Life With Horace

poetry & essays


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heaven’s way

up from quiet stones they ran
bedrolls flapping
dodging early morning rain
from green encrusted may
I knew them both
but not together until then
bright head and dark
laughing as they came
the dash of youth
and all of life ahead

from my window perch I wished them well
wished me in their place, and longing
turned away from fecund spring
too heavy for my shredded heart
leaking messy love
right down my shirt
I crept around the room
certain of impending death
(a Duse to the core)
of course I mended, they dried out

we all moved on to other lives
she left hers first, too soon and young
decades on my mind replays
those grays and greens
wet kissed fizzing temporary love
and wonder if her spirit
comes there too
revisiting a lilac scented
night among the stones
on Heaven’s Way

________________________________
for gus, and joyce. Heaven’s Way is a cemetery road in Vermont.


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not quite endings

the music stopped, shimmering
in dust beamed space
our voices stilled
waiting for the flood of response
I fall into the silence
all energy given away
to singing’s singular joy

what I thought was love
ok it was, no holding back
died, stabbed and poked
to rubble not worth picking through
a lucky escape it turns out
in time to save my heart
and savor all that’s left

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 thank god
and in its place
a single sound takes shape
one note clearly formed on endless breath
much to my delight 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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intentional space

there is a place in what
can only be my heart
now blank erased
by grief and purposed
brain reset

wild pigment bits of memory
color orts of what had been
a heady time
inevitable yang disguised
by yin’s rose lens

all well and good
the peace I’ve earned
is telling me
to recognize the
mis-steps scrubbed away

yes child snatch that
pink lensed pince-nez
from your nose
when new love appears
to see its necessary truth

then jump informed into its depths
with joy

__________________________________
sitting on my porch in early morning, bird songs on all sides.


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stepping onto grass

a sip of camomile to soften nerves
as though a quiet moment on the porch
observing fire flies punctuate the trees
could travel through cloud rain
to touch a friend
like me a score or so ago
now waiting for the sun
to shiver start the day
mind’s eye reaching for
the girl child of my heart
lace tokening her gaze
unruly brother brought to sudden tears
on catching sight
of unanticipated beauty
tethered by her father’s arm
last moments as the impish girl
who stood upon his feet to waltz
then stepping sure on sea scent grass
to speak her promises
and dance love wrapped
as woman, on her way

________________________________
twenty three years on, that lovely day still resonates, the union it produced a loving one. for Lisa.


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for the taking

perhaps the stars
hold memories
diamond pinholes
punched in winter black
life stretched
across infinity
expanding overhead
even as my focus
might be squeezing in
and only looking back
a tempting counterweight
to shrinking time
well nuts to that
I’ll take the milky way
with thanks
refusing blinkered days
or thoughts
and will not shut
all possibility away
this heart and soul
are slated to remain
open for business
indefinitely


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longing for blue

longing for blue for the swell of waves at noon wind changing
light flaking on their crests

lunch on a glass table on hot flagstones flesh still warming
we rode ice sharp water round the whirlpool’s seaweed walls

wine in the blood languid tune in my bones we sit shoulders touching
shaded corners of a sea green room calling


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in place of

in place of tender walls of green
hot sunrise vibrant pink
flamed above bare trees

in place of overwhelming days
unblinkered eyes and free range thought
released to roam at will

in place of broadbrush turning trees
yellow leaf sun catchers glow chrome
against the rising dark of hills

in place of ready touch and nights spent close
quiet gratitude for unweighted joy
I am whole to dance again

in place of trees wrenched rudely from my woods
nightly sunset glory offered up
its afterglow on every side

in place of childish blankets of regret
unflinching truth accepted flings me up
to land as newly tempered steel

and then


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and then

standing still
feet feeling steady rock
in unfamiliar balance
time stops it seems
a blink really
the stream
of then to next
flowing over and around
and somehow through
bones in a shiver
of recognition
no longer straining
to spring free
of oz like cages
revealed as
weightless frauds
their power merely dust
looks ahead
so curious about
what comes next
but firmly rooted
in this moment
and leaps from
rock to rock
given over to
joy at last


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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

________________________________________
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

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


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the onion revealed

with all its skin removed
and moonstone lotus arms pulled back
the onion has no center
only tear provoking sharpness
seeping from its pores
but you and I have hearts
that feed our souls and break sometimes
laid bare in throes of love
or simply listening to the echoes
of a whispered thought
a memory of longing sweeping back
to fan regret at loss
we wear our years like onion skin
the proof of who we were opaque
of how we danced or soared
looked at the world from eyes that saw
time infinite us invincible
too quick to jump into the flow
of forces greater than our will
to hold them back
where war or danger
grabbed us by the throat and shook
tossing what was left aside
or living tamer slower lives
bumps and buffets taken as they came
no matter what our start
we all arrive at later’s trailhead
wondering where our eagerness and joy have fled
energies no longer at our ready beck
resignation sometimes held at bay
and yet our beating core
holds all of it on layaway
to draw on if we can
so when I lie with moonlight
shadows raked across my skin
and you reach out with forge hot hands
time falls away leaving elemental us
certain only of this moment
and its gift