Life With Horace

poetry & essays


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Fragment

Each time I try to find
the edge of space, searching
in the darkest part of blue,
past stars and their hangers on
orbiting a single mote of dust,
it turns out I’m that bird
expecting infinity but
finding sudden glass.

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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 as he drank.
Never pretty in daylight — when
drunk, his angles seemed smoothed
out, almost vaselined. The dim lit
corners left the knife scar
on his neck alone, a dull flash
of on-off michelob blinking onto his baldness.
On this night 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, 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

Damselfly wings


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reconciliation

I still wear
it on my skin,
remembering
touch, intensely green
as if emeralds had visited.
every nerve end bathed in
the musk of an old perfume,
a hand there, and there,
the shape of his head
bent down to me, walls
all twilight, music
tracing curves, the beat
of time slowed
to gray, wanting it
endless


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Sans Bliss

We were long split atoms
even then, the possibility
of us had ricocheted,
echoes of competing thoughts
a white sound mask.
Inexperienced, I flung
my satin stole of certainty
over each shoulder. Wrong headed,
ignorant of the deeper
dance of lust and love,
that shook its head
and left to visit other
lives. Tantalizing milkweed
silk, a fluted thrush note
fading, every time I would
have ventured back.

____________________________
for S


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sideways view

I can see you, all of you
from where I sit
a few thousand miles
up or out, take your pick
your lives are match flares
as we pass away from light
small bursts of color
flaming out, why green
or red or blue tonight?
my whims connect the dots
entertaining tales that may be
lies or just bad guesses
we know you watch us, singing
songs and writing maudlin verse
to our cold rocks and shifting shape
light breathed in and out to wax and wane
you could not know that we are joined
silly schizoid world, for you
it’s either his billboard smile
oddly neutered, hardly male
or country place of, me
who lives to hunt, a
woman with a wicked bow
one would never see us as
a pair much less coupled by
love up on our pockmarked
fluorescent lighted sphere
sling shot surfing
to the beat of star pulsed
fragments of forgotten gravities
we have a running bet to see
which way you leap as
we sail by silvering the clouds
our tote board running neck and neck
for half a million years

_______________________________
Doug Anderson’s weekly writing workshop has us all digging deep, and laughing a lot. the prompt: a myth from other lips.


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truth bag

being somewhat deafer now
imagined sounds dodge out of sight
bird noises, then coyote yips
creatures speaking to the moon
beavers stripping bark
soft words at night
wood thrushes as the day begins to fade
those I care about and want to hear again
a ways away, surrounding me
ear uncupped, not straining
that would be a marvel, singular gift
tears come just imagining

there is sometimes respite, when
the steeply rising road
is muffled deep in snow
no one singing in my trees
and outside silence is complete
ears freed up to hear what’s close
damned mouse scratchings in the wall
dogs nesting into warmth
wood timbers easing into sleep
unfrenzied thoughts
words emerging into verse
I call a truce until it stops
and plows cut through to rescue, me
ungrateful for release

none of this is worth a moment’s pain
but silence in the face of
evil, senseless, stupid acts
everyone can see and hear
(the instant truth of emperor sans clothes)
becomes a drawn out screaming wail
that grabs me by the nape
and shakes things loose
my voice plinking rage
words landing on the floor
about to skitter off, afraid
I snatch them up
so many jacks without a ball
and throw them in my truth bag
to pull out at will, tamed
for my answer

______________________________________
a prompt from last night’s writing group with Doug Anderson: silence