Life With Horace

poetry & essays


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Non pareil

The kitchen basket is almost empty
a single red tomato moated with sunlight 
waits for my touch 
Time is short, blooms of mold 
will soon claim it and I don’t want to lose
this object of my tongue’s lust
Perfectly ripe, its sleek skin 
hints at a tantalizing split 
ignored for now
and I dismiss the temptation
to ravish without finesse
preferring the small pleasures
of anticipation
Slices fanned onto a blue moroccan plate
dressed in a squeeze of lemon, green olive oil
and basil slivers
become lunchtime’s non pareil
Each piece a grapeshot burst against my lips
already parted in pleasure


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Among giants

At night the woods world
rises up in vast formation
as the dogs and I
walk among giants
in the cool cocoon
of my headlamp
They are eager
oblivious of our escorts
seeing with their noses
unaware that we are not alone
Sunless, the axis of this space
has tilted on its side
there are no open reaches
to the mountain base
well known trees or brook cuts
calling birds or fresh snow
yielding fox tracks
The quiet that blankets
sight and thought
is only in my head
this place is never voiceless
even in deep winter
I follow in the wake
of wagging tails
and steaming breath
breaking trail into the dark


___________________________________
Originally published in Dancer in the Mist, 2015
Revised 12/2020


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Connection

In song, music puts its hands around my heart and my words think tears are a puddle to splash through, shoeless. Color often stops my breath, and I am its willing prisoner. A sudden memory coming on fast might need release. Any of these call up joy or tears, and it is all wonderful. To me.  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.

 

 


Audio:
Read by the author.

 


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Flat light early

Some mornings present themselves
before my second eye opens,
no warmth, flat light,
featureless gray untrimmed.
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,
watered green perhaps,
hanging loose over
oiled bamboo, and waits
for a breath to set it floating.
A sail slowly calling to the skin,
conjuring weightless cover
settling without fanfare,
suddenly warm when it rests
on cheek, or arms, or flanks,
then sparking shivers as
a hand pulls it slowly away.

Damselfly wings


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Reconciliation

I still wear it on my skin,
to conjure touch, intensely green
as if emeralds had visited,
every nerve end bathed in
the musk of an old perfume.
A hand there, and there,
thoughts bent down to mine.
Walls all twilight, music
tracing curves, the beat
of time slowed to gray,
and wanting it endless.


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Sans Bliss

We were long split atoms
even then the possibility of us
had ricocheted into echoes
competing thoughts composted
into a white sound mask.
Inexperienced, I flung my satin stole
of certainty over each shoulder
and stormed away, convinced
I was right, but too young
and wrong headed, ignorant of
the deeper dance of lust and love
that finally shook its head
and left to visit other lives
Leaving behind memories of touch
by tantalizing milkweed silk
of hearing 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.