Life With Horace

poetry & essays


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The mystery of my tears

When I sing, music puts its hands around my heart
My words think tears are a puddle to splash through shoeless

Color often stops my breath, and I am held its prisoner
A sudden memory might need release

Any of these call up tears, and I don’t mind.
When the signal comes they might glide to me in a waltz,

or whirl up on the skirts of a wild mazurka.
Better yet, ride in on the smoothness of an alto sax.

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 were never 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 rant
against extinction of a simpler life
or razing of an 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.


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foreglow

the old moon sliver
hangs branch framed
in white pine pins
and looking out to scout the day
I know the birds will fly in soon
to perch and wait
for signals from some
fulcrum’s tip
then swoop to take their food
but now there is no color
in the rising sky
the light shape cold
and wrong
time almost shrunk
and hope waned with it
until a shoulder glance behind
reveals a spreading rose
across the pond and to the west
a foreglow gift of elder mornings
stoking up the sky


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long shadow morning

the day starts clear
and weather sits the fence
undecided voter between
sultry and first frost
the hummingbirds have gone
and small flocks pulse
from ground to tree to air
some landing in the shelter
of my apple tree
across the road bright reds
appear to punctuate
short timer green
the usual pangs are there
as warmth and light
begin to turn away
but less robust somehow
each summer moment’s heat
soaked into bone and soul
defense against regret

_______________________________
for me seasonal change has always been about being observant, and the aggregation of small events. september has a clear, long slanting light. my favorite month.


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haiku for elizabeth with notes

gift from love’s pilgrim
my words have danced in your heart
they leap free again

_____________________________________
yesterday the Third Cousins Club met again. three cousins, Cassie, Elizabeth, and me, descended in separate lines from the same great great grandfather, knowing nothing of the others until an accidental discovery grew into a connection that has joined three family lines. Elizabeth’s sister Susan was there at the beginning with all of us, but she died this year. So Elizabeth has just made what I can only think of as a pilgrimage to the ocean places they loved together. what a brave and loving sister gift this was, saying goodbye again, ashes left to be a part of memories.


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mountain mantle

cloud blanket from the mountain top
reaches all the way down to me

gentle gray in ebbing light
enwraps the shoulders of my soul

the night and what awaits
are gone and I am hid

a shiver in response
at best cloud rain is gentle

settling on the skin
its spider weight unfelt until too late

deed done a feather light ganache of truth
glistens over every inch

just as tight shut childish eyes
imagine invisibility

this passage through no more than respite
as I emerge so does the world

______________________________________
driving home last night after a day’s most welcome rain, at the last steep open hill, most of the mountain was hidden by clouds and mist, reaching low, a thrilling sight.


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woods whispers

once home directly to the woods
downhill into the shadowed green
ecstatic dogs all tails and lopes

they move from spot to spot
datamining smells and sounds
and leave their marks

feet silent on the needle drop
my harmony almost restored
ankles softly kissed by ferns

_______________________________
a shortling to celebrate the gift of having woods to lift the day off my shoulders.

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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a haiku for midsummer heat with notes

heat blankets the skin
my bones lay it down against
the thought of winter

__________________________
the extremes of summer and winter call to each other; one recent february was so unremittingly cold that I vowed to remember it come summer, and not complain!

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.