Life With Horace

poetry & essays


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Some with history

An old ironstone marmalade jar
holds felt tipped pens
that skate across paper
to lay down good black ink
little resistance except
the hesitations of my thoughts

Her small silver letter opener
the tip slightly blunted
from drops into the pen jar
its repousse handle testament
to a love of the ornate
like jade it carries her history

That bright orange bootlace
worn when driving
to keep the heavy car fob close
and the Triple A truck away
a jury-rigged aide memoire
not quite welcome

The blue and white egg cup
on a bathroom shelf
holds simple baking soda
and an old silver salt spoon
its handle finger tarnished
refugees from formality

This gently swirled glass lamp
heavy base and black shade
turned on every morning
as the dogs nose me to the door
coolness under my palm
to greet its past and a new day


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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

____________________________
We go outside to say hello on clear nights, Horrie and I.


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Among giants

At night the woods world
rises up in vast formation
as the dogs and I
walk among giants
in the cool cocoon
of my headlamp
They are eager
oblivious of our escorts
seeing with their noses
unaware that we are not alone
Sunless, the axis of this space
has tilted on its side
there are no open reaches
to the mountain base
well known trees or brook cuts
calling birds or fresh
snow yielding fox tracks
The quiet that blankets
sight and thought
is only in my head
this place is never voiceless
even in deep winter
I follow in the wake
of wagging tails
and steaming breath
breaking trail into the dark


___________________________________
Originally published in Dancer in the Mist, 2015
Revised 12/2020


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The morning watch

He sits behind the screen,
the sun’s minute hand
remaps his curves in warmth.
With not much else to do
his morning’s work is
out there, living traffic
he will watch and note.
Force marched ants in
single file, small brown toads,
leaf rustles out of sight,
the swooping zizz
of dragonflies.
A hummingbird returns
to drink, then preen. This
makes him smile. Even they
must stop and rest.
The small world quiets, starts to
wait for shade, when high sun
moves away, raptors drafting
on its currents. He sees
and understands. Feeling
stiff he’s up to find another
patch of sun. A whoofing sigh,
then head on paws he sleeps.


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Flat light early

Some mornings present themselves
before my second eye opens,
no warmth, flat light,
featureless gray untrimmed.
Tight woven canvas hangs
edge to edge at the top
of the sky, and the living world
makes a new plan,
carrying on oblivious.
My patient dogs don’t
care a fig about the sun,
arriving bedside to present
mouth-damp slippers,
and we go out
to open up the day.

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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first morning

the world is wearing snow
and early morning tracks
curve down from thicket
to the brook
imagination wishing fox
resigned to squirrel
doves and jays arrive
the platform feeder full
it took a while to lace
warm boots with pjs tucked
then clearing step and path
of weightless white
which even now begins
to fly from coated trees
as spoil sport winds
step up their game
a dove remains
breast puffed among the seeds
they gobble down so much
but do not stay
to crack and eat
(anticipating husk heaps
deep in the woods
come thaw or spring)
a friend is coming soon
to break new trail with us
ecstatic dogs and
snowshoes joining evidence
of daybreak journeys
annotating
this first morning