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Aug 2016 · 1.2k
Big Thompson River Walk
Robert C Howard Aug 2016
Our dog, Hannah and I wended our way
    across the Moraine highway
that winds west toward the park.

The front range, rising to our right
    and Lumpy Ridge to our left
were shrouded in the post-dawn mist.

A short walkway through speckled fields
    of Asters, Mexican Hats and Gallardia
led us to the tall gray slat fence
     that lines the path down the hill
to the Big Thompson River Walk.

Hannah and I took copious notes
      each in our own way as we took in
the sounds and sights along the trail.

      The morning lights danced over
rock-strewn rocks and riffles tumbling down
      from the mountain rains and melting snows
and the sweet music of the river
     assured us that tranquility exists even
amongst the jagged rocks of a troubled world.

*Estes Park, August, 2016
Jul 2016 · 3.4k
Pennsylvania Barn Raising
Robert C Howard Jul 2016
They gathered by Williamson Road at sun-up
      from neighboring spreads across the Tioga valley.
They came with carts laden with lumber stacks -
      with saws, adzes, hammers and sundry tools.

They gathered with the homesteaders bond.
      to co-build their neighbor's' dreams.

Sweet music of community echoed off the hills.
     Chisels clanged into rock, shaping the foundation,
saws sang into boards to frame a timbered skeleton.
     The staccato syncopation of hammers fastened walls
that soon would shelter plowshares, stock and grain.
      A smithy leaned over his fire and forge -
chiming iron into sturdy latches and hinges.

     Children scurried about mixing squeals and laughter
with exuberant fetching and lifting whenever called.
In two short passings of the sun the deed was done
      and a handsome new barn, decked out in a wash of red
was silhouetted tall and proud against the fading light.

Homesteaders gathered at a celebration table
      to share a hearty meal adorned by the music
of fiddles, grateful smiles and easy laughter.
Then one by one they steered their wagons home
      gazing back at what their labors had wrought -
knowing to the depth of their communal souls
      that we are more together than we are apart

Listen up, America!  This is the music of community.
      We are more together than we are apart.

*© 2016 by Robert Charles Howard
Jul 2016 · 1.5k
Independence Day
Robert C Howard Jul 2016
" It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews,
            Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and  
                Illuminations from one End of this Continent
                      to the other from this Time forward forever more.”
      John Adams – July 3, 1776.

Webster Groves - 2016

The Townhall fountain dances
cheerily in the morning sun.
The red-white-blue shirted crowd
rises as one for the colors.
Laughing children scramble for
tootsie rolls and sweet tarts
tossed by a strolling  clown.

         Philadelphia, July 3, 1776

        *Carriages sped toward Philadelphia
        where resolute patriots
        would turn the pages of history
        and tell an unsuspecting world
        that a new nation had given birth to itself.

Sousa strains peal from the marching Statesmen,
Girl Scouts guide their well-groomed mounts -
hooves echoing through concrete caverns.
Vintage firetrucks and autos
sound their horns and sirens
as candidates work the crowd, pressing the flesh.

        Each crass insult from the British crown
        had tightened the noose on the colonial neck.
        The middle ground was soaked with patriot blood
        and revolution was the only course left.

Barbecue clouds drift over Pat and Lee’s farm
Horseshoes spin and clang and frisbees fly.
A ***-luck feast with beans and franks
interrupts the pop and glare of bottle rockets.

        One by one, each patriot quilled the parchment
        resolved to endure the costs of liberty -
        knowing to the marrow that defeat
        would spell certain ******* and death.

We reach the lakeshore at dusk -
unfolding chairs - spreading out blankets -
strains of Americana drift over the lake.
then a pyro-technic extravaganza
blazes across the summer sky.  

        Washingon’s tattered and bloodied men
        cornered Cornwallis at Yorktown.
        Then surrender - all British claims
        to American soil banished to the tomes of history.

The grand finale pummels the darkened sky
raising cheers and whistles from the crowd
Toddlers collapse in parental arms,
car doors slam, engines ignite
and head-lighted caravans, turn for home,
spiraling off in every compass degree.

“Happy birthday,” America and endless happy returns
"from this time forward forever more!”  

Robert Charles Howard
Jun 2016 · 397
America at Work
Robert C Howard Jun 2016
Garden Avenue Driveway*

They pulled up at 7:00 with spades, trowels and hoses
      and a spinning truck full of concrete soup.

Then as precisely as an olympic fencing team
      six men with well toughened and tanned biceps

drove the liquid rock down the chute
      and into the the “two by” forms.

Then with rhythm as fluid as a *corps de ballet

      they poured, smoothed, spread and coaxed the mix

in to a concrete lake as smooth as glass.
      and the morning’s deed was finished.

They hosed down the chute and walks,
      packed their tools and vanished by 9:00

leaving their concrete sheet cake
      to bake in the hot Illinois sun.
Jun 2016 · 405
Savior of the Nation
Robert C Howard Jun 2016
Think about it, I just might be the
savior of the nation.
I will make America grate (sic) again!

Time to grease the campaign trail!

Imagine if you will,
perfect unity fabricated
from the empire between my ears.

I could hose down the airways
with bile and ride the waves of
angst like a super surfer.

Should some ***** reporter call me out,
I’ll just whine in my nappies,
call her names and bully on.

I pledge to forge my ignorance into
a sword of virtue and tilt
every wind turbine in the US of A.

Demons are everywhere and I
have conspiracies to sell.
Help the cause; buy a bucket full!

I think we all know
that reason is for sissies.  
Just look how far we’ve fallen!

Listen up now, since
America needs me so badly,
you will be granting me your fealty.

I will make America grate again!

What, you say, my mission
is already spoke for?
My noble cause has been taken?

He has? How dare he!

**** you, Donald Trump!
Jun 2016 · 354
At the Threshold
Robert C Howard Jun 2016
Do I know you, stranger?
Here, move closer; move into the light
let me search your eyes and touch your face.

Ah, now I see you -
the wrinkles on your brow
rutted just like mine
like weathered roads
passing through hallowed fields
of sorrow and elation.

It's funny; You remind me so
of the choices I've made
and all those foretold
and unexpected consequences.

So there is hope for us yet!

And do you know me?
Here, let peel away my mask
and move a tad closer.
See, there's nothing to fear
and who cares a fiddle about
our colors, creeds or pedigrees.

Tossing our cautions windward,
Let us roll the dice
and dare to trust each other.

Sure, we might not know each other yet
but perhaps in time we shall.
May 2016 · 477
Miles to Go
Robert C Howard May 2016
for the Webster University Jazz Quintet

A tripod of piano, bass and drums
was spread across the stage
weaving chords and counts
into finest sonic cloth.
trumpet and tenor intersticed between,
dazzled the sound-scape
with vision and calculated risk.

Solos poured out like fountains
with swaying, clapping and bobbing heads;
Eyes closed to let the light of imagination in.

With colors as sharp and vibrant
as the cut glass windows behind them,
they painted memories of Miles
back-lit by Solar flares
and took a pleasant hike
in Shorter's Footprints
to the jazz realm's distant borders.

Having journeyed so many Miles,
we paid them sincerest thanks,
steered our engines homeward
then slept – tapping our toes in our dreams.

April,  2007
Still another refugee from Poetfreak
May 2016 · 517
Captain Toro
Robert C Howard May 2016
Dedicated to William Shakespeare, Gene Roddenberry,
Lewis Carroll and Franz Joseph Haydn.*

The power scythe roared and quivered;
Had he chops, he would have licked them -
So rabid was he to taste the fray.

Verdure clad stalks by the thousands
Eschewed all feint of
Futile resistance -
Falling like spineless wimps
Before the carbon breathed Leviathon's
Cyclonic advance.

Pausing only to quaff
A long draft of energy potion,
Toro relentlessly carved a swath
Across the battle ground -
Vorpally snicker-snacking his way
Toward the mission's
inexorable termination.

A single command
Brought the roaring vortex to a halt.
Victorious, sans medals or ceremony,
Captain Toro was debriefed
And escorted back
To his lonely barracks
To sleep, perchance to dream
Of past and future triumphs
In the jungle wilds at the confluence
Of Prairie and Missouri Avenues.

*August,  2007
May 2016 · 391
Aymara Rivero
Robert C Howard May 2016
Aymara Rivero and Hunting Honey
thundered past the finish mark
three lengths before the placing horse -
the tenth triumph of her rookie season.
How many winner's circles await her arrival?

Just a few brief yesterdays ago,
Mari had watched a lecture hall clock
checking off the hours of her life,
when a voice within her whispered again
"It's now or never,"  and Mari chose "now."

So shutting the college door for a time,
she returned to her stable home
and the company of equine friends
who'd brought joy to her youthful days.

Today the paddock gates open
and apprentice Aymara guides her mount
to the starting gates of life itself.
Another refugee poem from Poetfreak.  Aymara Rivero is an actual person.  I have met everyone in her family except Aymara.  I have seen her race a number of times and sometimes win.  Her grandparents are very good friends of mine.  Her grandmother is a huge sports fan and is ecstatic about having a professional athlete for a granddaughter.
May 2016 · 2.4k
Each Be Other's Comfort Kind
Robert C Howard May 2016
for Ashley and Trent

Joyous tears lie just ahead,
for Trent and Ashley
will seal their love today.

Pipes, strings, brass and voices
will soar beneath
Saint Peters towering nave

and we'll rise as one to affirm
their pledge of love and faith.

They met in band at Belleville East
and always seemed to know

that on some spring morn in June
they would stand at the altar
to vow their lives to constancy.

We all knew it too and today
we would be no other place

for hope unbounded rules the day
and echoes in our grateful hearts.
Another refugee poem from Poetfreak. The title is from a poem by Gerard Manley Hopkins called At the Wedding March.
May 2016 · 926
A Thousand and One Nights
Robert C Howard May 2016
Sinbad’s sea-battered ship was
poised on the edge of annihilation,
The Sultan's brow furrowed with curiosity,
then without warning
Scheherazade stilled her narrative
and lived to see the morning sun.

When the moon and stars next owned the sky,
Sinbad was snatched from the jaws of death
then the saga of Prince Kalandar
seized the king's soul with wonder
but Scheherazade left the tale unfinished
and sang with the birds at dawn.

Rimsky-Korsakoff  turned the pages at his desk -
consumed by Scheherazade’s charms
then etched his pen across the waiting staves:
The violin must weave her spell once more
and bassoon and oboe take the prince’s part.

Trombone and trumpet led the martial call
and all the rest enlisted for the cause.
Russian bravura fused with the seductive allure
of exotic tunes born of the dust on the silken road.

A sonic whirlwind filled Saint Paul Church,
as winds and tremolos grew to cyclonic force.
A wall of brass completed Kalandar’s tale.
capped by an exuberant clash of cymbal plates.

The silence yielded to tender violins
chanting a hymn to the princess in all her grace.
Tambourine and winds wove a tapestry
of her debonaire and most virtuous prince.

As the final pizzicato chord faded, the Sultan
turned to Scheherazade with tear-filled eyes
and beheld his immortal princess
and she her valiant and eternal prince
and so it would be as long as night preceded dawn.

She kissed away his tears of joy and whispered in his ear,
“My beloved husband, I will tell you stories forever.
Tomorrow you shall learn of the Feast at Baghdad.”
Another site I have posted on, is shutting down so I am moving some the poems here. More refugees will follow.
Apr 2016 · 3.6k
Soul Flight
Robert C Howard Apr 2016
in memoriam Woodrow (Woody) Rifenburgh*      

The soft purr of a Piper Cub
drifted over Italy's southern hills.
Soul stirred by the landscape’s song,  
the young army pilot gently spoke.

“It’s mighty peaceful up here.”

Touching wheels to the tarmac,
Woody shed his flight suit
for an engineer’s desk
and placed a viola beneath his chin.

For three score years
Woody molded horsehair and wire into string song
steadying the orchestra’s midriff
with the vibrations of his spirit.

On Christmas Eve he played for the coming child,
fell stricken and flew his last flight
on instruments at Memorial.  

Early New Year’s morn one could almost hear
the faint soft purr of a Piper Cub
as it banked to the right around the moon
and merged with the waiting heavens.
This poem was written for a dear friend who played viola in the Belleville Philharmonic and other orchestra.  In WW2, Woody flew reconnaissance missions in Italy.  He graduated from Purdue University in engineering and worked for decades designing pipe line systems for Laclede Gas.
Apr 2016 · 931
So Long, Pluto
Robert C Howard Apr 2016
For Denis Joe*

Alas, poor Pluto
I knew him slightly
Dangling out there
On the sun system's edge
Unsung by Holst
Who knew him not at all.

Furl browed tribunes smack their gavels
And in a nano - second
Planetary glory dashed to asteroids.
Mighty Pluto busted to dwarfhood!

[Brief moment of silence]

Well, the dwarves will have to have
Their own music now -
Nothing Earth shattering
A humbler essay, say a trio
For tuba, autoharp and cello.
Modest but catchy tunes
For little orbiters and shakers:

XENA (warrior princess)
CERES (goddess of grain)
PLUTO (mythical silver smith)
CHARON (underworld boat jockey)

Oops, almost missed the big send off.
There he goes now with Charon at the oars.



           ­           fellow.

Apr 2016 · 415
Robert C Howard Apr 2016
Ouataga raised his arms to the sky
in offering for his people -
prepared to be ripped from life
by the claws and teeth of the Piasa

    The monstrous bird with blood red eyes
    and bearded chin soared above the bluffs
    in search of a solitary brave
    to devour for his evening meal.

Throughout the cycling of the whole moon
Ouataga had fasted and prayed
for a Piasa slaying plan.
The Great Spirit had come at last in a dream
and now the trap was set.

    The great monster gliding on thermals,
    drifted over the rise,
    clouding the bluff bluff with his shadow
    fixed his crimson eyes on Ouataga
    standing alone in the clearing.

    His monster wings pummeled the air
    and he began his ******* swoop of death.

Obeisant to their young chief's dream,
twenty braves concealed
in a circle of bush and trees,
sent their poison shafts flying
straight to the center of the glade.

    The ravenous Piasa
    baring teeth and talons,
    never saw the rain of arrows
    rupture his skin - pouring venom
    into his murderous veins.

Ouataga, untouched by talon or arrow,
smiled as the Piasa writhed
and fell dead as a stone at his feet.

Grateful tribesmen embraced their chief
who painted the monster's effigy
on a bluff by the Father of Waters
where every passing brave from that time forth
shot contemptuous arrows at its loathsome face.

*March, 2008
Another immigrant from Poetfreak.
Apr 2016 · 474
New England Sunrise (Haiku)
Robert C Howard Apr 2016
I look to the east
    beyond the Catskill ridges
        bathed in dawn light hues.
Apr 2016 · 328
Nurse Tree
Robert C Howard Apr 2016
We know the invisible nurse tree
for what it used to be
before that windy night that
spun and tore it from its moorings.

The tortured Bigleaf Maple roots
shaped in hollow colonnades
having nursed for decades
on a once proud hemlock
brutally humbled to the forest floor
and now consumed by elemental time.

It's Mother Gaia's eternal story -
present tree from yesterday's death
which in time will bequeath its torso
to unborn generations hungry
for a fallen trunk - ripe for suckling.
Apr 2016 · 399
Sketches of Spring
Robert C Howard Apr 2016
Earth's axis twisted around the vernal equinox
and March passed the baton to April
in a radiant kaleidoscope of
pink and white and fuschia blossoms.

A sudden breeze launched
a thousand tiny choppers
into the April air
each crafted of finest maple -
spinning, fluttering
searching for a helipad
in the moist and pliant soil.

A spring shower tore
an oak limb from its its trunk
and gravity did the rest.
A robin perches
on a fallen branch
Another fugitive poem from Poetfreak.
Apr 2016 · 436
Mid-Winter Clarity
Robert C Howard Apr 2016
Bending forward against the winter chill
I clutch my jacket collar tight.
against the moan and whistle of the wind.

A speaker clamped on a holiday post
crackles a hymn to a midnight clear
releasing from the vault of time
memories of another winter's day
when a happy boy on a Christmas bike
caroled that same Yuletide song
to a swirling snowflake congregation
tuned to distant steeple bells.

A phantom in a store front window
startles me back to now
and arrests my curiosity.
Just who is that gray haired fossil
clutching his collar like a shield
against the whistling wind
and why is he staring at me
this blustery mid-winter day?
Another poetry site I have posted poems, is shutting down so I am moving several poems including this one to Hello Poetry.
Apr 2016 · 509
No Exit
Robert C Howard Apr 2016
It wasn't supposed to go like this!
Julian and cousin Henry
fled breathless down the alley
Henry turned and fired two shots
toward their uniformed pursuers.

                             "Late breaking news:
                              Police interrupted a burglary
                              in the 300 block of Hastings.
                              An officer is down and has been taken to
                              Blessed Sacrament Hospital."

Henry and Julian raced in
through his Mom's front door
scrambling for the basement.
Henry mad beyond himself said.
"I know I hit him, man, I saw him drop!"
"Get a grip you fool,
you winged him and we got away

                             "The slain officer's name has been released.
                              Brad Kravcik leaves a wife, a grown daughter
                              and two teen-aged sons.
                              Witnesses identified two youths and police
                              expect an arrest at any minute."

Julian's mother exploded
down the stairs. "Your pictures
are on the tube. You idiots
killed a ******* cop.
Get the hell out of my house!"
The two boys tried for the door
but bullhorns, lights
and a forest of rifles barred their exit.

                             "This just in: two suspects have been arrested
                              in the shooting death of officer Kravcik.
                              Julian Lewis and Henry Behrens
                              are believe to be responsible
                              for a string of north side break-ins.
                              The whole community is
                              breathing a huge sigh of relief."

The governor made no eleventh hour call,
so Henry banished all thoughts
of the plastic tube silently
dripping terminal liquid into his vein
He felt the world go hazy
then felt nothing - nothing at all.
Apr 2016 · 337
Sunset Haiku
Robert C Howard Apr 2016
A feast of colour
yellow, orange, crimson, black -
Dusk's kakeidescope.
Apr 2016 · 1.4k
Fragile Truce
Robert C Howard Apr 2016
"The pity of war, the pity war distills". - Wilfred Owen"

Just as a feral war begs for armistice,
    a season of peace engenders
a violence vacuum that begs to be filled
    as surely as a hollow begs for a pond.

It seems a cosmic battle rages
      between the oversouls of people
who would chisel a sculpture to grace
     and those who would hack off its arms.

History’s fools fire up their bully horns
     shouting proud oratory to ignorance -
and lemmings goose-step to the precipice -
      doomed to plunge into a sea of misery.  

Then there is quiet - guilty and reflective.
     How could we let this happen
with so much gain and loss in the balance?

and the sculptors of civilization
      find fresh marble to once again
carve reason, beauty, purpose
      from the acrid ashes of pride.
But the oversoul of hate will brood and re-fester
     as long as it's thought noble to **** for a cause.

© 2016 by Robert Charles Howard
This poem was written in response to a poem by Vicki called Brooding.
Mar 2016 · 813
Mini You
Robert C Howard Mar 2016
confessions of a newborn

It's been something of a while
      since I tumbled down
from warmth and darkness
      into this strange bright space.

I see you coming towards me
     and curious parts of me
begin to dart about in all directions
     because I remember you.

Every time you're here
     something glad happens:
           you hold me to your warmth,
           you bring good food to my mouth
           to ease the ache inside,
           you make pretty sounds
           that tell me I am safe -
           that tell me I am not alone.

For reasons I cannot say
      I know that I am you -
that you are me.

The beauty on your face
     tells me you know it too
and like you, I smile.

*© 2016 by Robert Charles Howard
Mar 2016 · 374
Robert C Howard Mar 2016
for William Dougherty

Water downhill flowing
      washing away soil and flora -
            downward, always down.

Torrents across California,
      hillsides crumble - tumbling down,
            enshrouding streets and stoops below.

Rivulets merge with rivers
      meandering, spilling into the sea -
            down again, always downward.

But eagles lift and sail the skies
      as cornstalks pierce the earth
            growing ever boldly upward

and **** sapiens stands *****
      water in our veins soaring up
            against the crush of gravity's pull.

Obstinate life, the defiant force
      flowing upstream, ever upward -
            entropy's worthy and immortal foe!

January, 2007
Mar 2016 · 643
After Rain
Robert C Howard Mar 2016
The sun inches skyward
in the quiet after-rain
of a gentle pre-dawn shower.

The rich sweet essence
of moistened earth
suffuses the air with promise.

Towering oaks and sugar maples
oscillate in the breeze -
their capricious rushing sounds
playing pristine counterpoint
with the jaunty chants
of robins, cardinals and chickadees.

Spring is pacing in the wings
awaiting her cue from the wheel of time.
and all creation waits in concord.

© 2016 by Robert Charles Howard Our steadfast sun inches skyward
     in the quiet after-rain
of a gentle pre-dawn shower.

Rich fertile essences
     of moistened earth
suffuse the air with promise.

Towering oaks and cottonwoods
     shiver in the breeze -
their capricious rushing sounds
     play pristine counterpoints
with the jovial chants
     of robins, wrens and chickadees.

Spring is poised in the wings
     for a cue from the wheel of time.
and all creation waits in concord.

*© 2016 by Robert Charles Howard
Mar 2016 · 381
August Breezes (Haiku)
Robert C Howard Mar 2016
Golden prairie fields
caressed by August breezes
softly call your name.

*July,  2010
Mar 2016 · 384
Fellow Travelers
Robert C Howard Mar 2016
Overjoyed to catch a glimpse of you
across the hotel lobby,
my footfalls quickened,
eager to head you off
before you slipped from view.

The elevator chimed
I tugged your sleeve.
as you stepped inside the lift
then blanched in disbelief
as you turned and we each met
the eyes of a total stranger.

I muttered most rueful sorrys.
You smiled amused forgiveness
as the doors between us sealed
and you vanished to a
destiny beyond my choice to know.
Jan 2016 · 553
Chamber Music
Robert C Howard Jan 2016
for Robert Chamberlin

Rocking silently
In a dark anechoic cell,
orphaned to my senses,
my plumbing plays *continuo

to my neurons' treble aire.

Seigneur, please-
don’t **** the air away
or deny to me my plate.
Some dabs of water please
for my arid tongue
lest dessicated tubes
and muted synapses
score my pounding drum
to everlasting silence.

*November,  2007
Composer, John Cage reported hearing two pitches in an anechoic chamber at Harvard University and was told that the high pitch was his 'nervous system' and the low pitch was his 'blood in circulation.'
Jan 2016 · 602
My Father's Dance
Robert C Howard Jan 2016
The phone rang after 2: 00 am.
Taking the steps in pairs
my legs faltered at his door -
paralyzed by denial.

Forcing myself inside,
I saw father's lifeless frame,
wired to synthetic everything -
a cold white line
still against the black.

My grief-racked soul
railed at that liar screen,
knowing his true lifeline
danced with passion  -
precision cutting with his lathe,
strumming passing chords
on his Gibson Les Paul.

That morning I knocked a ball
through a neighbor’s glass
I learned what honor meant.
With dad's steady hand
on my  shoulder,
I stammered  apologies
and learned to glaze a window.  

We'd play catch after supper.
or down franks and pop
at Briggs where the Tigers played.
Detroit is flying high this year:
God, how I wish
I could give the old man a call.

*September,  2006
Jan 2016 · 730
Ockham's Appliance
Robert C Howard Jan 2016
You can find Ockham's wisdom
displayed on the web
inscribed with ones and zeros.

So like everything else
in this time jostled world
Ockham's razor has gone electric.

*December, 2007
This poem may be old but nearly so much as Ockham.
Dec 2015 · 723
Love is Poetry is Love
Robert C Howard Dec 2015
Poetry just might be love
     or just so the other way around.

I tell you,my dear
a day never passes without,
     (well hardly a day)
without a thought or two of
you and you and you,

bound as we are
      by blood,
              by tears,
       by laughter
or some common dream or enterprise.

You sing in my poems
       and my neurons fire for you.

Either I love you because I cannot forget you
       or the other way around.

So, my love, I offer you this poem.
      (So, my poem, I offer you this love).

*December, 2015
Nov 2015 · 1.9k
Elements of Antiquity
Robert C Howard Nov 2015
Earth (Pangaea)

Pangaea heaved and shifted
beneath the fire-storm sky.
Colliding plates and spewing mountains
shook, roared and thundered
under the brutal chaos
of torrential cataclysms.

In time she yielded her ire
to millennia of pacific rains -
her severed crust
set adrift across the oceans
like gigantic earthen rafts.

Jungles sprang up and terrible lizards
came, grazed and left their bones.
Forests, grains and multifarious beasts
grew and perished in accord
with their past and future destinies.

So here we are - earthbound,
tossed from our mothers' wombs -
fated to live and breed
by the grace of miracles
far beyond our ken.

Beloved mother Gaia,
from whose dust we are raised,
nurture and sustain us
and sing us to our mortal sleep.

2. Air

Air - earth's miracle brew of
     oxygen, nitrogen and all the rest
          meted out in perfect harmony.

Air - silent and still on a moonlit night -
     driver of sheeted rain on window panes -
          and winds that shake the trembling aspens.

Air - author of land and ocean squalls -
     bringer of that ominous pallor
          that presages a tornado's furor

Air - invisible aerial highway
     for majestic eagles and turbo-jets -
         medium of rhetoric and symphonies.

Air – window to the cosmos
      and our fragile life–giving broth -
          unwitting conveyer of toxic alchemy.

Keep watch my sisters and brothers:
     the air we breathe is what we make it
          or rather what we let it be.

3. Water

Water like a capricious deity
     wanders through time and topography -
     cherished and cursed for
     what it gives and what it takes away.

Gentle rains and strident gales
     sculpt rivers and streams
     through forests and plains
     bound for union with the open sea.

Diurnal tides ebb and wane
     at the whim of the charismatic moon.
     Ice mountains advance and retreat;
     rock-strewns moraines left in their wake.

Turbulent currents
     soar over jagged cataracts,
     spraying pastel prisms
     across the misted valleys.

Beneath our all too fragile skins,
     secret sanguine rivers navigate
     our veins and arteries
     bathing organs, limbs and sensors
     with curative balm and sustenance.

Wellspring of all elements,
     fill our daily ladles
     and grant us the will and empathy
     to bequeath the same to our progeny.

4. Fire*

Two hundred million years ago
our Paleolithic cousins
seized branches from a burning forest
and stepped into a bold new world.

By the glow of fire-lit caves,
and the scent of searing venison,
they gathered wits and tools
to craft shelters and weaponry.

Their children's children would design
forges and furnaces, factories
and build engines that run on fire.

But their anxious siblings in despair
snatched lightning from the sky
and twisted by fits of anger pride
made also muskets, missiles, bombs
and nuclear Armageddons.

Loki, god of nobler flames
open our blood-stained eyes
and show us the means
to stay our arson lust and
abide by the light of reason.

Revised and integrated version, December, 2015
These four poems are aligned with a set of piano preludes of the same title completed 12-21-2016. Here is a link to the music
Nov 2015 · 1.1k
Shiloh-Scott Eastbound
Robert C Howard Nov 2015
Standing in the tunnel
at Eighth and Pine station,
I survey westbound commuters
waiting across the tracks  -
standing arms akimbo
or leaning on marble walls.
A well-suited young man paces the platform -
cell phone pressed to his cheek.

    [Passengers stand clear of the
    edge of the platform at all times]

Rushing in from the east,
a gleaming white chariot
arrives - pauses - resumes
leaving the far platform vacated
as if by alien abduction

From the left a blazing light
pierces the  tunnel
and the Shiloh – Scott eastbound
halts and snaps open its doors.
crossing the threshold.,
I claim a seat by the aisle.

    [Please stand clear! Doors are closing]

With eyes half shut I scan the crowd:
uniformed workers wearing ID's,  
a toddler’s arms and legs
dangling off his mother's lap,
An elderly couple talking softly.

The soft clatter of wheels
and the gentle side-to-side sway
rocks us like a cradle -
memories of the long day
melting into thoughts of home.

    [Fairview Heights Station.
    Doors open to my right]

The lady with the toddler steps off.
A trio of teenage girls
fresh from the mall
seek and find empty seats -
filling the rear of the car
with the music of their chatter.

Streetlamps scatter shadows
over parking lots.
The unseen country side
slips by under cover of darkness.
Headlights gleam like jewels
waiting for crossing gates to lift

    [Next stop Belleville Station
    Doors open to my left]

I clutch my lap top,
work my way to the door
and wait for the train’s full stop

Stepping out into the frost filled air
I pause to watch the sleak white chariot
vanish on the eastern horizon.

September,  2006
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Nov 2015 · 2.6k
Footsteps in the Snow
Robert C Howard Nov 2015
for Robin

On that frosted January day,
     you and I hiked north
along the Mississippi shore
     on a trail marked well before us.

Footfall tapestries etched in snow
     wove tales of assiduous commerce
of hosts of fur-cloaked cousins:

the playful step-slide gambit of an otter -
      rabbit paw tracks by the score.
A bald eagle soared above singing ripples
      in quest of a mid-day meal.

The distant staccato cadence
      of a pileated woodpecker
          echoed off the limestone bluffs
on that January afternoon.
     Dusk-light washed the western sky
          in pastel gold and crimson hues.

A coal barge heading south
     thundered against the floes,
scattering ice across the channel,
     then vanished beyond the bend.

And we like bargemen at their tillers,
     set our southward course
retracing footprints in the snow -
     back to the world of clocks and enterprise.
January, 2011
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Nov 2015 · 1.4k
Brunch at the Avian Café
Robert C Howard Nov 2015
Crystal chandeliers
shelter an aviary restaurant
just beyond our patio.

A pair of purple finches,
having heard the place well-chirped,
drop in for a hasty lunch
and flit away full and fortified.

A cardinal taxies in to sample
the black oil sunflower seeds,
then revs his engines for the flight
to a chilled Magnolia branch -
scattering  snow tufts as he lands.

Birds of every kin and feather
spread the word from branch to tree
that you just can't beat the tasty fare
at the little wire and glass café
beneath the crystal chandeliers.

*February, 2011
Please consider checking out my book,  Unity Tree - available from in both book and Kindle formats.
Nov 2015 · 901
Robert C Howard Nov 2015
At 20, it's adios to childhood.
By 30, you have played your youthful folly card.
At 40, you have ground it out to mid-field.
At 50, the bigger helping was dished out yesterday.
At 60, you enter the final stretch.
At 70, you finally get to play your wisdom chips.
At 80, most are surprised to see you.
After 90, Godot is waiting for you.

*November, 2015
Pleased consider checking out my book,  Unity Tree - available from in both book and Kindle formats.
Nov 2015 · 451
Mr. McCrary's Gift
Robert C Howard Nov 2015
Imaginary home plate was just off the back stoop.

I tossed a rock up a yard or so and as it fell
I whacked it with my stick

and watched its skyward arch -

conjuring fantasies of Tiger Stadium.

      The phantom crowd stood and roared.
      “It looks like a long one folks - going, going ...”


Mr. McCrary’s garage window
splintered into a thousand shards.
My stadium vanished and I was naked in the garden -
desperate for a fig leaf.

I fled into the house (where I could not hide)
shaking with mortal dread
and not being catholic, I had no choice
but to confess my sin to my actual father.

Dad cradled my terror in his hands
and led me to Mr. McCrary’s back porch
where I knocked then stammered out my sorrys.

Soon, with dad as foreman,
I chiseled, measured and glazed away
until Mr. McCrary’s window
was entirely healed and restored.

Pushing the mower a half year later
I sensed movement across the fence
and looked up to find myself
staring into old man McCrary's eyes -

My guilty heart shivered as I
braced for the verbal thunder to follow.

But there would be no storm.
The old man's face softened into a smile;
he tipped his hat and pressed his *** into the soil.
Please consider checking out my book,  Unity Tree - available from in both book and Kindle formats.
Nov 2015 · 1.2k
Summit Meeting
Robert C Howard Nov 2015
"The pity of war, the pity war distilled" - Wilfred Owen

Somewhere in the after-haze,    
     Jesus sought Mohammed
who was on his way to see him.
     Moses met them on the ridge
and without a mike or gavel,
     the meeting was convened.

They fell to their knees in sorrow
      hands cupped to catch their tears -
shed for the smoldering chaos below -
     so far from what was meant to be:

Sworded and chain-mailed crusaders,
     suicide synagogue bombers,
machine guns stuttering in Palestine,
    fire raining from the skies
bombs igniting at the speed of death,
    slaughter at a Parisian concert.

Fathers of the light rise up
     from your lofty provenance.
Unite your tear-drenched hands
     and come dwell within us.
Breathe healing truth into the ears
     of every foe of love and life.

          So much more was meant to be!

Come to us now
     before the setting of the sun!

November, 2015
Please consider checking out my book,  Unity Tree - available from in both book and Kindle formats.
Oct 2015 · 4.1k
Give us Shelter
Robert C Howard Oct 2015
Three parts treasure hunter
to two parts scientist,
the archaeologist
with picks and brushes
sifts through shards and ruins,
echoes of ancestral time,
burning for answers:

How on earth did we manage
to carve out shelters from the crust
tilting the scales
of survival in our favor?

A cliff house here, a cathedral there
a village by the river
chronicling our escape from
the shadows of pre-recorded time.

We wonder where they all went
and why they vanished, but the real question
that haunts our paleolithic selves,
is who are we and where are we going?

*October 30, 2015
Pleased consider checking out my book,  Unity Tree - available from in both book and Kindle formats.
Oct 2015 · 852
Leaves of Gold
Robert C Howard Oct 2015
The artist leaned in slowly
to his daughter’s sculpted visage,
placed a slender leaf of gold
across her ceramic brow
and gently pressed it with his brush.

But for all his art and craft he knew
no gilder’s foil was half so dear
as the child with half-closed eyes –
with mother’s tender brush
caressing strands of finest gold -
singing her to sleep.
Please consider checking out my book,  Unity Tree - available from in both book and Kindle formats.
Oct 2015 · 1.5k
Requiescat in Pacem
Robert C Howard Oct 2015
Decked out in chiffon and lace
young Ella, called after mom,
never felt so grown,
rushing to mother’s call
to pilot the stroller today.

The streets to market were bare
save for a frail widow
guiding her walker to their right -
smiling at the girl in chiffon.

Without a sign, electric shocks
seized the old woman's frame,
spreading her supine like a crucifix
beside the irrelevant walker.

Battling through glazing eyes,
she clung to images of mother, stroller
and the girl in chiffon -
their cries a distant echo.

But their images presently faded
and old dear Ella returned to primal dust.

*July, 2006
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Oct 2015 · 1.3k
Robert C Howard Oct 2015
Night equals day equals night;
The march of hours pauses,
poised in tranquility
as the waning season cedes
to its successor -
with each passing day spinning
like a cosmic pirhouette
whirling about the solar axis.

The oracle of autumn
prophecies the coming snow and ice.
So we gather in our grain
and fire up a *** of tea
to share before the hearth.

The solstice descends upon us
as we burrow in with friends and kin.
But even as the frozen ground
crackles beneath our boots,
we trust the ever-whirling earth
to stretch the days once more
and raise spring flowers from their sleep.

*October 14, 2015
Please consider checking out my book,  Unity Tree - available from in both book and Kindle formats.
Oct 2015 · 1.5k
Robert C Howard Oct 2015
Lauren has returned from her doc
with a portrait of the future
engraved on her spirit.

A collation of sonic pings
etched on a computer screen
reveal her new legacy
lying supine in an amniotic cradle
limbs and digits outstretched -
reaching for tomorrow.

Hands and feet to
touch and navigate the earth.
Inquisitive eyes and ears
to map and explore
the wonders of the universe.

Emergent life suspended today
within a mother's womb
but destined for future liberty.

*October 11, 2015
Please consider checking out my book,  Unity Tree - available from in both book and Kindle formats.
Sep 2015 · 814
Richard's Bones (repost)
Robert C Howard Sep 2015
In a Green Friar car park
a professor turns the key -
his engine shudders - falls mute.

Leaning classword into the wind,
his footfalls cover the echoes
of the lethal chaos beneath his feet -
masking the curses of proud Richard
struggling to keep his saddle.

Then, in a whirlwind of swords,
the final Rose of Lancaster
falls in slow motion
to the Leichester earth -
merging with the primal dust.

The professor's archaeologists
have arrived for the dig
and Richard's bones begin to stir.
I had taken this poem done for complete modeling and here it is again.
Sep 2015 · 499
Sam's Watch
Robert C Howard Sep 2015
When the hand of his timepiece
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 –
it's whistle shrilling the Tioga valley.

Powered by coal
his train carried coal
to the shops and homes of Elmira
where Sam would press his mother’s hand –
perhaps for the final time.

The wheels, churned iron on iron,
across Pennsylvania farmland
just as yesterday’s wheels
moved his grandfather's oxcart
to their new family spread
alongside the Williamson road.

Newer wheels carry America
to urban landscapes
attracted like electro-magnets
to streetlamps – factories –
five and dime stores –
new crops for a modern age.

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

His Jenny and his sister’s Sam
had come in a horseless carriage
with Zoe, Ed and Marie -
children now grown at their sides.

They all gathered to Hannah’s bed,
now approaching her final hours.
Soft voices and fragile smiles
cradled the truth beyond telling;

Time, ever advancing
like an ever-turning wheel
holds us all in its circling sway.
Sam was my gg grandfather.  He was a railroad engineer who ran coal from Blossburg, PA to Elmira NY.  Ironically two of his brothers died of black lung disease working the Blossburg mines.
Robert C Howard Sep 2015

I - Time Keeper

Prize of a difficult hunt
fresh meat seared in the fire pit:

The ****-clothed victor
severed pieces with his flint
to feed his mate and son
then idly stroked a hollow log
with his crimson tinted club.

He picked up the pace
when the child began
to laugh and whirl
about the flames -
his mother' contented smile
telling, that for a spell at least,
serenity ruled the glade.

II - Found Flutes

In a time too early for telling.
one of our kind unearthed
a dry hollow bone and blew.

Its tones were pleasing
but many more could be found
by scoring several holes in its side.

Though carbon dating may tell
to a millennium or so, when,
no one can ever say why.

III - To Build a Lyre

A Grecian soldier on a cyprus stump
cut holes in a bow too lax for arrows
and gently swept his weathered fingers
across the new strung cords
then composed a lyric to Pan's amors
and a second to brave Alexander.

The soldier, well pleased
resolved to fashion a nobler frame
for his dulcet strings
and raised worthy songs
to Apollo and Terpsichore.


IV – The Music Press

In his modest shop in Venice
Ottaviano Petrucci turned the wheel
and pressed notes to paper
for music's first edition.

Squares and diamonds peppered the staves
and tunes of Obrecht and Josquin des Prez
soon graced the salons
of Europe‘s most elegant palaces.

V - Sonata Pian e Forte

From a desk at St. Mark’s in Venice
Gabrieli pondered a question,
“How can an echo’s diminishing sound
be shown in a music score
so that one group of brass
can reflect the other
across the cathedral's nave? '

With two simple words he shifted forever
the course of music’s stream.
For the leaders he marked down “forte, ”
and their its echo marked down, “pian.”

VI - The Master of Cremona

Stradivarius extracted a maple sheet
From his curing vat in Cremona
and hung it to dry with the others -

Then taking his carving knives
He sculpted a cello's scroll
while a golden sheened violin
awaited his finishing cloth.

His secrets expired
when his time was fulfilled
but his magic sings on forever.

VII - Theodore Boehm, designer - flutist*

A gifted precious metal smith
desiring a more supple flute
applied all his art and skill
to its maze of rods and keys.

Each trial was scored
by his ears and fingers
until the door was unlatched.
to euphonious efficiency.
Clarinetists then coaxed him
to fashion their keys as well.

So behind every dixie licorice stick
or Debussy’s pastel faun
stands a persistent man
with a silver flute and
a jeweler's patient hands.

December, 2007
Sep 2015 · 453
Nude Seated by the Window
Robert C Howard Sep 2015
after "Untitled" by Ruza Bagaric*

The **** on canvas
sits by the window looking out,
bathed by the morning sun -
with all her youthful promise
forever preserved
in the luminous interplay of
of delicate chiaroscuro.

But I wonder if she’ll catch a chill
sitting as she is without a stitch.

    Could I fetch you a blanket, dear
    or a piping cup of Chamomile tea?

And just what brings me
to her sunlit room?
Am I her groom or lover,
a devoted patron of the arts
or just a passing stranger
come to borrow Ruza’s eyes.

So there she sits
with her raven tresses
collected in a tidy bun.
I wonder what she sees out there.
Slim chance I’ll ever know.
Sep 2015 · 845
Summer's Last Stand
Robert C Howard Sep 2015
It was summer's last days
along the trail
where the serpentine creek
murmurs and winds
beneath the limestone bridges.

Just beyond the bend
a weary stand of feed corn
awaits the harvester's blades.
An unexpected gust sets
the oaks and sycamores swaying
and a few desiccated leaves
skitter across the path -
harbingers of the impending fall.

In the brush along the trail,
newly morphed Monarchs
flit from purple thistles
to yellow star flowers like
a streak of airborne tigresses.
while honey bees,
cloaked in veils of pollen dust,
quench their thirst with
draughts of goldenrod nectar.

The autumnal equinox
looms just days ahead.
Shadows lengthen as summer sings
its final hymn to the setting sun.
Jul 2015 · 544
Peace Whisperer
Robert C Howard Jul 2015
Will the bard once told us:
"Music hath charms
to soothe the savage breast".

But who will sing the verse and chorus
to spell a world in disarray?

In this twisted season of idiot's tales,
our aching oversoul cries out
for sane and cooling anthems
to still the throb of molten *******
fevered with fratricidal pride.

Author of the cosmos, soothe us now!
Whisper dulcet songs of peace in our ears
that none can deny or misconstrue.

*July, 2015
Please consider checking out my book of poems called Unity Tree - available from in both book and Kindle formats.;=1447340098&sr;=8-1&keywords;=Unity+Tree
Jul 2015 · 627
At the Flea Market
Robert C Howard Jul 2015
There once was a season
for each vintage treasure
spread out on the flea market tables -
items once useful and perhaps a mite cherished.
each with a story to tell.

An Erector set unwrapped in a flurry
on the floor by the Christmas tree -
a bridal quilt for a favored niece
and a hutch from the castle of their dreams.

A clarinet with tarnished keys
rests in a velvet case
whose weekly treks to the music studio
ceased how many decades ago?

A row of antique watches that
used to mark the fleeting hours of
anonymous men and women
sits neatly arranged in a glass top case.

Time advances without mercy
for all that we've left behind
and the flea market speaks eulogies
for our fallen artifacts:
too dated to keep - too dear for the dumpster.

All are for sale now -
(everything is negotiable).

I stroll slowly from aisle to aisle
where shades of my childhood
awaken to merge with the present:
The new Schwinn bicycle
I rode that bright Christmas morning
when the church bells rang
throughout the falling snow.

and there's our wind up victrola
that spun out Sinatra tunes
from the laced covered table in the parlor.

Any of this can be yours for a price
(everything is negotiable)
except for the turning of the wheel.

*July, 2015
Jul 2015 · 373
Family Excursion (Repost)
Robert C Howard Jul 2015
My time machine whirled and stuttered
as I set my course for yesterday
in quest of the ultimate key.

Swooping down to the hour of my birth
I gazed through the glass at Wyandotte General
where mother’s exhausted smile
eased my empathetic dread.

     The long journey had begun.

Steering back in time
I soared across the Atlantic -
high above the tall ships
bearing my ancestors  
to their adopted destinies.

      An immense leap to be sure,
      but the minutest turn of the wheel.

I wondered how my people
had evaded the claws
of Europe’s wretched plagues
and homicidal pretenders
brandishing swords and chalices.

I watched with sorrow as
empires flourished and collapsed.
The hypnotic rhythm
of first and final breaths
wearied my soul.

The breath of prophets
drifted over hills and rivers,
past fields, flocks and shepherds.

      But there was still
      no glimpse of a beginning.

My forebears' footfalls led me back
to the tangles of tropical Africa
to hear our initial words
spoken in a course and faltering tongue.

In wonder, I witnessed
our first cautious bipedal steps
10,000 generations ago
by the light of new found fires
dotting the evening campgrounds.

      I slipped my vessel back in gear
      and fed it some fuel;
      for I still had eons to go.

I circled over bands of ancient cousins
foraging woods and glades -
fur - covered on all fours:
eyes scouring the earthscape
in search of higher paths.

I waited patiently on the beach
as waves lapped the shore.
for mega-great grandmother
to crawl from the sea
and drink oxygen fresh from the sky.

      Though she was first on land
      my destination was not yet in sight.

My craft passed beneath clouds
over vast and restless waters
where countless ocean denizens
fed and multiplied.

The numbers of species diminished
with each millennium traveled -
bringing me closer to the source.
and the sea became a lonelier
and more desolate expanse.

DNA strands shortened.
our precursors losing
organs and motility.
Minute sea creatures,
buffeted by the shifting currents,
had but a few cells

and then -


      Three and a half billion years from home,
      I waited silently at the threshold.

Hovering over the turbulence
of an oceanic storm
buffeted by cyclonic gusts,
I peered into the darkness.
a sudden flash broke the surface
and a cluster of amino acids
began to assemble, shook and divided.

The tingling beneath my skin
told me I had come home
to my primordial self,
rocking gently
in the dark fertile folds
of the vast and inscrutable sea.

*August, 2007
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