Breaking Horses


The same old, tired story:
the hunter and the hunted,
predator and prey.

The older Navajo sits down
near the canyon’s edge
to show he is no threat
and lays a trail of words
to captivate the beast.

He speaks of foreign service:
Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos,
Falklands, Nicaragua, and Iraq.
He speaks of unemployment,
canceled contracts, delayed pensions.
He speaks to woo the Devil:
this pale devil.

But when the younger Navajo,
big in his gangsta pants,
wanders to the road to check for traffic,
finds none,
and starts back,
the pale beast spooks
and dances backward,
perceiving now the trap,
swings a leg over the saddle
of his motorbike,
and rides, heart galloping, away.

—Lester Smith
from Would You Dance?

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