John Valentine

Chattooga River

Cold currents high up, manic. Rush-
roaring from Carolina, boiling down

to Georgia, Lake Tugaloo. White
lather, water witches and roil. Places

only the dead can go: Jawbone, War-
woman, Dead Man’s Pool
. Mount the

mustang no one can ride. Angry froth,
bones shining in the sluice. Rubbed

clean. Rock Jumble, Sock ‘Em Dog:
no prisoners. Cornered, the old stallion

races one last time. Watch it swing wild
with the wind. Headlong, bent for hell,

down it goes, like some great appaloosa,
the last of its kind. Everywhere a halter,

long ropes, a saddle. Everywhere a bit.
See how the barn is closer. After so many

miles, see how she quivers, surrenders.
See how she stills, like water in a well.

© John Valentine