SNOW & READING. . .

The_Afternoon_Crowd_Cover_for_Kindlejpg If you are planning to cozy up with a good book after a day of creating snow sculptures, here is a brief excerpt from THE AFTERNOON CROWD.

THE HORSEY SET
Arlene S. Bice © 2016.1.24.

they came with bruised, calloused hands coarser than sandpaper
to lift a shot of whiskey chased by a cold mug of beer, a reward
for hard work done out in the elements, thanks not given, except
what they gave themselves; not a lot of time to linger; even on
Christmas Day horses had regular schedules to keep and these
workers were there to keep ‘em

they came from all parts of the country, from Canada, and the
Caribbean, landed here in the center of New Jersey, to work on
one particular horse farm or another; how did they find us,
I wondered
some from the west or mid-west; wasn’t that a
reversal of history?

They came as owners
foremen
trainers
drivers
jockeys
walkers
water boys
stable hands

more on the list
of guys & gals
hard working
no shifting duties
either you were good
carrying your own weight or you were out

the owners came more often in the evening, for dinner
when the daytime bar folks did not; or they came for a
few celebratory drinks after the races were over

one trainer/owner
who I happened to like above others
usually a pleasant fellow
a common sense guy
never nasty or stupid
always came in alone;

this day he came in, dragging
he carried the look of the lonely on him
I knew he was married and I knew not happily
and I knew this day that his trouble was the
wife, not the horses;
a man has a certain look about him when it is
a woman that weighs on his mind; my heart
went out to him as my ears just listened, that
was all he wanted and couldn’t get anywhere
else to go along with his shot and beer

a year later, when he came in our positions were
reversed;
“good god, you look terrible!” he said, “what’s
happened to you?’ etc. etc. etc.

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Filed under American History, books, historical taverns, New Jersey history, poetic narrative, Poetry, snow, Uncategorized

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