October 18, 2014


 Howard Richard Debs received a University of Colorado Poetry Prize at age 19; after spending the past 50 years in the field of communications with recognitions including a Distinguished Achievement Award from the Educational Press Association of America, he has recently resumed his literary pursuits, and his latest work appears or is forthcoming in The Germ, Calliope, Big River Poetry Review, Jewish Currents, Poetica Magazine, Misfitmagazine, Eclectica Magazine, Star 82 Review, The Review Review, China Grove, Belle Reve Literary Journal, Verse-Virtual, Dialogual, Sediments Literary-Arts Journal, and Piecemeal Review. His background in photography goes back many years, both creative and technical, having been involved in management with the notable Wollensak Optical Company and his photography will be found in select publications. Chicago born and bred, he now lives in sunny South Florida with his wife of 49 years, where they spend considerable time spoiling their 4 grandchildren..


Blessed Union

What is there to say after close to 50 years of marriage?
We met at15 though the finagled driver’s license I had said
I was older hoping to impress the girls with the Dodge sedan
I sported, the brown color hiding the rust spots, but rust or not,
I figured it put me ahead of the pack. It was love at first sight.
Not a silver screen attraction but something else. I didn’t know
about soul mates back then; it was fate, kismet, a destined future
that drew us together at a dance in a place on the Northwest side
of Chicago called Peterson Park. Actually it was Susan somebody
who found my sweaty palms off-putting and pushed together
the future mister and missus. The next day I took her to an
ice cream parlor that no longer exists. The wedding was at
the old Villa Venice, complete with Venetian canal and gondolas.
The place burned down right after, maybe razed for the insurance,
so that’s gone now too. When she was pregnant with our first
daughter she broke her leg in a freak accident with another
junk of a car, a Buick I think with an aluminum engine
that never started in cold weather. It wasn’t easy getting
around nine months pregnant in a cast. We moved to Upstate
New York where it seemed always to be cold, so we traded
the Buick for a red Datsun wagon. Then a second
baby girl came along and life started lurching forward.
The company I worked for folded. I scrambled to find another
job, to put food on the table, to pay the bills. I’m not saying we
didn’t have good times along the way, but I can’t stop thinking
about the heart attacks, the scraping by, the literally
crazy family members that caused us anguish and grief.
What do we have after almost 50 years?
A mortgage that will never be paid for in our lifetime,
photos of the cars that died, and loved ones that died.
A year ago she had a stroke. The doctor said go on with
your life. But when she gets a headache, I worry, when
she is out of sight I go to check that she’s alright.
We have each other, that’s true, in the morning to wake up
next to, to sit with, while reading the headlines at breakfast,
while riding in our aging—so are we—Toyota.
Getting out of our car we hold hands, still she takes my hand
even with my sweaty palms. We walk up to the door of our
younger daughter’s house. Ringing the bell we hear two excited tikes,
the grandkids, giggling with glee. She looks at me, there’s no place
we’d rather be. For the time we have left, in sickness and in health,
for better or for worse, in good times and bad, for richer or poorer,
crying together or laughing together, stuck on the highway with a flat,
in fear of the knock at the door, the letter in the mail
like the power of Niagara Falls—the common man’s
honeymoon haunt—life’s hurts and hazards,
pits and prongs, can never match the magnitude
of love that is two as one. It’s a blessed union.

America’s Sport
roughing the passer
offensive holding
stiff arm
sacking the quarterback
         anger and rage that remain uncontained
man in motion
triple threat man
illegal shift
Wildcat scheme
        tens of thousands in the stands
gridiron gladiators
fan fanatics
       millions of viewers throughout the land
pistol offense
shotgun formation
power run
blind side—
"To take something away
from the man I love
that he has worked
his ass off
for all his life
just to
gain ratings
is a horrific”*
           the abused live with loneliness and fear
slide tackle
personal foul
           billions in revenue are at stake here
false start
trick play
chop block
end run
            millions of women are assaulted each and every year
suicide squad
two minute warning
dead ball
coffin corner
chain gang
          anger and rage that remain uncontained
America’s sport

*Huffington Post reported quote from Janay Rice nee Palmer, now wife of football player Ray Rice who
pleaded not guilty to aggravated assault against her which charges will be dismissed after participating in
New Jersey's pretrial intervention program

~Howard Debs

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