Secretariat (A poem)

In nineteen seventy-three, Secretariat pounded around the track to victory

And earned a place in the social memory of human society

But do the horses remember?


Experts think Secretariat was second only to Man o’ War

And Citation thundered in close behind them both

Whipped servility in every thunderous step


Secretariat’s heart was twice as large as an average horse

And they whipped him for the spectacle of speed

But do the horses remember?


About the Poem

Secretariat was written over the course of several days in 2015.   The poem questions the exploitation and abuse of animals for spectacle sport. The question of whether horse riding and racing is humane, is not a central to the poem.  The central matter of the poem is exploitation.

The poem contrasts the fact that humans have a documented record of the horses who performed with a question of whether horses also have such a memory.  There are human horse racing experts but there is no documented history of what the animals thought or felt.  We know only that they performed.

Threaded into the poem are the evocative names given to horses.  A secretariat is an administrative official; a Man o’ War is an armed sailing ship; a citation is a noteworthy reference  or commendation.  The names of these horses are drawn from human histories of power and governance.

The poem considers the human habit of acculturating exploitation.  The final question of the poem is whether the exploited ones remember. It is up to the reader whether they wish to consider the records and memories of the exploited.

In tone, the poem leans to a sympathy for the exploited ones  The human side of the story is impersonal and collective.  On the horse side, individuals are identified.

Writing Method

The poem was drafted entirely via keyboard.

See Also

References and Citations


Article History

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  1. Original draft: July 31, 2018



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