The Drumming of Hooves by Craig Barker


We watched the yellow horses stream down the hillside in a landslide—while the kettle boiled downstairs at half-speed—your sister waiting for it to cool—crying blue tears onto the tablecloth adorned with bearded Vikings—they were holding hacksaws and wearing black.

The horses stopped in single file at your front porch—the first—a stallion—hit play on an orange jukebox with its right hoof––raising the speaker above its head and towards your roof—it had seen Say Anything fourteen times through your glass kitchen doors—memorising lines for later use—the sound of Peter Gabriel’s In Your Eyes filled the landscape until the trees began to hum the harmonies slightly out of tune—you clapped an avalanche into the windowpane until your chalk palms blistered—the walls absorbing the pain until they bled in rivulets—pooling on the floor beside your bedside table.

“I dreamt that we were once lions”—you spoke in braille—tongue clicking against your ivory teeth—I beat a response in Morse code into my skull while the lions of yesteryear applauded my calcium wit—your sister’s tears rose up through the floorboards and dampened our socks—the porcelain picture frame toppled from your mantelpiece and landed upright facing the door––the humming trees caught fire in crescendo—we watched them burn—a city of scarlet sycamores—fires blazing into the early evening and then beyond—fading beneath black stars.

It was my turn to clap.

After an hour of static the flames caught in your throat until you choked on their embers—throwing up ash onto the carpet in a fountain of former-fire—sobering up to the stains on the walls we dusted cobwebs from each other’s clothes—listening to the sirens—then to the silence they left behind—the horses retreating to the motherland—dead batteries in their burnt out stereos—your sister down below finishing her fifteenth cup of cold coffee—she was watching the radio play backwards.

The song skipped—she only noticed beforehand—following the rhythm with burnt fingertips—always listening—deaf to the distant drumming of hooves and what they meant.


Craig Barker is a graduate of the University of Chichester, currently pursuing an MA in Creative Writing at the University of East Anglia. He likes to write poetry and stories based on personal experience, exploring an individual relationship between place and person in the hopes of drawing more from certain moments. In his spare time, he enjoys working his way through Charles Bukowski collections and keeping active by swimming and cycling. He hopes to pursue a career in teaching, writing often at the same time. He lives in Norwich, England, but is originally from Manchester.