Against Anxiety

Vona Groarke


A cartoon rider on a horse so real
it shits and stalls and rears against the rider
it’s been saddled with in this narrative.

Who wonders, of course, if he’s been here before
but nobody, not the old-timer in the sun chair
nor the woman stock-still in her parked car,
not even the dog who stares him down,
bids him the time of day.

The horse comes not to care, one way or the other.
There will be hay or else there won’t;
either way, he’s a horse still tomorrow.

The rider knows nothing about tomorrow.
He moves on, color and storyline,
to the next bit of road and the next,
past fury, exhaustion and bafflement
none of which touch him, not in the least,
as he drags with his ears a shaft of light
from a moon he thinks is real.

I suppose that’s the thing about cartoons:
everyone sees the punchline coming
except who’s about to get punched.

image: Vincent van Gogh, Horse, 1886, Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam (Vincent van Gogh Foundation)