Published on Academy of American Poets (

Horse Latitudes

The past lies in the brine
                            Of equatorial water,
Black ink veining where the quill paused.

Rich doldrums
                            Full of gold
Where Spanish sailors
                            Threw the Queen’s horses,
Palomino, the color of her hair.

On the Outer Banks
                            Each wave a breaking 
Promise of the New World,
                            Lost colonies,
Lost ships, wild ponies
                                          Swimming even now.


Copyright © 2014 by Jo Sarzotti. Used with permission of the author.

About this Poem

“This poem existed unfinished for quite a while, in particular, the parts referring to the colonial era practice of lightening cargo ships becalmed in equatorial waters (‘horse latitudes’) by unloading livestock overboard. It took a trip to the Outer Banks in North Carolina and confronting the eerie mysteries of the origin of wild, roaming horses and lost colonies of settlers to finish it.”
Jo Sarzotti


Jo Sarzotti

Jo Sarzotti is the author of Mother Desert (Graywolf Press 2012).  She directs the Liberal Arts Department at The Juilliard School and lives in New York City.

Date Published: 2014-12-16

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