Life With Horace

poetry & essays


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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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Mountain top

Stars begin to drop
into the growing dark
of a clear night sky
as I come down the
mountain to our woods
the path familiar
my feet sure in waning light
I went up alone craving you
the burn cleared granite
comfort warm at sunset
words escaping
into the rising drafts
as song
wait for me
I will be there given time




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A way through

Birds perch on the balding arms
and bud knobbed fingers
of the kitchen door apple tree
There is a flashing gleam
from the eye of a jay
the sun finding unlikely passage
My mind blinks in disbelief
that such a thing could be
My heart knows better
and begins to sing


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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.

 

 


Audio: Read by the author.

 

_____________________________________________
A birthday poem for Mike


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Not quite endings

The music stops and echos
shimmer then fade
our voices stilled waiting
for the flood of response
I fall into the silence
all energy given away
to singing’s singular joy

A long goodbye jumps the queue
to sudden extinction
Love lives on the mountain
ashes soaking into moss
his spirit coming back
to say that 40 years were
worth it all in all
and how are things

The chatter quieted
and in its place
a single sound takes shape
One note clearly formed
on endless breath
I find it comes from me
I had been singing all along
and never knew

_________________________________
a prompt from tonight’s writing group with Doug Anderson: endings


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aftermath

all eyes and
single voices
become
this great body
balanced on
a razor thin
tipping point
we sing
full throat
to ecstasy
the music stops
I fall into
the abyss of silence
tears flowing

__________________________________
the moment after the end of a great piece. for Cailin Marcel Manson, who took us there.

beauty of white against dark green


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litany

what don’t I remember?
my collier brother brain
hoards words and time
with colors joining hands
to sing their song

I don’t remember
any moment spent
without a color wash
intensity of thought

I don’t remember
understanding those who hate
preferring to destroy
instead of build

I don’t remember
living days or nights
without a music counterpoint
embers into torches lighting memory

I don’t remember
sunsets painted on the undersides
of clouds or nature come to flower
without feeling joy almost to tears

______________________________________
A leftover prompt, from Day 29. Things remembered, and what they weren’t.


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corpus musicorum

to sing with my friends
brings joy to those
who hear us
but shoulder to shoulder
we who give voice
have earned
the greater gift
we stand inside
the living body of music
connected by
sublime resonance

_____________________________
Day 9. A shortling about the gift of singing in a group. Day 9. The words wanted my attention, but not for very long!


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Dark voice in silence

There is quiet now
where rich color
had been heard,
deep and sensuous
His turning notes
of fluted california
honky tonk remain
a potent legacy
Rest easy
we will hear
your echo.

_____________________________
day 6 of NaPoWriMo. RIP Merle Haggard, who left us today. Singer, brilliant songwriter, early voice of Bakersfield.