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Robert C Howard Oct 2017
The heart sounds cadences 24 - 7
    whether we choose to march or where,
rhythm section to our several songs,
    no drum line like a blood line.
It's all business for this noble instrument
     never laying out for a chorus
for survival is its singular tune.

Aristotle thought our hearts were made
    to air condition our brains
but evidently not enough my friends
    for that pesky mythic heart,
right sized for greeting cards
    and hopeful men on bended knees
also drives our swords and powder
    to quell our brothers' singing souls.

Brothers and sisters, is not the hour at hand
    to tune our hearts to superior anthems
composed for us in celestial harmony?
Robert C Howard Sep 2017
On the shortest day of the year
    the sun seems to wither away
and solemn darkness cloaks the earth.

The whole world rattles in its chains,
    captive of brittle icy blasts.
Where do we go for shelter?
    Where can we turn for hope
on the longest night of the year?

So we do as our ancestors have before us;
     building shelters of rock and wood.
We make our fires for warmth
     against the cold winter drafts-
on the coldest nights of the year.

Thus we live as our ancestors have before us,
    singing glad songs of love and peace.
and sound our merry bells of hope.

*© 2017 by Robert Charles Howard
This version is shorter and is designed to be easier to sing than the whole poem.
Robert C Howard Sep 2017
On the shortest day of the year
     the sun seems to wither away
and solemn darkness cloaks the earth.

The whole world rattles in its chains,
    captive of icy blasts -
prisoner of sharp and frigid winds.

Where do we go for shelter?
    Where can we turn for hope?
Where shall we turn? Where
     on this darkest day of the year?

So we do as our ancestors knew they must.
     We start our crackling fires,
build shelters of rock and wood –
     and drape ourselves in skins and weaves,
clinging fast to one another.
    This shall be our fortress
and shield against the icy blasts.

On the shortest day of the year,
     We lift our eyes to the starry sky.
We seek and find our hope
     In merry carols, candles, and rites of peace.
Thus we rashly dare to cast aside
     the bitter sting of winter’s cruel offense
and ring the cheerful bells of hope.

*© 2017 by Robert Charles Howard
Robert C Howard Aug 2017
"Man is the alembic of art"
That's what Mr. Thoreau said.

A - L - E - M - B -I - C

Hold it right there!
Just what the hell is that?

Well, OK in a word, an alembic is a still.

So the man at the pond is telling us,
making whisky and poems is the same deal.

Take a *** of sludgy words,
boil is so it shoots out the cap
and into a tube.

With a little luck
only good stuff condenses in the beaker -
"Thoreau-ly" purified.
Hopefully it's a good year.

Still, (sic) your verbal whisky can be
no better than the sludge you start with.

Bottoms up!

© 2017 by Robert Charles Howard
Robert C Howard Aug 2017
Let jubilant bells ring out
     proclaiming the joy of the season.
Banish all darkness with bold Christmas lights
     that brighten the sky on a cold winter night.
Rejoice in the bells of the season!

With joy-filled hearts we zip up our coats
     to savor the crisp morning air.
We take to our sleds for a vigorous ride
     then draw snow angels in the meadow.

Our town is decked out its holiday best
     where strangers and friends pass our way.
We stroll down the streets ‘til the stars appear
     to dance in the jewel case sky.

The bold steeple bells peal so clear and loud.
     Bright Christmas lights are gleaming.
Our kinfolk have gathered from far and near
     To share in a holiday feast
and after the meal we all gather by the fire
     To celebrate the blessings of family.

With grateful hearts raise our songs
    and ring our bells this joyous day.
Rejoice, give thanks. Give thanks, rejoice!

Let jubilant bells ring out
     proclaiming the joy of the season.
Banish all darkness with bold Christmas lights
     that brighten the sky on a cold winter night.
Rejoice in the bells of the season!

*© 2017 by Robert Charles Howard
This is the text for the third movement of a cantata entitled Winter in the Rockies.
Robert C Howard Aug 2017
When the arc of his watch hands  
reached the top of the hour
Sam pushed the throttle forward.

Engine 138 thundered
out of Blossburg station
like an iron dragon
breathing smoke and steam -
whistle shrilling over the Tioga valley.

Powered by coal
the train carried coal
to the waiting city of Elmira
where Sam would press his mother's hand -
perhaps for the final time.

The wheels churning iron on iron
across Pennsylvania farmlands,
turned like other wheels before
moving settlers west
to break its ready earth -
wheels beneath his grandfather's oxcart
turning toward Lycoming's verdant hills.

New wheels now carried America
to urban landscapes
drawing us like electro-magnets
to streetlamps - factories - dry good stores -
new crops for a modern age.

Elmira’s silhouette expanded on the horizon.
and Sam pulled the train in on time -
brakes screeching through billowing steam.

His wife, Jenny and his sister's Sam
came in a horseless carriage
with Zoe, Marie and Edward,
children now grown at their sides.

They all gathered by Hannah's bed
now approaching her final hours
soft voices and fragile smiles
cradled the truth beyond all telling:

Time, ever advancing
like the hands of a fine old watch,
holds us all in its circling sway

© 2006 by Robert Charles Howard
Robert C Howard Aug 2017
The moon hovers high in the dawning sky,
    heedless of clocks and calendars
foretelling the approaching hour    
    when her diminutive circle
enshrouds the proud and mighty sun.

Back in reliquaries of time,
     our fear-quaked ancestors
cowered in deepest shadows of doom,
    “Now that the sun has died,
what will become of us"?  

Then as now, the resilient sun
     rebirthed as it will again
to warm and illumine our ways.

But shadows darker than eclipse
     remain to cloud our future,
“What will become of us
     should reason's light be doused
and forever vanish from the earth”?

*© 2017 by Robert Charles Howard
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