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Mark Olival-Bartley studied applied linguistics at Hawaii Pacific University, attaining B.A. and M.A. degrees in Teaching English as a Second Language, and poetry at the City College of New York. He is now writing a dissertation on the sonnets of E. A. Robinson at LMU, where he tutors composition alongside editing flyers on poetry and style. His poems and translations have appeared in journals on both sides of the Atlantic. He is the resident poet at EcoHealth, where his science-themed verse is regularly featured, and a senior copyeditor at Review of International American Studies. He also teaches at Münchner Volkshochschule and leads the Amerikahaus Literaturkreis.

20160523

Old Men Pitching Horseshoes

by X. J. Kennedy


Back in a yard where ringers groove a ditch, 
These four in shirtsleeves congregate to pitch 
Dirt-burnished iron. With appraising eye, 
One sizes up a peg, hoists and lets fly—
A clang resounds as though a smith had struck 
Fire from a forge. His first blow, out of luck, 
Rattles in circles. Hitching up his face,
He swings, and weight once more inhabits space, 
Tumbles as gently as a new-laid egg.
Extended iron arms surround their peg
Like one come home to greet a long-lost brother. 
Shouts from one outpost. Mutters from the other.

Now changing sides, each withered pitcher moves 
As his considered dignity behooves
Down the worn path of earth where August flies 
And sheaves of air in warm distortions rise,
To stand ground, fling, kick dust with all the force 
Of shoes still hammered to a living horse.

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