Autopsy (Self study)

by Chelsea Dingman

Bent to anger my whole life, a herd
of horses pounding down the highwayside.
Their hooves, prayerful. Now, the anger

is not my own. A man’s anger: the switch
of the tail. The fire in the brand. The dark
stalls that it leads him to. Neon-lit. Dank.

The man needs attention I can’t give him.
As anger harnesses all energy, the horses
pound past another exit, tornado in tow.

I don’t know how to say love when I mean ruin.
The landscape, bright but cold. Where I was
sleeping, he forgot who he was. He turned

from light to air as I watched. Now, wind
enters me from all points. Nothing is ahead
for the horses, yet they run as if they know

heaven. The horizon, split. Already in the past,
anger is a loop of sound. Horns. The horses,
galloping toward their own extinction.

Chelsea Dingman’s first book, Thaw, was chosen by Allison Joseph to win the National Poetry Series (University of Georgia Press, 2017). Her second poetry collection, Through a Small Ghost, won The Georgia Poetry Prize and is forthcoming from the University of Georgia Press (February, 2020). She is also the author of the chapbook, What Bodies Have I Moved (Madhouse Press, 2018). Her work is forthcoming in The Kenyon Review and The American Poetry Review, among others. Visit her website: