about the author

Russell Zintel lives in Rockland, Maine, and works as a line cook at a Mediterranean restaurant. His work has appeared in Banango Street, Tiny Seed, and Ash Tree Journal. He is at work on a full-length collection of poems.

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One Poem  

Russell Zintel

Strider, 133 Years Later

I am a horse and there is a horse in my backyard

The sun shines over both of us, though I can only speak to the dust rising

At the edge of my simulation

Where does my pen end/Oh, it’s over there, by the oat trough

Beneath which oats ferment

At either fencepost, a tongue fork of this star, rising or setting

There are infinite pens behind mine, actually, and they go farther than the hills roll or I than have rolled

On crisp mornings my mouth opens and there the ocean is, saved

There the gunshot is, plastic free, cannabinoid free in the desert, there the duloxetine sheen is

On my brow. I’m controlled

Parts of the world I haven’t seen rush toward me

When it rains, it pours, 133 years fall away from the individual

By afternoon each day I’m tiger pacing the southern perimeter of my pen

The west wind blows my mane

I have never seen or heard of a tiger, but god damn I know nervousness

Speaking of, why the hell do they build these stupid racing tracks over Muddy Creek?

Don’t they know that they are building over wetlands

Don’t they know you can’t put a human bandaid over an Earthly river

To add insult to injury, they make us run around in circles

Instead of riding us through the woods

Don’t you know these are the reasons I must remain political

Though I subvert the circle with almost imperceptible sidesteps

Nobody notices as I halt the circle’s perfection at every turn

Grunt and cut a corner

How many dandelions can I leave untrodden?

Though I don’t mess around when my owner rides me, ‘owner’

It’s mostly other people on my back

There is this mixed sense of joy and shame wrapped up

In taking them over hurdles, or around the track

In responding to their alien boot heels, banal clicks and calls

I am a horse but I am also a pantheistic mongrel of oceanic neck problems, of split-brain decisions

Of all myths the chimera is real

So is the horse behind me

Nobody knows this about us

That we can see ourselves in the reflections of tigers in the balloons stuck in our mouths

And still don’t know what they are

That we can pace and feel something invisible, like roots

I ask her, each morning


At least three times a week I ask this

Hungover from eating boozy oats until after midnight


I yell


Though by now she’s saddled and gone

These days I’m trying to focus on minimizing my yelling, regardless of who is around me

I’m trying to minimize my yelling at the tiger in the birthday balloon of my past

Where the wolf jaw gets me

Jean-Paul Sartre’s there, too, with the tiger, and the floating wolf jaws, and the floating wolf cub jaws, and sometimes they all have tea or practice exiting

There are no horses or fields in the crinkling metallic

History has confused Tolstoy and JPS, and he and the tiger even choke one another, in a dominating sort of way

The jaws flatten into a horizon and the sun lowers itself into it, from all sides

I only feel the cool breeze, the light going, unknowing of what these names mean

Or how they

Found their way

Into my long,

Long head

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