, and asks knowledgeable questions,
but she never rides him. She thinks: it’s a miracle he’s still alive.
She thinks: What if I damaged him? What if a century and a half
just crumbled away into dust beneath me? She feeds him,
she talks to the grooms and she goes away.
Sometimes she feels saddened by the encounter;
sometimes she feels a lightness she could never explain.