"David D. Horowitz is a poet of form, introspection and detail, evidenced by the skillful hand with which he crafts the poems in Cathedral and Highrise." Karen Finneyfrock
"Horowitz has a gift for rhyming iambic lines and entertaining rhymes, supported by a vast array of concrete diction." Rick Clark
Hand separates to fingers, fringe, And forearm leads to elbow's hinge. There's beefy bicep bulging strength And shoulders sloping into length. My hand: a tool to help me reach, Snare, tie, connect, release, free, read, Compose. My fingers fringe my hand And join yours, bridging island, land.
FRIDAY EVENING'S FIFTY STORIES
The stapler's whapped its final document In this fluorescent week. No conference calls Till buzzing Monday. Drop a chocolate mint In mug of decaf blend, and stir. The walls Remain as beige as patience. Exit signs Burn emerald stencil through the shadowed halls As fifty stories down a siren whines Some faint emergency, and tension falls From tired heart. Oh, what a week - a waltz Across a minefield, stroll through shooting range. The scarlet rose I bought last Monday wilts, But twilight - opal after Thursday's rains.
Bay-crossing ferry disappears behind the cove As scarlet-salmon twilight darkens into mauve. Horizon opal glows through, blends with cedar grove As still and silent as maroon-black peak Below that wispy saffron cirrus streak. Now, tired can feel good. I risked, I learned, I strove.
WATER OF THE TIGRIS
A bomb in Baghdad booms, then flames and chars Apartment fronts and blocks of dented cars, Explodes wood crates of dates and figs, clay olive jars, And silver trays of market's baklawa and burek. Black smoke still smolders from an ancient Buick. A face-down corpse still clutches loaf of bread. The muddy Tigris flows a drop more red. Near mosque a mother weeps at wall, at stars.
Oak planks extend from walls. On floor, eight hampers With door and air holes service feline campers Curled up inside on checkered flannel pads. Cats snooze as lamplit traffic cruises past The plate-glass windows guarding them. Twilight - Half-Tabby - licks her forepaws clean. Stylite - Half-Persian, mellow as a meatloaf - rests With paws and tail tucked under, purrs and nests. Augustine, Swami, Sprint munch tuna, lap Fresh water, stretch a bit and start to nap As Twilight calms her grooming, meditates On traffic, lamplight, moon, and gutter grates. I pass the windows, grin, not tapping glass, Admiring their quietude; the gloss Of creamy, sable, cloudy fur; suave cool. Their room's penumbra glints a golden jewel For every open eye, and Twilight sniffs the night For danger, finding none. I breathe, stare, not Budging. For here's contentment, peace, and calm, As much as could be heard in any psalm. Tomorrow they might yowl and scamper, Dispute two inches in a hamper: Who knows? But now, no whimper. Calm pervades My blood. Their silence slows me. Night provides These cats' example. Yes, I'd rather nestle Into a comfy bed tonight than wrestle With more detail. I'd rather purr than hiss. I'll sharpen claws tomorrow. Now I'll kiss And hug, connect and meditate in silence And leave the world its haste and violence.
Copyright © 2015 by David D. Horowitz
"In Strength & Sympathy, Horowitz offers incisive essays and epigrams
that take us from proper pronouns to considerate theology." Miceal Vaughan
When I was eighteen I lived in a small wooden house on Greenwood Avenue North in Seattle. From the porch of this house, atop one of the city's steepest ascents, I could absorb some of the most spectacular sunsets in the urban United States. I was awed by their vivid beauty. I was unable, though, to convey that awe through language. The only words I could use to depict such spectacular spectral displays were "red," "orange," and "pink."
One evening, staring at the dusk horizon from a little vantage point half a block from our home, I felt particularly moved by the sunset beauty before me. The glowing pastel panorama silenced me to gratitude. Several minutes of reverie flowed through me, nebulous impressions forming new words in my mind: "red-orange," "pink-orange," "reddish-pink." No, I thought; they failed to convey the subtlety of the horizon's beauty. I grew semantically daring: "violet-pink-red," "pink-violet-red," "reddish-orange glow." Still, my heart had lost its peace. Delighted but frustrated, my mind felt its walls of thought for a crack in the mystery: "pink-reddish-purple glow," "blue-violet-reddish glow.... "
Suddenly I stopped, thunderstruck.
Salmon! It's salmon! my mind yelled. The Seattle sunset is salmon!
I dashed back to my house to tell my mother of my discovery and to record it in the platitude-filled notebook journal I had been keeping for about a year. Salmon! There all along! And so evocative, distinctive, and fitting a word to describe a Pacific Northwest sunset!
Since that evening I have delighted in discovering a beautiful, fitting word or phrase, a bit of perfection in a world of pain. My motives for writing verse vary: part egotism, part generosity and sharing, part disinterested discovery, part mystery. Always, though, verse curses and rewards, hurts and heals, deepens and stretches me. It leads me; I lead it. I converse with its loud silences in and all around me; I stay silent for hours trying to hear what they whisper. Some people consider me a failure because I do not look productive. Though productive, I remain patient and help my poems emerge from a sincere core. Their emergence vindicates me but I simply try to stay reverent enough, sensible enough to hear those whispers. Beauty and ethics echo through them. Hearing them, translating them has enriched me more than any other earthly treasure has.
Here is a sample of the book's approximately three hundred original epigrams:
It is better to repeat a truth than to originate a lie.
Clear expression need not imply simplistic views.
Dogma congratulates itself as commitment.
Truths are harder to find than answers.
Be true to yourself: you'll need to trust somebody in this world.
Naivete implies trust; optimism implies hope.
Love of truth precedes true love.
Right and Wrong precede Right and Left.
First they were afraid to say it; then they were afraid to think it.
Those who cannot level with themselves will try to level those who can.
Don't use another's hypocrisy to justify your own.
The tiger and the zebra are both striped, but that does not make them friends.
Ethnic restaurants do more for international diplomacy than the finest speeches do.
Health: balance inspired by purpose.
Religious phoniness is more sinful than apostasy.
I do not need something to despise to have something to assert.
Principle opposes falsity; dogma opposes doubt.
Thank a teacher for a just, not necessarily an easy, exam.
To one who complained of having to take too many notes in a class: better a dull pencil than a dull teacher.
Sad songs can lighten and happy songs depress.
Copyright © 1996 by David D. Horowitz
"An excellent new book-authentic 'words ... to cleanse even the sharpest wounds.' Best in trios of quatrains." Carol Robertshaw
"[Horowitz] celebrates convention, and he believes that those individual voices that populate the great conventions are important. Mostly, he relies upon himself for his beliefs and for his inspiration, and he appears unimpressed by any fashionable sound." David Castleman
NEAR DISTANCE Clouds moor in flamingo-gold lagoon Above beachfront boatmasts, sheds, and palms Whose frondy plumage whispers calm Beneath a full but unobtrusive moon. Heat sinks into the sand beneath the breeze; The spectral skyline's geometric shapes Behind the shoreline's still watercraft drape The bay in reflection and dwarf the trees. Yet here is an ocean edge, a beach. A light on the cusp of distance blinks, Exciting those on shore tonight to think Of all beyond the city's, and humans', reach.
NOTE TO A CYNIC A grape in brine Cannot yield wine.
Copyright © 1999 by David D. Horowitz
"I have been acquainted with David D. Horowitz's writing for about a dozen years and admire the dedication and intensity of his work. It takes discipline to say it in four lines, and say it well. His poems are firm but not stiff and bubble with the enthusiasm of one who knows what he is talking about." Troxey Kemper
"The office worker's plight, the murder in the papers, the lonely streetwalker at dusk all find residence in [Horowitz's] humanity." Derek Sheffield
SEPTEMBER 30th Rose-apricot washes sky between Black filigree of oak and pine. The park now whispers amber-green As autumn pours its wine. Leaves curl upon the cooling ground As lamps first punctuate a path. The day, like many lives, has browned Into an aftermath. And yet resilience might yet glean New wisdom from mistake and pain, And like the reaching evergreen Make resin from the rain.
SPARROW I'm an ounce Of flit and bounce, An inch Of hop and flinch. I chirp and chatter, Perch and scatter, Alert, still: The world can kill And think it doesn't matter.
Copyright © 2002 by David D. Horowitz
From Notebook to Bookshelf binds together four pamphlets. These are usually bought as a single volume, but they can be bought individually by contacting Rose Alley Press. The booklet sells for a mere $5.95-a bargain! The pamphlets sell individually for $1, except the one about self-publishing, which sells for $2. The pamphlets are listed below, in order of appearance in From Notebook to Bookshelf: "Twelve Simple Ways to Improve Your Writing," "Getting Published in Journals-Some Basics," "Publishing Your Own Book: A Brief Introduction," "Marketing with Conviction, & Without Debt"
From Notebook to Bookshelf is a great resource for my students." Holly Hughes
On improving writing:
(1) Good writers tend to use vivid verbs. Consider the following two sentences:
A. The dog went very quickly across the field.
B. The dog runs across the field.
The latter is more concise and easier to read.
Now, contrast the following four sentences with the revisions alongside them:
|A. The dog runs across the field.
|The dog dashes across the field.
|B. The man runs across the field.
|The man sprints across the field.
|C. The Jeep runs across the field.
|The Jeep zooms across the field.
|D. The horse runs across the field.
|The horse gallops across the field.
The revisions use more precise verbs and so evoke more vivid mental images. They will more likely please and interest a reader.
On getting published in journals:
(6) Find the author biosketch section in the front or back of a journal that you like, has published your work, or which you want to publish your work. Review each biosketch; note other journals that have published the work of writers whose work resembles your own. Consider submitting your own work to these other journals.
I love self-publishing. I have delighted in guiding my writing into print and sharing it with an appreciative public. The challenge of fine proofreading improved my writing and editing skills. The delight of having others read my work earned me praise that slaked my thirst for it, and criticism that deepened my understanding. I have delighted, also, in publishing the work of various writers who merited what assistance I could offer. I say: better risk it than die frustrated, wishing you had. Status? Prestige? Nonsense! A good book is a good book, and if it is yours, let the world in on your wonderful secret!
Note: This pamphlet includes an extensive appendix, with helpful contact information, checklists, bibliographies, and specific recommendations.
(19) Market creatively! For example, poetry books might interest many people besides poets. Consider the topics of a book's poems, and send photocopies of several poems to whoever might be interested in those topics. Poems about trees, for instance, might interest botanists, biologists, farmers, horticulturists, landscape architects, and many others.
Whatever your product, consider its broad applications, and try to interest diverse individuals in it.
Copyright © 2015 by David D. Horowitz
"What a joy it is to read formal verse written by one who has mastered his craft." Sharon Svendsen
"Throughout, well-metered form and judicious and surprising rhyme give voice to [Horowitz's] wildfire and candleflame muses."
Michael Dylan Welch
LOVE'S STORY I'm made of low desire; I'm made of noble aim. I'm like a spreading fire; I'm like a steady flame. I'm made of stark obsession; I'm made of calming plan. I cherish indiscretion Yet weigh taboo and ban. I burst past bonds of reason; I advocate restraint. My bones feel like they're freezing In fire, devil in a saint. My seeming contradiction Evolves each lustful day. My love's complex, not fiction; Dusk's scarlet, gold, and gray.
RUSH HOUR Now headlights pour, recede to scarlet dots, And streetlamps plink and glow awake As twilight rediscovers clarity. The refugees from downtown parking lots Fill freeways curving past the hills and lake To alternately zoom ahead and stall, Bunch homeward, carmine echo coating freeway wall. In sky, magenta shadow fringes cloud; Below, the evergreens seem silhouettes. Now, packed in with commuter crowd Elated over leisure, worried over debts, Exhausted by new strains each working week, Some riders fume; some fill with charity And bless; and some can only sigh And let their hearts suffuse with sky.
AFFIX Scotch Tape, your role is clear. Stick with it. Persevere. Seal up container lids; rejoin torn Parts. Bridge the disparate And calm the desperate, And help the broken feel reborn.
LOSS Though I'm a Cubbies fan I will not castigate and blame. Five soldiers lost their lives today. The Cubs just lost a game.
Copyright © 2005 by David D. Horowitz
"David D. Horowitz's Stars Beyond the Battlesmoke is filled with memorable lines, keen observations, and acute wit." Lana Hechtman Ayers
"Reading David Horowitz's poetry, I am refreshed by his trust in the continuing ability of established form to speak to contemporary readers." William Kupinse
NO GIVEN Pine, spruce project on twilight's ruby screen As lamps define arterials and streets, And freeways flow commuters home. Rose streaks Stretch opal stratosphere to starry skein, Â And data, deadlines, details fade to night. Day's bribe, threat, and deceit still live--no, thrive. Integrity must battle to survive, In shadowed lunar scene must sharpen sight.
I'M I'm not a gear wheel in some tyranny's machine.
I'm not another day in tedium's routine.
I'm not ingratiation's nodding grin.
I'm not duplicity's denial, spin,
Or accusation. I'm a question mark
Protesting apathy, a matchlight in the dark,
The sass in "What exactly do you mean?"
ROUGH DAY Today--ten terror bombings in Iraq,
A rape and murder down my block,
And apricot translucence, quarter moon
Of silent distance yielding to maroon-
Black night. This brawl of appetite, most life,
Can rest and dream till dawn, the bruising light.
CROWNING GLORY Assassination skulks through every grin,
And hatred waits to blab to friends when none
Think I can hear. This war I have to win.
I'm emperor, a kin to eagle, sun,
And peak. My diadem jewels dawn and dusk.
My triumphs legend, I might crown or slay,
Confer or delegate, might sweep to dust
Your dreams. I'm emperor, I'm lord. Obey.
Those whispers plotting in the shadows: I
Hear all, can shield myself. I follow home
Dissent and know its mumbles. I defy
Your smiles to preserve the heart of Rome.
My loyal subjects cheer their lion, claws
Like daggers. Now, I snap my fingers: laws.
Jess warms: that steeple's turquoise aspiration...
A bishop's hat protecting nave,
A point for sacraments and congregation,
A sanctuary blessed to save
Communion in the consecration
Love hymns from baptistery to grave.
Jim warns: that steeple's pointed domination
Saves nest of dogma and abuse
Where incense, niche and candle, incantation
Soothe questions in repeating pews
And fill the paten with donation
Sustaining smooth corruption's ruse.
Here in their multi-story neighborhood, both men
Praise liberty, feel grateful they're American.
HOT DAY DUSK
Sun: stovetop orange-red. Then, crimson moment peaks Above the mountain range, begins To darken violet, with streaks Of cloudwisp, contrail of exhausted Day. Heat, though, lingers in the winds.
His soil soaks with rain And celebrates mundane Life: clover, lilies, grain.
Copyright © 2008 by David D. Horowitz
"Sky Above the Temple is not only a book of verse, but, I dare say, a primer toward which future generations will look as they seek to decode the first part of the 21st century." Dave Jarecki
"This yoking of the mundane with the miraculous is the driving force of this feisty, fervent book." Martha Silano
PLACE FOR PAGES You'd browse, then buy a bargain paperback. Now CLOSED, front window smashed to spider web of crack, Used bookstore morphs into graffiti canvass For those adjacent to the pricey campus. I'm thrilled a soup-and-sandwich shop arrives There soon, won't mirror nearby joints and dives. I miss the books, though, and "Beret," the tabby Who strolled the aisles. What's to be's to be. What better salad, though, than bookstore's discount rack?
THERE--CAN YOU SEE IT? And birdsong sweetened twenty city streets! Across a parking lot, Perched on a roofline--under saffron streaks Of dawn--one chirping dot.
COUNTERPOINT I chip at list of tasks, drill into chores, And charge across responsibilities As budgets wobble, expectation soars, And leisure time contracts. Ambition's fees Pour pressure onto hope. So I retreat To yoga mat, to hillside stroll, to book And evening nap. Let fans praise every feat. I'm flesh and flaw, stubbed toe and aching back, A tantrum here, cold silence there, some one To idolize, then blame. I need my friends Who let me bump and burp and fail--and run Free, who don't plot for favors or depend On fantasies of me. I need a stroll And song to hum, as well as plan and goal.
MORALITY X smokes. Y drinks. Z Webcam strips. A cracks His knuckles. B combs his nose hair. C plays The horses twice a month. D devours A box of chocolate truffles. E can gaze At TV soap operas for twelve straight hours. F crosswords nights. G always stains his slacks At work. H works and works and won't relax. I purchases CDs, CDs, CDs. J smokes, drinks, and slurps his Diet Cokes. K, L, M, N, O, P, and all the V's Show something--they can't stop telling jokes Or taking baths or railing on some tax Or scarfing peanut butter sandwiches with lemon slices Or Caesar dressing or banana peel Or...something. Most indulge, forgive such vices, And, often, rightly. Don't murder, rape, or steal.
Copyright © 2012 by David D. Horowitz
"David D. Horowitz and Rose Alley Press have long been a force on the Seattle poetry scene, a mecca for lovers of rhyme and form." —Bethany Reid, author of Sparrow, 2012 Gell Poetry Prize winner
"Moralist and wit, latter-day Catullus or perhaps the Blake of Songs of Experience transposed to the 21st century, David D. Horowitz has made a big book of brief, rigorous lyrics that discover and dramatize the possibilities for love and justice amidst the gritty details of urban life, the corporate rat race, and the baser motives of politicians. Particularly notable are the epigrams interspersed throughout these pages, their rhyming couplets reminiscent of Dryden and Pope." —Carolyne Wright, author of This Dream the World: New & Selected Poems
FIRST STARS, LAST LIGHT He knew the night would soon arrive: The turquoise-honey glow, first stars Above the freeways full of cars, The downtown towers lit, alive With golden bustle. And he knew That wintertime would soon arrive: Lamps on each afternoon by five, Leaf-freeing gusts and sleet, blue Cold sun, the Christmas music on In elevators. And he knew Death strikes—at Mom now. Then at you, Him, everyone. So, every dawn He prays for breath and life. When gone, Who knows? He knows he’s still alive, That death might happen during drive Or dance, with Christmas music on.
A FINAL GIFT How quickly taunts and threats can escalate To punches, kicking, shooting, “Help!” Too late: Blood trickles from a corpse to gutter grate. On stream of alcohol and meth adrift To gurney placed in ambulance, free lift In ambulance to morgue, a final gift. A midnight sidewalk brawl, another murder. Soon, workday: blare of horns, clang of girder.
UNLOADING I stuff more meetings into calendar and cram Responsibilities; soon leisure cannot breathe. I sprint through morning schedule, brake through traffic jam, Text “I’ll b L8. Jam. C u soon.” I smile, seethe, Imagine weeping myself calm. And then I rush Once traffic clears and pray I don’t cause accidents. But now … No, please. Please, nothing. Just a tranquil hush. Please. Nothing. Let me sit here. Please don’t make me tense. Just nothing. Clear the underbrush. No meetings. Time’s A room where I can play. Tell jokes to jonquils. Laugh At dust. I needn’t guide a novice, lead five teams, And run for city council. Now I need to loaf And not be told I owe. I love this scarlet rose, Vase, lamplit valley view. I love how twilight glows.
DON’T FORGET J hollers, “Don’t forget Bar Kokhba!” But P shouts, “Don’t defend al nakba!” J hollers, “Don’t forget Masada!” But P shouts, “Remember intifada!” J hollers, “Auschwitz, the pogroms!” But P shouts, “You forced us from our homes!” Both shout: “They started this! Bomb, flame The enemy!”—and stoke eternal blame. J hollers, “Now you killed my mother!” But P shouts, “Your troops shot my brother!” J thinks … “Shalom. Salaam. They rhyme.”
REVOLUTIONARY Not demagogue declaring I am great and strong, You state four revolutionary words: I might be wrong.
SILENTLY SPOKEN Beyond the evening party chatter And wine and crackers, brie and cheddar: The twilight’s golden opalescence, Not data, arguments, and lessons.
SKY Sky flows from haze to rain to stars: light pinpricks black As if we’re seeing God, but only from the back.
Copyright © 2021 by David D. Horowitz