Life With Horace

poetry & essays


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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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morning gifts

this morning, safe here
in a house in sight of woods
that are my paradise, enriched
by nature, friendship
and by song,
I fly the carpet
of the past to places
rent apart by fear and hate,
cities come full circle,
back to the boil,
remembering too many
older furies,
scars of fire and rage,
spurred on by tragic news
that opened wide
the throat of anger,
again. and yet again.

is there a morning gift
to move a child,
in that beleaguered place
to see beyond, to hope?
perhaps a bud about to burst
rather than shattered glass,
a snatch of song
instead of shouts,
the momentary joy of play,
a quiet hug and loving words?
oh how I wish it were
a simple thing to banish hate
this way, and seed our future
with small scatter shots
of peace


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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.

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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clear sailing

there is no more fog
and I am soaring
through these brilliant stars
above an open sea,
memory reclaimed at last.
even as I leave you,
going on alone for now,
winglike glowing tendrils
wrap me in their light
and warmth, strands
of our shared time
that can never break.

there will always be
a part of me alive,
held in your
hearts, or seen
among the trees
joy fanned by wagging dogs,
an artist’s brush,
the feel of things well built,
soil deep tilled,
good stories told,
the pop of corks,
sure handed trimming
of a wind filled sail,
upright honor, honesty,
deep rooted, long felt love.

even as the world around me
faded for a time,
and I seemed lost,
a quiet spark lived
in my soul, fanned
by the breath of love,
my anchor in this final storm,
and in its light
I knew you all.

___________________________________
for William Eastman Janes, a cherished friend who set sail and left us this morning. crabtown won’t be the same without you Bill. vaya con dios.


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Love held close

We carry with us
an unwilling certainty
that animals we love
will leave before we do,
taking with them
pieces of our hearts,
undimming coals
that light the way
and speed their journey
to another plane.

Death is not the
end of love,
merely a delimiter
once its torch is lit.
The bond created,
its existence
even unremembered
in the living world,
cannot be undone
or the joy obliterated.
Its ripples reach us all.

So while these
cherished creatures
live among us,
love is best held close,
celebrated clear eyed
and without regret
even as we know
its glow will one day
be reflected
in the sky at sunset,
a glint on dancing waves,
or from the flash
of deep night stars.

_______________________________________
The loss of an animal can bring us to our knees, because they often need us to make the choice to let them go. What remains to comfort us is the memory, the spirit of love.

[the photo was taken at Black Dog Farm, Thanksgiving 1994. As you might imagine, to get all those dear Lab faces so perfectly lined up, food was involved, off camera. Sammy, my heart dog and protector, now long gone, sat 3rd from the left.]


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the lover

brown eyes that relegated
those of graceland’s
long-gone king
to minor status,
a dedicated would-be ladies man,
busking for apples
and caresses on his velvet nose,
infinitely curious,
sidling up to eager hands
and hearts to give
as well as take

his middle life
was night to this
bright day,
his courage fabled now.
what does it take
to walk a path
of pain and fear
right to the brink,
yet rally when all hope
seems gone,
a chance at life
remembered only
in a dream?
great will and vital spirit,
embers fanned by voices
of his sudden liberation,
then simply choosing life.

a miracle of parts,
his resurrection,
measured by small steps,
great victories for him
and for the people
working to reclaim
his life in full.
despite his none
too patient jennys,
and indifferent sheep,
once healed he stood his ground,
they were his charges,
as was any child
that came within his reach,
a solid presence for small bodies,
lovingly benign,
an echo of his youth.

his friendship won
was golden,
taking morning kisses,
braying out his siren call.
sometimes fierce,
he never claimed perfection,
nor did we expect it,
and he led us gently
to communion with his world,
departing when he knew
his work was done,
at rest now on the pasture slope
near his beloved tree,
and we will visit,
bringing love

__________________________________
for Simon, who died yesterday, january 3, 2015. and for Jon and Maria who shared him with us.

the dogs on the ferny path 9-17-14


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the presence of gifts

my list is long today
and gratitude a living thing,
with thanks this morning
I begin again,
and marvel at the magic of
this year so richly lived.
strong arms of love
encircling the night,
to hold my spirit close and safe.
the gift of children,
essence of my soul alive
in generations made from love.
sisters, brothers, cousins
now become the elders
drawing closer, wisdom’s harvest.
friends of many years
and those more newly met
all precious links
to memory and heart

a time of growth,
and unexpected joy
tapped from an unseen well,
welcome, cherished, fed
by wonder, Open eyes,
encouragement and friendship,
kindred links though loose,
their potency holds true.
connection with
things seen and not,
humbled by belief at last,
feeling nature’s voice
run through my blood,
trying for acceptance
of the path I follow,
learning from the way behind,
with kinder eyes
and gentler thought
for my mis-steps.
facing out to grasp
with ready hands
this miracle
that is my life

__________________________
birthdays have always held magic for me. today is no exception. while not a lover of new year’s resolutions, I do believe in taking stock and giving thanks.

my daughter with Eddie


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lioness still

you think you know,
beforehand,
what you will feel,
but no it is impossible
the first time,
even with a child
you carry, part of you.
the fierce love comes
in waves of tenderness
letting down like milk
and never stops.
with each new step
from stone to anchored stone
across life’s flow,
strength to strength, joy to joy,
my heart follows, watching,
knowing only pride
as she runs on, lioness also,
my firstborn

____________________________________
for my daughter, on her birthday

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

A swamp lobelia?


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the dowser

he worked, still unaware
there was a gift
beyond his certain talents
waiting for a moment’s spark
to see and use.
then reaching out in love
still cloaked by friendship,
recognizing shuttered light
so long denied, abandoned,
the door was opened
to a warm, lit space
free of expectation or of limit,
safe haven for them both
although not recognized
at first, that’s what it was.
she was reborn before his eyes,
her art and life renewed,
and seeing, knew
this was no random thing,
a path for him to follow, work to do.
he was and is a dowser,
spirit drawing spirit
from the clutches of oblivion.

_______________________________________
posting in her blog, Maria Wulf described her life and thoughts before she found her art again. A year ago her husband Jon Katz formed an online community to foster the creative spirit in people willing to open up to new possibilities. Fortunate to be a member of this wonderful group, I’ve been thinking about the road we have traveled together, and how far we all have come. For Jon and Maria.