Value of A Horse


The air of heaven is that which blows between a horses ears…” Arabian proverb

There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of man”… Winston Churchill

The Value Of A Horse –
Taken from police report in Miami Fl. 2006)

The horses knew why the moon went pale
and the wind turned it’s back.
Folded inside their vacant eyes
was a night seeping in carnage.
The stench of offal lingering in their flared nostrils,
equine moans still echoing in their attentive ears.

A few beers, boredom, and late night wagers between friends
on a remote Florida farm with a:
“my horse can out pace yours” drink inspired egotism.
What they had not bet on was the fall of one racing steed,
a limb snapping —
could have been a fetlock, a hock, a knee,
but the other horses there by the barn heard it,
the heavy thud of equine machinery out of balance.

Then came the ideas:
grab a camera,
plastic trash bags,
grab the chainsaw,
a horse has value!
Hooves for glue,
tails for brushes,
hide of leather,
and of course, the  blackmarket for meat.
Like most hoofed, dead animals,
they become the embodiment of a cash anatomy.

A clamor bloated through the still darkness
in a loosely populated place where people dismiss such sounds,
a machine reserved for hacking dense bush and timber
was applied to the bulk of a live, broken horse,
a bloodfest of butchery.

Only yards away,
the corralled horses were splattered Rorshach red,
a pond too shallow to drown in
turned an incriminating red
by the baptism of death’s immersion.

On this ranch enveloped by thick vegetative swamps
the killers stashed the prime meat,
and bagged the waste,
no use keeping dead horse flesh
to decay under the hot Florida sun as a reminder
of an animal haunting through it’s rotting.

The men thought the dump was empty,
but someone questioned the suspicious bags.
The police were called,
the ranch raided,
bagged slaughtered horse meat was found near a pile of brush
where wide swaths of blood
from a thick bleeding carcass had been dragged —
a scene resembling some vampires, evisceration orgy.

Frame by frame,
the camera’s eye told a macabre tale:
men laughing, smiling,
recording the slaughter as casually
as if filming a family picnic.
One policeman walked among the other horses,
he said they had completely lost
the “fight or flight” response –
They stood docile, statuesque,  shocked
maybe wondering which of them would be next.
They leaned hard against the furthest fencepost
spackled with fear, imprinted with DNA,
these steeds numbed by the odor of one their own
and of mans foul play.

The men were taken away,
convicted, locked up.
The skittish  horses removed, given to caring stables,
given to people who valued the horse as a whole.
But what happens in the psyche of a horse,
how deep is their memory when they hear a chainsaw?
How do they fully trust man again?

The value of an animal is written into law,
it’s how we humans determine life’s measure,
by monetary value.
It’s one reason we domesticated the horse –
stole their thunder.
It’s also a sad reminder of carcass “junkies”
who still do this to farm animals in the dead of night,
leaving hollowed out, eviscerated bodies
while they take their black market bounty.
A sad reminder of how we need animals far more
than they need us –
a sad reminder that humanity is sometimes
devoid of human…


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