Night Mare


Night Mare

As I age, what the night mare carries
on her broad black back
is more often grief
than fear,
joys foregone rather than horrors
to come,
friends who never reached
their rightful ends,
the loved who had to leave,
with no more days
tucked up a sleeve, not even
a sleeve,

and I, who walk this earth
that mounds around them, weep
by the darkest side
of that night horse.
I cannot, in the remorse of here
even lean into her warm hide, cannot breathe the balm
of hard-run sweat, yet bending past

my divide, she nuzzles me; she
snorts, resettling her hooves
in sound sparks whose ring against the doved rise
of my winding sheet is so surprising
that I am able to turn, at last,
to the warmth,
in the way a tree might turn
when the wind winds down,

and apologize to those
who have gone.

But if they reply, I do not hear them
for those beats as the mare
moves on,
for those beats
as the mare
moves on.


Poem for Bjorn Rutberg’s prompt on With Real Toads to write something on the theme of nightmare.  This pic is a recycled one of mine;  Bjorn also suggested using a painting or drawing of Francesco Goya.  I love love Goya, but confess to having written this poem before choosing the picture, as I could hardly bare the grimness today (so I’m not sure the pic really fits, as I am thinking of rather a more benign horse.) 

This poem has been slightly edited since first posting; and probably will be edited again!  


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19 Comments on “Night Mare”

  1. Snakypoet (Rosemary Nissen-Wade) Says:

    A beautifully realised poem, to which I can relate all too well. And yet, as good poetry always is for me, cathartic.

  2. I enjoyed the complex interaction between the speaker and the mare. The way the mare’s load evolves, the way the speaker reacts to the change.

  3. Kerry O'Connor Says:

    As I age, I also find the bad dreams to be more specific and profound. I am not fond of these night journeys.

  4. I like how you went with the benign horse.. Instead of the mare as that terrible being riding you at night. My dreams are certainly vivid but you’re right that they tend to be more of sorrow than of fear,

  5. hedgewitch Says:

    The soft cadence of this is almost more dreamlike than nigtmarish, till the reality the words represent breaks through that blanket–loss and regret are the true agers, I believe–everything that is taken from us, everything we wanted but didn’t achieve–and here you illustrate the how and why of it–I especially like the second and third stanzas, with the mounded earth and the doved rise, but the whole poem is evocative and beautiful, in its way–the final lines, especially.

    • ManicDdaily Says:

      I was just looking at the poem again in the light of your comment and am wondering whether it shouldn’t read “apologize to that that is gone” rather than “those.” Except I was really thinking “those” more as survivor and “that” seems kind of solipsistic although there might be a bigger point there (in terms of the regret piece.). Thanks.

    • ManicDdaily Says:

      Ps I just couldn’t quite bear to go with a more classic nightmare.

  6. Mama Zen Says:

    This is so perfect, K. Really exquisite language and flow.

  7. othermary Says:

    Stanza two is my favorite, but the whole piece is stellar.

  8. Bekkie Says:

    Just like a dream! I love how you took compared it all to a black horse so aptly put! I enjoyed it very much.

  9. Bekkie Says:

    Wish we could edit these, take the “took” out. Lol!

  10. ihatepoetry Says:

    I love your original perspective of this – my favorite line “As I age, what the night mare carries
    on her broad black back
    is more often grief
    than fear”

  11. Oh my gosh this is so true. Grief is something you can’t wake up from. This really hits in the gut…Powerful!!

  12. M Says:

    an original and well-executed treatment, K. as we age, it’s less the abject horror of the feared future, but the wistful regret and sorrow of what did – or didn’t – happen ~

  13. Back for another look at this brilliant poem. Karin, would you please email me at ? I have lost your email address and have a question……thanks, kiddo.

  14. […] on Real Toads to use three of one’s own titles.  I’ve used the winter of dreaming bears, night mare and post […]

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