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(Oct. 10, 1872)

Almost forgotten but not lost
to history the City saw a time
when horses said "Enough!"
and went on strike.

They lived in damp and reeking stables,
underfed and overworked, sliding underhoof
on polished cobblestones, on ice in winters
watering too distant in sweltering heat.

Too often beaten and abused, these beasts
were burdened without mercy, yearning
for a patch of grass, a shading tree,
a load to haul less cruel.

Came 1872, as though rehearsed,
the noon hour struck, and as the last
stroke sounded, horses, too,
came to a collective halt.

Unmindful of their bits and traces,
whiffle trees, reins and shafts,
prostrate on the streets, immune
to whip or carrot, they would not rise.

The Epizootic, so named by Vets,
caused by no single germ, disease with
dreadful symptoms, spread to farms.
The nation slowed, harvests rotted
in the fields, saloons ran dry.

People learned to walk again, glue
factories prospered, white-wings
left their barrows in the barn.

November's cooling airs worked a charm,
recovery was slow, but Epizootic
ceased to spread. Barns were cleaned,
rid of damp and rats, horses dosed
with Juniper Tar, Jamaican Rum,
and HHH, the Horse's Friend.

It was two decades later before
the weary four-legged creatures,
aid-to-man, began to be replaced
by motor cars, another form of worship.

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