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On 'Death Rides The Pale Horse' By Turner

Death in this painting is not beautiful,
as you’ll find Him in Medieval
allergorical etchings—all slender with perfect posture.
The horse He rides here
is sickly pale and grimaces
in agony as He gallops
onward to His ghastly destination.

No angular stick-figure,
not draped in elegant white shrouds,
not smiling as though the
viewer had just shared
a Knock-knock-who’s-there? joke.
Death rides bareback
and appears to be in
a distorted position,
almost like an acrobat,
reaching out toward the viewer
all bloody bones, all red
and ENRAGED.

I showed the print to my friend
who wondered what it would look like
up close—
Too horrifying, too immediate.
We turned the page.

Now,
when I look at the painting,
I hear hoofbeats.
When I close the book
and look inward,
I hear my heartbeat.

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