Life With Horace

poetry & essays


Five minutes

Back in the woods
up the road past
the old town reservoir
where chain links
protect unused water
and brilliant leaves
in the way of
swamp maples
Farther in
the pace of fall slows
to less flashy spots
of orange and red
dropped deep into
reluctant green
Empty spaces
once the home
of many trees
have begun to fill in
Mindful of the light
dipping toward hunters hour
we turn for home
the cinnamon ferns
wear beige now
feather tips point along
the angle of fall sun


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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

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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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Insistent messenger

A mourning dove in my apple tree
looks through the window
its message meant to prod
sun shrinks as the cold returns
woods maple tops spike leafless now
bronze oaks and candle beech stand guard
water lilies sink into the pond again
a scooped out moon brings frost
bears already denned up the hill
not quite past time for seeds but hurry
or jays will bring their beaks