Life With Horace

poetry & essays

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river styx road

The sign flashed by
and laughing, I returned
to check. Erudition
in this pass through town
an unexpected treat, the turn
sharp uphill, through
new growth woods
wound into dimming light. Odd
reversal, since darkness
craves descent, rivers too.
An old boarding school,
still alive, sits squat
on its hill, lawns
sloping, a likely source.
Was this name a clever
jape, a waistcoat suited
classics master’s
pompous bid, to open
student eyes to
life outside their gate,
processions moving boatless
up the styx.
More likely, a sober
tribute to the aftermath
of war, or claiming flu.
Memories summoned
quiet smiles, this shortish
balding man, long bereft,
kept passion tucked
into his vest, along
with grief.
He would always see
that turn, the name
its badge
of quiet honor.


black hole hollow

ordinary dirt with ruts
this road winds down
to swaddling trees
restrained by boulder walls
stone guarding stones
upright story flags
pocked with black moss flecks
lichen crumbling scratchy
under finger tips
shallow letters with
bare bones accounts
I want to know
the face the runes
and numbers represent
his life was short
did he know love
or solitude
while free to live
above despite
hard scrabbled days
if not him whose
heart still glows
coals flinging out
the half life rays
that drew me here
to hollow’s end?

a cemetery and its road on the New York – Vermont border.


heaven’s way

up the crumbling road
they ran, from
quiet stones,
bedrolls flapping, dodging
early morning rain of
green encrusted may,
laughing as they came, the
dash of youth
and all of life ahead.
from my window perch, I
wished me in their place
and longing, turned away,
spring too heavy
for a shredded heart leaking
messy love, right
down my shirt
and, crept around the room
certain of impending death,
a Duse to the core.
I mended,
they dried out.
we all moved on
to older lives
she left hers first
too soon, and young.
decades on I return
to lushness, grays and greens,
wet kissed, fizzing
temporary love
and wonder if her spirit
is there too,
revisiting lilac scented
nights, among the stones
on Heaven’s Way

Heaven’s Way is a cemetery road in North Bennington, Vermont.