Life With Horace

poetry & essays


2 Comments

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


1 Comment

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

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


1 Comment

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

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


1 Comment

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.

the green veil


Leave a comment

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

_____________________________________
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).


Leave a comment

formerly dear molly

so it began
another opening salvo
written grapeshot
sibling letters
masking fury longhand
weighted by a lifetime’s
alkaline asides
presupposing mal intent
in every word
an older generation
hamstrung by
paper clad
civility

________________________________
Day 16 of NaPoWriMo, where the prompt was an almanac poem, one of the items being a scrap of a letter. clearing out my family’s place in Rhode Island (emptying a place filling my soul) we found hundred of letters, one of which began “molly, formerly dear molly”. while I found this amusing, clearly the writer, and one supposes the recipient, did not.


Leave a comment

the tree inside

here I/we all stand
our own distillation
helixed fragments
of the gene pool
simmered shards
determined memories
all but one disembarked
insistent immigrants
spread thin
through years of passages
via quiet windblown sails
or coal smoke belching steam
origins enough
for hands and heart
and feet and voice
spit out at landing
to be absorbed
reshape and move again
never stagnant,
hardly captive flow
sometimes I glimpse
a layered, pungent silt
swept down time’s stream
to keep my forbears
dreaming thoughts alive
and pass along
another twist of bone and flesh
in lovely recombination,
and in hope
trusting what comes next
and so we grow

_______________________________________________
NaPoWriMo 2016 day 2: the prompt was a family portrait. Sometimes you just have to go small.


3 Comments

blue lune

objects from the past
held close still
I am loath to let go

do they hold a pulse
core of life
beating at our touch

or arresting fade
tender shells
husks holding wishes

shall I cast them off
finding peace
in open spaces

or indecisive
wait to act
until the new lune

____________________________
The first day of NaPoWriMo 2016. This is a lune* made up of five 5-3-5 stanzas.
*3 lines of 5-3-5 syllables


1 Comment

pole stars

outside an open window
long slanting bones of morning light
stretch out across new green
and under petal floats
my mind’s eye leaping past
advancing spring
to still brown woods
snowdrops hanging white in quiet
broken only by the calls of jays
or arcing cardinal voice
I ache for home
those starker hills
and life lived on a wilder scale
with brook flow ambient song
in counterpoint
to raven growls and beaver slaps,
the shouting silence of the stars
that touch my trees
small-hours communion with the moon
cupped softly by the dark,
my homeward journey’s pull is strong
yet it will still be hard to leave
a house so filled with love
and people of my bones,
twin pole stars
anchoring the heart

______________________________________
I love and miss my adult children and their respective clans and look forward to the chance to share their lives. Yet after a day or two the siren call of home begins its chant, and I am torn, no less grateful for these gifts.


4 Comments

the flow

I dream of deconstructing beaver weirs
layered dams of branch and mud

fiendish things set up by stealth
to drown my woods

and work to draw up plans,
a personal peninsular campaign

fought in the boots of wellington
besetting toothy bonapartes,

guerilla skirmishes to win release
of chokepoint water pools

allowed to stream again towards
the pond beyond its sapling fringe

growing up we know some barriers too,
thrown up to block our childhood path
casual injected freeze,
anti action dollops of impatient noise
thoughtless shards from adult tongues
that carry all the power
of their world, and leave us
with no voice to tell them no
unconscious joy leaching from
young porous souls, replaced by dust
to render us no longer fully vested
in our birthright gifts

oh we will feel creative pull
and try to move toward its warmth

each with our signature routine
to step around the wall,

with time and luck that sidestep waltz
will lose appeal, prompting us

to search out understanding,
mighty antidote to doubt

and let it heal our hearts
armored with new energy and joy

thoughts free to wander where they will
we ride the flow

__________________________________________________
there is a vast difference between thoughtful words to guide and tossed off criticism. as adults we often forget the power of what we say to a child.