Richard D. Houff

Three Poems – Richard D. Houff

An Image of Charms

Overlooking the street below,
we are aware of our condition

The cracked walls and peeling
paint, and rumors of wind
seeping through the window sash
where we hesitate above

And the asphalt crawling along
without regrets or promises
past “out of business’ storefronts,
and boarded up homes

And yes, we are the lost;
strangers in an uncertain land

We are the lost in yesterday’s papers
and useless print

Disjointed reflections dance
across walls, throwing light
from escaping cars
heading for the nearest exit

You stand in front of a shattered mirror
where you arrange your hair
and curls with gentle hands

I watch this ritual,
erasing all doubts and the troubles

We will never surrender


A Winter Poem

Winter light illuminates dust
and cobwebs through a crystallized

I need to move my body and find
a new scene outside these rooms,
but it’s bitter cold, and the streets
are lifeless

The wind visits in spurts
causing whiteouts

Looking through an opening
in a clear pane, a tight group
of widgeons fly toward the river gorge

The birds are off course
and have returned early

Shadows strip and hide
within the passing clouds
that are moving in a northerly shift

Perhaps a glimpse of warmth is near;
ready to recede the stillness
at the edge of silent ponds


Pit Stop

Waking from a disturbed and mean
sleep, I find myself at a Nebraska,
and Iowa border crossing.

I pull into a gas station
and cafe with a limited grocery
section. I have 272 miles to go.

Frightened and forlorn eyes
are bent over coffee, and stale donuts.

A young mother and her three
little ones push and empty cart
and pause by the processed mac.

I take my coffee to go
and pause by the pumps;
looking out over the uncivil land.

The prairie grass is waist high,
and looks to go forever through
devoid, and lifeless fields.

I am overwhelmed in what
would appear as an unplanned
wake for the inhabitants.

In my car, I pull away at a fast pace
without an exchange of pleasantries.

A wave of cowardice overtakes me;
my eyes focused straight ahead.


Richard D. Houff is originally from Austin, Minnesota, and currently lives and writes out of St. Paul, Minnesota. He edited Heeltap Magazine and Pariah Press from 1986 to 2010. He has had poetry and prose published in Academic and Arts Review, Brooklyn Review, Chiron Review, Conduit, Louisiana Review, Midwest Quarterly, North American Review, Parnassus, Rattle, and many other fine magazines. His most recent collections are Night Watch and Other Hometown Favorites, from Black Cat Moon Press, The Wonderful Farm and Other Gone Poems, from Flutter Press, and Dancing on Rooftops, from Homage Press (Czech Republic).