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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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



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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
when the stars are watching

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