Life With Horace

poetry & essays


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Connection

In song, music puts
its hands around my heart.
My words think tears
are a puddle to splash
through shoeless.
Color often stops my breath,
and I am held its willing
prisoner. A sudden memory
might need release.
Any of these call up joy
or tears, and I don’t mind.
When the signal comes
they might glide to me
in a waltz, or whirl up
on the skirts
of a wild mazurka.
Better yet, ride in
on the smoothness
of an alto sax.


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Waiting

She pried my eye open,
brilliant Venus did, balanced
just above the pine spikes,
tired of waiting for me
to get on with dreaming.
A clear sky, meteors done,
still hours away from light.
Sleep brained, back to bed
with snoring dogs,
a dream of love waiting
across a bog, only reached
by floating stones,
until I balked and stepped
to solid ground.
She knew this one
was in the queue, and
did not want it buried
in the dreamless part of sleep,
but felt, and have me warned.


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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, not caring.


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And Peggy Sue

They called him Crane, not Ichabod but the bird. I’d see him Saturday nights at the tap room where he won big money throwing darts, bony fingers on a different circuit from the rest of him when as he drank. Never pretty in daylight — when drunk, his angles seemed smoothed out, almost movie vaselined. The dim lit corners left the knife scar on his neck alone, a dull flash of on-off michelob blinking onto his baldness. Once, college boys found the bar, and while the rest of his townie pals shunned the clueless preps, he fought them at the dart board one by one with his dead aim, metal sinking into cork almost soundless, like a perfect dive knifes into chlorined blue. Always left them broke, their egos bleeding out. The drunker he got, the better he played, groove sunk cheeks split by a grin. He took them all, keening Peggy Sue softly between each throw.


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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.


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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.