Life With Horace

poetry & essays


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night lit

my woods are hung
with lamp lit moonlight
shallow beaver wash
turned into opal pools
picked out by
beams that launched
diffused through
vapor rings we know
are ice but touch
us softly

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Day 22. We have just had a full moon, fitting for the week of Earth Day.


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following awareness

coming up the hill
toward my kitchen door
on greening grass
almost tintless
in the growing dark
I chase my shadow
in moonlight
just strong enough
to make me glad
it is not chasing me

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Day 19. A shortling about coming home in fading light and a risen moon.


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the finalists

november days turn dim and cold
as we slide down to pinprick light
and brace our souls for longest dark,
rich colors chasing flocks of migrant birds
cruel times for light starved eyes
yet worse there is the maiden month
that masks her fangs,
bright ribbons trailing barely warming breeze
summoning new green and crocus cups
to come and greet the sun
then tosses back her cape
revealing claws
which hold my frozen daffodills,
and shrieks her name in falling snow
oh yes sweet april there is no doubt
you take the prize

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The NaPoWriMo prompt for day 4 was our choice of cruelest month (after T.S. Elliot). Watching snow encase my daffodills this morning, and birds become intent on seeds again, the winner, hands down (at least this year) is April.


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Snow Terrarium

I stand quite still, snared by
unaccustomed silence,
backlit in a pool of warmth
and kitchen candle light,
looking out at darkness
made intimate by thick
falling snow, soundproofing
all that lies beyond its edge.
Until a car appears, creeping
down the mountain arm,
headlights poking through
lace curtain flakes, wheels
soundless on the road
deeply masked by white.
A traveler almost surely blind,
determination understood
and much admired by me.
We share this moment
and our quiet space
until my door is shut again,
and he has passed us by.

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The world is well lost and soundless when it snows here. Like an infant’s view of life our boundaries shrink for a bit.


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moonset

the still bright reach
of setting moon on snow
slender plum tree shadows
reaching from the west,
coyote yips and calls
caroming off the mountain
through black ice
ribbon wrapped woods,
snaking through
my open window arrow slit,
rousing the defenders
of this sleeping winter bastion
to make their voices heard
our pennant flown in answer

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nothing gets dogs up from sleep to full on barks faster than the coyote pack at night.


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next

I wear the cloak of having loved,
not tightly but clutched light,
threads of life thrown on
to walk the path of next,
companion on the loops and hills ahead,
the grains of my allotted scores
falling through the hourglass neck of now
their descent soft breath to kiss my cheek
then drop away to join the humus
steeping just behind.
what colors must it hold, this cloak,
to lie so soft against my skin,
what memories all skeined,
though some were nettles
leaving welts and tears,
others joy that grabbed me by the nape
and shook my soul awake,
then weaving strands of love
presented as a gift, no toll required
or so I thought, glowing rich and warm,
elusive dancing beams
that stayed a while to walk among
wild golden flower fields
communing with my heart, until we faced
the sunset edge of certainty.
in dimming afterglow I saw
the dark cast Janus face of fear
instead of love, mouth open wide
to swallow all my peace.
abandoning this portent of a frozen life
I turned away before full night
without a backward look,
Eurydice sans Orpheus
shedding petal tears
but never love
walking fast toward the light

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I have always seen time, carrying its map in my mind’s eye, a form of synesthesia. Personally I think it explains the sometimes weird but welcome linkages of time to physical space that pop up in my poems.


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waiting for the hunter

many days since I have seen a moon
both night and dawn obscured by cloud or rain
days of leached out richness
lacking diamond clustered white
and so creep fingered winter reaches out
to shackle and restrain my thoughts
till sun regains the upper hand
and tosses me the keys that come with
fledgling green and tender smells of earth
(around an oxbow bend of time and out of sight)
tonight at last, we have thick clotted blots of snow,
flake armies blanketing the world, scouting
morning’s aftermath of shapes stood bright
against fresh blue
a constant roar of moving trees,
teeth of the north wind auto harp,
deep ink heaven once again blown clean
diana’s slivered waxing moon
emcees emerging stars, until he comes,
a reaching leap of arms and sword and strength
his belt the perfect anchor for my eyes,
standing watch, protector of the frozen skies

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I look for Orion each winter, knowing he stands watch over our frozen nights.


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stardust

last night I knew a dream
within a dream
waking from the first
yet still asleep to see
familiar pinpoint
allegory road signs
faces that I knew so well
this time we were adrift together
on a sea not visited awake
then turning, sinking back to lethe
as tingle echoes ricocheted away
and woke to see a brilliant slash
of sunrise pink behind the spiky pines
that dimmed so fast to flattened gray
my only capture yet again
was memory

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a shortling linking the fleeting vividness of my dreams last night to the transient brilliance of sunrise on waking. for Jane, who said goodbye to her beloved Alan this week, and for Candy.


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looking through

the apple tree has given up its leaves
sightlines to the treescape skyline
of the mountain ridge are visible again
skeleton beauty skirting stripped down
lilac oak and beech, embracing stolid
pine arms, needles feathering
this morning’s straggler sun
a wedge of brown and gray and light
this small world peaceful
waiting for the snow

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this is one of those mornings when the contrast between the world outside my kitchen window and places of violence and sorrow is very stark. I am grateful for this peace, even as I mourn another shattered night and pray for France.


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the empty hour

driving south with dogs and moon
my sole companions
through a world now shuttered, faceless
not quite dead, a piece of time
between the dregs of night wound down
and any thought of lighted day
no nameless lurkers crowding thoughts
as unaccustomed full face brightness
pushes back those waves of menace
rushing from the black hole dark
until their clinging dread recedes
then trickles off the shouldered road and trees
fades dark blank glass and shadowed cars
to question marks, a thousand lives imagined
in the moments we pass by
my honor guard lies nose to tail
the comfort of their smell and noisy dreams
has wrapped my shoulders well against the chill
and we move on

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we all know this time of night, and driving through it in the light of a full moon changes everything.


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sleeping in moonglow

a whole moon
shrinking
without stark relief
or angles
perhaps hanging
in a mist I cannot see
its clear light
muted and opaque
entering my room
by stealth
air brushing
walls and shapes
and sets them floating
in the glow
along with me

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a shortling, about the moonlight that found every corner of my room last night. it was so different, I couldn’t help but notice.