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Nov 2020 · 41
Veterans' Day
Robert C Howard Nov 2020
When it's all on the line,
our finest step up to hold it,

They secure that line on the ground
on the seas and in the air.

It is a life of service, risk and sacrifice
and not all return to their grateful nation.

For those who leave us,
we offer prayers of devine passage.

For those who return, whole or damaged,
no magnitude of honor can ever suffice.

Today is their banner day as are
all days from now to eternity.

America thanks you and remembers you,
now and forever.
Nov 2020 · 38
Our Presidency
Robert C Howard Nov 2020
When your name is called
and you raise your hand to swear
to pre[serve], protect
and defend us all,
the world attends your
every word and step and deed.

When your season is fulfilled,
you return to the one post
higher than that of the presidency:
citizen of the world's
most honored democracy.
Nov 2020 · 35
Time to Make the Call
Robert C Howard Nov 2020
It's time, Mr. President.
Lift the phone and make the call.
No one pretends it's easy
but the chord has been struck
and it's time to man up
and face the song that sings
from shore to mountain to shore

The tune is bitter but clear
and it's time to pick it up
and give Joe the dreaded call.

It's time Mr. President;
make the call.
Call Joe.
Sep 2020 · 92
Quoting Carroll
Robert C Howard Sep 2020
O frabjous day! Callooh Callay

My new book of poems From the Mountain to the Sea is now available from Hope you enjoy it!

Here is a link:
Aug 2020 · 300
Olympic Coast
Robert C Howard Aug 2020
Sea stars, urchins and anemones
     ride the tidal waters at Rialto Beach
           swirling into shallow pools -
      clad in shades of blue, emerald and violet.

Gnarls of ancient driftwood line the beach
     up to the rainforest’s edge just beyond the rise.
           Pulsing waves dash and roar against the sea stacks
       where the Pacific adjoins the California shore.

Legions of seagulls circle above
       piercing the misted air with their cries
           and the tide, beckoned by the Sky Queen,
       begins to ebb and regain the open sea.

As the sun sinks into the western sky –
       the towers of Split Rock and Hole in the Wall
            are silhouetted against the horizon
       pasteled in gold, orange and burgundy hues.

Gray whales and dolphins breach the surface
       before plunging into the sacred depths
           where the ocean beats pulse on and on -
sounding resonant cadences
       through timeless hallows of infinity.
Aug 2020 · 247
Gold and Silver
Robert C Howard Aug 2020
The lure of gold brought Fifty-Niner’s in droves
     to the Kansas-Nebraska territory
laden with packs, picks, pans and shovels -
      hell-bound for adventure and facile wealth.

Placer miners squatted beside frigid streams,
    dipping their pans and filling their sacks
with nuggets bound for the assayer's verdict.

Mine towns sprang up where the veins were strong.
    In ******* Creek, Leadville, Independence and Central City,
the valleys rang with the strident cacaphony of
     drills and explosives - burrowing shafts deep
into the ore-rich valleys and mountain slopes.

Headlamps lit and shadowed mazes of timbered tunnels
     where men piled rock high into mine cars
headed for the mammoth crushers at Idaho Springs.

Whiskey freely flowed in saloons and hotels
     where raucous miners let off steam with
every mode and cast of ***** talk pleasures

In time, the veins were spent and profits dwindled.
     When the drama ended and the curtain fell,
the miners vanished - leaving only ghost towns behind
      and a new state named for its reddish river – Colorado.
This is the second poem in a cycle called Echoes from Colorado
Jul 2020 · 357
Across the Great Divide
Robert C Howard Jul 2020
A purple veil enveloped the peaks and ridges
      along the mystical divide
           where snowpack and summer rains
      chart opposite courses toward distant seas.

Born of the ancient heave and shudder
       of oceanic and continental plates,
             the Rockies transfix our wondering eyes
        by the spell of their arcane mysteries.

So it has been for those who carved our trails
       and called their mountians by name:
             Arapaho - hoh'enii
                  Hopi - tuukwe
                        Ute – Kåib

All of these good fellow journey folk
      have listened to the same timeless airs
            chanted by murmuring streams and cataracts
       and seen hope reflected in an alpine lake.

We have heard the soaring calls of the Rockies
      on either side of the great divide
         We have heard the mountains’ healing presence
      softly whispering us to our homes.
Across the Divide is the first in a cycle of poems called Echoes from Colorado which will open my new book called From the Mountains to the Sea.

This cycle will constitute the opening my new poetry book called From the Mountains to the sea.  Should be out in a month or two
Jul 2020 · 271
Anasazi Harvest
Robert C Howard Jul 2020
As plaintive tones from a distant flute
     drifted across the mesa valley    
the sun over Spruce Tree House
     began its descent toward dusk.

Above the courtyard, Anasazi masons
     plaster-sealed the final stones
on the great cylindrical tower.
     Collisions of mano and metate
echoed across the canyon as women
     crushed dried kernals into cornmeal.
Others hummed as their skilled hands
     brushed thin black patterns onto
scores of newly crafted bowls and jars.

A young girl rushed up a ladder
     to announce her brothers' return
from ripe mesa top fields,
     carrying baskets of fresh cut
corn, squash and beans on their backs.

A summer of nourishing rain
     promised that storage cists
would be stocked well with food for
     the arduous winter ahead
and seed for the vernal plantings.

Dusk fell on Spruce Tree plaza
     as rich aromas of venison
and fresh baked flatbread
     suffused the crisp October air.
Anasazi is the fourth poem in a cycle called Echoes from Colorado.
May 2020 · 383
To Light a Candle
Robert C Howard May 2020
To light a solitary candle
may not seem like much
but will suffice to
illuminate a neighbor’s path -
obscured by the loss of day.

So we strike a match
and with charring fiber and melting wax
reveal our neighbors’ faces
glowing faintly in the shadows.

Friends gather to join
their wicks and wax with ours
spreading shafts of hope-born light -
melting despair and gloom
in consoling flames of transfiguration.

Like a lighthouse set high on a cliff,
our beacons will shine through
the dark and fog of uncertainty -

       Light to press the harm aside
       Light to safen the shaking ones

in vessels great and small
from splintering against the rocks.

To light a single candle
may not seem like much
but it can suffice.
This we can do and we will!
Apr 2020 · 389
Robert C Howard Apr 2020
Where do we go for sanctuary?
Tossed by turbulent waves in storms of time,
we scramble for a leeward shore.

Where can we find security when
violent winds rise to splinter our shelters -
cursing dreams to oblivion?

How can we conjure hope
when famine, disease and bitter tyranny
stalk us in the shadows?

The answers lie within us
where means and tools for restoration live
and empathy is our guide.

Gifted with imagination’s plow,
we envision re-cultivation of the thirsty soil -
so prescribed by our creator.

We think, and so we care.
we care, therefore we act and sacrifice.
The future is our calling.

Reason, trust and community
must ever be our strong and worthy foundations
and capstones of our sanctuary.
Apr 2020 · 149
Winter Dervish
Robert C Howard Apr 2020
On a tranquil spring morning
     after the gold-washed rising sun
had yielded to the glow of an azure sky,

     the western peaks crept into view -
their crystaline white-capped peaks
     frosted by a nocturnal snow shower.

While the valley gently awakened,
     a frenetic dance swirled on the heights
choreographed by turbulent winds.

     Billowing clouds gathered like dervishes
whirling violently in a ritual tempest -
     hurling frigid sprays into the dawning sky

Down in the valley, the warming sun
     calmly consumed the remaining flakes  -
while battle raged on the peaks, unabated.

April, 2020
Apr 2020 · 303
Robert C Howard Apr 2020
Through troubled seasons when cherished ones
      are out of sight but never out of heart,
we close our eyes and visages appear,
     from reliquaries of hallowed memories.

From exile, we gather sustenance
     from smiles or hearty laughs recalled
or brows contorted from common care -
     harvesting golden tokens of our kinship.

United beyond walls of separation
     we envision times to come
when we clasp arms again in solidarity
    and break a common loaf of bread.

For now, we chant hymns to caritas
    for all we hold dear and sacred -
conjuring not too distant seasons
    when hope and restoration regain the earth.
Feb 2020 · 83
Robert C Howard Feb 2020
Rain clouds hover in the night
veiling the crystal moon -
spraying steady showers
on the hills and plains below.

The Missouri stirs from slumber
spreading claws of water up its banks
as rain sheets, lashed to horizontal
saturate the fields and valleys.

Illumined by the misted moon
The river’s shoreline grows
by inches through the night -
stealing into ever higher ground.

Daybreak finds new ponds conjoined
and spilled across low lying roads
and TV teasers sound their alarms.
'Stay tuned, tape at 10: 00.'

Downpours to the west and north
saturate Mississippi valleys and
Saint Louis flood gates rumble closed.
Farmers abandon all hope for harvest.

Our screens chant nightmare litanies
of sandbag crews and second floor rescues,
crumbling levies and sunken vehicles -
a twisting farmhouse claimed for driftwood.

The clouds’ reservoirs at last are spent,
the inland sea recedes to lakes
and our weary cousins stumble home
as the Mississippi quietly relearns it banks.

March, 2008
Feb 2020 · 80
A Podium Credo
Robert C Howard Feb 2020
I’d never mark my stamp on you
even if I thought I could
and with lessons drawn
from father’s “tool and die, ”
I know I’ll never try.

That stamping press he used
left only negative impressions,
crushed in carbide steel,
to mark the owner’s brand.

No, I’ll have none of that
I need your free undented souls
To sing both “I” and “we”
in mystic synchronicity:
drawing life from the speckled pages.

But like my father at his lathe,
I’ll ply my studied craft
and bid you do the same with yours
so that you and I
can find our truth among the spots
and, with mysterious synchronicity,
breathe radiant, illimitable life
into the freckled, speckled pages.

June, 2009
Feb 2020 · 73
Steamship Put-in-Bay
Robert C Howard Feb 2020
for my parents with love

Such a grand and festive lady
that steamer to Put-in-Bay
escaping her dock
just after dawn
leaving Detroit's factory din
moored to the Michigan shore.

Sunbeams glanced off waves
in lake Erie's tranquility
bound for Sandusky
and Put-in-Bay Island.

Clattering silver and porcelain
veiled by sweeter sounds
of congenial banter and
ballads crooned by the shipboard band.
playing late beneath the stars
for 'swing' and 'jitterbug'
reeds and horns and ritual beats
blazed the air with frenzied jubilation.

Paired in the rhythm section,
Jim drove chords from strings and pick
while Janice matched beat for beat -
fingers gliding over ivory and ebony
until Detroit lights shone ashore
on the port side bow
where the Put-in-Bay would
re-tether to its Motor City pier.

How their union sealed is forever’s mystery.
Was it bonded
checking chords in a Gershwin tune
or on break over scotch at the bar
or with a sideward smile during “All of Me? ”
No one knows but the moment came,
as sure as rain to Lake Erie,
when Janice knew that Jim would ask
and he knew she’d answer, 'Yes.'

Thanksgiving day, 2008
(also Dad's birthday)
Feb 2020 · 66
A Needle in the Desert
Robert C Howard Feb 2020
Meditation on Mark 10: 17 - 31

He departed in sorrow.
Where had he failed?
He could have built Jesus
a mega-church,
the pride of all Judea,
in just exchange
for a ticket to paradise.

Instead the one who would
pay the price
for all of our heavenly rooms
had counselled him most strangely,

    “Give all that you have to the poor
    then you will gain what you lack.”

The man rose from his knees -
dignity tossed to the winds.
He’d come in hope
of acquiring more
not squandering all he had gained.

He was last seen combing Judea
in search of a miniature camel
to thread through a jumbo sized needle.

January, 2008
Feb 2020 · 51
Hero without a Badge
Robert C Howard Feb 2020
Richard strained his eyes
and watched his deliverer
merge into misty shadows.
Never would he know
whose strong arms had dragged him
from twisted metal and flames
that used to be his Ford.

At first screaming sirens
and glaring lights
the stranger had risen, smiled
and hastened up the hill.

Haloed in photo flashes
Richard shoved the mike aside.
The lady in a blazer asked again, who?
but Richard only shrugged.
Had he known he wouldn’t have said.

July, 2006
Feb 2020 · 58
Nude Seated by the Window
Robert C Howard Feb 2020
after Untitled by Ruza Bagaric,1996

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 Earl Grey 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.
I doubt I’ll ever know.

December, 2008
Robert Charles Howard
Feb 2020 · 48
Senza Fine
Robert C Howard Feb 2020
for Connetta Rosa Maria Franconero

Dear sister, daughter, friend,
beloved global village singer
sing to us your Siren song turned good.

'Meine Liebe, ' 'mio caro, ' 'mon coeur'
do not despair the ashes -
the Phoenix will fly again.

Moonlight and star-shine
pale before the renaissant dawn
of covenants made and kept.
So let it always be, “Senza Fine.”

December, 2008
Feb 2020 · 53
Galactic Blues
Robert C Howard Feb 2020
The Milky Way was really quite enough
to trim me down to size
but even so I thought it fine
to spread a quilt beneath the stars
and mark my spot
beside the universal edge.

But then those ****** astronomers
had to rewrite the universe
with stellar maps and Hubble pics
that proved beyond the pale
that those fuzzy little nebulae
are really other galaxies.

Hold enough, I say. That’s most unfair!
Who needs another million Milky Ways?

Well, if that's the way it has to be,
then I'll just fold my blanket up
and go inside.
where I'm ever so much bigger!

August, 2008
Robert Charles Howard
Feb 2020 · 42
Robert C Howard Feb 2020
Light bulbs are redundant
When Kayla walks in -
bathing every person and surface
with the flood lamps of her smile.

She smiles when she dances
and smiles when she sings
while two grateful women
who precede her in lineage
draw their bows across the strings.

None would ever suspect
that this fountain of joy
had once wanly trembled
in the valley of shadows.

Yet no matter how vilely
leukemia fought and clawed
to claim her for its own
it never really stood a chance

for Kayla had steps to dance
and songs to sing
and millions of smiles to smile
and would not be denied.

February, 2008
Robert Charles Howard
Jan 2020 · 342
Reality Quest
Robert C Howard Jan 2020
for John Ensworth

Who am I and who on Earth are you?
     In case you wonder too, my friend,
I’ll trade your penny for my thoughts.

On any given day, I check the
    file drawers between my ears
and pluck out mental artifacts
    to craft into action plans
or in short, I THINK and DO.

And as far as reason leads me,
    I must DO to keep my world intact
and THINK to stave off Armageddon
    if you get my drift.
I know, I know, these separate hides
    we are destined to preserve
are breach-less firewalls
    that prevent our ever knowing
each other’s sacred mysteries.  
    Still we seek each other out.
Our common fate - our common bond.

The universe whirls crazily
     beyond the shackles of our skins.
so we measure all we can,
     chart the threads of consequence,
wonder at the mountains and
     seek to learn of seas and galaxies.
What do you think, my friend, of entropy?
     What is the nature of the God(s)
you choose to heed or disavow
     as you wander this inscrutable Earth?

Know that I love you, my stranger friend
     and lacking any other choice,
I cherish the firewalls that define us -
     that we cannot scale or circumvent.
January, 2020
This poem was written after hearing a fine lecture by John Ensworth at the Estes Park Memorial Observatory.
Sep 2019 · 599
Black Canyon
Robert C Howard Sep 2019
Over untallied millennia,
    roiling Gunnison waters
sliced through southern Colorado
    schist and gneiss like a sabre -
carving tower walls of black rock
    ribboned with tableaus of
pegmatite and mica flakes
    flickering in the mid-day sun.

2,000 feet below, meandering
    through its stark canyon walls
like some legendary serpent,
    the Gunnison murmurs softly -
resting on its laurels.

Robert Charles Howard
September 2019
Jul 2019 · 1.4k
Robert C Howard Jul 2019
for Onorio Zaralli

Wherever we look, my friend,

we see children at play.
and children in school .
     We see children in triumph
     and children at risk.
We see mothers at work
or lost in thought.
     We see mothers on the edge -
     survivors striving for a rainbow.

We see aged ones,
proud of their grand-kin's deeds
      and of marks they have etched
      on the universal ledger.
We are our forefathers and sons,
granddaughters and mothers,
     foraging our way through chaos -
     searching for the best map home.

So we hone our skills
and practice our trades
     to harvest our daily portions
     and navigate the tides of time.

Whoever we are today,
wherever we might wander.
      we are our only hope for a better day
      the only “us” we can cherish.

Lost in dreams, my eyes gently close
hoping for a well-marked path to follow
     paved with respect, compassion and justice
     where we may all walk together in harmony.

© 2019 by Robert Charles Howard
Jun 2019 · 653
Robert C Howard Jun 2019
"Synergy is the creation of a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts." - Organizational Behaviour (2008)

Hope takes breath when kindred tempers
     cast off qualms and hubris
to unite in harmonic synergy -
     pledging always more and never less
than each could dream alone.

Lewis and Clark together
    eclipsed the gifts of either man.
Marie and Pierre Curie were
    married to science and life
as they were to one another.

As dynamic as two conjoined streams,
     driving toward the distant sea,
minds in concord free the channel clogs
    that masquerade reality.

But what of us, cast adrift
     in this inscrutable world?
It all comes down to
     who we are together
and how we fasten life to truth.

© 2019 by Robert Charles Howard
Feb 2019 · 4.2k
Robert C Howard Feb 2019
Morning Rainbow

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.

Synthetic Refractions

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!

Spectral Sound

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.
Dec 2018 · 1.6k
Robert C Howard Dec 2018
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.

                               December, 2018
Oct 2018 · 412
Dancing with Descartes
Robert C Howard Oct 2018
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
Oct 2018 · 3.2k
Sacred Calderas (repost)
Robert C Howard Oct 2018
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.
Sep 2018 · 7.7k
Harbingers of Autumn
Robert C Howard Sep 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.

September, 2018
Oct 2017 · 1.0k
Affairs of the Heart
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.
Sep 2017 · 543
Winter Solstice
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
Aug 2017 · 445
Thoreau's Alembic
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
Aug 2017 · 599
Festive Bells
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.
Aug 2017 · 4.3k
Sam's Watch (1915)
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
Aug 2017 · 384
Robert C Howard Aug 2017
The moon hovers high in the dawning sky,
    heedless of clocks and calendars
foretelling the impending hour    
    when her diminutive circle
will mask our proud and mighty sun.

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

Then as now, our resilient sun
     re-birthed 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
Jul 2017 · 418
Robert C Howard Jul 2017
A blessing, please upon my mess!
     For this seeker finds no greater bliss
than weaving a little order
     from tangled strands of chaos.

Whether it be quirky verbal wanderings
     in search of virginal syntax
or note-ribbons hung on the boughs of time,
     allow me a little chaos please
and I'll fight like a badger to sort it all out.

*© 2017 by Robert Charles Howard
Jul 2017 · 483
Mountain Snowscape
Robert C Howard Jul 2017
In the stillness of a winter dusk
     softest snowflakes begin to fall -
draping the western slopes
    with delicate veils of purest white.

The rising moon faintly glimmers
    veiled by swirling clouds
and towering peaks swiftly vanish
      beneath the storm’s frigid advance.

Winter has come to the mountains
     painting a snowscape wonderland.
Winter has come, winter is here
     and rules the high country once more.

Howling winds merge with the poignant cries
     of distant coyote laments.
Deer and elk bed deep in the woods
     gaining warmth in the sheltering pines.

From dawn to dusk the snow cloak deepens,
    wind-sculptured drifts sweep over the hills.

Through the long night the storm presses on
     lashing sleet waves against our window panes.
Homebound, we gather close to our hearths -
     braced to wait out the storms final frenzy.

By morn a few lingering clouds remain -
     spreading vibrant prisms of violet and gold
and shimmering crystals across the valleys.

Winter has come to our village
    and with it a snowscape wonderland.
Winter is here, winter has come
     to rule the high country once more.

*© 2017 by Robert Charles Howard
This poem was written as a vocal text for the first movement of a choral piece called Winter in the Rockies.  There will be two other movements.  Winter in the Rockies will be premiered on December 15th and 16th of 2017 by the Oratorio Society of Estes Park.
Jun 2017 · 430
A Life in the Balance
Robert C Howard Jun 2017
For Ben Godfrey

I awakened today to the frenetic clamor
         of a desperate wasp at destiny’s gate
                  thrashing between my blinds and window.

         (Surely Kafka’s bug had fared no worse).

Emerging from my soporific haze,
         I released my back door latch
                  to clear a portal back to liberty.

But all hopes for a nobility rush
        faded to black when I found her -
                  comatose on the bedroom floor.
Placing her shell on an envelope,
          I ferried her through the open door
                  to rest in state on my back porch rail.

          She wasn’t quite so done as feared.

As if by cosmic intercession,
         she suddenly twitched her wings,
                  and soared into the morning sky.

My elation mystifies me just a little.
       After all, who cares about a lowly wasp?
Yet for one frantic insect,
        how could anything matter more?

© 2017 by Robert Charles Howard
This poem is for Ben Godfrey who observed this scene first hand and suggested I express his delightful story in poetic form.
Robert C Howard May 2017
Through an open window, I hear
      the Big Thompson's steady music
drifting up from the valley below.

May breezes and gentle rains
     coax the snow-capped peaks
to surrender their alabaster cloaks
      downslope into gathering streams.

Silhouetted by light from the waxing moon,
      a cinnamon bear lopes along water’s edge,
pauses for a draught and meanders on.

A bull elk newly coifed with velvet antlers
        folds his legs beneath its belly
and kneels into grasses beside a tranquil pond.
        while the Big Thompson rushes on.

Spring beauties, calypso orchids and geraniums  
       shake off their winter's sleep and
dot every vagabond trail and verdant hill
        while fresh new leaves adorn the aspen boughs.

The Big Thompson inexorably presses on
        bound for rendezvous with time and space
and tumbles into the always patient sea.

© 2017 by Robert Charles Howard
Mar 2017 · 466
Oldman Mountain
Robert C Howard Mar 2017
With head bowed and eyelids sealed in prayer,
    an Arapahoe youth crouched atop Old Man Mountain
waiting alone in silence for a dream to come -
    a dream to reveal the course of his future days.

A rush of wind bent and shook the silvery aspens
    and the breath of his ancestors came and whispered,
“You are to be a shepherd of the mountains.
    You will gather and tend the sheep of the slopes
that your people may gain warmth and shelter
      against winter’s harshest chill and searing winds.”

Guided by the moon and morning constellations,
     the youth, now elevated to manhood
descended the mountain with joy-filled heart
     to reveal his vision to his people.
*© 2017 by Robert Charles Howard
Robert C Howard Jan 2017
I have placed recordings of the music for my poem cycle, Elements of Antiquity (on HP) on line. Here is a link.
Jan 2017 · 803
Spring Song
Robert C Howard Jan 2017
'“Music is one of the attributes of matter, into whatever forms
it may be organized”. - John Muir

A song bursts out as I wander
through a glaciered valley -
richly coutured
in the opulence of spring.

Verdant grasses and Aspen leaves
have shaken off winter's pallor
to join voices with evergreens
in praise of new life emerging
out of the glowing, spectral universe.

The love of a doe guides her fawns
to finest grazing and sweetest waters
as the vibrant sun above
affirms its life-giving covenant.

If I cared, I might lend labels
to flowers, trees, streams and grasses
but have recused myself -
for the season's majesty demands
that nature do all the singing
and I do all the listening.  

*© 2017 by Robert Charles Howard
Music Nature Streams Mountains Forest
Dec 2016 · 1.5k
Can we Talk?
Robert C Howard Dec 2016
Can we talk?

I'm new to town
and I'm certain that you and I
have not yet met.
Are you a stranger too?

It's rather soon to say
but I caught a beacon in your eyes
(or maybe hoped I did) -
wanting down those
Frosted walls of unfamiliarity.

Who knows what tales
we soon may say
of overlapping circles
of shared community -
of parallel victory and loss.

It's so soon to say,
but for now, accept this hand
as a token of mutual membership
in Pangaea's beneficent sanctuary.

Can we talk?

*© 2016 by Robert Charles Howard
Dec 2016 · 357
Robert C Howard Dec 2016
Sam Clemens snagged his nom de plume
     from a boatsman's measuring cry,
"Mark twain," two fathoms depth - quite enough
      to keep a stern wheel free from mayhem.

What are the markings of our voyages?
     What leadsman within will navigate us
through the rocks and shallows
     of feckless greed and foolish delusions?

The captain waits uneasy at his station
    then above the engine's quiet purr,
and the music of gently lapping waves,
    a voice from the deck cries out, "mark twain"
and he nudges the throttle forward.

*© 2016 by Robert Charles Howard
Nov 2016 · 22.3k
Morning Rainbow
Robert C Howard Nov 2016
A halo of transfigured light.
     spanned the hills and autumn gold
of scores of aspen groves
     basking in the morning sun.

But what is this thing we call a rainbow?
     For all our science talk of vapor,
refraction and angle of the sun
     we surrender still in willing captivity
to its beauty, mystery and myth.

Rainbows beguile by their fleeting rarity
      as ephemeral as life itself -
temporal blessings suspended in time
      unintended and undeserved,
spectral bridges between here and there -
       between what is and what should be.
Oct 2016 · 492
Just Call me Bull
Robert C Howard Oct 2016
for the 2016 Estes Park Elk Fest*

They call me Wapiti or Cervus Elaphus
      but you can just call me Bull.
Momma raised me in these peaks and valleys -
      and I owe it all to her -
showing me places to graze -
     taking me to trumpet lessons -
guiding me to the choicest watering holes.

And now I am a man-elk
      and have the rack to prove it.
Fall is here again and some of the ladies
      are looking mighty sweet.
( Just last week I saw one making eyes at me)
      so I gave the rut another go.
It worked out a bunch better than last year
      when I left half my head gear
lying in pieces on the grass.
       but life is good this year as you can see
from all these ladies standing by.

Now let me slip a friendly tip
      just from me to you.
If me or one of the other guys
      have that look in our eyes
and seem perturbed or fidgety.
       Don't mess with us!
Never forget  we outweigh you five to one
       and can book along at 35 miles per.

The same goes for the ladies
       when the babies come in spring.
They love their own like you love yours
       and will abide no wrong to come their way.

Mostly your folks and mine get along fine
       amidst the hills, lakes and other critters
so let's share our common miracles
       in thanksgiving, peace and harmony.

Robert Charles Howard
     *Estes Park, October 1, 2016
Sep 2016 · 895
Forgiveness is for Losers
Robert C Howard Sep 2016
Why should I entomb my hatchet
     after so much toil in the honing?
After all its blade excels alls measures
     for heft and keenness
and no finer tool can be had
     to strike the ultimate blow -
except perhaps the one you're holding.

So here we stand my friend
     ensnared by pride's inertia
with everything to lose
     but one or another's demise
within our imminent grasp.

Then without a sign or preamble,
     our eyes meet as if by chance
and in that unsought instant,
      the shame of forgiveness
saps our strength and sinew.
     Our weapons clang to the pavement.

Unless we're history's fools
     we know it seldom ends this way.
How much must we sacrifice
     before the worst we have been
can give up its sorry shade
     to the best our souls demand?
Sep 2016 · 1.8k
Brave Rodeo Clown
Robert C Howard Sep 2016
Clem, the rodeo clown
wears a bold painted smile,
a bright plaid shirt and bib overalls
with cuffs too short for his legs.

Between the rides and roping -
Clem banters with the emcee,
wheeling off groaners and
scrambling in and out of his barrel-
playing the air-headed bumpkin.

But Clem is nobody's fool;
when that gate opens, his real work begins.

Bull and rider explode from the chute
and the game is on.
The cowboy weaves and writhes to stay on top
for that eight golden seconds
that will earn him his pay
against a half ton of feral energy
stomping and lurching to fling him to the earth.

With eyes as keen as a hungry hawk,
Clem tracks every buck and lurch
for any peril sign - and then it happens:
the rider is hurled airborne,
landing inches from the driving hooves.

Clem seizes the cowboy with
a linebacker's grip
and swings him safely over the fence
as wranglers speed the bull from the ring.

The show goes on and Clem
has plenty more jokes for the crowd
who knows he's never a barrel of laughs
when a rider's life is on the line.
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