Life With Horace

poetry & essays


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morning as palindrome

as words begin their dance
glancing out at spring
sitting down at last to write
confident of its receipt
asking for serenity
another day a perfect gift
reflecting and give thanks
I close my eyes to sip
hand cupping warmth
coffee and the ritual of smell
checking lilacs apple buds
birds scatter at the noise
opening the outer door
woods featureless and flat
moving softly hug the quiet
slightly damp delight
one slipper at a time
morning work for dogs
stretch sloughing sleep’s cement
a feather shawl to float away
night journey remnants linger
as clouds replace the sun
light diffuse and gray
dog nose to tail against my arm
first awareness as I wake
a dream departs

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Day 28. I loved writing this. The prompt was for an event or story in reverse.

squirrel pantry


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haiku for wednesday with notes

red squirrel leaping
apple held fast in its mouth
single thought is food

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Day 27. An encounter with a determined little red squirrel. I was outside eating a green apple. The squirrel saw me; I waved at him, apple in hand, then tossed it, almost eaten, on the grass near a rhododendron. Running around the back of the bush the squirrel emerged at the front, snatching the apple and ran up a spruce tree with it. Came back down a minute or two later. Looking for the nest I imagined to be in the tree, I came upon the squirrel’s pantry. The apple sat on one of the branches.


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witness

morning light slants through spring woods
and the grass grows green again

three blue bags of roadside trash
and the grass grows green again

air is soft at dark’s approach
and the grass grows green again

screams of trees ripped from the earth
and the grass grows green again

early birdsong noisy joy
and the grass grows green again

news of rising hate brings dread
and the grass grows green again

summer stars the hunter gone
and the grass grows green again

prayers whispered for the world
and the grass grows green again

truth is not a skin we shed
and the grass grows green again

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Day 26. A call and response poem.


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a line borrowed

for years every morning I drank
long drafts of the world
without knowing
that words lay in wait
to flash like sunbeams
unable to dance quietly
until the moment of ambush

for years I would tuck away
the sight of throat caught beauty
in dull green strong boxes
to sit on bare wood shelves
until I could not wait
another moment of another minute
to feel and see again

for years words found me
some refused to leave
sticky stubborn things
and now, well now I recognize
them as old friends that held the dam
until one day they stepped aside
to release the flood
as I surrendered

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Day 25 part 2. The NaPoWriMo prompt was to borrow the first line of a favorite poem, and use it as a jumping off point for a new poem. I chose the first line of Mary OLiver’s Mornings at Blackwater.


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night lit

my woods are hung
with lamp lit moonlight
shallow beaver wash
turned into opal pools
picked out by
beams that launched
diffused through
vapor rings we know
are ice but touch
us softly

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Day 22. We have just had a full moon, fitting for the week of Earth Day.


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I am

the wires look thin
that hold me up today
but they will do,
it takes their strength
to float a legend’s frame
when truly whole,
I knew my soul and name
before he ever did
I would be adventure,
possibility, bravery, all of that

we left the meadowlands
a river’s span away
from spiky city spires
and flew out over water
turning east and north
a winged pack mule, I was
engined up, packed with
so much fuel to keep us
out of clutching waves
it left him barely room to sit
he held the stick to fly us true
although his word was pilot
imagining he flew for history
and felt himself a hero
almost fledged

my engine and my wings
flew on, god I was
brave and gallant
and did not let him down
when he lost heart
on fumes we reached
the ocean’s end, crossing
pitch dark coastline
almost out of spirit
he and I
exhausted homing pigeons
on approach, we coasted over
new green fields
to roars and cheers
and many dancing lights

he stepped down to claim his place
first as the upright man
I hoped he was
but empty of true heart
away from fame
pretending admiration
for an upraised arm that
spawned annihilation
he served us all behind the scenes
as we slid closer to another war

I hear he had great loss
knew sorrow, and perhaps
was even humbled at the end
but I never felt
an inkling of that truth
now peaceful and alone
I am at rest, suspended high above
the eager eyes or older memories
that know our history
and I bear witness

I am the spirit of st louis

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Day 21. The prompt was to tell a famous myth through the eyes of a minor character. I chose a modern tale. (note: I have edited this poem tonight to correct my ill informed impression of Lindbergh’s “admiration” for the Third Reich, when in reality he was an agent of the US military, surveying the strength of axis air power. His personal life was a genuine mess, but I have only hinted at that.)


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how to mend a fence

it all depends
the farmer said
on how high the fence
and wide the gap
how tall is just enough
to push thoughts out
or hold emotions in
and had I
thought of life
enriched by feelings?
is the gap a full on
crop of breaks
or something less
some oddly chronic
stutter of connection,
fluorescence hindered by
its oozing ballast
can we glue chain split apart
or pickets freed by
loose, bent nails
it all depends
the farmer said
on how we view
the things
that we might do
for love

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Day 20. The prompt from NaPoWriMo Day 19. To write a didactic poem, instructional. No restraints.


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following awareness

coming up the hill
toward my kitchen door
on greening grass
almost tintless
in the growing dark
I chase my shadow
in moonlight
just strong enough
to make me glad
it is not chasing me

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Day 19. A shortling about coming home in fading light and a risen moon.