The Finish Line

the racehorses
our racehorses
are breaking legs
tripping toppling

as if on speed
going at abnormal paces
faster than their wooden
legs can carry them

Trainers like you and I
accused of masking
pain and existing injuries
with drugs—catastrophic

accidents the result
racehorses are dying
on American tracks
in troubling numbers

You shrug over the foosball table
I won, you say, got my mount
over the line before you

That’s the difference

you and me
You do it for love
I do it for sport, you say
as you pick up the little

wooden horse
snap its
right front leg
in two


Carolyne Van Der Meer is a Montreal-based journalist, public relations professional and university lecturer who has published articles, essays, short stories and poems internationally. She is the author of Motherlode: A Mosaic of Dutch Wartime Experience (WLUP, 2014), Journeywoman (Inanna, 2017) and Heart of Goodness: The Life of Marguerite Bourgeoys in 30 Poems | Du coeur à l’âme : La vie de Marguerite Bourgeoys en 30 poèmes (Guernica Editions, 2020). This book, for which she translated her own poems into French, was awarded second prize in the Poetry Category of the Catholic Media Association’s 2021 Annual Book Awards and was a finalist in the Specialty Books category of The Word Guild’s 2021 annual Word Awards. Her full-length poetry collection, Sensorial, was published by Inanna in 2022. 


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