715: I Dream of Horses Eating Cops

715: I Dream of Horses Eating Cops

715: I Dream of Horses Eating Cops


I’m Ada Limón and this is The Slowdown.

I once had a person tell me that the only reason he made art was revenge. It was funny at the time, but it also made me wonder about my own beliefs in fairness and karmic implications. I have serious ideas about justice. Even in my adult life the phrase, “Well, life’s not fair,” makes my stomach turn. I want it to be fair.

I’m not sure, even as I record this, what my beliefs are in terms of karma. Does the kid who called me “pizza face” on the first day of 7th grade on account of my bad acne brought on by puberty come back as a cockroach? I don’t know. Do I want that to be true? Sometimes?

But of course the issue becomes: is my sense of fairness everyone’s sense of fairness? The people that have harmed me have also often been harmed themselves. I think even of that boy, and how hard his life seemed and how people called him names too. Still, I went home crying that day. Poured myself into my mom’s gray car and sobbed. I was now named “pizza face” on my very first day of 7th grade. I scrubbed my face raw that night. I wanted out of my whole body and I hated that boy for the two entire years of junior high. I don’t know what happened to him. But I think now I can wish him well? I think?

Regardless of what’s actually fair, poetry remains the place where I can wrestle with these questions. I can revisit the past and either recast it or imagine a karmic correction where there’s never been one. I can imagine myself, and others, into a new reality. And it helps.

Today’s poem is a beautiful exploration of what it is to imagine justice. I love how this poem makes room for hope but also makes room for rage.

I Dream of Horses Eating Cops
by Joshua Jennifer Espinoza

i dream of horses eating cops
i have so much hope for the future

or no i don’t

who knows the sound a head makes when it is asleep
my dad was a demon but so was the white man in uniform
who harassed him for the crime of being brown

there are demons everywhere
dad said
and he was right but not in the way he meant it

the sky over san bernardino was a brilliant blue when the
winds kicked in
all the fences and trash cans and smog scattered themselves
and the mountains were on fire every day

i couldn’t wait to die or be killed
my woman body trapped in a dream

i couldn’t wait to wake up
and ride off into the sunset
but there isn’t much that’s new anywhere

the same violence swallows itself and produces bodies
and names for bodies

i name my body girl of my dreams
i name my body proximity
i name my body full of hope despite everything
i name my body dead girl who hasn’t died yet

i hope i come back as an elephant
i hope we all come back as animals
and eat our fill

i hope everyone gets everything they deserve

"I Dream of Horses Eating Cops" by Joshua Jennifer Espinoza. Used by permission of the poet.