Myriad prismatic crystals,
refract the morning sun-streams -
painting layers of spectral arches
across the misted horizon.
Eyes turned to the western skies,
we suspend our meteorological selves
acquiescing to miracles unveiled before us -
un-beckoned and scarcely earned,
proffering thanks for the radiant epistle
of healing, hope and promise,
artfully encoded in transfigured light.
A luminary ballet takes center stage
when synthetic refractors come to play:
crystal pendants bathe our foyers
with dazzling swaths of color.
Hazy coronas encircle streetlamps
discovered by headlights through the fog.
A science class prism slices light rays
into pre-ordered spectral strata.
If the sky denies us a rainbow,
we can always fashion one of our own
and we do!
Before there was music,
bird songs brushed our souls
and the murmur of woodland streams
held us captive by their banks.
Soon we learned to sing and tint the air
With prisms of wood and wire and metal
and to color soundscapes in our spirits
With songs of wonder, joy and longing.
Before there was music,
bird songs brushed our souls.
Robert Charles Howard, 2019
This is a rewrite and expansion of a prior poem called Morning Rainbow. The poems are design to go with an original piece for solo flute also called Prisms.
A lost and thirsty wanderer
sought oasis on a parched and dusty plain
where spectral mesas
merged with pastel stratus clouds -
quivering in the summer sun.
A slender blue ellipse emerged
along the horizon's edge,
taunting the traveler’s arid throat.
Recalling child-day afternoons.
splashing in the pond behind the barn,
his legs urged toward aquatic deliverance.
But knowledge seized his boots.
Wary of loving a delusion,
he chose instead to seek a road or farm
or chance upon a horse-backed rancher
tracking down an errant calf.
Still he looked back to his phantom pond –
never to know if an oasis flowed
less than an hour’s walk away.
I’m pretty sure I’m here
(or so I think),
but who or where are you?
Stuffed as I am
in my elastic envelope,
it’s hard enough to find myself
let alone discover you.
Can you hear me?
Can you see me?
May I press your hand?
Stay please for a while;
let me a sound you a tune
on my flute.
© 2018 by Robert Charles Howard
Existence connection music
Above the caldera at Yellowstone,
a brittle soil-rock crust
caps a lake of liquid fire
with only fumaroles and roiling geysers
to stay its upward ******.
One errant step is all it takes
to breach that mantle's fragile seal -
spelling death by fire
to any hapless wanderer
who fails to guard his path.
Fragile calderas also roil
buried in darkest hollows of our psyches -
brewed of failures, slights and fears
dissolved in molten pools
of self-consuming misery.
To dress and salve our wounds
we sow gardens of reconciliation within
with beauty, trust and reason
and bow to gods of grace and solace.
But a despot’s studied eye
knows just how to tap our fragile crusts,
releasing acrid lava flows
from pools where fear and rage reign hot
and reason has no district.
Sisters and brothers of our flesh I pray
we find a holy and transforming alchemy
to convert our heat to light
and shield our sacred calderas
from enemies that stalk us from within.
July, 2006, revised December, 2014, 2015 and 2018
Robert Charles Howard
I decided to repost this poem because after scores of revisions over the years every stanza is substantially different than it was when I first wrote it in 2006. Hopefully after 12 years, I've got it figured out.
Cupping my hands at the canyon’s rim
I fill my lungs and release a primal call,
vaulting the chasm to a distant face
where another me answers back.
My cry’s journey spans a mere second or so
but what stories could that echo tell?
How can I know that returning voice
is not the soul of some past or future kin?
So many questions, so many mysteries!
How many suns and seasons have passed
since ancient torrents began to cleave the plateau?
When did the hawk’s shrill cry first split the air
as it fished in the river’s howl and spray?
When first did the ancient ones walk
a mile below the canyon’s rim.
to kneel by the swift river’s shore
and fill their cups with sustenance.
If you listen closely you will hear
their voices calling in the restless wind.
The canyon’s colossal breadth
can be charted in time and space
but will always be shrouded in mystery.
So I stand at the canyon’s edge and sing
and the canyon answers back
but will hold its secret truths forever.
There’s nothing like a zesty story
to tell us who we are or were.
It could be spun in a fabled myth
of gods with mortal progeny
or a saga of proud and shining empires
rubbled back to primal dust.
It might be painted in a cave in France
or etched on a Pharaoh’s crypt
or finely quilled on parchment scrolls
or even set in rows of mobile type.
Human stories spinning across the eras
that tell us who we are or were.
Latter day oracles pull on laboratory robes
and prophesy of molecules and DNA
writing new chapters with every rising sun
Of how the universal pendulum swings
but will someone please reveal the trail
from what is to what ought to be
and free us from Pandora’ curse?
Robert Charles Howard - 2018
Prophesies of impending fall
creep stealthily over the Great Divide.
Gold-green Aspens shiver in the breeze
like leagues of fibrous wind chimes
serenading the mountain slopes
with aires of shimmering gold.
A few distant bugle calls echo
across the Big Thompson valley
as bull elks warm up for the autumn rut.
Sudden early gusts of frigid wind
bring waves of sleet and snow -
in tune with the turning polar axis.
The greater chill is soon to come.
The animals know it as do we.
Bears bulk up on grasses, roots and berries.
Elk and deer drift down from the heights
To show their young the ways
of the plains and river valleys.
We pull our sweaters on
and toss another log on the flames
and greet the harbingers of approaching fall
creeping stealthily over the Great Divide.