Life With Horace

poetry & essays


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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


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

sunset in a small town


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passing through town to home

the day has changed from bright
to scrims of clouds washed sky blue pink
backdrop to summer quiet playing fields

further south a sidelong glance
at underbelly clouds thick swathed peach red
flying over marshes at the river curve

in town the day is winding down
cars and people move intent on fuel
and food and rest for it’s been hot

and by the time the single light releases me
to turn due west deep pink to purple blasts
are shouting over pines and spires

I steal a look into our cafe’s glow
observe last patient walks for dogs
church supper signs and flags

the colors quickly leach away
though day’s end light remains enough
to cover hilly rattle roads

then rollercoasting mountain arms
a final sling to home beside the pond
in time to greet a rising moon

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even though going through town takes longer, I love to observe and watch along the way. the other night the stages of what proved to be a spectacular sunset were a marvelous backdrop to my small country town in the middle of summer.


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Snow Terrarium

I stand quite still, snared by
unaccustomed silence
backlit in a pool of warmth
and kitchen candle light
looking out at darkness
intimate in thick falling snow
soundproofing all that lies
beyond its edge
Until a car appears
creeping down the mountain arm
headlights poking through
lace curtain flakes
wheels soundless on the road
deeply masked by white
A traveler almost surely blind
determination understood
and much admired by me
We share this moment
and our quiet space
until my door is shut again
and he has passed us by

______________________________________
The world is well lost and soundless when it snows here. Like an infant’s view of life our boundaries shrink for a bit.


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moonset

the still bright reach
of setting moon on snow
slender plum tree shadows
reaching from the west,
coyote yips and calls
caroming off the mountain
through black ice
ribbon wrapped woods,
snaking through
my open window arrow slit,
rousing the defenders
of this sleeping winter bastion
to make their voices heard
our pennant flown in answer

________________________________
nothing gets dogs up from sleep to full on barks faster than the coyote pack at night.


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Waiting for the hunter

Many days since I have seen a moon
both night and dawn obscured by cloud or rain.
Days of leached out richness
lacking diamond clustered white,
creep fingered winter reaching out
to shackle and restrain my thoughts
till sun regains the upper hand,
tossing me the keys that come with
fledgling green and tender smells of earth
(around an oxbow bend of time and out of sight).
Tonight we have thick, clotted blots of snow,
flake armies blanketing the world, scouting
morning’s aftermath of shapes standing bright
against fresh blue. A constant roar
of moving trees, teeth of the north wind auto harp.
Deep ink heaven once again blown clean,
Diana’s slivered waxing moon
emcees emerging stars, until he comes.
A reaching leap of arms and sword and strength,
his belt the perfect anchor for my eyes,
standing watch, protector of the frozen skies.

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I look for Orion each winter, knowing he stands watch over our frozen nights.


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stardust

last night I knew a dream
within a dream
waking from the first
yet still asleep to see
familiar pinpoint
allegory road signs
faces that I knew so well
this time we were adrift together
on a sea not visited awake
then turning, sinking back to lethe
as tingle echoes ricocheted away
and woke to see a brilliant slash
of sunrise pink behind the spiky pines
that dimmed so fast to flattened gray
my only capture yet again
was memory

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a shortling linking the fleeting vividness of my dreams last night to the transient brilliance of sunrise on waking. for Jane, who said goodbye to her beloved Alan this week, and for Candy.