Life With Horace

poetry & essays


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Fragment

Each time I try to find
the edge of space, searching
in the darkest part of blue,
past stars and their hangers on
orbiting a single mote of dust,
it turns out I’m that bird
expecting infinity but
finding sudden glass.

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Late present

The moon brought me a gift
last night, before the
solstice rain moved in.
I left the crispness
of my northern woods
to walk the dew off grass again
with you. It’s late, the
house lights dark, the night
all midsummer lushness,
bell buoys ringing softly.
We know the way by feel
across the lawns and
down the hill to home,
but cannot pass the garden
with its flat topped walls.
We sit, shoulders touching,
stone still warm, and let our
breath find a rhythm together
after days apart. Then on
our way again, to soft
lamp light on varnished
wood, and pick up where
we were before the first
mosquito bit.
This morning I still feel
your hands, your skin on mine,
and smile, not caring.


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And Peggy Sue

They called him Crane, not Ichabod
but the bird. I’d see him
Saturday nights at the tap room
where he won big money
throwing darts, bony fingers
on a different circuit
from the rest of him as he drank.
Never pretty in daylight — when
drunk, his angles seemed smoothed
out, almost vaselined. The dim lit
corners left the knife scar
on his neck alone, a dull flash
of on-off michelob blinking onto his baldness.
On this night college boys found the bar,
and while the rest of his townie pals
shunned the clueless preps, he
fought them at the dart board one by
one, with his dead aim, metal sinking
into cork almost soundless, like a perfect
dive knifes into chlorined blue. Always
left them broke, their egos bleeding out.
The drunker he got, the better he played,
groove sunk cheeks split by a grin.
He took them all, keening
Peggy Sue softly
between each throw.


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Seeing them off

Today they are still here,
and I am too, in late September.
My hummingbird pair. One darts in
to feed, the other perches
drinking deeply, tipping her head back
to let the nectar slide.
I feel that energy sweet and cool
down my throat.
Their absence looms, a large bell
with muffled clappers tolling
unopposed, reddening the trees,
exiling light, ushering in cold.
Lately the question, will they
visit me again, or will there be
someone else looking out my window
twelve months on?
Each year it is harder let them go,
as if there were a choice.


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The morning watch

He sits behind the screen,
the sun’s minute hand
remaps his curves in warmth.
With not much else to do
his morning’s work is
out there, living traffic
he will watch and note.
Force marched ants in
single file, small brown toads,
leaf rustles out of sight,
the swooping zizz
of dragonflies.
A hummingbird returns
to drink, then preen. This
makes him smile. Even they
must stop and rest.
The small world quiets, starts to
wait for shade, when high sun
moves away, raptors drafting
on its currents. He sees
and understands. Feeling
stiff he’s up to find another
patch of sun. A whoofing sigh,
then head on paws he sleeps.


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Flat light early

Some mornings present
themselves before my second
eye opens, no warmth,
flat light, featureless gray
untrimmed, not even stray
rain clouds.

Tight woven canvas
hangs edge to edge at
the top of the sky, and the
living world makes a new
plan, carrying on
oblivious.

My patient dogs
don’t care a fig
about the sun, arriving
bedside to present mouth-damp
slippers, and we go out
to open up the day.


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The Scarf

The eye sees silk,
pale green perhaps,
hanging loose over oiled bamboo,
and waits for a breath to set it floating.
A sail slowly calling to the skin,
conjuring a weightless cover
settling without fanfare,
suddenly warm when it rests
on breasts, or arms, or flanks,
then sparking shivers as
a hand pulls it
slowly away.


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Until then

There may still be
      wind, that has not kissed
            my face

Or light on vernal
      water, not seen through
            my lens

Or singing, that has
      yet to hum along
            my bones

Or time with friends, dancing
      in green waves, sand on
            my feet

Or words to share, flowing
      from the mouth of
            my heart

But, there was always love, with
      you, so if I skip the rest
            to waltz out in your arms,

It will be enough to
      know these gifts waited
            with me, just in case.

_____________________________________________
a birthday poem for Mike

Damselfly wings


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reconciliation

I still wear
it on my skin,
remembering
touch, intensely green
as if emeralds had visited.
every nerve end bathed in
the musk of an old perfume,
a hand there, and there,
the shape of his head
bent down to me, walls
all twilight, music
tracing curves, the beat
of time slowed
to gray, wanting it
endless


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Sans Bliss

We were long split atoms
even then, the possibility
of us had ricocheted,
echoes of competing thoughts
a white sound mask.
Inexperienced, I flung
my satin stole of certainty
over each shoulder. Wrong headed,
ignorant of the deeper
dance of lust and love,
that shook its head
and left to visit other
lives. Tantalizing milkweed
silk, a fluted thrush note
fading, every time I would
have ventured back.

____________________________
for S