Howard’s Poetry

| Deciphering the Maze    |  My strong, inspiring brother  |  A five-year anniversary

A relative newcomer to poetry, I have had a few poems published, and read at many events in the wonderful poetry community centred on Cheltenham. Apart from creating song lyrics, I had little interest in writing poetry until my wife, Marilyn, won a prize in  Buzzwords’ annual poetry contest in 2011.

After that Marilyn started dragging me, as a willing sidekick, to Buzzwords’ monthly poetry sessions. I was instantly hooked — by the friendly Buzzwords community created by Angela France, the workshops, the accomplished visiting poets, and the quality open mic. Soon, I  followed Marilyn to Cheltenham Poetry Society and  Cheltenham Poetry Festival. In what now seems a flash, I became a contributing poet and one of the Festival management team in 2014. In the last few years, cancer and covid were harsh distractions that cut back my involvement. Now I concentrate on publishing poetry in print and online through the medium of ezine and keep submitting my poems and collections to journals and competitions. 

Since my twenties, I have been inspired by the prose poem “Desiderata” by Max Ehrmann (1872-1945). Soon after joining Marilyn in poetry classes, I was  challenged in Rona Laycock’s class to write a sonnet. The result was a distillation of Ehrmann’s ideas in this poem, first published in Graffiti magazine in 2013. 

Navigating the Maze
Walk placidly amid life’s noisy squalls;
remember, silent thought serves as a balm.
Without surrender, seek good terms with all
and speak your personal truth with soothing calm.
Keep humble focus on your own career—
whether high or low it’s your possession.
Love is the way to keep your life in gear.
True love-knots tie with never-feigned affection.
Don’t doubt what you can touch, or hear, or see,
or let fear grow when you’re alone or blue.
Like trees and stars, you have the right to be,
so keep your personal view of God with you.
Our world hurls nightmares while its beauty gleams.
Choose wisely, and embrace your happy dreams.

A five-year anniversary (2 July 2022)
    Inspired by Dame Deborah James @bowelbabe
My wife won’t save my life today
by calm-headed speed and patience
making sure each breath is not my last
until paramedics arrive to collect me.

Tonight won’t see me flat out in Resus
being refilled with blood as if I’m a sponge.
I won’t have dead fainted on a rock-hard floor
from something trying to switch off my body.

I won’t need someone to tell me that cancer
Is filling and tearing my stomach apart.
That though it’s curable, there’s no guarantee
I’ll have very much of a future.

I won’t need to be reassured
that surgery and chemo
will keep me alive for years
and I know it won’t be a living hell.

I won’t have to look for reasons to laugh
they’ll come without any problem.
I won’t need reminders to live to the full
five years have given me plenty.

I won’t be afraid this morning
that cancer will strike once again
my recent scan was all clear
as was my daily poo check.

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