Today The Common published The Morning Line, the title poem of my new poetry collection, as its poetry feature of the month. I wrote the poem on May 22, 2020, having always wanted to write a poem with that resonant title. The phrase dictated the subect matter: chance, gambling, and faith. Here are the opening two stanzas of this extended three-part meditation. — David Lehman
The Morning Line
— May 22, 2020
You can pick horses on the basis of their names
and gloat when Justify wins racing’s Triple Crown
or when, in 1975, crowd favorite Ruffian, “queen
of the century,” goes undefeated until she breaks down
in a match race with Derby winner Foolish Pleasure.
Who could root against Ruffian?
Did patriotic Englishmen cheer
when Sir Winston won the Belmont last year?
I rejoiced when Monarchos, a ten to one bet, became
the second horse ever to break the two-minute mark
at the Kentucky Derby. Why did I pick it? I liked the name.
Those two minutes in May 2001 and the giddy hours after
now seem a little like a garden party in England in July 1914
as the nineteenth century approached the finish line
Please click here to read the rest of the poem.