Chapbook of Old Horses

Old Horses
By Ronald J. Hoffman

Copyright 2017 Ronald J. Hoffman, Roaming Snyder Publishing.

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What Put the Lines in the Old Man’s Face?
The Story of Elvis Angel
I Am a Mixed Can of Genes
Coming to Town
For the Incense
Poet Capitalist
The Sultan Excuses Himself
What Does Babylon Look Like?
The Fairy That Spit in Your Eye
The Scream of the Beetle (Out of Egypt)
Shadow in the Unbroken Continuum
Puff and Blow
I Walk with Voices that Speak of Dread
Mercury Prayers
Lying and Dying
Isn’t There Time You Can Lend Me?
About the Author




A collection of poems created by Barnabas Collins, covering the emotional reaction to birth, life, and death, and facing the horror of awareness we as humans all must face. From the elementary school child, to the reactionary ideologue that a person seemingly becomes, and to the old age that follows, Collins captures the emotional bond of the old man as he looks back toward his childhood and views a common thread of symbols that lend to his awareness, and to the playing out of the emotions.


In the punishing peace
Ghost heroes’
Practiced chants
Bloom and shrivel

Children divided
with words and
encumbering devices
Their lives framed
From cradle to cloak

Men from the grave
Claiming children
With drunken stories
Teaching them
To chide things
They never learn to see

Like blind seers teaching
With each passing hour
Of each passing day
Always to look forward
To something new,
Something stimulating,
Never knowing,
Never seeing,
How came the lines
on the old man’s face.



“He was Petey the iguana that cracked his
tail on my neck and jumped to the floor.
He slept inside the stove top next to the fire.
I’m so sorry he had to die of consumption
In that filthy apartment, but he was buried
with an image of Buddha in his cage. “

The child stood wide eyed and shaking in his blue pajamas looking at himself in the mirror. The moonlight is over his right shoulder. The mirror reflects its light onto the top of the dresser. What is it? He runs to Mommy bawling.

The boy is in the field, an open pasture. He and his brother are walking with their parents. It’s a sunny midsummer day in 1968. The father is picking up his boys and tossing them into the air. He pauses to pick up a stick and toss it toward the pond and smiles as he looks at his wife. Those were the three happiest years.

When he was six years old the boy used to steal candy and baseball cards from the dime store. When he got caught and the store clerk told him he was going to call his parents, he was scared of getting whipped and felt bad for his parents at the same time.

The seven year old steals another cigarette and furtively skips out the garage door and up the path in the woods. He opens the book of matches and strikes a match to light the cigarette, inhaling with three quick little puffs. He blows out the smoke and listens to the chirping of sparrows. The garage doors slams and with three leaps his father is on him, lifting him into the air with one hand and cracking his palm on his boy’s ass five times. The child remembers watching the cigarette fall from his mouth and staring at until his father was finished beating him.

The boy watches the mother bird fly to the other side of the yard and runs to the tree by the ditch and climbs up and looks into the nest at the three little birds, rubbery and wailing. He shrieks as his ear is grabbed and given a little jerk, and the mothers wings flap against his head.

Channel 456. “Dali’s clock slowly melted down the wall…”

Channel 457. “I am sure that her awareness is so cleansed of me that she doesn’t even spend the time to think of me just to hate me a little.”

Channel 458 “’I like a little zen with my Eucharist,’ the priest chuckled.”

Born with an angel’s brain and able to foresee the ax falling and ending his days, the child is master of the man.



I am a mixed can of genes
Tailored for a queen bee
A tale of neutered dreams
Exiled into extremities
The opening of the door
And the closing of it
The ecstasy of fantasy
The bug on the pane
The eel on the fish
The roach in the drain
The conductor in the void
The clown with the frown
Before he puts his face on
A forest that shakes with rhythm
Like the hips of a stripper
I am a mixed can of genes
And the swollen lips of angels
Kiss my balls.

All of these years I’ve come to town
I never looked hard at what I imagined
Just dimmed my eyes and walked my way

In burning fields I tossed away ashes
Stepping into these bones
Garments and shoes pass me by
On their way to hills marked with stone

Singing birds I couldn’t see
Imagining their shapes from pictures
Beyond the steel brick and mortar
The one way streets and guarded borders

But behind iron gates against the open sky
I finally did see wings and feathers and a beak
While I breathed the smoke of a street vendor
Grilling hot dogs.

He was perched high above on a roof ledge
And he turned his back to drop a load onto
The vendor’s grill

Fuck You
Scrapes and rots
Fuck You
Crusty twats
Fuck You
All the drugs I took
for my perverted muse

Fuck You
Burn and stink
Fuck You
Another drink
Fuck You
Burn the altar
and fuck my muse
Fuck You
Fuck You
Fuck You

Fuck You
Hack and suck
Fuck You
Blistered fuck
Fuck You
It made me sick

to see her swallow
another lick
Fuck You
Fuck You
Fuck You
Ah haha! Oh hohoho! Hehehe!

(The last thing I remember from that life was a woman in the mirror with piano wire)

Yeah, yeah, yeah. Fuck you!

The creator, unacknowledged,
poking holes in the sand,
unaware of his giving
to an unforgiving thief.

Ideas and images that come with no license
sifted through the minds of mimicking birds,
cackling and droning multiple monster rebirths.

That poet there, has become a lawyer–
“They are only words,” he says.

Or has he become like Donald Trump.
and would try to trademark words?
Would he set a parrot in front of the patent clerk
and license each phrase the bird repeated,
A poet capitalist?

The sultan sits on his throne and
demands to be entertained by poetry.

“Poet, entertain me!” he shouts as he farts and wheezes.
“I give you my time!”ffppptttt!
“(whew!)Entertain me goddamn it!
Register something in my brain
that lingers so well!
Entertain me you fool.
I’ll consume you while I flush,
my personal comedian, my entertainer.

Maybe my thoughts don’t matter,
I’ll just use yours as my own later
to the imaginary harem I’ve collected
on a social network of pretty young girls
less than half my age.
A king’s prerogative you know,
in the state of self absorption.

I demand of you no less than what I desire.
Entertain me you son of a bitch
while I am wiping my ass
and castigating you
with chirps and squeaks.
What’s the matter,
don’t you want to serve me?

What does Babylon look like?

If you must ask this question then simply look in the mirror
And focus the courage to see it.

Look out the window
Look on your tv
Look into your thoughts

You live in Babylon every day
But it is not the world you live in
It is the world you see

It is the degradation of perception
Through language structure
It isn’t one particular teaching
It is each of them.

The language of Babylon is the language coding one uses, and
The state of Babylon is geographically situated in the brain.
Its ruler is the one that projects his thoughts unto others.

The message is domination of the conceptual landscape,
The weapons are arguments by those who profess to be blind.
It insists in believing in the stupidity of others.
It justifies its power through fear.

The movement of clouds is the turning of an ethereal dial
The mist of scolding skies stream to rivers

The breath of life in the barnyard burns and blows
with gusts of putrid air, and the stench of countless stalls
wafts from wallowing hooves and shoes.

The screen door is opened and there is the sound of boots on a wooden floor.
The scorched pan is removed from the burner and there are questions that are
answered with a gasping screech.

The portraits in the hallway are etched into memory with dark intuition
and a vague knowing of future recollections.
Where were you when she died?
Did your collection of objects until that time have a significance that has changed?

The stuttering gurgling sighs and the hollow eyes that return your gaze
like the past in the mirror – you fondle the moment you wrap yourself in for years.

You took it personal when the fairy spit in your eye.

Tossed into the breech and smoldering
With a sodden glow
Taught by a flickering voice
Altruism, religion style
Brimming with promises of judgment
Goodness on the pain of punishment
With rhetorical software
Lukewarm pabulum the hard wired brain rejects.

The foreign installation,
The spouting pyre
The demon drill
The everlasting never
The neverlasting ever
The crown, the beetle,
The scream that echoes nothing.

Shadow in the unbroken continuum, reflecting
Reflex shadow in a convex mirror, reflecting
The source of seismic pondering, reflecting
With ease the mind releases, rejecting

Tears were gathered in alms cups
When you surfaced
Hands were clasped in prayer
Murmurs joined in throngs
Hearts raced through years

Causes became known and replaced
By new causes joined and replaced
The hearers became a seers in years
The aged one became young
In a cauterized mirror

The deal is undone
The contract undone
Your fingers stirred new names
Ringing with magic, with gold
And with new tears
New tears for the damned
New tears for the young
New tears for the old
The vibrations of your whisper ceased.
The dawn has come.

My heart needs someone else’s flow
To fill the groove in my head
To stop my song
To herd my flesh
Below the ground

It is discomforting
Watching me breathe
Suck and weaze
From my clay

Poke and see
If the dust escapes me
Into an open grave

The withered chances of fresh days
In youth where the old man was lost
Feeling about in self imposed darkness
Fooling himself about what he sees
And what he doesn’t see
Clutching desperately for foes
Which he needs to establish himself

Trying so hard to be famous
He only makes himself infamous
A drunken fool and his stories
That the teenager soon grows tired of

He’s a worn out vessel that never held anything
Questioning without understanding
And mistaking his lack of understanding
For some sort of agnostic wisdom

He is a man without conviction
An impotent blowhard

And if he blows through
The reed and sings the
Songs of his father
He will find that
Somehow what he says
is what he was told
take your drinks
And don’t bother your sense
Your broken teeth
Can’t grind on the spirits that
Should make you sing

Awakened broken and weighed
Steel on a slip of an apportioned grave
Before I knew you
You demanded the offering of my life

During the process of my anger
In the place I made
Despite your taking
And the promises you forestood
I aided and comforted your enemy
My one true friend myself
I took the course of my inner sanctity
And the giver of life disgraced my love
Every step of the way

Who once was the giver
Is the knower now
Who once covered my heart and forehead with ashes
Is himself covered with ashes
Mingled with rust
The soul of that which has fallen away

White hours of comfort took
The snarled blessing you gave
As an afterthought
And with a shake of a hand
You whisked me away
Into the dark, bound,
freed from your love

and once more
I could never be told
What to know

I walk with voices that speak of dread
Surviving death blows inside my head
All the while my feet are beckoning…

Stu… stut…stuttering aimlessly
Splitting tongues with knives
Reeking of poison
confirming my lies
I make a sign of the cross and pray for souls
That killed all men who dared to be foes

My tattered repairs meant to hide
The things I wished to remain hidden
Only served to remind me of the things
I lied about to forget my pain
And in the dust where I drew
the lines that my years had written
I found that the pains of the gains
of my hours had been forgotten

it’s you
you who think yours is the last word
you who think that the world would be a better place
if only others would do as you say
think as you think

you there
on your knees
condemning majorities
you with the shrill voice
urging others to fight
you who inwardly say “of course”
imploring and praying that others would do
what you think is right
it is you who is the cause of this war and that war
it is you whom the others are fighting
and it is your notion of goodness that perpetuates the unrest

mercury prayers
dripping from your hands like poison
smoke and cataracts
scalding gibberish articulated for debate
mistaking rhetoric for knowledge
you cast a slant eyed glance
and smirk at fumbled syllables
but others don’t need your words for knowing

you spend a lifetime fashioning your grave
your thoughts are an empty sepulcher
of shadowy unknowing
blasting and blowing

You are writing an epitaph
so that you may leave proof of your existence
and when the light comes in the final hour
the tears you thought would come
aren’t forthcoming
just a blinkered thought
“what the fuck was that all about?”

I know I’ve known what comfort is
I thought I’d remember the breeze
In this moment lying here
In a steady rain
Just me and memories
The smell of radiator fluid
Burning oil and gasoline
I felt the bursting
I heard the popping in my brain
The wheel wouldn’t turn me
The lights kept getting closer
Approaching in my lane…

Just a shovel of limestone
Just a shovel to carry away
What seems like mystery
Just a hunk of fleshy gray

In a while
There’s a way to wake me
From slumbering
In a storm that brings the peace

The wine’s gone
And so is the history
And the dissecting misery
With hope that leads to wrong

Lies, song
Lies, song and never
Lies, song, and never
Hope what springs to be

A shovelful of limestone
Tossed cleverly
On the smile that was never
Meant to be seen

Mind swelled and set on a breeze
Dusting off fragments of memories

Blue faced croak,
Hands clasped and groping
Bulging eyes that plead
Isn’t there time you can lend me?

Memories dancing,
Unfocused eyes glancing
I sense my journal pages
Floating away from me

I smell turpentine and fresh bread
I see the three cats set adrift in a pond
and left for dead.
Little Perry who gave me a bloody nose
The chickens that would let me pet them when they went to roost.
The burning of human flesh and the blood on the pavement where that guy died.
That time I fainted in the hospital when my aunt died.

No, no I didn’t want to do it… Listen to me, it was time for Max to die. He was an old dog.
Come on, it’s time to get up and get ready for school.
Who the fuck cares about a watch after 45 years in the workforce?

Mind swelled and set on a breeze
Losing sight of fragments of memories

Blue faced croak,
Hands clasped and groping
Bulging eyes that plead
Isn’t there time you can lend me?



RJ Hoffman is author of the serial novel The Confessor of Littlefield which can be read on He also illustrates, paints and plays guitar.

“I see the child as father of the man, and as a fifty year old can see the symbols of my youth writ large upon my theater of reality.”
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