Archive for February, 2011

Deep River: The Little League Years

order from lulu.com, or call or write me

joneshowell@yahoo.com ,  817.247-2215 cell

Biographical novel

by Jones Lamar Howell

Young Jones has just watched his mother die, and when his rebellious sister Caroline takes control of the household in place of the troubled father, the family begins to disintegrate. Jones finds meaning for his life through his new passion for Little League baseball, his odd friendships in the small town, and his somewhat mystical link to nearby Deep River.

Besides his respectable classmate Mark, Jones befriends Buford the simpleton, and the future-criminal Donnie. He also has dealings with some of the quirky townspeople, such as Donut the town drunk and his sissy brother Calvin, and the blue-haired street evangelist Sister Shaw.

When Dick Clark and Merle Haggard come to make a movie about bootlegging during the Depression – with Deep River in the setting – Jones finds time apart from baseball to learn about the history of Ramseur and to observe its citizens’ uproarious attempts at fame.

Besides being a place for adventure, the river becomes a retreat from family conflicts, especially after Jones sights an enormous osprey there. When the bird appears in his dreams he sees this as a sign of destiny. He feels conflicted, however, because in his dreams the bird is always in danger.

The family is not short on troubles when Stacy the Worm calls on Caroline. A love triangle in the movie oddly parallels what Jones sees happening in his own family. Jones despises Caroline’s behavior and her mistreatment of their weak-minded sister Jeanette, but is too timid to stand up to her. When a paralyzing illness strikes Caroline, long-buried sentiments about their mother’s death come to the surface, with talk of Caroline being under a curse.

Between visits with family – and sometimes the hated Stacy – to see Caroline in the hospital at far-away Chapel Hill, Jones continues to gain confidence through baseball. He experiences the highlight of his two years against the number one team in the league. He faces nineteen batters, striking out fourteen, and gets sweet revenge on those who mock his team. When he comes home with the exciting news, he is met by his drunken, enraged father who strikes him in the back with a shoe.  The next month Jones makes the all-star team, but their only game is anti-climactic and becomes a blur in his memory, the bruise in the middle of his back signaling a meaningless end to baseball.

Months after both baseball and the filming ends, Jones goes with his neighbors to a drive-in theater to bask in the glory of their very own movie, Killers Three. In the final scene of the movie, all the townspeople, even the weird ones, are seen huddling together as the audience for a fake Merle Haggard concert.

On Christmas Eve the town has a special meeting to recognize all who participated in the making of the film and to announce the re-opening of Ramseur’s refurbished theater. Jones attends the meeting and afterwards walks back home across Deep River. It begins to snow, and in the downy quiet, four days after his thirteenth birthday, Jones finds peace and a quiet understanding that his destiny will take him away from this town, and from the river that helped shape his life.

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I asked

why I always try to reach the unreachable

He answered me

and the answer is always


And peace is enough

Peace is better than a show of power – it’s wisdom

Peace is fresher than a morning shower – it’s securing

More enduring than affirmation or denial

It’s the simple meal before the deathly trial

Peace precludes the bitter herbs of regret

the officious shadows of debt

Peace is not the river, it’s the river still

Peace is not the night

it’s the closing cloak of dark quiet

not the trailing off of sound

but the weighty crown and company

of silence.

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I raise the white flag to my Conqueror,

then yield to the undertow of his compelling waves of mercy

I oil the rusty hardware of my soul and

brace for the pipewrench of the Master Craftsman;

I place myself between the jaws of the universe’s Nutcracker,

and  jettison the burned-out rockets of self-will and self-reliance;

Finally, I release the smoking brake of my descent down the mountain of control.


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Be My Valentine

My heart – you broke it, sorta

You started with the aorta

then tugged at the veins and artery

and unplugged the main part of me.

You closed the right ventricle,

choked it tight, then you pulled

and shocked the valves

You shouldn’t have

interrupted the rhythm

and messed with ’em,

rushing from chamber to chamber.

Gosh, the danger!

But . . . that’s romance.

(I’m  not de-fibbing)

We take a chance when

we  give someone our heart.

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