Life With Horace

poetry & essays


Shoals

Riding the river of goodbye
nights alone
taking songs to bed
instead of you
Heart resigned
to half the life we had
until we dance again
arms yes arms
wrapped soft and tight
I see you there downriver
waiting for my dreams
to float the river shoals
Less of forever to go
around each bend
And we will hear
our voices say hello
and dance outside
the time of sleep


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Things I didn’t know I loved

I didn’t know I loved the spirit in soil
deep under reed marshes
connected to it through my bones
a vision of roiling life

I didn’t know I loved to sing
that song could make me cry
joy a quick moment on the backs of notes
voices together light to dark

I didn’t know that I loved sense of place
color memories until they were gone
layered goodbyes in dim sunlight
dusty motes on gray air

I didn’t know I still loved touch
thought it dried and done but not forgotten
only to find a fire so ready lit my blood sang
even as I would cry aloud

I didn’t know that I loved words
that they would fill every empty place
pull me with them words from my eyes
words from unheard thought

I didn’t know how much I loved my life
sweet along with sharp and hard
rushing in over tidal flats escaping just as fast
that I could cherish it not just live it

____________________________________________
This list poem came out of a short poetry workshop taught in 2015 by the poet Doug Anderson. We read Things I Didn’t Know I Loved by the Turkish poet Nazim Hikmet, and were prompted to write our own list poem by the same title. This is the revised version.


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A kiss when it’s clear

I was convinced she would never leave
even though the truth of it
ran alongside faster
as she slowed
in the end a quiet moment
took the comfort of her large dog self
and tucked it in the sky
now her gaze is a soft kiss on clear nights
when the stars are watching

________________________________
For my Newfie Aggie
July 23 2009 – August 28, 2021


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Mountain top

Stars begin to drop
into the growing dark
of a clear night sky
as I come down the
mountain to our woods
the path familiar
my feet sure in waning light
I went up alone craving you
the burn cleared granite
comfort warm at sunset
words escaping
into the rising drafts
as song
wait for me
I will be there given time




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Tipping Point

Not the moment
you came down the stairs
that first night and
I recognized the future

Not the sight of you
after a year apart
walking out of the airport fog
with love on your lips

Not the joy of raising children
our hands clasped hard
to speak love in silence
our shield against their fledging

Not the words
that turned time finite
and wanting to leave I stayed
knowing you would have

The love that whispered
its long goodbye, until
I found you one cold morning
and knew your heart
had left without me

It was this

________________________________
For Mike


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The right note

Tomorrow might have been fifty-two
not just thirteen since thirty-nine
Aligned with family and gratitude
the day always reflected joy,
the heat of our love folded into stuffing
The missing of him has gotten harder
but it seems he knows. I came upon
the sound of his small gasp
that wrapped me up each time
in beauty gauze, when finally ready
I presented myself to his gaze
before our evenings out
Deliciousness itself, just knowing
that he would when I did
that he always meant it.
And I can smile now, the memory
a pitch perfect gift

.

.


Audio: Read by the author.


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How to darn a heart

If mending is the only route
then hold it safe, to
dance its beat
against your palm.

To brace the fraying edge,
thread light with memories
and run their warmth
the whole way round.

Bottom up or top down,
the strongest strands of love
comprise the weft, running stitch
to running stitch.

Then left to right or right to left,
hope forms the warp
needled over, under
in between.

It will look different darned,
the rend lightly scabbed,
dozing as it heals, until the next
onslaught of love.

 


Audio: Read by the author.

____________________________
NaPoWriMo Day 1 (my view of time being elastic), the prompt was to provide instructions on how to do something.

 


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Late present

The moon brought me a gift
last night, before the
solstice rain moved in.
I left the crispness
of my northern woods
to walk the dew off grass again
with you. It’s late, the
house lights dark, the night
all midsummer lushness,
bell buoys ringing softly.
We know the way by feel
across the lawns and
down the hill to home,
but cannot pass the garden
with its flat topped walls.
We sit, shoulders touching,
stone still warm, and let our
breath find a rhythm together
after days apart. Then on
our way again, to soft
lamp light on varnished
wood, and pick up where
we were before the first
mosquito bit.
This morning I still feel
your hands, your skin on mine,
and smile.

 

 


Audio:
Read by the author.

 


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Seeing them off

Today they are still here,
and I am too, in late September.
My hummingbird pair. One darts in
to feed, the other perches
drinking deeply, tipping her head back
to let the nectar slide.
I feel that energy sweet and cool
down my throat.
Their absence looms, a large bell
with muffled clappers tolling
unopposed, reddening the trees,
exiling light, ushering in cold.
Lately the question, will they
visit me again, or will there be
someone else looking out my window
twelve months on?
Each year it is harder let them go,
as if there were a choice.