Yonkers Raceway
Inner Echo
by Gary Glauber

Landmark racetrack
built at century’s end,
green grandstand walls
visible from anywhere,
sporting a revelatory clock.

Harness thrived there,
a foreign world
right beside our own,
small drivers in striped silks
astride two-wheeled sulkies,
eight races nightly.

Familiar ritual,
with thousands roaring,
bets on the line.
Driving by you’d hear
trotters stirring excitement,
fluorescents illuminating
that half-mile dirt oval.

Whenever horses lacked hustle
sufficient to drivers’ desire,
out would come light whips
to motivate through noise
of striking the sulky’s shaft.
Enthused fanatics
would shout it loud and often:
“Go to the whip, Hervé!”

Not sure how
the term transferred
to our schoolboy vernacular,
but it did, forever lodged
in heads and hearts, an anthem
urging better selves to strive harder.

During that tough calculus test,
during football practice,
even on that hot weekend date,
that crowd voice in our brains,
motivating us to go ever harder,
do it far faster, strike us on
to ultimate victory.
It became our catchphrase,

Now we’ve grown up,
moved to places remote,
seen clock replaced by casino.
Still, when digging deep
for an ounce of extra motivation,
the familiar phrase
still sets us on to achievement.
For, in the final estimation,
you never leave your hometown.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This is more a “Where I Lived” than a “Where I Live” poem. It’s all about the then Yonkers Raceway, now revamped as the Empire City Casino. It was in the shadow of the New York Thruway, but it also cast a large indirect shadow on all of our lives, here portrayed through an odd motivational catchphrase.

PHOTOGRAPH: “Yonkers Racetrack” by Istayul Martinez.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Gary Glauber is a poet, fiction writer, and teacher. His works have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize as well as “Best of the Net.” He is a champion of the underdog who often composes to an obscure power poP soundtrack. His first collection, Small Consolations, will be published in 2015 by The Aldrich Press.