Chiron

Robert Beveridge

 

He came at me with those crutches

and that big grin and it was just that

kind of day, you know. November

8, 1997, both of us already a few

too many drinks into a chilly day

in Kent, Ohio, at a scarred formica

table, the Breeders’ Cup on every

TV in the room. He’d just put down

our bets for the Turf, and when Awad

was on the track, there was never

anyone else for him. He thought I

was nuts to play a trifecta part-wheel

with only three horses on it, double

so that none of them was Awad.

Still, he’d gone to the phone, placed

my two-buck part wheel with Chief

Bearheart on top of Flag Down

and Borgia, and I asked him how

can two drunk writers ever not bet

on a horse named Borgia.

No one was much surprised by a 2-1

shot winning a race, nor the second

favorite coming in second. It was Flag

Down coming third at 14-1 that turned

my four bucks into $280.20 while Awad

finished ninth, “passed tired rivals”

the Daily Racing Form said the next day.

 

And now it’s twenty years and a handful

of months later and like we always said

every minute of every day there’s a race

going off somewhere and so I’m on the web

checking race courses in India, Turkey,

China, Australia, Japan, taking sips

off a flask of Maker’s Mark and wondering

if I have enough in the bank to drop

fifty bucks into a betting account

to take a shot on the first at Kembla

Grange, which goes off in five minutes,

whether I can parse the hieroglyphics

and come up with a winner, whether I

can find a twin to stick on a part wheel,

can cash one for the hungry ghost

who did, finally, surrender his tackle box.

 

Walker

Robert Beveridge

 

Thumb cocked, web between it

and forefinger as tight

as the hem in your jeans.

The stereotype would have you

in a red cowboy shirt and a stetson

instead of a soiled, holey white T-shirt

and an Angels cap.

It is not enough

to not stop.

Salt

Robert Beveridge

                                                           

Your body sweats the days

like green garden hoses in the sun

I kiss your skin

taste that evaporated salt

between your high breasts

a pool of it has collected

and it is there I bury my head

to hibernate in winter

 

The Traveling Salesman Problem

Robert Beveridge

To Emily Durway

                                                           

Naked together for the first time,

you curled into me, head in the crook

of my elbow, our fingers intertwined

on your hip. Your shoulder too close

to not kiss, a Jasper Johns spatter

of freckles that beg the trace

of lips.

 

               I consider permutations,

how each addition to the traveling

salesman problem adds an exponent

to complexity.

 

                          Your upper arm

a country, every settlement athirst

for snake oil, if only they knew

of its existence. This huckster

bows his head, gives thanks

for mathematics.

 

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