Bodies Made Of Blood – Robbie Coburn

The Saddle Maker

Fire through a column of trees, blackened trees
in a dream of horses stumbling from a cliff face.

I pulled some of the bodies back up,
the spooked herd stampeding below
without direction.
a wounded stallion, crying.

the ravine is no longer here
and the horses are not breathing.

there is sudden rain and an opening
in my body you could put a fist through.

as everything can be crushed by waking

a dying horse told me
that making a saddle was like painting
human skin.


The sound of their hooves is endless
and their bodies made of blood
when you wake
one morning
and trace my spine and ribcage
in search of an opening.
your fingers gallop
across the length of my skin,
running from their own shadows.
I hear their frantic braying
as they crush my paper bones
in front of your eyes.
just as when
I was a child beneath them;
I am screaming
through mouthfuls of blood
as the wound inside me
of what you
have done.



Again dark.
the numbered fence lines
restricting the horses,
rusted barbed wire pricking
the fingertips

for hours the shadows lifting
to reveal the night sky
strung out across the grasses
a sudden braying entering
in deliberate pulses
the heat of their breath
when the wires begin to stir
as they run from us –

I am nothing
more than a presence
with hands and a voice
to bring them closer;
the impenetrable silence
when the paddock wakes.

Horse Womb


Saliva joining the hay on the stall’s floor
and becoming a new earth;
the mare collapsed exhausted
in the back paddock
after months of carrying that weight.

no movement then but her pulsating flanks,
the bucket of water she drinks from
when I hold it before her,
the snorting and trembling body I speak to
that never hears me.

no light for hours, the night a vacuum
where the shed is the earth’s distance
beneath the bulbs flickering
under the tin roof.

slowly, him reaching between the mare’s thighs
and his face changing.
An ageing child, I cry for hours
after I watch his shaking hands

pull the lifeless filly
from the dark mouth.