Life With Horace

poetry & essays


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Outriders

There are days I see
the broad shape of earth
in the clouds
arriving ahead of wind and snow
tails feathered to a point
evaporating ether like
in ice clear sky
We can only guess
at the cold
they announce
racing battle pennants
for a promised storm
The rattle of their casting bones
driving us to shelter


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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


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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

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


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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.

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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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first morning

the world is wearing snow
and early morning tracks
curve down from thicket
to the brook
imagination wishing fox
resigned to squirrel
doves and jays arrive
the platform feeder full
it took a while to lace
warm boots with pjs tucked
then clearing step and path
of weightless white
which even now begins
to fly from coated trees
as spoil sport winds
step up their game
a dove remains
breast puffed among the seeds
they gobble down so much
but do not stay
to crack and eat
(anticipating husk heaps
deep in the woods
come thaw or spring)
a friend is coming soon
to break new trail with us
ecstatic dogs and
snowshoes joining evidence
of daybreak journeys
annotating
this first morning


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haiku for a winter saturday with notes

snowfall perfection
singular joins the many
floating from the sky

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saturdays mean one can exhale. today there are no chores or projects in an old house always in need. today will be spent with friends, mingling our joyous and foolish dogs, and gathering for a meal. there will be much laughter. the mind will stretch. a gift.


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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
made intimate by 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.

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