Life With Horace

poetry & essays


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not quite endings

the music stopped, shimmering
in dust beamed space
our voices stilled
waiting for the flood of response
I fall into the silence
all energy given away
to singing’s singular joy

what I thought was love
ok it was, no holding back
died, stabbed and poked
to rubble not worth picking through
a lucky escape it turns out
in time to save my heart
and savor all that’s left

a long goodbye jumps the queue
to sudden extinction
love lives on the mountain
ashes soaking into moss
his spirit coming back
to say that 40 years were
worth it all in all
and how are things?

the chatter quieted thank god
and in its place
a single sound takes shape
one note clearly formed on endless breath
much to my delight I find
it comes from me
I had been singing all along
and never knew

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a prompt from tonight’s writing group with Doug Anderson: endings


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intentional space

there is a place in what
can only be my heart
now blank erased
by grief and purposed
brain reset

wild pigment bits of memory
color orts of what had been
a heady time
inevitable yang disguised
by yin’s rose lens

all well and good
the peace I’ve earned
is telling me
to recognize the
mis-steps scrubbed away

yes child snatch that
pink lensed pince-nez
from your nose
when new love appears
to see its necessary truth

then jump informed into its depths
with joy

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sitting on my porch in early morning, bird songs on all sides.


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stepping onto grass

a sip of camomile to soften nerves
as though a quiet moment on the porch
observing fire flies punctuate the trees
could travel through cloud rain
to touch a friend
like me a score or so ago
now waiting for the sun
to shiver start the day
mind’s eye reaching for
the girl child of my heart
lace tokening her gaze
unruly brother brought to sudden tears
on catching sight
of unanticipated beauty
tethered by her father’s arm
last moments as the impish girl
who stood upon his feet to waltz
then stepping sure on sea scent grass
to speak her promises
and dance love wrapped
as woman, on her way

________________________________
twenty three years on, that lovely day still resonates, the union it produced a loving one. for Lisa.

BH in the field


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elegy

and with his end
all lifeline letters stopped
akin to clocks
hushed at a death
leaving smothered laughter
or kind words
confetti-chopped
to ricochet at will

those daily orts
grown into thoughts
inked heiroglyphs sardined
with scattered
pencil nonpareils
bright chrome yellow sheets
they will come no more

he lived for wordy news
recounted histories
rich mirrors of our minds
but people hanging
on a vapid phone
not tolerated much
beyond a minute any day

in all of this
we saw and felt
the gifts his writing brought
quiet kindness
in our grasp connection
palatable family glue
admonishments
or clapping hands

he never did hold back
bursts of excited rant
against extinction
of a simpler life
or older barn
sunblot politic dizziness
or inept modernity

today we hold those pages
fiercely knowing he is gone
and reread again
to briefly feel his warmth
born of quiet brilliance
a rich legacy
of love disguised

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Day 3. the prompt was to write an elegy, and a particular facet of the person or thing mourned.

one (recipe) for a good boy


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one for a good boy

holding in the arms test
he found them a place for stillness
I felt his trust and knew everything

journey tolerance test
he had little for road rumblings howling all the way
I laughed at his protests and sang with him

introduction to the first dog test
she terrified him huge and dark
I smiled this would pass remembering others

favorite places test
he took her shoulderings still followed bravely
I pulled him from the squelching mud more mindful after

contemplation test
he sat by her and learned to watch the world
I heard my heart swell seeing this

first misadventure test
he thought all ice trustworthy
I stood thigh deep in frozen marsh to pull him out

listening test
he found joy in learning many things
I spoke softly so that he might hear

finding his work test
he decided it was me with slippers
I accepted his gift dancing

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Day 2 prompt was a recipe. this was a tough one to get going. it would not share itself with me yesterday. once I stepped back, like a contrary child it bounded into my brain.


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in place of

in place of tender walls of green
hot sunrise vibrant pink
flamed above bare trees

in place of overwhelming days
unblinkered eyes and free range thought
released to roam at will

in place of broadbrush turning trees
yellow leaf sun catchers glow chrome
against the rising dark of hills

in place of ready touch and nights spent close
quiet gratitude for unweighted joy
I am whole to dance again

in place of trees wrenched rudely from my woods
nightly sunset glory offered up
its afterglow on every side

in place of childish blankets of regret
unflinching truth accepted flings me up
to land as newly tempered steel


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haiku for elizabeth with notes

gift from love’s pilgrim
my words have danced in your heart
they leap free again

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yesterday the Third Cousins Club met again. three cousins, Cassie, Elizabeth, and me, descended in separate lines from the same great great grandfather, knowing nothing of the others until an accidental discovery grew into a connection that has joined three family lines. Elizabeth’s sister Susan was there at the beginning with all of us, but she died this year. So Elizabeth has just made what I can only think of as a pilgrimage to the ocean places they loved together. what a brave and loving sister gift this was, saying goodbye again, ashes left to be a part of memories.

sun turtle moonstones


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moonstones

countless shed
in rage and grief
for loss of life
and love’s escape
but know my friends
that tears
rejoin the earth
to fall again
as rain
and with these
moonstone drops
comes life renewed
a moment’s chance
to heal and wash
the stench of hate
into the sea
and pray
the only swords
we need are
gentle arcs
of green
sun turtle lines
of remnant tears
safe havens
for our memories

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a poem for a day that always brings the echoes of a loving grief. I send these words to join those voices raised to shout aloud their sadness in the face of tragedy.


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haiku for a friend with notes

see each forward step
my own not for another
true gift of friendship

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The way forward for a friend sometimes seems clear to me, but not for them. The hard thing is to step back, find the wisdom to make changes in my own life, and let them work it out. They already know that I care.

Horace, black on black


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haiku for tuesday with notes

accepting the muse
black head warms my foot again
reaching for note book

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Horace likes to sit under the kitchen table when I write, with his head across my foot. I had planned to write later in the day today, but clearly my muse thought otherwise.

the green veil


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the green veil

a scrim of green now masks the woods
and blankets its recycling brown
and fading winter tale

with upstart life rolled out
to mountain slopes
I know are there

another green veil lives
across the timegone paths
that memories illuminate

backlighting those
just out of reach
until we call them close

a flash of thought
to pierce opaque divides
and fill the mind’s eye arms

then hold them quiet and at peace
sweet moderation’s gift
remembering

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A poem for 5/8, mother’s day. The photo was actually taken much later in summer, when I was shooting the morning mist that comes off my garage roof after the sun comes over the mountain arm, and a series of remarkable night-built spider’s webs in the trees (one is faintly visible on the right).

beauty of white against dark green


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litany

what don’t I remember?
my collier brother brain
hoards words and time
with colors joining hands
to sing their song

I don’t remember
any moment spent
without a color wash
intensity of thought

I don’t remember
understanding those who hate
preferring to destroy
instead of build

I don’t remember
living days or nights
without a music counterpoint
embers into torches lighting memory

I don’t remember
sunsets painted on the undersides
of clouds or nature come to flower
without feeling joy almost to tears

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A leftover prompt, from Day 29. Things remembered, and what they weren’t.