Life With Horace

poetry & essays


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until then

there may still be
      wind, that has not kissed
            my face

or light on vernal
      water, not seen through
            my lens

or singing, that has
      yet to hum along
            my bones

or time with friends, dancing
      in green waves, sand on
            my feet

or words to share, flowing
      from the mouth of
            my heart

but, there was always love, with
      you, so if I skip the rest
            to waltz out in your arms,

it will be enough to
      know these gifts waited
            with me, just in case.

_____________________________________________
a birthday poem for Mike


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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.


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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

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


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intentional space

there is a place
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
the peace I’ve earned
tells me straight
to recognize
the mis-steps
scrubbed away
yes child
snatch that pink
lensed pince-nez
from your nose
when new love appears
to see necessary truth
and only then jump
into its depths
with joy

__________________________________
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
a quiet moment on the porch
observing fire flies
punctuate the trees
travels through cloud rain
to touch a friend
like me a score or so ago
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 firmly
onto 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.

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
were never 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

__________________________
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

____________________________
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

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

in place of touch and fire spooned nights
quiet gratitude for unweighted days
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

_____________________________________
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

___________________________________
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

____________________________
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

_________________________________
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.