Life With Horace

poetry & essays


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Mystery of their arrival

When I sing, 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 prisoner
A sudden memory might need release

Any of these call up 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.

Around her clear sky at last, meteor showers
done, still hours away from light. Deaf to her
message I went back to bed and snoring dogs,

to dream of love that would not hear my voice
leading me across a bog on floating stones,
until I balked, and jumped away to solid ground.

She knew this one was on its way, and did not
want it left benignly in the deepest part of sleep,
but felt vividly, and have me wake grateful for escape.


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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,
not even stray rain clouds.

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.


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The Scarf

The eye sees silk,
pale green perhaps,
hanging loose over oiled bamboo,
and waits for a breath to set it floating.
A sail slowly calling to the skin,
conjuring a weightless cover
settling without fanfare,
suddenly warm when it rests
on breasts, or arms, or flanks,
then sparking shivers as
a hand pulls it
slowly away.


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Until then

There may still be
      wind, that has not kissed
            my face

Or light on vernal
      water, not seen through
            my lens

Or singing, that has
      yet to hum along
            my bones

Or time with friends, dancing
      in green waves, sand on
            my feet

Or words to share, flowing
      from the mouth of
            my heart

But, there was always love, with
      you, so if I skip the rest
            to waltz out in your arms,

It will be enough to
      know these gifts waited
            with me, just in case.

_____________________________________________
a birthday poem for Mike