Life With Horace

poetry & essays

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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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


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the first present

there are trees here too
grown out of deep soil pockets
heads above the hardy root dug
mountain friends of home
this gathered woody host a nest
to hold a house containing
every one I love
still sleeping as the light
creeps up all cloudy
through the rain
a christmas only minds eye white
no clear skied sunrise
catching tree tops
by surprise
red bronze briefly
glistened by those gone ahead
dropstrings of love and memory
beams creak awake
almost the hour
for letting loose small bodies
counting moments since last night
behind me thumps and sighs
two sets of eyes meet mine
my patient dogs
the first gift of the day
belongs to them
and we are kitchen bound

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a small gift of words, a time filled with more love than things, christmas as it should be. my heart is very full.


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woods whispers

once home directly to the woods
downhill into the shadowed green
ecstatic dogs all tails and lopes

they move from spot to spot
datamining smells and sounds
and leave their marks

feet silent on the needle drop
my harmony almost restored
ankles softly kissed by ferns

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a shortling to celebrate the gift of having woods to lift the day off my shoulders.

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.


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morning as palindrome

as words begin their dance
glancing out at spring
sitting down at last to write
confident of its receipt
asking for serenity
another day a perfect gift
reflecting and give thanks
I close my eyes to sip
hand cupping warmth
coffee and the ritual of smell
checking lilacs apple buds
birds scatter at the noise
opening the outer door
woods featureless and flat
moving softly hug the quiet
slightly damp delight
one slipper at a time
morning work for dogs
stretch sloughing sleep’s cement
a feather shawl to float away
night journey remnants linger
as clouds replace the sun
light diffuse and gray
dog nose to tail against my arm
first awareness as I wake
a dream departs

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Day 28. I loved writing this. The prompt was for an event or story in reverse.


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san san for aggie

sitting up her eyes meet mine
a dog, she cannot hold the stare
full of love, she can but try
trust earned, love gained a certain sign
my eyes smile back with soul laid bare
this gentle dog now surely wants to play
we run the grassy hill my dog and I
eyes search for sticks, she loves to lead the way

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Day 14. a san san, seven lines with three images or words repeated three times abc-abd-cd.


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haiku for a winter saturday with notes

snowfall perfection
singular joins the many
floating from the sky

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saturdays mean one can exhale. today there are no chores or projects in an old house always in need. today will be spent with friends, mingling our joyous and foolish dogs, and gathering for a meal. there will be much laughter. the mind will stretch. a gift.


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moonset

the still bright reach
of setting moon on snow
slender plum tree shadows
reaching from the west,
coyote yips and calls
caroming off the mountain
through black ice
ribbon wrapped woods,
snaking through
my open window arrow slit,
rousing the defenders
of this sleeping winter bastion
to make their voices heard
our pennant flown in answer

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nothing gets dogs up from sleep to full on barks faster than the coyote pack at night.


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haiku for Sunday with notes

winter morning’s dark
dogs wait blots against the rug
bach fugues dance softly

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music and sunday mornings go hand in hand for me. the dogs are stretched out against the soft jewel tones of the old oriental rug on the dining room floor, in the soft lamplight of early morning. baroque music on the radio. coffee next!


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the muse as foot warmer

horrie on my footIt turns out that I do have a muse. His name is Horace (Horrie) and he is my shadow, fetcher of slippers, foot warmer, and writing companion. A smart three year old black lab, he knows I am his work, is pretty sure that if I go out he should come along, and much of the time he does.

The other lodestar of his universe is Aggie, my steady, wonderful Newfie. Aggie raised him. They are inseparable, except when I’m writing, but Aggie sometimes honors us with her presence in the kitchen (my writing place).


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the empty hour

driving south with dogs and moon
my sole companions
through a world now shuttered, faceless
not quite dead, a piece of time
between the dregs of night wound down
and any thought of lighted day
no nameless lurkers crowding thoughts
as unaccustomed full face brightness
pushes back those waves of menace
rushing from the black hole dark
until their clinging dread recedes
then trickles off the shouldered road and trees
fades dark blank glass and shadowed cars
to question marks, a thousand lives imagined
in the moments we pass by
my honor guard lies nose to tail
the comfort of their smell and noisy dreams
has wrapped my shoulders well against the chill
and we move on

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we all know this time of night, and driving through it in the light of a full moon changes everything.