Life With Horace

poetry & essays


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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


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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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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
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.