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The Skin Horse

by Nicholas Alexander Hayes

Dostoevsky dreams of a man beating a horse. Onlookers only smile.
The dream ends and the novelist awakens, thanks god, and smiles.

Napoleon on his rearing steed embodies the red genius of Hannibal.
His steadiness on the precipice keeps his starving troops going for stony miles.

Deprived of sustenance, wild chimps show fear by laughing.
One raised by sailors judges us but can, thirsting, only smile.

The chimp’s severed hands were used as grotesque ashtrays.
His children taught to ape us by smoking can no longer force a smile.

Baudrillard knows that the real is seduced into simulation
Like wool covering a concrete lamb with a placid molded smile.

“I suppose you are real?” said the Velveteen Rabbit. And then he wished he had not.
For he thought the Skin Horse might be sensitive. But the Skin Horse only smiled.

Thrown against each other in the night, velveteen slumped against leather.
The horse supports the rabbit who, of course, only smiled.

After the boy’s sickness, the gardener incinerated his contaminated toys.
Flames cut up the horse’s flanks. The gardener, without remorse, only smiled.

Remembered laughter in the playroom signals loss.
A prodigal young man forgets his past need and only smiles.

About Nicholas Alexander Hayes

Nicholas Alexander Hayes is the author of NIV: 39 & 27 (BlazeVOX), Between (Atropos), ThirdSexPot (Beard of Bees) and Metastaesthetics (Atropos). Most recently his creative writing has appeared in Scab, Peculiar Mormyrid, Former Cactus and the BlazeVox Journal.