Life With Horace

poetry & essays

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


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tiptoe to a full on run

it is my turn to jump
into the hero’s journey
face first two miles up
but with no roar
of penetrated air
drawing every sense
as I fall free, knowing
this a dream to ease
my heart’s reset.
I rip the cord,
look back,
there is no prickly
pilot chute
of skulking anger,
only honest tears flung up
to join the clouds
my testament to
innocence and joy,
the early days of
rose tinged hope.
a silken arc of honesty
slows me to a gentle float
compelling truth,
namely, that this jump
will save my soul.
earth comes up fast
and I begin to walk
on timid toes,
then gaining speed
I leap and raise my fist
exulting, thankful
to have known great love,
running on to meet
my warrior fate

__________________________
a nod to my inner tough chick


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how is it?

how is it
on the mountain, friend,
your spirit free
to roam the peaks
while others only visit,
awed by your home?

can you see
the wonders that
your children are,
carrying you forward,
best parts mostly,
through life’s flow?

do you know
I miss you still,
regrets dimmed,
a mind’s eye memory
of boundless energy,
on the night we met?

is that you
beside me in the woods,
silent escort through
the marshes, dogs in hand,
then safely home,
here for the asking?

yes

_____________________________________
for Mike, whose birthday was today. the photo is of Mount Lafayette, where his ashes rest.
addendum 10/18/17: and for Paige who loved and was loved by Bernie.


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one way aubade

daylight prompts a kiss,
waking up my foggy
heart and brain
to sunrise clarity of thought

and know an echo cannot
keep me, having heard
and felt full throated love
if only for a time

flypaper’s hold, that ersatz
grace, lacks true regard,
whereas the fearless know
that reins kept loose hold tight

now looking out toward the sun
and craving freedom’s light,
I wave and turn away from here,
whispering goodbye to night

_______________________________
For day 6 of NaPoWriMo, the prompt being for an Aubade, or lovers’ morning farewell.

Damselfly wings


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truth teller

halting steps along this path,
roughened slate set into
soft cocooning moss,
lead me out to healing sun,
air charged with anger fading fast,
dancing more with every stone,
why would my heart remain
when peace and light
live somewhere else
and it is time to
place the love we had
upon my sleeve
and let it go,
a badge to honor
early days and honest hopes,
frozen ponds in moonlight,
rich wetland life observed,
owls calling from our pines,
rock duets, slow dances,
sleeping in the curve
of loving arms,
voices raised in song,
poetry discovered.
some will remain,
those roots dug deep
that have become my own,
a life outdoors embraced.
mistrust and blame will not
be my companions,
though sadness and regret are
with me for a time,
I have no expectation that perfection
lies ahead, nor would it be
a welcome thing, but look for
an authentic life,
taken as it comes,
owning my reflection
without flinching,
clear eyed, eager (still),
open to creative joy,
grateful for rich moments
added to the flow
of every day

_______________________________
for day 4 of NaPoWriMo. the prompt was for a love poem sans cliches, and could be taken in any direction.


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aftermath

I kick the football yet again,
choosing to forget
the inevitable,
that it will be snatched
at the last moment
and send me tumbling
end over end through blankness,
wailing, furious, shedding illusions
like jagged sparkler beams,
crash landing, spent,
in a heap of dim regret.
but, then I do get up,
fortitude my ally,
defiant, standing straight,
determined to survive,
and run toward the garden of my soul,
where love and self forgiveness thrive,
to heal, and not look back

flowers from Geoff


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every day, love

we settle, cozy with each other,
life together flowing,
knowing we won’t leave
this place, our coupleness,
while our hearts are here.

quiet moments, though less weighted,
felt more clearly than crescendos,
simple, loving gestures
saturated with delight,
flowers you have chosen,
waiting on our table,
lovely, in a jar or pitcher,
knowledge of these growing things
and bird songs,
gifts I brought to you
through our acquaintance,
love’s osmosis
passing bounty back to me.

you brought me here, to
nights on mountains,
walks through wetlands,
skiing on a snow deep pond
in winter moonlight,
summer swimming ledges,
hearing loons or beaver slaps,
thrushes lilting song in hemlock woods,
rhododendrons bent with snow,
discoveries that echo joy,
and I suppose, my loving them
is now a gift turned round again

to you


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glowing

us together, still
improbable ember
rescued from the dark,
almost at its end,
not quite extinguished

once hopeful
souls bared in grief,
looked with honest eyes
at last, just on the edge
and leapt as one
to breathe together,
gently turning glimmer
into glow once more,
memory and faith
relighting love,
honesty and trust
its fuel

standing steady,
hand clasped
loving hearts
held surely,
hard won flames
our bright reward