cracking the odds

I’ve been playing the
horses
for so long
that I have seen
a whole
series of
jockies
come and
go
and
women too
and
presidents
but
somehow
for me
the jocks
have become the
main markers of
time.

I’ve seen them
come in as
bug boys,*
I’ve seen them
run
red hot,
dominating
meetings–
almost always
getting that
nose
at the wire
in the photo
finishes.
I’ve seen them
continue
well
and then–
almost at
once–
slow and
grey,
get
hesitant,
unsure,
to give way
to the next
hot
jock.

in the
arts,
in the fields
of entertainment,
in the world
of
business
the same
process
holds
sway
but
the jocks
really
mark
the daring
and the
sadness
of the
struggle
for me.

take Johnny
who used to
be
one of the
greatest
front runners
of
our time,
a
real
wire to wire
master.
he trains them
now
but isn’t so
good
at that.

you can
see him
now
in the back
room
tiny
in his chair
playing cards
with the
Mexican
hot walkers
and
losing
money to
them
day after
day.

“Hey, Johnny,
you wanna
play cards,
man?”

the jocks
mark it
for me
more than
the
passing of
Marco Polo,
Picasso
or
Henry the
8th.

the jocks
mark it
small and
brave

they
take it
past
quits

that number
in
lights

Kant stiffened on
his
deathbed

Johnny
flips
down a
card

finally
wins
a
hand.



*bug boy:   an apprentice jock is allowed 5 pounds off the assigned
weight of a horse until he reaches a certain amount of wins or
rides a certain amount of time, whichever comes first.