Life With Horace

poetry & essays

Leave a comment


there are
bright flowers here,
blooms that seek the sun
not with the urgency I feel
after an eastern winter,
but with an easy thrust
and surfer’s nonchalance

note: the profusion of blooming things & colors on Alameda is almost overwhelming. for Day 27 of NaPoWriMo 2014.

poem & photo copyright © 2014 KH Rantilla.

Leave a comment

the watcher

a lightning blaze of white
bisects his loving gaze
certain that the work he craves
lies with his people,
center of a now-rich world
in which he rests but lightly,
keeps watch often,
accepts kisses freely given
knows he has a place

my son’s dog, Helo, is a smart, loving border collie pit mix. for day 26 of NaPoWriMo 2014.

Leave a comment

clouds observed

at three miles up
ahead of our approach
clouds lie below
in lakes and ponds,
captive in still water
then morph to rippled
mercury from overhead

at four miles up
there is a gathering
of shapes and streaks
that overlay
emerging spring
and new sown crops
in game board green
and brown

at five miles up
the cotton candy skeins
and contrails loop
their downy shards,
above a layer
of pillowed white

at six miles up
we climb to leave
some windy bumps
from storms well masked
by gray, swept into
comb tracked dips

at seven miles up
there is a view of
earth again, at dusk,
our flight path is a
well lit layer.
we chase the sun
and distant clouds
between the deep blue
dome of space above
and purpling land below

I wondered if a poem would come on this flight. it did. For day 24 of NaPoWrimo 2014

1 Comment


this new season
takes slow breaths
deep, silent, fresh
shaking off,
at times impatiently
the frozen crust
that claimed us all
for far too long

there is only gentleness
in her morning sighs today,
soft rain drops light
on flowers, birds and grass
and in my thoughts

startled, I see lilac buds
and they are green,
surely not since yesterday?
but, yes they are,
a swift and stealthy
gift from spring
and I bloom too

spring is mercurial as we all know. two steps forward… for Day 23 of NaPoWriMo.

1 Comment

riding earth

the dogs and I emerge
and head for freedom
tunneled through our woods,
a path of rich delights,
the sights and smells of life
lived on another scale,
returning home

today I feel connected
beyond my simple paradise,
as this glorious ship
sails through
the light and dark of space
as we live on her, taking
more than giving, plucking
fruits that may not
always grow again

and though some care,
the press of each day’s life
forces most to singular survival
not sure, or even caring
that the aggregated slag
of heedless use
will surely leach away
her life blood
and then ours

unless we love
our mother, steadfast
and protect her still rich bounty
simply for the joy
it brings us now
we will surely have denied
the birthright of
those loved ones
not yet born

I have always loved the connectedness I feel on earth day. For Day 22 of NaPoWriMo 2014.


afterbirth: seeing with new eyes

The light was different this morning. Early sunlight was streaming through my neighbor’s woods across the road, and I could see the shape of her hill through the trees, glowing with its blanket of leaves and humus.

I wondered if I’d have seen it a year ago. Probably not. Last July I started to morph yet again, not really aware of what was happening at first. Whatever you want to call it: morphing, shape shifting, rebirth, I’ve been through it before. A simple event can lead to profound change.

Encouraged by a wonderful illustrator friend, in 1973 I picked up a dip pen to draw a Christmas card. A connection to the creative part of me that I had ignored for way too long. That card led to other drawings, a calendar, a series of notecards, spot illustrations in the Washington Post, some editorial illustration, house and building drawings all over the DC area, illustrations for the Guide to the Smithsonian, book illustrations.

After ten years in the graphics department of the international organization I worked for I volunteered to take over the fledgling corporate website from the engineer who started it. Those were the early days of html and hand coding websites (1996), and I had to learn everything. Fast. Two euphoric, exhausting months later the new site was up, and I was off to the races.

By the time I took early retirement in 2005 I was running all three of the corporate websites, with one foot in marketing, one in IT, both sides of my brain firing at warp speed. I thought of my work as the perfect melding of technology and design, and could literally “see” how the code that we wrote functioned and fitted together.

Oh, and the engineer, a deceptively mild former South African Recce who left his country for the US rather than use force against his own countrymen, became a good friend, along with his girlfriend.

He encouraged me to go back to skydiving (after a single static line jump in college). For one wonderful, summer weekend boogie in 1997 I jumped out of planes again, out of my mind with excitement, and passed the first two freefall levels. Then I stopped, cold, when he had a near-fatal parachute failure the next summer. I had a family that needed me alive. No question.

Rebirth hasn’t always been about creativity, or work. Two years ago next month, after a lifetime of wanting proof that a higher power truly existed before I could believe, I went to church one Sunday and God more or less said “shazaam!”. Not to be flip about it, but it was that sudden, and that obvious. I hold this precious gift close, amazed and grateful.

So last summer. Morphing. Again. It started when I joined a creative group on Facebook started by the author Jon Katz. As I wrote last September:

The result …. has been a miracle. That’s how I think of it. Like this came along and opened up a worm hole into a new place, a safe place to create and express and fall flat on your face, and get wonderful feedback from the rest of the inhabitants.

Yes. I love the group, and the folks in it. I see something like my neighbor’s woods and think about photo shoots, or drawings, or poems.

Especially poems. That completely blindsided me. Writing poetry. I never expected it, sort of like the Spanish Inquisition, happy edition. It feels good, really really good.

I’d like to think that Fordy, dear long suffering Miss Ford, who took me through Hardy, Wordsworth, Shelley, Keats et al with great patience at school in England, is probably not surprised.