Ghost Ranch Poems




The Farway Nearby

The farway nearby—
Can you see it?
Will it line itself
against the sky
or softly blend,
so you can barely make it out
at twilight.
You need to find it,
break free from what
hoods your vision,
makes you afraid to look,
so the image can glow its truth
before your eyes.

The faraway
can gild the moment
with your nearest dreams,
show what lasts,
what changes with the light,
what gives forever,
always waiting,
the power in the bud,
strength of limbs
that dance
so gracefully
in the wind.

For Georgia

Lines map your face,
and eyes like blue stars
set my compass
to your north,
pull me,
as you follow coyote
to trick him,
make your own image
his mirror.

You fill my world with color,
shape it,
scrubbed clean
in your own truth,
show me courage,
steady, certain,
lodestone of my own desire
to show how light and shadow fall
across my world,
according to my dreams.
Listen! Coyote howls a lonely song,
yet looks for me
in his own night sky.


John Leongard, 1966

From the Labyrinth

We begin at dawn,
so cold and dark,
the sun won’t rise
where we can see.
We pace the labyrinth
round and round,
seeking pattern,
a way in,
or out,
with only each other,
to help us light our image.

We end in sunlight,
linked, a circle,
feeling in each single touch
the warmth of every hand,
helping each other
to hold a dream,
or face a fear
of not being good enough
or strong enough
or honest enough
to join that circle.
And somehow all the shadows,
the lines that lead nowhere,
disappear like melting snow
and our hands simply hold,
and our circle holds,
and there is no need
to find a pathway out,
for everything we need
is simply there,
in each and every heart.



I don’t know what time the sun rose,
just ran to watch
color stroke the first far hills,
then glide across the mountains with the birds,
touching peaks, one by one,
even the flat one, darkest of all,
filling deepest shadows in the cliffs,
warming my chilled heart,
then flow across the meadows like melting snow,
while clouds fill with light,
lift to float in deepest blue,
and the ghost trees
wrapped in soft gray feathers
begin to glow,
and coyote sings his dawn song
while I turn all around on my high hill,
see sunrise rim me round with gold,
watch the world wake
to the promise
of a new day.



Kate on her Toes

At 40, the artist
steps out
from continuous tones,
from studio frame’s
two dimension imaging,
and goes up on her toes.
Eyes shoot sparks,
as her hair,
unbound, catches light,
and fiery filaments
arc through darkest space,
find our hearts, unerring,
grow tendrils there that tug,
wake that inner spirit
wrapped in her own dark thoughts,
unspoken dreams.
Through 40 days and 40 nights
we journey,
cross a desert of loneliness,
dry, dusty,
chilled by sudden hail,
as she draws a path, chiaroscuro,
weaving hair into strongest rope
so we do not fall.
We hold her
till we learn to trust
our camera eyes,
glimpse trees rooted in dry streams,
then watch those gray ghosts
green with new buds,
promising spring
and summer fruits,
shelter for soaring birds.
Then Kate can smile,
plait her hair smooth once again,
wind it round to nest her face,
frame herself,
close her eyes to see her own secrets,
wrapped warmly in enchanting dreams,
heels tucked in,
feather ready.

back to Companions

Ghost tree

Dark limbs
dance in the morning,
till sun silvers,
yet soft like feathers.
Tree on the wing
between winter’s sleep
and spring’s awakening
draws from dry stream beds
and winter snows
the strength to bud
and leaf,
tingling too in my blood
as I watch
through tears
for stars to light my dreams.


Where the shadow falls

Where the shadow falls
can tell you where to look for light.
Those cracks and crevices
would stay black
without light to show the way
gild curves you’d never see
had dark not shown their edges.

Study your light
to learn your shadows,
make them part of what you see,
those shades of darkness,
because shadows only hurt you
when you close your eyes.

photograph by Edward Weston


Sex Appeal

Men are around
but women are there,
seeing you with open eyes,
reaching out with laughter
to touch the place
that hurts too much,
and smile,
offer something good to eat,
share a funny story,
remind you to look
for the dew on the flower
or the sunrise
just beyond the trees.


Woman as Viola

Where have you put your arms?
your legs?
How do you run?
make music with your hands?
Listen to birds,
and sing your own true song?
What do you protect,
bent over like that?
What do you hide?
Why have you surrendered
arms and legs and head
to be an instrument,
in someone’s serenade,
sequencing a score you cannot
see or hear?
It’s not to late
to clothe yourself in mountain gear,
hiking boots and feathers,
head out for distant trails,
ascend to peaks
beyond those sharps
grown flat and monotone.
Grow wings and fly!
Instrument no more,
conduct yourself
in symphonies
cadenced to your own unfolding


Edward Weston



Unspoken wishes,
Silent dreams

How easy to wish for new red boots,
a black pony with a white star,
(or even for the moon
which you know you can’t have anyway).
How hard to voice those wishes
that shape themselves wordless,
desires pulling from the heart
towards the sky,
yearning to unfurl in sunlight
yet locked in darkness.

Hope can make a single point of light
to cast an image,
focusing that silent dream.
You pay a price, though,
in forming words
more safely left unspoken,
so they tremble on your lips,
with tears that fall in silence.

How can you ask for freedom,
or to walk hand in hand
with one you love,
or the simple joy
of looking outward
without fear of shadow

Unspoken dreams
can harden tears to salt,
make you motionless,
like Lot’s wife,
who took that one impulsive glance
at what lay behind her,
Looking may free you, perhaps,
just enough to speak
a single word,
enough to feel your flesh
become that word,
miraculously whole.
The first word
is simply first,
after all.



I love plenty
so much more than less,
that generous expanse
lifting outwards,
wheels of petals,
new green leaves.
So much better than
closing down,
pulling inward,
inside the husk of things.

So off with skins
and belts and too tight shells!
Grow new cells,
arms and legs and hands.
If you must be fish,
then be a starfish,
swim through galaxies
of glittering foam;
if bird, then fly
beyond the tallest tree
and mountain nest;
if star,
spin off to distant constellations,
farthest milky ways.

Even if housebound,
clean your closets,
make new rooms
to decorate with magic stones
feathers from your journeys
through the open windows of your heart.

photograph by Edward Weston


The Photographic Nude

The hardest part of going naked
is putting on your clothes.
It’s easier to take them off,
surprised at what you see.
Layer by layer,
you peel yourself,
from first one angle,
then another,
seeing how light
shadows curves,
silvers edges,
deepens lines of emphasis,
shows what makes you rounded
or flat,
what highlights your darkness
or shimmers in your hair,
touching where you are strong
and where your wounds,
still healing,
scissor scars across your web of memories.

And those unexpected shapes and colors!
where highlights dance
and sparkle in your hands
as you reach to touch yourself in wonder,
and you see your image,
if only for a moment,
completely whole.

Then feeling a chill in the air
that hints of winter,
and what’s outside the window,
you clothe yourself again,
layer by layer,
knowing you must protect against the wind,
shelter spirit,
keep heart warm,
but feel the bra chafe already
and the pants close too tightly
and you’re afraid
the shirt may be too warm by noon,
and somehow your clothes feel damp
and your image blurs in the mirror,
as you look one long last time
around the room,
then close the door softly,
carefully, behind you,
to remember the click
as the lock turns
once more.



Do you see it there,
that dark place,
ruining your pleasant print?

You want shades of gray
with delicate detail,
glowing highlights,
certainly not that hole
into inky blackness.
So you decide to print again,
dodge that dark place
with your hand,
moving quickly, artfully,
to limit light that falls,
and so hold back the blackness
that spreads across your image,
show instead those details
you know are there,
too long ignored.

But your new print
There is no brilliant revelation.
The dark space
seems simply grayed out
muted to inconsequence,
and you see that faint line,
a tell-tale sign
of moving hand’s
deliberate concealment.

Some dark places
are really dark,
you know,
and what’s in them
can’t be dodged
after all.


No … Yes

And what did the Yes
say to the No?
“I’m tired of your endless circling
around that O,
that hole,
cave tunneling into infinite
Nothing there,
just stale breath,
an empty corridor.
Listen to me!
When you way‘Yes!’
excitement animates
this single syllable surging
with desire
to show yourself so beautiful
as you simply are.
Sound your own notes,
sing a song of all you long to discover!
When you say ‘Yes!’
you open to the world
with sibilant anticipation,
sanguine about yesterday’s sorrows,
shining with stars of tomorrow,
sensation in every pore
as your skin opens
to embrace the sun.

You can just say ‘no’
to no—
Power yourself with
love, all the love you deserve
by being the miracle of you,
to say ‘Yes!’
in all colors!


Taking Off from Ghost Ranch

You see it suddenly,
ahead of you,
that runway,
and know you have desire
and strength
and speed to use it,
hoping for clear light,
favorable winds,
and sunrise just ahead.
You have all you need—
lenses, film,
neutral density controls
to choose your depth of field
in any light conditions—
so you can see
clearly to the far horizon,
and also what is nearest to
your heart.

You travel light,
prepared for any weather,
your black rock
like Georgia’s
where you can roll it
in your pocket,
your watch set to
Ghost Ranch Time
no matter what zone
you may find yourself in,
and your companions
there beside you
as you site yourself,
take aim for your spot
in the sky.


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All poems and photographs (unless otherwise attributed) © LENORE W. HOROWITZ, 2002 and may not be reproduced in any way without permission.