Friday, May 18, 2018

A Horse-y Poetry Friday

wee me with a (wee) miniature horse
Cinnamon, and foal Sugar (behind)
Hello and Happy Poetry Friday! Be sure to visit Rebecca at Sloth Reads for Roundup.

Around these parts, spring has quickly morphed into blazing summer. It's all good, though! We've enjoyed several sightings of your nearest neighbors -- a pair of bald eagles! I've been writing, of course... and working on last-call edits for two forthcoming picture books. (Click to see a sneak peek of those covers!) I've also been spending as much time with our son as possible -- he's a graduating high school senior, and the day after graduation he will leave to work as a camp counselor for the summer: 

BOOM! Empty nest! 

No, I am not ready. Super excited for him and all that awaits, but wow. This raising-kids thing went by terribly fast! Sigh. Good thing I've got books (and an awfully sweet husband) to keep me company. 

With that in mind, today I'd like to share a book I checked out from the library and then decided to purchase, because I love it so much: THE HORSE'S HAIKU by Michael J. Rosen, illustrated by Stan Fellows, brought to us by Candlewick Press.

I love horses. I love books about horses. And this one is certainly a celebration of our equine friends. So many of my most favorite moments of horse-watching are recorded here:

one foal nods, slicing
the fog shared breaths - the mare
nods in agreement

I have LOVED watching horses speak to one another on cold fog-breathy mornings! It feels so intimate, so reverential.

And how 'bout this one, about the magic of a horse emerging from a dust roll:

wriggling in the dirt,
dust clouds of kicking hooves, then --
poof! -- horse standing there

There are haiku about shadows and hoofprints and that lip-flutter way horses take a treat from your palm. About water dribbling from the horse's mouth and those pesky horseflies.

One of my favorite spreads is about the horse's eye:
art by Stan Fellows

Even horse-chores are made beautiful, as in this one about cleaning a horse's hooves:

front leg half-folded
horse's hoof rests in your palm
weightless as prayer

And what about that moment during a gallop (or jump) when all for hooves are in the air at once?

time, too, must stretch as
rear hooves launch from earth.. and then
front hooves ground again

The final one I'd like to share is about that relationship between horse and rider:

right food slid in place,
heels pressed down in both stirrups-
trust is your seat belt

This is the perfect book for that horse-loving person in your life. I've actually written quite a lot of poems about horses and horse-love, so I thought I'd use this opportunity to share a couple with you today:

first, one from childhood:

See his action, see him run
Such a beauty when he's won
Whipping mane, flowing tail
His coat like a rusty nail
Winning by one hundred lengths
Everyone knows he has no kinks
Such a wonderful horse was he
There really was no race to see
Twenty races out of twenty-one
What a sight to see him run!

- Irene Dykes (long before I was Latham)

Next, an unpublished poem (pic is from a trip to Chincoteague Island, which you can read about here)

Anatomy of a Horse

mane for braiding
hooves for painting

whisker-tipped lips
for teasing carrots
from your fingertips

tail for swishing
nose for nuzzling

weather-vane ears
for broadcasting
each mood and feeling

eyes for admiring
neck for hugging

basketball-sized heart
for a long life
of loving you

- Irene Latham

There's also a "horse" poem in CAN I TOUCH YOUR HAIR?
Horseback Riding

I don't know how to explain
to Charles how I feel about horses
when he shuffles so fast
from one subject to the next.

Finally I blurt, sometimes I just need
a break from people.

He surprises me and shuts up right away,
so I tell him about the sweet scent
of hay and saddle soap,
how my stomach somersaults

when Honey surges from trot to canter,
and how the wind parts my hair
when I lean into her neck
whispering, faster, faster.

When I want Honey to slow down,
all I have to do
is give the reins a gentle tug,
and soon we are back to clop-clopping.

Honey and I understand each other
without any words at all.

- Irene Latham

Have YOU written a horse poem? If so, I'd love to read it!


  1. Love seeing the new book covers, and hoping you have a fine time these last weeks before your son is off to his summer work. Yes, time flies. I have the Rosen book on my list, and now you've made me want to have it NOW. I love those lip quivers, too, rode much of my life and those memories are special. I love the poem you wrote as a young girl, Irene, already a wonderful poet!

  2. Love every bit of this post, from the pic of you with the wee horse to Rosen's book/poems, to your own horse poems. Your love of all things equine certainly shines through.

  3. I love horses, too! Thank you for sharing so many wonderful horse poems and books. Also, the pic of you and your ponies is priceless!

  4. Oh my goodness, how did I miss that Michael Rosen was coming out with another animal haiku book? I love his Maine Coon and Hound Dog books, and from what I see here, I know I'll love his horse haiku as well. Horseback Riding is one of my favorites from Can I Touch Your Hair.

    I'm with you on the son going off to college thing, Irene! No idea where all those years went. xo

  5. The Horse's Haiku is beautiful! I'm not especially a horse lover...but I appreciate the love my horse loving friends have for horses. My daughter's college has an equestrian team and we like to visit the horses when we are there. So much beauty in the haiku and the illustrations and the horse-love.

  6. Thank you for sharing about this book. It looks great. I love the idea of taking a poetry from and exploring all the small details of one subject. I will have to check it out

  7. No, I have not written any horse poems, but I have a daughter (now flown from the nest, too) who loved all things horses. Since her mean parents wouldn't buy her a horse, we took her to volunteer at a therapeutic riding center. She started by grooming and saddling the horses to get them ready for their lesson (she was too young to volunteer with the riders) and shoveling the stalls. She loved all of it.

  8. All of your horse poems are lovely. Your talent with poetry showed itself early on. I'm looking forward to finding The Horse's haiku at the library. Thank you for sharing it with us.

  9. "The Horse's Haiku" looks enchanting and I love the spread you shared with the horses eye, they are gorgeous animals. I remember your "Horseback Riding" poem from"Can I Touch Your Hair" –a heartfelt tender poem coming before the two characters begin to connect.

    I stopped by the illustrator links for your next books–beautiful work by both and very different, I look forward to reading them. Thanks for all Irene!


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