Spoonful: A Gathering of Stone Soup Poets

An extension of Cambridge's Stone Soup Poetry Venue.

Poem by Coleen T. Houlihan

Illustration by James Conant


I will make you immobile.
I will turn you into stone--
stone boy, sweet boy, sunny momma’s angel,
dickless dimpled cherub.
I will stuff you full of cherries,
stick pins in your side,
I will locate your veins
slit them open like slugs,
drain you until your skin
is as white as your teeth-
your teeth as white as purity,
piety or the Madonna’s holy panties.
Then I will open you up,
peel back your chest
as if it were a vest and you my doll.
I will stick my cold, hard, hand in
and take hold of your heart.
I will squeeze it until I feel
it’s rhythm slowed,
made moderate,
made predictable.
I will match it to my own.
I will make you over,
I will make you over,
make you new.
I will make you.

But what is this?
What crazy tragedy is this
that has delivered the greatest work ever written
into the hands of a man who can not read?

The boy surrendered himself
and was brought before me-
“Kill me! Kill me! Find me and
Kill meeeeeeeeeeeeee!”
It is this that I am talking about.
It is that pressure, that unmistakable
look in a child’s eye when the broken vase
lays broken
and the child stands alone.
His death--inevitable,
and my hand’s inevitably stained.

At the first meeting I was already seduced,
his eyes seeing things
I had believed did not exist.
He sang a song in conquest and planted his seed.
Later that night I went to sleep
and thought myself victor!
I dreamed of carving up children
whose faces bore his face.
He--both God and demon.
He--both killed and resurrected.

I now exist in flames.

Before him I picked apart children
like nuts,
separating the shell I took the offending meat and left them.
What more could they need?
I told myself this--
convincing words like
To be or not to be
fit in society, was not yet a question.
I ask it now.

He is sick--
it is true. Deranged
blessed, dark honey that
flows from a whore’s lips.
A cold body on the verge of death
that is resurrected in warm blood.
A creature that would destroy you
who let’s you take it’s mangy mane instead
and mount.
He is.

he said
they always embrace.

It was sexy--
that beast we call horse
to the boy--
Dark God.
Into the magical field of Ha-Ha
they would ride.
Allan’s bare flesh,
bare against hide.
Boy and horse that for one hour
every month under the watchful moon
became more than just mortal flesh
but a vehicle for everything God should
Fear, yes; power, yes; love; anger; desire
all these things YES
but most importantly
“Equus son of Flecuus, son of Necuus…”
There was nothing else-
I’m raw! Raw!
Feel me on you!
On you! On you! On you!
I want to be in you!
I want to BE you forever and ever!”

If God were a man
and his son truly his son
it would have the body, the power,
the unmistakably fierce, solar energy
of a horse.
Man and beast joined as one--
God and boy joined as one.

While I sat at my desk and looked at pictures
Alan flesh grew into horse--
horse flesh grew into Alan--
until divinity was given an image
(Horse and rider shall be one!)
While the dull world rolled on dully
I looked into Alan’s eyes and felt
for the first time the cruel nails that held me
My hands bleeding
while into the horse’s mouth
Alan placed the jingle jangle.
Hard, cold, heavy blades of steal
that sever flesh undeniably, undefyably, forever.
Yet I realized that Equus could take it
and that I invariably could not.
Not God, yet standing in those chains,
wondering if I was even human.

It was later that the boy broke
touched woman naked like Eve
and wanted to crown her
but the head of his hairy God
jealous nostrils flaring
crushed Alan to the ground.
Telling the boy what he already knew
that it was to be-
forever and ever and--
*“You are mine and I am yours.
May all others fall like dirt into the sea.
I bare you to me,
see you to me,
feel you to me,
kneel you to me
always and always and--
Look to the eyes of another and you will fail.
Never shut me out.
I leak like poison into your mouth.
I will never let you fall.
May no death put us asunder.”

As of yet I have not done it
horse and rider still are one
Alan as I know him is still.
My colleague tells me to put aside myself,
it is as it always will be
child before adult.
She tells me with her eyes
what I already know
that I have the power to turn Alan’s
flesh into stone.

You will be normal.
You will reproduce.
You will work for the rest of your life.
You will wear a three-piece suit.
You will laugh but
you will never cry.
You will touch horses
and be able to look them in the eye.
You will be Degutted.

Inevitability rolls on
and I know that one day
I will take your naked skin
and the horse's hairy flank,
strip it all away
and leave you bare--
bone hard, bone hallow.
I will place my lips upon you
and suck the marrow out,
your blood already gone,
your skin already gone--
and you think that all you will lose
is the pain…
For this I should be killed
but you will be convinced
I am now the mahsea.
And yet I stand to you
back turned, in the corner.
Inside myself,
inside my bones
I know that I am a coward
and Equus who has become my own,
my demon, my terror,
my perverted chance at redemption
stares at me with bloody eyes
and says, *“Ha, Ha.”

I want to smell the dark, dusk scent
of Equus moving below me.
I want to taste his sweat
and feel his skin.
I want to be weightless,
unburdened to myself,
his hair like knives to rub against
my own naked skin--
naked because all else is pretence
and I would feel myself a liar.

Equus, Equus,
take this man with his questions,
this man who has become
more burdened than the boy
who’s blood will one day
line my hands,
take me Equus
now that you have killed me
and born me anew
to darkness
where gold flecks shine
like stars
and music plays
like the voices of sirens
and I am driven
And I find myself wondering
what is better,
a life that is never lived
or a life lived in passion
that can only end in flames?

Equus, Equus--
God Slave,
I need a way of seeing through this field
where I exist with you-
raw to all things I no longer know who I was,
nor do I want to remember.
All life, all things live in the hair of your hide
and leak like blood from your bloody eyes.
Too beautiful you appear to me
and too terrible.
For me even blinding
does not shut you out
and I can feel myself
extending my hand
and placing before you
my heart that beats in tune
to the stomping of your hooves.
Joined forever--man and God,
I pledge myself to you.
No one can put us asunder,
we ride like a warrior emerging
through thunder to crush
all those below…

And I am afraid.

All quotes taken from the play Equus by Peter Shaffer except for the ones marked with an asterisk.