Not one of my friends or family members watched the Preakness Stakes
horse race on television last month. We're not a horse racing kind of
people. Each of us has his or her own private reasons, but we all
firmly believe watching little men perched atop several hundred pounds
of animal requires a person to possess a number of serious character

Here are two from my own list:

  • People who watch horses run around in a circle enjoy being bored.

Let's face it, watching any animal do anything rates low on a list
of exciting events. Looking at a horse run is even less amazing since
that's what horses naturally do. Show me a thoroughbred doing something
like, say, competing in a pie eating contest on the Fourth of July and
I promise you I'll be the first to take a seat in front of the T.V.
I'll even supply the potato chips and soft drinks. A pie-eating horse
is interesting.

  • People who enjoy horse races are lazy; they're also mean.

Horse racing fans are nothing more than groups of people who find
pleasure in the hard work of someone other than themselves. Just think
about it. During a race the horse is sprinting as fast as it can, the
jockey is jockeying as hard as his Lilliputian body will allow. All the
fans are doing is wearing expensive clothes and drinking alcohol from
cocktail glasses. The women even don silly hats in Kentucky. Maybe I'm
crazy but this doesn't seem fair. Make the spectators watch from the
track and then have to dodge the horses as they pass. That's more

So it should be as clear as a well-stirred martini why I missed this
year's race in Baltimore, Maryland. People, however, might have more
trouble understanding why I'm so obsessed with what happened at the
event, particularly what happened to one horse.

Only a few hundred yards into the race, Kentucky Derby contender
Barbaro broke his right hind leg above and below the ankle. Thankfully,
the jockey jumped off before the colt could do any further damage to
himself. The horse has since gone through surgery to fix the fractures
and is reportedly doing well. All indications are veterinarians won't
have to put the animal down, which is a common result when horses
suffer from this type of injury. Barbaro will probably never race again
but at least he will live.

While this news surprised me because I didn't know horses had
ankles, the knowledge of the young animal's accident has concerned me
greatly. I am a sensitive guy by nature and given to sudden fits of
unmanly displays of affection toward a host of creatures. When I read
in the newspaper that a horse had been gravely hurt for the sake of
sport, my heart sank. I don't like to see or hear about an animal in
pain. People can be shot, stabbed, run over or poked in the eye and I
don't even flinch. Tell me about a cat getting a thorn in its paw and
I'm a mess.

But Barbaro's injury has brought about another emotion, one that I
didn't quite expect – anger. No, I'm not going to fire off some
diatribe about the cruelty humans transgress on animals. What has me
upset is that a horse can almost lose its life to a broken bone but
Britney Spears can't sprain a pinky finger long enough to keep her from
writing poetry. Ladies and gentlemen, these are unfair times in which
we live.

It seems everyone's beloved celebrity mom has stopped endangering
the life her infant for the moment and is now harming the rest of the
world. I ran across this unsettling nugget of information two weeks ago
and still can't bring myself to read even a well-crafted piece of
poetry. This is bothersome since, along with being a sarcastic and
highly opinionated columnist, I pride myself on being a somewhat
talented free-verse poet.

According to a short entertainment article on Internet provider AOL's homepage,,
Britney used her own website to publish the rhyme-heavy verse. The poem
– which is mercifully brief but still manages to induce nausea and
dizziness – looks to be the singer's misguided attempt at responding to
the international attention she's attracted recently by being utterly
brainless when it comes to child safety.

Here's a brief sample:

You come to me now

Why do you bother?

Remember the Bible

The sins of the Father.

What you do

You pass down.

No wonder why

I lost my crown.

While you sit very still and allow your stomach time to settle back
down, let me be the first to say that this is by far the worst way a
person can build public support or attack a group of individuals.
Rhyming doesn't mix well with social commentary. It's great for
describing fields of flowers and butterflies and giving readers warm
fuzzy feelings. Start rhyming, though, and your attempt to impassion
the masses falls flat. Do you think Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. would
have reached as many people by rhyming his "I Have a Dream" speech?
What about the Gettysburg Address or when President John F. Kennedy
implored us to "ask what you can do for your country"?

I'm not too sure just what Britney was thinking. Maybe she wasn't
and that's at the core of all her recent problems. How else can you
justify walking barefoot into a public bathroom or being a willing
participant in the continuation of the Kevin Federline gene pool? A
nanosecond of thought and everything could have turned out better, dear
Britney. There's no need to wax poetic about your lost "crown." Put on
some shoes the next time nature calls and I'm more than confident the
world will let you take off the dunce cap.

As for the Federline family tree, I find abstinence is always a sure bet.

But let's be fair to America's most famous
She's a singer and a dancer, not a writer. Britney's also trying to
raise a child all by her lonesome. She can't rely on her husband
because he's too busy getting his hair freshly braided and a new pair
of pants tailored to sag three feet below his crotch. I'm sure the poem
is her way of venting all the frustrations of being rich and famous and
mobbed by tabloid photographers. I can sympathize, darling. It's a
tough life. Maybe next time, though, you should keep your feelings well
hidden in the pages of your Hello Kitty diary. The publishing world is

Then there's this to ponder: There's a good chance we've all been a
little too tough on Britney these past few months. If so, we have only
ourselves to blame for such a bad piece of literature floating out in
cyberspace like trash from the space shuttle.

Remember those photographs of her holding Sean Preston in her lap
while driving? Instead of branding her a danger to her child, maybe we
should have stopped for a moment to consider she was only starting
driver's education fifteen years early. We don't look down on mothers
who read to their infants. Instead, we applaud them for helping their
kids prepare for school. Maybe Britney knows something about the
benefits of showing babies how to operate motor vehicles? I can stand
behind such a program if it means the future will be full of
intelligent drivers on the road. My morning commute would be much more

So perhaps this is all a big misunderstanding, some error in
interpretation. I can admit when I've been wrong. That's why I'm asking
you, Britney Spears, to forgive me. Sometimes I know not what I do. I
got a bit emotional over a horse. You're a country girl, you can
understand, right?

And Barbaro, I'm praying for your speedy recovery. Perhaps some poetry to soothe the savage beast?