Life With Horace

poetry & essays


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heaven’s way

up the crumbling road
they ran, from
quiet stones,
bedrolls flapping, dodging
early morning rain of
green encrusted may,
laughing as they came, the
dash of youth
and all of life ahead.
from my window perch, I
wished me in their place
and longing, turned away,
spring too heavy
for a shredded heart leaking
messy love, right
down my shirt
and, crept around the room
certain of impending death,
a Duse to the core.
I mended,
they dried out.
we all moved on
to older lives
she left hers first
too soon, and young.
decades on I return
to lushness, grays and greens,
wet kissed, fizzing
temporary love
and wonder if her spirit
is there too,
revisiting lilac scented
nights, among the stones
on Heaven’s Way

________________________________
Heaven’s Way is a cemetery road in North Bennington, Vermont.


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intentional space

there is a place
now blank, erased
by grief and purposed
brain reset
wild pigment
bits of memory
color orts
of what had been
a heady time
inevitable yang
disguised
by yin’s rose lens
the peace I’ve earned
tells me straight
to recognize
the mis-steps
scrubbed away
yes child
snatch that pink
lensed pince-nez
from your nose
when new love appears
to see necessary truth
and only then jump
into its depths
with joy

__________________________________
sitting on my porch in early morning, bird songs on all sides.

sun turtle moonstones


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moonstones

countless shed
in rage and grief
for loss of life
and love’s escape
but know my friends
that tears
rejoin the earth
to fall again
as rain
and with these
moonstone drops
comes life renewed
a moment’s chance
to heal and wash
the stench of hate
into the sea
and pray
the only swords
we need are
gentle arcs
of green
sun turtle lines
of remnant tears
safe havens
for our memories

___________________________________
a poem for a day that always brings the echoes of a loving grief. I send these words to join those voices raised to shout aloud their sadness in the face of tragedy.


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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
never dimming coals
that light the way
and speed their journey
to another plane

death is not the end of love
merely a delimiter
once the torch is lit
the bond created
the fact of its existence
(even unremembered
in the living world)
cannot be undone
nor 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
sun 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. In memory of Lenore, whose gentle and loving spirit led me to Horrie.

[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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still

pop_ethan_sammy

what visits me today?
a lullaby in baritone
and funny bits of song,
dreadful jokes
in nuanced tones,
bearded bristle, paired
with a million kisses,
all too human shoulders
I thought and hoped
were everlasting granite,
long held friendships both
a gift and an example,
the pungent scent of cuban leaf
lit anywhere but in the house,
a feel for speed
and open road,
the skies he loved
and flew so well,
laughter, books and music
with the color, light and form
he looked at every day,
these brought him peace,
the certainty of love
from open eyes,
straight told advice,
his caring deep,
his spirit so ingrained,
that now, whenever
need is great
I conjure loving echoes
of an imperfect
perfect father,
to see me through
the dark

_______________________________
nine years ago today, my father died at 89, suddenly, but blessedly not alone, my sister was with him. his legend looms large in our lives, to quote a beatle, and I know we all miss him, need him, still and always.