Manure on Michigan Avenue

Chicago’s mounted police,
Manure on Michigan Avenue
The scent puts grass under my feet
And a blazing, UV-spectrum tongue
Around my neck

Under a crowded skyscraper scaffold
Forever 21 – Open during construction!

I stand on two yellowing acres.
Texas, via Illinois, via equine sweat
Smell is the most muscular conjurer

City mouse by lineage
Native Texan by default
Yes, soccer; yes, trucks; yes, twangs;
Everything’s Bigger In Texas
By Friday night dashboard light

(But for the love of gawd, y’all,
Obliterate 10-gallon hay-ats
From your gotdayam cultural shorthand.)

I tell ya, I’d rather clean a horse’s shoe,
Risk that 17-hand beast’s
Magnificent hoof treadin’ muh Vans
Than plod behind clip-clopping flip-flops:
Confused city herds

I know suburbanites.
The sublime terror drugging their eyes
Their splurge! Their thrill!
My errand, my life
Move, bitch; get out the way

You’re in my kind o’ town now.


Never thought I’d quote Ludacris in any poem, let alone one about my weird history. In fact, see if you can collect all six disparate pop culture references! (I’m kinda proud.)

About Margo Rowder

By trade, I'm Social Media Manager for the Television Academy, which taps into my love for filmmaking, design, and storytelling. My latest personal projects include a YA speculative fiction manuscript, 30 Decibels, and a new (not YA) romantic dramedy called SUPPORT.
This entry was posted in Charter Membership, Poems, Poetry and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to Manure on Michigan Avenue

  1. Right, so a horse once stepped on me while I was cleaning his shoe. Crazy sonofa…
    Well, he was nowhere 17 hands. And I was in running shoes, not skate shoes.
    Still hurt a motherflippin’ lot.

    • Tim Keeton says:

      I really like the autobiographical juxtapositioning (say that three times fast) in this poem. You took me back to Texas and to Chicago.

      Well done. Very undead of you…

      Rhyme on!

      P.S. Remind me to tell you about “bailing” off a championship barrel-racing quarter horse one time…

      • I think you just did, Tim! I cringe at the thought. In my single digits, and one of my first times on a horse, the guy just took off while I was frozen on his back. The tree line finally stopped him. But I’ve never bailed – yikes!

        Glad you enjoyed. I was hoping this wasn’t too stream-of-consciousness to latch on to.

      • Tim Keeton says:

        I was at a training arena and this stallion (yes, a feisty black one at that) had just finished a few practice rounds around the barrels with a more experienced rider. I was getting on him (didn’t want to say “mounting” around you…) to walk him around a bit for a cool down, when I inadvertently turned his head in the direction of the first barrel. Well, off he shot at full gallop, with me barely in the saddle or stirrups. I knew when we go to the first barrel, he would instinctively cut and make his turn for the second barrel, and I also knew that when he did that, my precarious position (of barely being on his back) would cease when I went flying head-first over the fence which was immediately behind the barrel. So, discretion became the better part of valor, and I did a “superman” dive off his back into the (relatively) softer dirt of the arena (for a more controllable injury), much to the great humor of all the cowboys and horse people in the general vicinity.

      • Haha. But again, Tim, you just did say it around me! There you go again, provoking feisty animals.
        The dive was a smart move, it would seem! Discretion, valor, humor – nice.

  2. Margo, I’ve read this several times. I don’t even know what to say. You merge voices and maintain a wonderful flow. You (and your evil twin) kick a$$.
    Loved this line,

    Everything’s Bigger In Texas
    By Friday night dashboard light

    and this

    I tell ya, I’d rather clean a horse’s shoe,
    Risk that 17-hand beast’s
    Magnificent hoof treadin’ muh Vans
    Than plod behind clip-clopping flip-flops:
    Confused city herds

    Oh, man. Just brilliant.

    ps. Love to hear both of your horse stories. I hated hoof cleaning. And Tim, oh man! I can’t imagine how embarrassed you must have felt! I barrel raced for awhile. My horse Misty had this sneaky way of throwing me off in moments when I least expected it. It’s like she knew when my entire focus was on what we were doing, so she would do the opposite and send me flying every damn time. I’m still not sure if I loved or hated that horse.

    • Tim Keeton says:

      Yep. If you barrel-raced, then you completely understand my dilemma of barely being in the saddle coming up to the first barrel…man, when that horse rounds the barrel, it’s like, zip – zoom! They cut and turn so quickly, it’s hard enough to stay on when you’re prepared.

  3. Thank you, Jodi. (Are you sure it’s the twin who’s evil?)

    Those lines are close to my heart, too. 🙂 The “herds” have bugged me since day one. And I can rag on suburbanites because (in the voice of Robin Williams’s Mrs. Doubtfire): “I used ta be one.”

    My experience with shoe-cleaning wasn’t unenjoyable, aside from getting clomped; it was part of my volunteer work for Equest, a therapeutic riding center (
    No jumping for me – though my mom did, back in the day.

  4. that’s some fucking poem! My senses are still effected even moments later. My insides leaping a little from seeing it all there on Michigan Ave. I’ve never been to Chicago or Texas but now I’m not so sure I couldn’t say that. I have been implanted with a solid memory of Michigan Avenue

  5. Wow, Dave, thank you.
    (Maybe teleportation is possible?) 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s