Howard Richard Debs – Five Poems

bio-headshotHoward Richard Debs received a University of Colorado Poetry Prize at age 19. Finalist and recipient 28th Annual 2015 Anna Davidson Rosenberg Poetry Awards, his work appears internationally in numerous publications, his essay ‘The Poetry of Bearing Witness’ in On Being – On The Blog, his full length work Gallery: A Collection of Pictures and Words, Scarlet Leaf Publishing, is forthcoming in early 2017. Directory of Poets & Writers: author listing —

The Passing Of A Poet

I read she died of cancer
a few days ago. I went to
her website, it was undisturbed,
as if nothing had happened.
I remember visiting Sandburg’s
Connemara, a National Historic
Site. Walking into the house,
it was as if nothing had changed
since he was working and living
there. The dining room table
set for dinner, papers strewn
all about. The same aura
enveloped her virtual home.

I listened to an interview with her
originally aired on Poets Café,
station WPFK in L.A. She was
sotto voce on the show,
perhaps with little strength
left, this just months before
her passing; she spoke with
brevity, belying the gravity
of her written words, the
power for eternity of the
poetry of bearing witness.

*In memory of Ilyse Kusnetz (1966-2016)

Laissez Les Bons Temps Rouler

if you want to hear America
listen to the music of Buckwheat
Zydeco’s staccato studded toe-tapping
accordion oozing with the bayou
and hot sauce of Lafayette Louisiana
if you want to hear America
listen to the music of BeauSoleil
serving up a fiddlin’ Cajun storm
like a filé gumbo overflowing
with ham, sausage, chicken,
shrimp, crab, oysters all
together in one big pot
if you want to hear America
listen to the music of the
Preservation Hall Jazz Band
at 726 St. Peter Street down
in the French Quarter in
New Orleans open nightly
all ages welcome to savor
the growl of the horns, the
boom of the standup bass
the patter of the banjo all
combining creating a patois
of delectable delights
to ease the mind
if you want to hear America
listen to the music of the
Rebirth Brass Band
maybe leading a funeral
following behind, the serpentine tuba
rumbling out a sound
to quench the soul
Stanley Dural Jr. has died
let the good times roll.

Author Note: During one of my several trips to New Orleans I was privileged to have heard Buckwheat Zydeco in person — his stage name derived from his nickname as a youth, because, with his braided hair, he looked like the character Buckwheat from Our Gang/The Little Rascals movies — I don’t remember the name of the club I was at, I can’t forget the music I heard; it infused my very being as all the musical palette of the region be it Zydeco, Cajun (don’t confuse the two Dural always admonished), or Jazz, the music of this special place represents the resonating result of the melting pot, if we but listen.


Winning—Another Day At The ALF

The ambulances line up three deep
at the entrance well before breakfast.
By 9 a.m. four more have come and gone
sirens blaring sharing in intensity
The residents’ curiosity in the lobby
passing around the names of those
brought out on gurneys; then it’s time
for chair exercise and the News
of the Day quiz, trying to keep
dementia away while finding out what’s
going on out there as if it mattered.
Then lunch is served at promptly noon
each table with its coterie of diners
carefully attended to by staff who
know who gets the sugar free dessert;
card games ensue in the afternoon,
penny ante or no stakes at all
as nothing really motivates the
outcome except to take the time.
About 4 o’clock those who imbibe
surround the bar for a libation or
two just to whet their appetites
for dinner which comes at five sharp;
a parade of walkers of all description
help the residents ambulate with
shuffling gait into the dining room
for one more repast before adjourning
to the main hall where the
evening’s entertainment,
If there is that, will commence or if not,
then bingo, you can’t win if you don’t play,
the caller announces on the PA;
there are those who end up winning—
another day at the ALF.

The Day We Lost One Of Our Grandchildren In A Corn Maze

A corn maze is amazin’ with all
its twists and turns and dead ends
headin’ you in other directions
instead of the way you were goin’
kinda like life itself sometimes
but that day was a scary one
for sure scary as Halloween
there at a local farm in these parts
decked out each year
at this time of year
for a fall festival
with apple bobbin’ pumpkin patch
hay rides haunted house hard cider corn
on the cob corn as high as an
elephant’s eye as the song goes
in the corn maze which
is amazin’ stretchin’
in the back forty
as far as the eye can see and
our two eight year old twin
grandchildren went in and
five minutes later one ran
out sayin’ I won
and the other was no where
to be found after fifteen minutes
we went in callin’ yellin’
in vain zig zaggin’ around corners
frantic we back tracked found
security got ‘em on walkie talkies
summoned the police who came
lickety split to the spot as I described
the tyke I turned around right when the other
one strolled on out of that corn maze
as nice as you please like an autumn
breeze right in front of all to see at the entrance
to that amazin’ corn maze
just playin’ a game that’s all was said all that time
in that corn maze I hugged that child real tight
everything was gonna be all right kinda
like life itself amazin’

Growing Up With M&M’s

M&M’s came along in 1941.
I came along in 1943.
We’ve spent a long time
together since

the time of World War II
over in Guam my father
got the news two years

after I was born
he first heard from me
on an old ’78
sound booth recording
of my mother’s voice
and mine too cooing
I loved him though
I’d never met him

I remember
when he came
together we’d
wash my trike,
he’d wash the
cab he drove to

pay the bills
to buy the
clothes, the milk
the M&M’s he
got me for a treat

to me, M&M’s are more
than just something to eat.



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