Life With Horace

poetry & essays


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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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And Peggy Sue

They called him Crane, not Ichabod but the bird. I’d see him Saturday nights at the tap room where he won big money throwing darts, bony fingers on a different circuit from the rest of him when as he drank. Never pretty in daylight — when drunk, his angles seemed smoothed out, almost movie vaselined. The dim lit corners left the knife scar on his neck alone, a dull flash of on-off michelob blinking onto his baldness. Once, college boys found the bar, and while the rest of his townie pals shunned the clueless preps, he fought them at the dart board one by one with his dead aim, metal sinking into cork almost soundless, like a perfect dive knifes into chlorined blue. Always left them broke, their egos bleeding out. The drunker he got, the better he played, groove sunk cheeks split by a grin. He took them all, keening Peggy Sue softly between each throw.


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Seeing them off

Today they are still here,
and I am too, in late September.
My hummingbird pair. One darts in
to feed, the other perches
drinking deeply, tipping her head back
to let the nectar slide.
I feel that energy sweet and cool
down my throat.
Their absence looms, a large bell
with muffled clappers tolling
unopposed, reddening the trees,
exiling light, ushering in cold.
Lately the question, will they
visit me again, or will there be
someone else looking out my window
twelve months on?
Each year it is harder let them go,
as if there were a choice.


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The morning watch

He sits behind the screen,
the sun’s minute hand
remaps his curves in warmth.
With not much else to do
his morning’s work is
out there, living traffic
he will watch and note.
Force marched ants in
single file, small brown toads,
leaf rustles out of sight,
the swooping zizz
of dragonflies.
A hummingbird returns
to drink, then preen. This
makes him smile. Even they
must stop and rest.
The small world quiets, starts to
wait for shade, when high sun
moves away, raptors drafting
on its currents. He sees
and understands. Feeling
stiff he’s up to find another
patch of sun. A whoofing sigh,
then head on paws he sleeps.


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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.


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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.

_____________________________________________
a birthday poem for Mike

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,
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