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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 - Amazon.com
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 - Amazon.com
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.

BUT HOLD THE REQUIEM FOR A SPELL!
          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 Aug 2013
LOVE is:
   a dopamine trip
      Paris in the spring
         a really low tennis score.

LOVE is:
   ******
      platonic
         gin and tonic.
            
LOVE may be:
   requited
      unrequited
         or a little of both.

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

LOVE can be:
   brotherly
      otherly
         smotherly.

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 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 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 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 - Amazon.com
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, Poetfreak.com 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 - Amazon.com
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 - Amazon.com
Robert C Howard Mar 2016
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 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 - Amazon.com
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 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 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 - Amazon.com
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 - Amazon.com
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 S.S. 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
with pistols raised and steadied.
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 complete 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 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
for Dawn*

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 taunts and banters with the emcee
wheeling off groaners
as corny as a mega-field in Kansas -
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
while 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 Amazon.com 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:
explaining,
blessing,
interpreting,
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:
explained,
blessed,
interpreted
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 - Amazon.com
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 Sep 2018
Cupping my hands at the canyon’s rim
      I fill my lungs and release a primal call,
           vaulting the chasm to a distant face
     where another me answers back.

My cry’s journey spans a mere second or so
     but what stories could that echo tell?
          How can I know that returning voice
     is not the soul of some past or future kin?

         So many questions, so many mysteries!

How many suns and seasons have passed
     since ancient torrents began to cleave the plateau?
          When did the hawk’s shrill cry first split the air
    as it fished in the river’s howl and spray?

When first did the ancient ones walk
     a mile below the canyon’s rim.
         to kneel by the swift river’s shore
     and fill their cups with sustenance.

If you listen closely you will hear
     their voices calling in the restless wind.

The canyon’s colossal breadth
     can be charted in time and space
         but will always be shrouded in mystery.

So I stand at the canyon’s edge and sing
     and the canyon answers back
         but will hold its secret truths forever.

September, 2018
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 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 - Amazon.com
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 Amazon.com in both book and Kindle formats.
Robert C Howard Jul 2013
"A circle is a closed curve,
                All points equidistant
        from its center."*

Before our circles close and seal
                                       their arcs,

What
leaks out into the frigid void?

              What is ****** in like a
                               careless insect

Caught!
in a fly trap's eager mouth?

                What clusters near the
                                             center

warmed
by its radiant nucleus?

          Who or what bangs on the
                                        perimeter

Shouting
for entry or exodus?

                Who is the guardian of
                                         the gate?

What laws
have fealty over the geometry of
                                     the psyche?

December,  2006
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.'
Robert C Howard Jul 2015
I doubt the humble caterpillar
has any premonition
of the glory that awaits
on her impending coronation day.  

Newly hatched, she meanders
over leaves and stalks, binging on the crawl,
in quest of the perfect hanging leaf.

Then suddenly metamorphosis
and silk is everywhere
wrapping her up like Nefertiti -
her insides churned into enzyme soup
a new essence in the making.

Shaking, writhing, a bold new self
is emerging deep within -
an orange and black-winged butterfly
waiting for that liberating hour
to shed her crumbling shell
and beat the air with new- found wings.

*July 10, 2015
Included in Unity Tree - Collected poems
pub. CreateSpace - Amazon.com
Robert C Howard Sep 2013
She brushed out landscapes with her words
as deftly as any impressionist master
and speed-trekked us from where we sat
to scenes of transcendent beauty.
Each day I awaited her verbal canvases
with self-indulgent anticipation.

But one day all was all different.
What was this horrific account of
of unspeakable Afghan tragedy -
A wandering woman whose final defeat,
after all she loved had been butchered,
was hope beyond all recovery
dragging her feet through the dust?

I picked up my heart from out of the soil
to ask her, "were you there?"
She was  - with a physician's bag
for Cindy is a doctor
who eschews a suburban clinic
to defy all danger
and be where life would fail
without her healing craft and care.

Dodging bullets, sputum and mortal threats,
Cindy fights life's most essential battles
and so uplifts the standard of our species.

The next day Cindy painted for us
a verdant mountain scene
whose whispering streams and fragrance
exceeded all I'd every witnessed.

I wonder where she is.

*September, 2013
Robert C Howard Mar 2015
Barreling through town
in the depth of night,
earth’s colossal magnets
hurled jagged fire spears -
flashing and ripping the midnight sky.

Whirling torrents whistled
and lashed against the glass.
A blinding fire bolt
Shattered an old rock maple -
quaking our shelter to its footings.

Cosmic strobe-lit concussions
stuttered and roared across the nightscape
like a feral timpanist gone mad.

The frenzied cacophony
subsided at last -
rumbled off  in the distance
as the storm lumbered on
like a barbarian horde
off to sack another village.

*July, 2007
Included in Unity Tree - Collected poems
pub. CreateSpace - Amazon.com
Robert C Howard Aug 2013
A bridge is a curious thing to cover.
mile after mile of naked road -
then a wooden box over stream or ravine.

Why not cover the road instead
leaving the bridge unclothed?
But where's the charm in that, you say?  

So perhaps it was fashioned for Currier and Ives
or to embellish the music
of iron shod hooves on oaken planks.

Or maybe was built as a kiosk
for fading feed and carnival posters
and jackknife glyphs of amorous initials.

No, all our covered bridges, imagined or real,
guide our passage over deadly waters -
holding us fast on the road
and safe from drowning.  

*March,  2007
Included in Unity Tree - Collected poems
pub. CreateSpace - Amazon.com
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
Robert C Howard Mar 2015
Seth awoke in a terror sweat
engulfed by flames
licking at his bed.
His cries of final anguish
piercing the midnight silence.

His shaking three year old frame,
would not, could not
assimilate the coos and solace
from deluded parents -
speaking ******* of nightmares
while the whole universe
blazed with terminal fire.

A yard or so across the room,
illumined by a night light's slender beams,
a child's plastic raceway,
decaled with crimson - yellow flames
benignly rested on a table.

*May,  2008
Robert C Howard Mar 2015
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

*This poem is a recollection of the great flood of 1993 but as it was written the rivers around St. Louis passed over flood stage and the city flood gates were closed.  While protecting the city, the gates and levees ship the problem   downstream where it intensifies the plight of small towns that are now under water.  Continued rain in the Missouri and Mississippi watersheds could cause the current flood to rival that of 1993.
Included in Unity Tree - Collected poems
pub. CreateSpace - Amazon.com
Robert C Howard Aug 2013
A graceful water weaving dolphin
swirls wakes of gentle waves -
a white, silver blue phantom
shimmering in the noonday sun.

Piercing the surface,
she dances an aquatic ballet
of corkscrew pirouettes
and majestic somersaults.

Diving beneath the spray
she churns her engine upward -
soaring through the flaming hoop
to the "oohs" and applause
of a throng of short-sleeved hominids
bleachered beyond the rails.

Plunging into quiet depths,
she lingers for a moment
perhaps to recall the fresh sea air
and the borderless waters
in the golden days before the ships came.

*January, 2007
This poem is included in my book, Unity Tree available at Amazon.com and will be included in a textbook in the International Primary English series published by HarperCollins
Robert C Howard Mar 2015
On a stage too vast for frame or shutter
    an alabaster sphere trails the fading sun
        reflected on the waves and troughs of Estes Lake,
            and reigns supreme above the snow-capped Rockies.

Two white globes - one of gas the other rock
         softly dance around a bluish one.

*March, 2012
Included in Unity Tree - Collected poems
pub. CreateSpace - Amazon.com
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.
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