John Kingsmill’s sport diary: Cup Eve

Melbourne Cup Eve, 2012

Poetry oozes out of me
like a blush on a rash.
I have to rein it in.

I have to put the horse to sleep
on the far stretch, in the bulk of the run
and wake it up again a few mornings

before the final turn. This is not easy.
Every horse wants to race; every poet
wants the freedom of the paddock, the pound

of the earth beneath its feet, the joy of motion.
Horses and poets don’t care about winning.
They only want fresh air in their face, the sound

and smell of movement, an unimpeded view
of the straight. They need the flat thump of hooves
around them but they want to be the first to touch

the new grass, the first to be let down
by their riders after the last turn, the first
to be patted and loved and they want to be

the last to be led back to their stables.


  1. Another pearler, John

  2. Lovely stuff JK. You are spot on about the need for approval of writers and poets (we are an insecure breed). Thought you were gilding the lily though about the motivation of the equine athlete.
    I am with Jerry Seinfeld on that – “oat bag, oat bag, gotta get my oat bag.”
    By the look of things the Almanac punters may be in need of an oat bag for nourishment and warmth by the end of the Carnival. The Tom Waterhouse Benevolent Fund donations are overflowing this week.

  3. John Harms says

    “They only want fresh air in their face”


    This earning a living caper? Who organised it this way?

    A Russian once said to me that in the old Soviet Union only the lazy people worked. The rest were able to pursue their passion. He had been a journalist and writer until the wall came down. That’s when he started to travel to Germany, buy cheap Mercedes and drive them back to Russia where he sold them to the new tycoons at a handsome profit.

    Oh to be a poet in Soviet Russia.

    The same guy put his arm around me one day and said, “Johnny. I have zee advice. You, never marry zee beautiful woman. They are always looking for zee relations: for example, sexual.”

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