Like a bored woman’s finger on the rim of a cocktail glass
under a gin-colored sky
the horses are working in circles,
each led by a navy-clad syce
with the memory of sleep in his eye.
The morning has hardly begun yet
but here, on the racecourse, has already taken shape:
a giant’s watch with the back off
revealing a hundred moving parts
all combining to make the hands sweep.
The jockeys arrive last of all
unnecessarily smart, like radio announcers,
trim to the seams of their skin-tight jodhpurs,
with the self-confident air of quiz show contestants
who know all the answers.
Up on the wide, empty grandstand
a solitary figure is standing. Soon
even he will dissolve away, back into the real city,
stooping to pick up a lucky penny, shiny
as the visible moon.
Michael Paul Hogan is a poet, journalist and literary essayist whose work has appeared extensively in the USA, UK, India and China. He is the author of six poetry collections, the most recent of which, Chinese Bolero, is a collaboration with the great contemporary Chinese painter Li Bin.