Life With Horace

poetry & essays

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The creative wars: staying true to your voice

In poetry writing years I’m not even a toddler, but after my first year of writing some truths stand out. It’s important to write for myself, at my own pace. Writing from a prompt, or for x number of days in a row does not come naturally. I did that in April for the poetry challenge, and it was an agony by the end. I think about writing every day, but don’t sit down to write until a poem begins in my head.

There is the constant battle with the desire for approval. Not about quiet satisfaction or even pleasure that my poems are appreciated. Writing for “them” is one way of putting it, and it turns my easy creative flow into a flat mill pond.

A word or phrase prompted by something seen or felt will make itself known and that’s it. The title (rarely changed), or the first line of the next poem. The first draft is always in longhand, messy and exciting. Most of the time I feel certain when it is done. The poem will let me know.

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thank you
for another day
and this clear morning,
sky scrubbed clean
by weeks of rain
and teasing clouds
that sometimes gave
a glimpse ahead, with
cores of incandescence
thickly edged in gray

thank you
for rays that stream
between the curves and arms
of freshly leafed-out trees,
silhouettes of feeding grackles
dark against a row of lilacs,
backlit foxglove petals
rich with sun
to stun my eyes

thank you
for this early clarity
to show my day direction,
light so brilliant
it almost bursts
my soul

yesterday morning’s light was extraordinary.

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what part of us
creates a dream,
where thought and memory
interweave to speak
about the day now done
and point to work ahead?
perhaps the spirit snatches
piecemeal chunks of thought
and welds them into
(technicolor) sequence,
for decoding by the heart,
still echoing the joy or fear
or puzzled voice
that sat upon our sleep,
until we wake,
relieved to know it
as unreal, or sad to leave
an ecstasy behind

my dreams are always vivid, and in color. for me half the “fun” of dreams is puzzling out their origins on waking up.

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green water

sun rich light, through
leaves above this brook,
drops glowing green
into the water
moving surely
through my woods

nothing murky,
this is crystal
over pebbled granite,
drawing with it
memory and flavors
held by silt
and wood orts, shed
by gently rotting windfalls

the water of this moment
leaves us, on its way
to pond, then stream and river
with its story, bringing news
of seasons past
and momentary glories
as it joins
the greater flow

I first noticed the green water on Fassett Brook last summer, its return has been very welcome

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emptying a place, filling my soul

Sell a 6000 square foot house with outbuildings on 23 acres. Empty out 200 years of stuff. Add 15 cousins, stir well.

A TV series pitch? Not so much. It was my life for a while. It took about three years, but we did it, my cousin and I, with lots of family help and the sale of a painting.

There were miracles involved.

We were a typical extended family with rifts and misunderstandings. My cousin and I were trustees for the two branches (his father, my mother). We worked hard to heal the effects of the past, building a good working relationship, learning to trust each other. The rest of the family followed our lead, slowly but surely.

The potential for great drama burned off like fog. When the time came to finally empty things out, the family grew closer. There were no fights. None. Someone might get crabby for a few hours, but we all understood and helped each other through it.

Coming down to the wire the wild and wacky bartering started. Taking my name out of contention for a wooden bench, antique hay fork and french watering can produced the rug next to my bed! We all got into it. And it was never about monetary value.

So much so that when our family lawyer arrived on Monday morning to arbitrate any disputes, there were a whopping seven items waiting for him to decide about. Out of all that stuff. He said he’d never seen anything like it.

Big ticket items? Nope. The French watering can and a painting by my mother were the most hotly contested.

Even when the outcome was decided, we still made adjustments. One of my cousins (unbeknownst to me) was extremely attached to a child’s hearth chair that I got. Watching a slow tear make its way down her cheek, I simply gave her the chair. Fondness trumped by memories.

Later on her brother came up to me with a bowl he knew I really loved, but that he had chosen. He put it in my hands saying it had a small crack, and his wife had a thing about cracked bowls. I know it was because of the chair, even if he wouldn’t admit it.

Losing stuff. Regaining family.

It was that kind of day.