Archive for December, 2010

Christmas Reunion

This Christmas we will write a page of family history,

but not with paper and pen.

We’ll write it by looping the veins of a bloodline,

curving and crossing and dotting inner living flesh,

etching it with glances into pairs of blues and browns—

at once both tender and genuinely recognizable.


Our ink is the transparent salty elements

escaping roundly and fugitively from those eyes

and forming straight lines, falling, heavy with their own gravity


We’ll write this page with both hands and arms wide open,

holding on for a too-swiftly-passing moment,

then letting go—for fear of clutching

and needing, and letting each other know it—

before our cheeks pink up and flush with embarrassment.


Together we’ll sign off on that document,

with many silent intricately-woven motions of hand-passed dishes,

warm and colorful and care-filled.


Most of all we’ll seal that page with the cracking whispers

we feel escaping from quavering lips,

our hearts catching them before they hit the ground

or slide down the unresponsive wall onto the floor


God forbid that we should lose this page of family history

or place it in an attic of apathy,

a corner of complacency,

or even relegate it to the same dusty fate of common literature.

Rather, we painstakingly tack it invisibly and securely onto our hearts,

or slip it somewhere between Genesis and Revelation:

the very hearth of life


We must put it where it will forever remain,

and pledge to keep on writing

until every touch and word become part of that story

and that history becomes the very substance of eternity

 JLHowell MMXmas

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Thoughts on Retiring

I can retire in five months
A scary thought I ought not think
But I even dream about it.
What kind of flare or fanfare –
should I dare do something outlandish?
Some offhand humor or dance routine
might doom or diminish my chance
for another career if news got out
that I’d slid down an aircraft emergency shute
with two fresh whipcream-topped frappacinos,
or used the PA system to cuss out my boss
then sweetly tell my comrades “My bad,”
that I had turned from teacher to preacher.
I could use scores of plays on words
To conceal they way I’d call them nerds
or worse, morons or automatons.
Then I would be the renegade tetragrammaton in the movie Equilibrium 
who finally admitted he had emotions
and cried when he heard Beethoven.
Then, on my way to prison I’d laugh at them slovenly plodding
to their intellectual destruction
Nodding as they sign papers they never read and commit mass-logicide,
all the while turning aside to fake a smile,
pouring caffeine down into that machine they traded in their heart for,
telling themselves ‘it’s all for the money’
and ‘it’s a deal ’cause if I die here I won’t feel it.’
Is that the job I’m leaving,
Or my twisted way of perceiving it?
I don’t know, that’s why I writing this.

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