Shouting in the sky-walled air.
The rig-driver’s voice is husky and his throat is hoarse with yelling and shouting in the sky-cooped air.
He jerks the flesh-cutting reins and he dangles the sharp, blood-dripping lash.

The horse is hungry.
The legs are not sure of their footing as the animal heavily gasps for breath,
Its blood kept warm by the cutting reins and whistling lash of the master with the harsh, angry voice,
Its legs propelled by the smell of sweat and blood and distant bundles of grass,
By the ceaseless urge of the creaking of the wheels behind,
By the patter of hoofs on the pavement and the hollow, unmusical echoes.

The animal thinks of the sharp-toned man of the reins and the lash that cuts as sharply,
Of the unbreathing monsters of steel that brush past him without effort,
Of the frail-footed men whom his master slavishly obeys and the round, silver pieces that pass from hand to hand,
Of the bundled zacate that he smells in the distance.

The rig-man’s musings are far from his laboring horse.
He thinks of his waiting wife and counts in his mind the fare he will empty on her lap.
He thinks of the swift-coursing car which riders prefere to his clumsy, creaking, two wheeled rig.
He swings the lash to dispel thoughts of baffled, defeated toil,
And to quicken his slackening horse.

In the rig, a young man stares at the vacant space beside him which in former days was not so.
And again he sees twin stars luminous in the darkness,
Pretty red lips parted with the laughter and wine of kisses stolen, yielded kisses and kisses unasked,
A warm, soft body pressed close against his own,
The perfume of her that sent the blood running in savage tumult through his veins.

Creaking wheels,
Patter of hoofs on the pavement,
Whistling and kissing of reins and the lash,
The young man’s dreams are brushed cruelly aside.
And he sends a sigh to the sky-walled air at the grim, heartless world of fact.

From Manila: A Collection of Verse (Imp. Paredes, Inc., 1926) by Luis Dato. This poem is in the public domain.