Life With Horace

poetry & essays


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sideways view

I can see you, all of you
from where I sit
a few thousand miles
up or out, take your pick
your lives are match flares
as we pass away from light
small bursts of color
flaming out, why green
or red or blue tonight?
my whims connect the dots
entertaining tales that may be
lies or just bad guesses
we know you watch us, singing
songs and writing maudlin verse
to our cold rocks and shifting shape
light breathed in and out to wax and wane
you could not know that we are joined
silly schizoid world, for you
it’s either his billboard smile
oddly neutered, hardly male
or country place of, me
who lives to hunt, a
woman with a wicked bow
one would never see us as
a pair much less coupled by
love up on our pockmarked
fluorescent lighted sphere
sling shot surfing
to the beat of star pulsed
fragments of forgotten gravities
we have a running bet to see
which way you leap as
we sail by silvering the clouds
our tote board running neck and neck
for half a million years

_______________________________
Doug Anderson’s weekly writing workshop has us all digging deep, and laughing a lot. the prompt: a myth from other lips.


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truth bag

being somewhat deafer now
imagined sounds dodge out of sight
bird noises, then coyote yips
creatures speaking to the moon
beavers stripping bark
soft words at night
wood thrushes as the day begins to fade
those I care about and want to hear again
a ways away, surrounding me
ear uncupped, not straining
that would be a marvel, singular gift
tears come just imagining

there is sometimes respite, when
the steeply rising road
is muffled deep in snow
no one singing in my trees
and outside silence is complete
ears freed up to hear what’s close
damned mouse scratchings in the wall
dogs nesting into warmth
wood timbers easing into sleep
unfrenzied thoughts
words emerging into verse
I call a truce until it stops
and plows cut through to rescue, me
ungrateful for release

none of this is worth a moment’s pain
but silence in the face of
evil, senseless, stupid acts
everyone can see and hear
(the instant truth of emperor sans clothes)
becomes a drawn out screaming wail
that grabs me by the nape
and shakes things loose
my voice plinking rage
words landing on the floor
about to skitter off, afraid
I snatch them up
so many jacks without a ball
and throw them in my truth bag
to pull out at will, tamed
for my answer

______________________________________
a prompt from last night’s writing group with Doug Anderson: silence


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heaven’s way

up from quiet stones they ran
bedrolls flapping
dodging early morning rain
from green encrusted may
I knew them both
but not together until then
bright head and dark
laughing as they came
the dash of youth
and all of life ahead

from my window perch I wished them well
wished me in their place, and longing
turned away from fecund spring
too heavy for my shredded heart
leaking messy love
right down my shirt
I crept around the room
certain of impending death
(a Duse to the core)
of course I mended, they dried out

we all moved on to other lives
she left hers first, too soon and young
decades on my mind replays
those grays and greens
wet kissed fizzing temporary love
and wonder if her spirit
comes there too
revisiting a lilac scented
night among the stones
on Heaven’s Way

________________________________
for gus, and joyce. Heaven’s Way is a cemetery road in Vermont.


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not quite endings

the music stopped, shimmering
in dust beamed space
our voices stilled
waiting for the flood of response
I fall into the silence
all energy given away
to singing’s singular joy

what I thought was love
ok it was, no holding back
died, stabbed and poked
to rubble not worth picking through
a lucky escape it turns out
in time to save my heart
and savor all that’s left

a long goodbye jumps the queue
to sudden extinction
love lives on the mountain
ashes soaking into moss
his spirit coming back
to say that 40 years were
worth it all in all
and how are things?

the chatter quieted thank god
and in its place
a single sound takes shape
one note clearly formed on endless breath
much to my delight I find
it comes from me
I had been singing all along
and never knew

_________________________________
a prompt from tonight’s writing group with Doug Anderson: endings

pond below the mountain


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a haiku for place with notes

up the dipping road
mountain arm is bear’s shoulder
my home lies below

______________________________________
multiple joys of September, cloud fingers dip into mountain creases, swamp maples step forward, my pine flags flying, one more trip around the sun complete


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intentional space

there is a place in what
can only be my heart
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

all well and good
the peace I’ve earned
is telling me
to recognize the
mis-steps scrubbed away

yes child snatch that
pink lensed pince-nez
from your nose
when new love appears
to see its necessary truth

then jump informed into its depths
with joy

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


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stepping onto grass

a sip of camomile to soften nerves
as though a quiet moment on the porch
observing fire flies punctuate the trees
could travel through cloud rain
to touch a friend
like me a score or so ago
now waiting for the sun
to shiver start the day
mind’s eye reaching for
the girl child of my heart
lace tokening her gaze
unruly brother brought to sudden tears
on catching sight
of unanticipated beauty
tethered by her father’s arm
last moments as the impish girl
who stood upon his feet to waltz
then stepping sure on sea scent grass
to speak her promises
and dance love wrapped
as woman, on her way

________________________________
twenty three years on, that lovely day still resonates, the union it produced a loving one. for Lisa.

BH in the field


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elegy

and with his end
all lifeline letters stopped
akin to clocks
hushed at a death
leaving smothered laughter
or kind words
confetti-chopped
to ricochet at will

those daily orts
grown into thoughts
inked heiroglyphs sardined
with scattered
pencil nonpareils
bright chrome yellow sheets
they will come no more

he lived for wordy news
recounted histories
rich mirrors of our minds
but people hanging
on a vapid phone
not tolerated much
beyond a minute any day

in all of this
we saw and felt
the gifts his writing brought
quiet kindness
in our grasp connection
palatable family glue
admonishments
or clapping hands

he never did hold back
bursts of excited rant
against extinction
of a simpler life
or older barn
sunblot politic dizziness
or inept modernity

today we hold those pages
fiercely knowing he is gone
and reread again
to briefly feel his warmth
born of quiet brilliance
a rich legacy
of love disguised

__________________________
Day 3. the prompt was to write an elegy, and a particular facet of the person or thing mourned.

one (recipe) for a good boy


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one for a good boy

holding in the arms test
he found them a place for stillness
I felt his trust and knew everything

journey tolerance test
he had little for road rumblings howling all the way
I laughed at his protests and sang with him

introduction to the first dog test
she terrified him huge and dark
I smiled this would pass remembering others

favorite places test
he took her shoulderings still followed bravely
I pulled him from the squelching mud more mindful after

contemplation test
he sat by her and learned to watch the world
I heard my heart swell seeing this

first misadventure test
he thought all ice trustworthy
I stood thigh deep in frozen marsh to pull him out

listening test
he found joy in learning many things
I spoke softly so that he might hear

finding his work test
he decided it was me with slippers
I accepted his gift dancing

____________________________
Day 2 prompt was a recipe. this was a tough one to get going. it would not share itself with me yesterday. once I stepped back, like a contrary child it bounded into my brain.


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meringue

crunch under
my steps
over ersatz
spread snow
replenish
the feeder
cast seed
for the crew
doves hogging
the bounty
let others
go hang
this fool’s day
with icing
starts off
with a bang

_________________________
NaPoWriMo 2017 day 1! We’re off to the races, rabbit rabbit rabbit. This was a fun prompt since I’m not much for rhyme, but it always comes (slowly) if given some time.


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for the taking

perhaps the stars
hold memories
diamond pinholes
punched in winter black
life stretched
across infinity
expanding overhead
even as my focus
might be squeezing in
and only looking back
a tempting counterweight
to shrinking time
well nuts to that
I’ll take the milky way
with thanks
refusing blinkered days
or thoughts
and will not shut
all possibility away
this heart and soul
are slated to remain
open for business
indefinitely


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longing for blue

longing for blue for the swell of waves at noon wind changing
light flaking on their crests

lunch on a glass table on hot flagstones flesh still warming
we rode ice sharp water round the whirlpool’s seaweed walls

wine in the blood languid tune in my bones we sit shoulders touching
shaded corners of a sea green room calling