C. Dale Young
from The Dark Whispers




We ride horses in the slowly-falling snow

and you tell me it is Summer, it is warm,

and I don’t quite believe you, but I love you,

so I go along with the oddly humorous


deception. My mother says “Love is blind”

and “Hindsight is 20/20,” but it doesn’t help.

The horses trot, the rhythm transmitted

through our bodies, the horses somehow


one with us, and we are terrible beasts,

half man, half horse, truly and fully awful.

You say we have so much in common, so many


of the same life experiences, but those are lies

as well. You lie and lie and lie as if breathing.

And I believe. I believe. I stupidly believed.





In the early 18th Century, it finally appears in English:

from the Latin manipulus and brought by the French,

the word manipulation quickly became common.

In the word we find hands, mani-, because one needed


skill with them to manipulate an object. How easily you

used your hands on me. How easily you take advantage.

The Pacific sits in the distance and cannot believe

how easily my body fell under the sway of your hands.


The dictionary speaks of the “dumb masses”

and how easily they were manipulated by those in power.

But nowhere in the entry does it say what needs to be


said: I was lonely, I was starved for love, and wanted love.

I was pliable, ready for your hands. And when you

put them on me, I acquiesced. I gave in. I ceded control.





The Greeks were among the first to understand distance

having crossed the Mediterranean. They accepted

gifts as a kind of measurement of their importance.

You used distance as a shield in most of your


relationships, including our own, a convenient way

to live more than one life with more than one person.

To tell someone you are building a life together

while convincing others to do the same is just


another part of your overinflated sense of self.

There is no thread that holds two lovers together

at distance if only one is holding on to that thread.


How you loved to talk about the invisible thread.

Like the Greeks, your ego was outsized. You wanted

gifts. If offered a Trojan Horse, you would accept it.



Found In Volume 53, No. 03
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C. Dale Young
About the Author

C. Dale Young practices medicine full-time and teaches in the Warren Wilson College MFA Program for Writers. He is the author of a novel in stories, The Affliction (Four Way Books, 2018), and five collections of poetry, the most recent being Prometeo (Four Way Books, 2021). His next collection Building the Perfect Animal: New and Selected Poems (1993-2023) is due out from Four Way Books in 2025. He is a recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, and the Rockefeller Foundation. He lives in San Francisco.