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Robert C Howard Mar 2014
homage to Wallace Stevens

I - My Focus pistoned up the rise
      and all at once, the Rockies -
            silhouettes against the western skies.

II - On the road to Boulder
      a pleated ridge crawls north
            like a blue whale bound for the open sea.

III -  Appalachia's intoxicating verdure
      never fails to induce in us
            a certain mellowing of the spirit.

IV - You 'conquered' my North Face, did you?
      Why, I should skewer your arrogant ***
            like a holiday lamb culled for the sacrifice.

V - Lewis and Clark looked west
      surveying the Bitterroots' frigid expanse.
            Farewell Northwest Passage!  

VI - Pueblos stranded on Enchanted Mesa -
      their rock stairs crumbled to the valley floor.
            Should they dive to their death or starve?

VII –Touristas at Big Bend Park
      wonder at its pastel window -
            its romantic haze a toxic gift
      from stacks across the Rio Grande.

VIII – The once mighty Ozarks humbled by age,          
      dwarfed by the youthful Rockies.
            Listen up, youngsters, your time will come!

IX – We de-bussed to seize the dolomites
      with our hyper-kinetic shutters.
            Pausing for a draught of Italian air,
      I felt the whack of an Alpine snowball.

X - Before Oregon's crater had its lake,
      the mountain scorched the village below.
            Today its azure waters preach only serenity.

XI – Looking down from Shissler peak
      to the golden meadow below
            where the elk herd calmly grazes.

XII – Do mists veil the Blue Ridge Mountains
      or are there really no mountains at all -
            only clouds decked out in mountain attire?

XIII – They say that peaks more steep than Everest
      soar up from the ocean floor.
            Who will scale their sunken heights?

May 28,  2010 – Boulder Colorado
Included in Unity Tree - Collected poems
pub. CreateSpace -
Robert C Howard Sep 2014
The whole earth resounds
     With the exuberant songs
of nature’s majestic harmony.

And sways to the steady pulse
     of all that breathes and roams the land,
That inhabits the rushing brooks
     Or soars through borderless skies,
Of every seedling, flower and chrysalis.
     And every newborn calf and golden field.
All that rise to greet the sun
     Intone their festal hymns
To nature’s exultant harmony.

The boundless wonders of nature’s realm
     Sustain our spirits and illumine our paths
With wisdom taught by the lakes and mountains
     And solace sung by the forests and plains.
So with steady and transfigured hearts,
     we forge our trails through hallowed land.

When the sun has run its daily course
     and twilight claims the fading light,
we offer thanks for the nascent moon
     and the radiant star-jeweled night -
tuning our faith and aspirations
     to the music of the spheres.

The whole earth resounds
     with the exuberant songs
of nature’s majestic harmony
This is a complete rewrite of a earlier submission of the same title. It is the text for the final movement of a cantata entitled Wilderness that I  composed for the centennial of Rocky Mountain National Park.  (See also Song of the Rockies and Alpenglow).

Included in Unity Tree - Collected poems
pub. CreateSpace -
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
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 Nov 2014
For Nat Lipstadt

In response to Nat's deeply moving poem that included me, I now dedicate this 2007 poem to Nat, who I am sure, knows exactly what it means.

She smiled as she
set her lips into
most agreeable motion -
her larynx flexing to
modulate the passing air.

The sequenced air waves
shook my auric drums
and journeyed to my soul.

Out of my reservoir
of ritual response
my lower face
turned a congenial curve.

Two puffs of air
pulsed my vocal folds,
were filtered
by my tongue and lips
and formed a sonic pattern
she was sure to know,

“Thank you.”

December, 2007
Included in Unity Tree - Collected poems
pub. CreateSpace -
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
Robert C Howard Oct 2021
On the occasion of my dear Robin’s 70th Birthday

When I wander with memory’s lens
Through the landscapes of our common journey
I see you everywhere and always.
I find you in my office – sorting out the chaos
Or helping Corinne or Tylka
Cut to their respective chases
With logical and designing hands.

I see us descending step by dusty step
into the pastel kaleidoscope of Grand Canyon,
eventually catching up with Dawn, the adventurer,
waiting for us at the canyon floor.
We are waiting together still at the hospital
for the emergence of Michael, Nate, Stephen and Grace
And see them anew as they approach
The portals of majority.

I see us in Vienna and Rome with Kathy and Dave.
Soaking up history and leaving a few vocal traces behind.

I hear the magic of your voice lingering in the air
Breathing life into the spells of Rutter, Poulenc, Handel, Mozart
And songs of my own conjuring.
I feel your guiding hand in my restless soul
That cannot help chase new, improbable challenges.

We have shared triumphs, trouble, elation and sorrow
As if the highs and lows were  
Equal rows woven into the tapestry
Of our common destinies.

In this beautiful high valley,
Graced by the Rockies opulent wonder,
My heart sings with love and gratitude
For all of our years together.
You are my everywhere and always
Through this Journey Beyond Compare.

Love, Robert – October 13, 2021
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 Sep 2013
How could I ever understand
what it is you choose
to call existence
and how could I ever
tell you what it means to me?

A solitary dot stained
on the canvas
of the expanding universe,
I sense a primal shiver
whenever, 'stranger'
cries out from a page
or whispers in the aether.

*February, 2008
Included in Unity Tree - Collected poems
pub. CreateSpace -
Robert C Howard Jul 2014
Dusk descends across the west

     as our yellow dwarf star 

surrenders its daily reign -

     washing the horizon 

in a diadem of refracted light.

Prismatic clouds blaze

     like a wondrous skycape

brushed by an impressionist deity
     conjoining the passing day 

with the emerging veil of night.

The first stars have arrived

     to escort the silvery moon

along its nocturnal journey.

The season of sleep is upon us.
     A few tilts of the hour glass

will transport our circling furnace

     just below the eastern peaks - 

a harbinger of the coming day. 

     Dawn and twilight

framed in luminous Alpenglow.

*July, 2014
Robert C Howard Aug 2013
LOVE is:
   a dopamine trip
      Paris in the spring
         a really low tennis score.

LOVE is:
         gin and tonic.
LOVE may be:
         or a little of both.

LOVE is:
   a baby's smile
      a ruined Huggie
         graduation day.

LOVE can be:

LOVE is:
   the real deal
      a raw deal
         sweet and sorrow.

Whatever LOVE is(n't),
   without it - no us!

*August, 2010
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.
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.
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
Robert C Howard Sep 2022
What if mother Russian woke up
From her nocturnal terrors
With rank clouds lifted
From delusional eyes?

What if she met the new dawn
With a fresh vision
Of what her nation could/must be?

What if a vicious, vain man
With lust-filled imperial eyes
Were no longer a
Curse on his people and the world?

What if the shade of
A newly passed seer
With a broad port-wine stain
Were to suddenly rise from his tomb?

He’d adopt a new name
For a newly shaped realm
Where truth and compassion
Are traded like ruples.

He’d hack up blood - soaked swords
And exchange them for tractors,
Planes and renaissance tools
And deliver war criminals
To somber halls of justice.

The clouds of despair
Would be scattered away
By the vibrant sun at its zenith.

A gladdened and grateful world
Would take deep breaths
Of the fresh air of peace and health
That a new Russia surely could bring.

What if?
Russia Peace Gorbachov
Robert C Howard May 2022
For my esteemed hardware teammates

Sooner and later
    They all come to Ace.
Some seem certain (even driven) -
     Others a trifle dazed.

Whatever do you need we say -
     A wrench, a drill,
a quart of Highland Breeze?
Perhaps a filter or a socket set
     Or a Flapper Flusher Fixer kit.

Serving you is our honor;
    We're here to provide means
For your visions and dreams.

Just browsing, you say?
     Then enjoy a good walkabout.
Just holler if you feel the urge.
     See you at the finish line.
Hardware. service,
Robert C Howard Mar 2014
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 Dad 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 truths among the spots
and, with mysterious synchronicity,
breathe radiant, illimitable life
into the freckled, speckled pages.

*June, 2009
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
Robert C Howard Mar 2022
sergei lavrov with face carved of limestone
knows no joy save in the mangled bodies of children
or a maternity hospital destroyed.

The russian ship of state has rammed its iceberg –
Known to the world as the Ukrainian heart.
lavrov can lie and lie and lie some more
telling the passengers it’s only a water feature
But like the Titanic, his ship is going down.

Don’t turn your back on a door, sergei,
They’re coming for you.
That limestone face of yours will erode
As cold rivers of truth
grind your lying stone into sand.

So minister lavrov, apostle of mass ******,
You are defendant No. 2 in the coming trial
The gavel will slam against the wood
And you will meet your justice.
Never turn your back on a door.
Robert C Howard Feb 2015
Stephen Hawking in a fantasy rush
once thought the universe would max its tether,
turn a mighty one eighty back toward
the starting gun and run the show in reverse.

What if it were really so?

Would a butterfly return to pre-chrysalis days,
crawl backwards on stalks and un-munch leaves?

Would Frost back-step up that diverged path
to ponder his options anew?

Would we have to jettison those data cards
that school has stuffed inside us
and retreat to our amniotic broth?

What if it were really so?

Uh oh, here come the terrible lizards
back for a curtain call.
Don't you think it's getting awfully hot?

What if it were really so?

Imagine if you can, the silence following the
great "thwupping" sound of the "gnaB giB".

*February, 2015
Robert C Howard Mar 2022
A russian soldier wrote his American friend
    "This is not as they told us:
trainees don’t shoot kids and mothers."

Days later the American learned of his death.
    He had died for nothing – absolutely nothing!
And was sent to **** for even less.

Mother russia needs a new face at its zenith
    The current one's soaked in his victims' blood.
russia, wash away the stains - they are yours!
     Wash away the stains. putin must go!
Robert C Howard Mar 2022
There was a knock on the door.
    A trio of uniformed men took off hats
And respectfully asked to come in.

The woman raised her hands to her face
    As her children appeared at her side.
Her tears knew exactly why they had come.

“It is our sad duty to report your husband
    Was killed by disobediant resisters
During our peace keeping efforts in Ukraine.

We can tell you that his service was not in vain.
     Before he died he was able to blow up
A maternity hospital and several trucks of
     Food and medical supplies
As well as dozens of other civilians.

We bring you this flag in his honor
     With apologies for the blood stains.
We can tell you for certain that none
     Of that blood belonged to your husband.”

The widow felt a tug at her skirt.
    “Mommy, where is daddy?”
Robert C Howard May 2014
The Rockies sing to us at sunrise

      when crystal snow-capped peaks
chant iridescent matins to the dawn,
      the dawn of a fresh new mountain day.

Luminous pastel clouds
     hover across the horizon
painting the hills and valleys below
     in mysterial shades of
lavendar, amber and rose.

The Rockies sing to us at daybreak
      when every crest and vale
unites in raising anthems to the dawn,
      The dawn of a bright new mountain morn.

Forests and fields awaken.
      A bull elk grazes by an alpine lake.
An eagle soars through the morning mist
      over rainbows of Indian paintbrush.
A hilltop lake spills over its rim
      and cascades down the *****
etching serpentine streams in the valley below.

We can hear the mountains singing.
      In every creature, ridge and flower
They bring to us their jublilant songs
      of wilderness, wildlife and wonder

We can hear the Rockies singing.

      The mountains sing forever!

*June, 2009
Included in Unity Tree - Collected poems
pub. CreateSpace -
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.
Robert C Howard Jul 2013
Flight came so easily
when I was a boy of seven.

I'd hover over sidewalks, cars and lawns
gliding on a sea of azure air
above my friends at play
and Mom and Pop talking on the stoop.

I'd circle over McKinley School (my school)
where the recess bell is ringing
and the creek by the edge of the woods
where I found the railroad flare
(my creek, my woods).

Flight came ever so easily
when I was seven (or was it eight?)
when the sky was autumn blue
and the world below was kind and true.

But in time, science grounded me,
said it was just a dream.
After all a boy can't just up
and repeal the law of gravity, can he?

Why yes, of course he can:
it comes so easy
when you're seven or eight
and the skies are right for flying.

*October, 2010
Included in Unity Tree - Collected poems
pub. CreateSpace -
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
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.
Robert C Howard Mar 2016
Golden prairie fields
caressed by August breezes
softly call your name.

*July,  2010
Robert C Howard Jul 2013
Spare no lament for the maple leaves
     that hail their impending fall
with blazing gold and scarlet concerts
     bright as Christmas brass in marble halls.

How bold their radiant hymns resound -
     mute to the sweatered ones below
whose treble scraping rakes -
     raise smoldering pyres of the fallen.

Steamy plumes from cocoa mugs
     blend with burning oak and maple wisps
as rakers chant their own sweet airs,
     “The colors surprised this year,
didn’t think we’d had the rain.”

So spare no lament for the maple leaves
     whose jubilant anthems,
raised beneath the harvest moon,
     herald their fall with rainbow alleluias.

*November, 2006
Included in Unity Tree - Collected poems
pub. CreateSpace -
Robert C Howard Oct 2014
at the Missouri Botanical Garden*

The earth paused in its orbit
that peaceful autumn afternoon
as we strolled the garden paths
cloaked beneath a veil of cotton clouds.

We walked through a kaleidoscope
of hanging globes of spectral mums,
Hypericum patches lined the trail -
their red berries exploding into golden stars
and sartorial toad lilies had
donned their finest freckles.

Across the garden lake,
grasses, maples and burning bush
embellished the opposite shore.
a maple leaf floated by
like a delicate raft
painted gold with scarlet trim.

This was the hour the world stood still
in the tranquil grace
of an autumn afternoon.
Included in Unity Tree - Collected poems
pub. CreateSpace -
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.
Robert C Howard Sep 2013
Symphony No.9 in d – minor, opus 125

Allegro ma non troppo

The silence gives way gently
to quiet tremolos rustling
beneath the beckoning
call of distant horns.
A melodic cell, nascent in violins,
spirals down to the somber depths
of cello and contrabass.

A sudden cataclysm
shakes the hall like thunder
heralding our universal birth.
Gales of sonic force
splashed like turbulent waves
against the rocky shores.

Drifting sans glass or sextant
on a sea of expanding mystery,
we gaze to the heavens
in hopes for a glimpse
of our father’s aetherial dwelling.

Molto vivace

With hands intertwined,
we dance in a ring
to the capricious airs
of the laughing gods
with Zeus himself on timpani.
So pass the wine and kiss your neighbor
and fill your glass to the brim!
For today is yesterday’s morrow
and tomorrow’s history.

Adagio molto e cantabile

There is no greater and more healing light
than the candles that shine
in the eyes of a friend
or loving spouse -  
tenderly lighting our paths
through the storms and fogs
that cloud our lives.
Peace abides in a friend's embrace.

An die Freude

Against raging storms of
strife and sorrow.
we hear a healing voice
A calm cello hymn -
that migrates up to higher cords
of violas and violins -
breaking into joyous song
sung by trumpets, winds and drums.

Casting all shrillness of discord aside,
a baritone lines out Schiller’s ode -
and sings of Elysium’s daughter.  
Quartet and chorus enter in
proclaiming hope for the human family,

A tenor raises a stein to valor
in the company of his friends.
The quiet pulsing of horns and winds
ushers in torrents of ecstasy.
Arms clasped in communal embrace,
we gaze to heaven on bended knees
then rise with a majestic fugue
that illuminates our souls
like a blazing Alpine dawn.

In a cyclone of passion,
Schiller's words and Beethoven's notes
entreat us to restore
what custom has rent apart
that each of us may live our lives
as brothers in heavenly sanctuary.

May 25, 2007
Robert C Howard Aug 2013
(Scene by the brook)*                                

He came seeking solace to Heiligenstadt
    and walked alone by its crystal stream
        welcomed by songs the nightingale taught.

Its cheerful waters made Vienna seem
    a distant, cool and forbidding stage
        where few would embrace a pastoral dream.

He dotted his sketchbooks on every page
    with earthen tones born of peasant heart -
        (though fare rich enough for any age) .                

He poured from the stream the fiddle part,
    and woodwinds sang with the birds in the dell -
        all "choired" together by his masterful art.

At Heiligenstadt Beethoven attended well
    and bequeathed us his golden 'Pastorale.'

*July, 2006
Robert C Howard Aug 2013
Jacques and Emile's veins
pounded in their skulls
as they scrambled down the ladder
and through the labyrinth of sewers
to rejoin their fellow assassins
beneath the Parisian thoroughfares.

They'd tracked the **** Captain's moves
for past a week and knew precisely
what he drank and where he ******.
They were ready when he
Stumbled down the brothel stairs.

When Jacques stepped left for a clearer shot
he found a bucket with his foot.

The German wheeled and spotted them -
raising his whistle to his mouth,
but before he had a chance to blow,
A silent report from Emile's rifle
crashed into his trachea
And he crumpled like a rag.

Back in the tunnels
Jacques bragged like a circus barker,
"You should have seen the look on
Gerry's face before we brought him down."

Emile had seen his face alright,
but thought only of the whistle
that would have doomed them all.

What do you when the world goes mad
and **** tanks roll into the Champs Élysées?
Who do you **** and why and how?

Jacques was sound asleep
and deaf to his comrades' whispers -
pondering what to do and when.

The decision came quickly and a
different sort of mission was planned
and Emile selected to execute it.

What do you do when the world goes mad?

*August, 2013
The outline of this story is true but the names and exact circumstances are fiction. A violinist I knew was about to enter the Paris Conservatory when the tanks came and he joined the French Underground instead.  The Liberation of Paris was planned in support of the amazing courage and effectiveness of the French Underground.
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
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
Robert C Howard Aug 2013
In memoriam Asher and Franklin

Farmers flocked to Blossburg's mines
    willing their abandoned plows
    to perpetual dust and rain.

Burrowing into the Tioga hills
    with Keagle picks and sledges,
    they filled their trams with rough cut coal.

Black diamonds - carved for waiting boilers
    of New England mills and trains
    and Pennsylvania's winter stoves.

Brothers, Frank and Asher swung their picks
    in tunnels deep beneath the hills
    and brushed away the clouds of soot.

Their coughs at first seemed harmless
    enough as from nagging colds or flus -
    but deepened as their lungs turned black.

Pain and choking drove them to their beds
    where no medic's art could aid them.
    Then the coroner came to seal their eyes.

A stonecutter's chisel marks their brevity
    on an marble graveyard obelisk
    that pays no homage to their sacrifice.

September, 2007
Asher and Franklin Howard were my great grandfather Sam's brothers. Both died of black lung disease working the coal mines in Blossburg PA.  Ironically Sam was a railroad engineer who mainly delivered coal from the Blossburg mines to Elmira NY.
Robert C Howard Aug 2013
for sister, Marcia and brother, Jim

What Kind of Fool
Am I, Blue Christmas?
A Fool for Love - That's All.

You Are Love -

The Song is You Belong to
Me and my Shadow.

So What(s)                  
The Use of Wonderin’ (If)                
What I Did For Love
Is Sweeping the Country?  

Be My (Endless) Love
Is a Many Splendored Thing!

Be My Love
Till the End of Time.

June, 2007
Robert C Howard Sep 2013
The sun boils off its heat-light flares
        over 93,000,000 miles away
                yet as close to us as sunburn -
    drafting the circles of our years.

Our ancestors fill our boots
        with us and our descendants
                (one pair - so many feet)
    stepping out to where we've been.

Along the corridors of time,
        our mind screens play what passed
                before we fledged and fled our nests:
    There is here and then is now.

Whether we tilt the earth to shake out
        wisdom, fame or empathy
                or let chaos light our paths,
    our curiosity is a sturdy ladder raised

to scale the walls of space and time.
        Who cares that life presages death and
                decay calls breath from dust?
    Our earthly sojourns - our souls' domain.

*January, 2007
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.
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.
Robert C Howard Aug 2013
At Woodhenge's sacred circle
hut roused Mississipians
gathered in wintery bleakness
to track the golden crown's
ascent above the solstice post.

Their Solar Priest presided:
and assuring them all
that tomorrow's sun would rise
slightly farther to the north.

Last solstice morn at Cahokia,
latter day Mississippians
observed our red dwarf star
as it broke the tree - clad horizon,
inclined slightly to the right
and soared into cold December's sky.

Our Sun Priest, robed
in a ranger's jacket
in his own way:
and released us
to our journeys home -
assured that tomorrow's sun
again would climb the heavens
slightly farther to the north.

*December, 2006
Included in Unity Tree - Collected poems
pub. CreateSpace -
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
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
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.
Robert C Howard Aug 2013
René Descartes rested his pen,
to take a Parisian stroll -
stopping to order a cup
at his favorite patisserie.

The waitress queried "with cream?"
and René who sipped his brew black
testily scoffed, "I think not"
and immediately disappeared.

*August, 2013
Robert C Howard Jul 2013
The Brick Church Road leads to Friedens
where yesterday as today
wooden carts and steel wagons,
ferry their most solemn cargo.

After the preacher’s comfort tonings
of walks through the shadowy valley
and eyes lifted to the hills,
After fresh sod flourishes
over the sealed earth,
the carved stones whisper,

“Remember our bearings and sirings,
the banners we carried,
our triumphs and stumblings.
Sound the words and tunes of our jubilant songs!
Never forget that we are you.”

*April,  2007
Included in Unity Tree - Collected poems
pub. CreateSpace -
Robert C Howard Sep 2023
Far from home!
How can it be
That my former land,
Once so free and constant
Has been torn away from me?

Beyond the distant sea, my soul
Cries out for the land that beckons me
And speaks my name in every passing breeze.

I raise my eyes to the setting sun.
Whatever gods that hear my plea,
Heal the pain that burns my soul.
Restore me to that land
Where I first took breath,
Where all I love
And live for
Calls me
Robert C Howard Jul 2013
The Gods are money sound these days.
and priests have marketing degrees -
The faithful, called to worship
by giant plasma screens,
in mega-shopping sanctuaries
selling salvation through merchandising.

At the Church of Holy Consumption
all denominations are welcome –
hundreds, twenties, tens.
All the hymns are sung by Muzak -
the readings daily specials.

A sister spritzes us with holy essence
(The bottle's 40 bucks an ounce).          
Leave your offerings at the till -
major credit cards accepted.

When worship time is up,
sign the dollar across your chest
and bend a knee to the talking head
cooing soothing benedictions,

“Go in Peace, my child. You’re worth it.”

*January,  2007
Robert C Howard Aug 2013
Our mystic alabaster satellite
rules the midnight sky
casting shadowy silhouettes
of all our trees and houses.

Rational tri-millennial me
chooses not to bay about it
or worship its fabled godly essence
(long since neutered by geology).

Casting aside the chains of time
I sidle up to Cenozoic me
munching on a leg of venison
staring at that improbable hanging ball
suspended in the southern heavens.

Wonder and vexation cloud his hairy face -
hunting vainly for a clue.
I whisper in a secret tongue
that only he and I can comprehend,
"You may not get it yet, grandpa
but soon enough you will."
Included in Unity Tree, published by Create Space available from in both book and Kindle formats.
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