Go to your beloved, swift as the King’s steed
Coveted among horses, cosseted in feed.
When the whip cracks, it can’t be held back.
No warrior can subdue its furious attack.
Meanwhile, the gazelle flees, desert-leaping.
Hooves hot, limbs weary, body shaking.
You, the hunter, dog at side, straining your hearing
To discern even its echo. But no, there’s nothing.
At the river’s bend, rubbing your shoulders
Sun peeping over clusters of boulders
You surmise this is no way to court a lover.
Subtract the terror, get to know her.
Sitting on a rock for a smoke, you listen
To descry the low wind of her return.
Johnny Payne is Director MFA in Creative Writing at Mount Saint Mary's University in Los Angeles. He has published two previous volumes of poetry, as well as ten novels. In addition, he writes and direct plays in Los Angeles and elsewhere. His plays have been produced professionally and on university stages.