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Clay Matthews

The Finish Line

Because I believe in the standard of word
of mouth, because I listen, because I feel
that the old man in thick glasses knows
something about the odds strung across
today’s racing paper I’ve got my heart
wound up in a ticket I’ve got my gut
holding out for the grey horse all day.
When a ghost is running among the living,
when it’s horse out-panting horse
my money is on the vapor of the mare
who has worn her way into an almost white.
Born January 24, 1979, a gambler
known for knowing these odds have to be
wrong. I was young and I believed the world
was something for the taking. I was young
and I was young and I was young.
Horse track, Oklahoma City, OK, USA,
and I’ve got dreams here, yes dreams,
though I realize that these days a dream
is nothing more than a smaller subjective version
of the great big losing machine in the sky.
And somewhere a radio is playing our song,
“Oklahoma,” OK, L-A-H-O-M-A, and I hear
home somewhere inside and I hear the odds
of the race already run rewritten into a better version,
and I think of Richard Dreyfus dancing around
the racetrack like a lunatic in Let It Ride, Richard Dreyfus
running like he’s got a bridle on, a whip at his side,
but he is running because for one brief moment
he feels like there’s nothing on his back at all.
This is the movies, I know. He’s maybe not even
a real man any more he’s played so many parts.
But let it ride. Maybe nothing in the world more fitting
or comforting or terrifying to say. Let it ride
on number 11, let it ride on the grey. I’ve got the world
outside of these windows, I was young once, I was
young. There is money but this is not about the money.
There is winning, but this is not about that either.
There is the illusion of freedom written on the reflection
of every face in the glass through which we look out.
What is strange is that we have come here at all.
What is beautiful is that they will do this again tomorrow.
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