Life With Horace

poetry & essays


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The mystery of my tears

When I sing, music puts its hands around my heart
My words think tears are a puddle to splash through shoeless

Color often stops my breath, and I am held its prisoner
A sudden memory might need release

Any of these call up tears, and I don’t mind.
When the signal comes they might glide to me in a waltz,

or whirl up on the skirts of a wild mazurka.
Better yet, ride in on the smoothness of an alto sax.


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Restland

Olivia’s obelisk sits in tailored green
behind an iron gate and arrow pointed fence.
Jumped-up gold letters on the arched black sign
declaring
Restland. Stand near enough
in late afternoon shimmer and her voice is clear,
restless words reaching for release.

It is spring, but where are the lilacs I asked for?
No rounded shapes, or shade, or not to be forgotten scent.
A bit of rest here and there would have suited,
but this place? That name? The gods laugh.

Where are the staccato horse clops and soft whuffs,
wagon creaks, quiet words from walkers, children playing hoops,
the church bell? Only constant gliding rumbles, impatient horns,
blares of sound, no suitable rhythm for a hill town life.

Where are the visitors? None inclined or left to come,
not family, not him anymore. Is he here too?
Years doing women’s work, all the time seeing color,
rearranging light, and wanting paint and brush
to show him what I saw, wanting to say his given name,
not Mister, nor Mister Baker darling.

Where is the promised release of death? I lie,
still in my stays, oh god for a knife to cut their
laces, walk and breathe unbound, not go about exactly as a man
but with a woman’s eyes, much better. Will he meet me here in moonlight,
pull my fingers to his lips, and say my name?


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Late present

The moon brought me a gift
last night, before the
solstice rain moved in.
I left the crispness
of my northern woods
to walk the dew off grass again
with you. It’s late, the
house lights dark, the night
all midsummer lushness,
bell buoys ringing softly.
We know the way by feel
across the lawns and
down the hill to home,
but cannot pass the garden
with its flat topped walls.
We sit, shoulders touching,
stone still warm, and let our
breath find a rhythm together
after days apart. Then on
our way again, to soft
lamp light on varnished
wood, and pick up where
we were before the first
mosquito bit.
This morning I still feel
your hands, your skin on mine,
and smile, not caring.


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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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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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Down to the trees

This old house sits well below
Monadnock’s western arm,
embraced by friendly woods
above a part-time stream,
where sunrise is a straggler
with extra feet to climb.
In winter, light leaves fast.
East Hill, across the pond,
brings sunset much too soon,
but night time is a glory.
With no clouds or dimming light
the brilliant heavens send us our reward,
a rain of stars down to the trees.