In Celebration of Joy Harjo

In June, Joy Harjo was chosen as the new U.S. poet laureate. I’ve spent the month getting acquainted with her poems, which are unlike any others I’ve read.

This poem was written after reading and journaling through her poem “She Had Some Horses.”

The Horse

He got some disease but before we could figure out what

it was he ran off, at the solstice. If he could’ve talked, he

might’ve said he’d had enough of us, was joining the wild

mustangs. But he was no mustang, and the mustangs knew


He didn’t know how to find shelter, didn’t realize horses

don’t kill to eat, like raptors, or scavenge, like coyotes.

Found no pillows in the wild, no blankets either. Never

patient, always a runner, he ran on, through the sepia

landscape, learning absolutely nothing as his tail swished

behind him.

Back at home we debate: What could we have done?

What should we not have done? Each bit of news of him

pierces us. Not in the heart (it is long grown cold) but in the

retina, retelling ever thing we see and have seen of him.


  1. It’s going to take me a bazillion more reads to understand Harjo’s poem. But I think I get yours. Or I’m reading something else into it.

    And that last line…

  2. Marilyn Yocum says

    I love this, esp the overarching* (to me) image of the horse running off and the questions that remain behind.

    * ‘Overarching ‘ isn’t the correct word, but I can’t seem to pinpoint the one I mean. I am trusting you to understand my meaning. 😀