Pale Horse. Dog of Heaven. A Fable.

Gustave Doré, The fourth Horseman, Death on the Pale Horse. Engraving (1865)
“When he broke the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth animal shout ‘Come.’ Immediately another horse appeared, deathly pale, and its rider was called Plague, and Hades [the Black Death] followed at his heels.” (Revelation 6: 7-8, The Jerusalem Bible)

According to a New York Times database, as of Wednesday morning, January 27, 2021, more than 25,484,800 people in the United States have been infected with the coronavirus. Reported deaths: 425,208.

Roan Lavery

Shapeshifters shepherd the neighborhood streets
in the darkness that portends shadows,

no light to come, no morning dawn, no ease
of breath for the poet rising from his covers,

grateful for breath not yet recalled by God
who gave it, the part not dust to dust,

to walk the streets at 4:00 a.m.,
his Australian shepherd dog patrolling

the borders of this valley of the Pale Horse,
its rider the Shadow of Death, Virus of Evil,

its scythe raking the lining of sleepers’ lungs,
its dank maw sucking each gasp of remaining breath

from the flock assigned to the angels
shifted not as a ravaging bear or silent tiger

but as a herding dog, the Dog of Heaven,
paired with the Windwalker–

Joshua J. Cotten

the Great Horned Owl–to keep at bay the glowing eyes,
the blood-dripping teeth of shadow creatures.

The patrolling dog, the spotting owl
outnumbered, unsung except by a poet

rising in the early dark to walk the streets
recording what wakes him each night

to call the dog, whistle the owl,
to do what little they can.