In Memory: Charles Stephen Hughes




From Particles and Disputations: Writings for Jeff, a book of hours


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For the folks at 6th and K,

JOE’s Place, Grants Pass

a selection of my holiday writings 

from seasons past

by Philip Hughes-Luing

(my friends call me Phil)



For my brother-in-law, Eric Hughes


Location Unknown


Angel grew up on the street

without a guide, ran wild

A hot headed boy

became a tough young man

Grew up fighting back


Ran the streets of the city

chasing slick cash and promises 

of a quick and easy way out

Had a big, easy smile, big dreams

Was prone to instant rage


Grew up on mean street

Skin got so hard on the outside 

nothing solid could grow inside it

Grew up where most boys don’t

ever grow old. Where sirens wail 24/7


Angel was a boy bored with school

Couldn’t concentrate, unruly, defiant

always ready to explode, challenge

Got put on the fast track to trouble

Street taught him to use a gun


Angel took another boy’s life

Manslaughter, armed robbery

Big rap for still a boy.  Prison 

from early teens to mid-twenties

Got out. Went in. Got out. Got killed.  

Shot down.  Dead end of story


Brother, did you know I cared?

Did you know I loved you?

Did you know I feared you?

Did you know I, too, was lost

when you tried to reach out?


Brother, I could hear you

but you weren’t in a place

I knew how to reach

Brother, I still search for you

on mean street without a guide



Amid Shorter, Darker, Longer Days


My love, this holiday season we circle like the free-form flutter of ornamental doves atop our holiday tree; in uncertain orbits we fly through this to be festive season amid a coincidence of lights in profusion sufficient to assert if not a sealed promise, then at least, still hope


What we need we hold to each season provides new fuel to maintain those first fires still burning as sparks rekindle others.  We light lights reminding us of our shared condition, this need to care for each other, to hold watch through each shorter, darker, what seems longer day, to comfort and reassure through each urgent, fevered, sweat-soaked night, and to celebrate with ornament and ornamental record this holiday season of wonder and renewal



By our labors by day and by night, my love


On this holiday of lights in the too early dark season, against winter’s stern dictates we again brave cheer, make delights of our labors to bring to each other to please, and ourselves not least of all, then cozy, satisfied, we rest quiet, warm, stilled from exertion, wondering


These are not words I give you again but my labors by which I have written a complex story for you to read.  My love, I wish I could make your labors less, the reading easier, but I cannot with worked over words delineate our ambiguous reality, but remains this hoping, you?  And you



Gifts Given


My love, on this holiday this year, from pieces laid out over eleven holidays past, we assemble this present celebration. We join days with years with care to make an intimate embrace that carries us through lonely, bewildering moments when we know of no other protection.  We spin together our experiences with each other’s faults, mistakes, and embarrassments, then weave of those strands a safety net of humor with which we are able to catch one another’s falling moods.  From shared needs we construct commitments with depth always in excess of the breadth of our shifting circumstances.  From our many memories of physical familiarity we now pull a voice with which one speaks for the other when necessary; from the comforts of touch we produce hope; and, by pulling together all that we know or suspect of each other, we assemble the essential mystery of our love, an intimate and comfortable unknown on which we base our complete trust in each other, that most valuable of all the gifts we exchange.





In this holiday season

I remember a quiet night last spring

when I gave you my permission to die


Go to the source, I said,

I release you from my love

and give you to all love; I release

you from my care, and give you

to the source of all caring; I release

you from the pain which holds you here

beyond yourself, so that you may search

for the mysterious source of all selves


Go when you must, I said, I release you

from my own secure, familiar hold on you

knowing I will hold you even more intimately

within the space of your absence.  My love,

I release you finally even from hearing

the sound of your name carried on my breath,

lest you mistake it for my beckoning you to stay


But know your name

I will always keep resonating within me,

mingling its sweet sounding syllables

with those of my own


My love, now I need from you a gift

like that which I gave you last spring:

as I gave you permission to go,

now I need from you permission to stay


Shards of your death flow in my blood,

their sharp jags catching in my veins,

slicing with violent force at my aorta,

in my lungs restricting the assimilation

of new air, cutting short my voice


My love, release me, give me tears

with which to mourn and grieve you, tears

to celebrate and soothe, secure, reorient,

stabilize, tears with which to mix a mortar

to bond these scattered, disjointed emotions,

these memories, perceptions, pieces of life

into something cohesive, into a memorial wall

angling into the future that I must live


My love, let me go on, with all my love



Love Unlimited


How many different words

Can say I love you

How many different smiles

Say I love you too


How many lives

Can love awaken

How many dreams

Can love realize


It’s unlimited.  Love is unlimited


How much beauty

Can grow in a spirit

How much truth

remains to be known


How many times

Can a soul feel joyful

How many days

Begin with sunrise


It’s unlimited; Love is unlimited


How much good

Can come from kindness

How much peace

Does our world need now


How much love

Can we give to one another

How much light

Do you bring into my life


It’s unlimited; Our love is unlimited



Forward Motion


Have you ever known a trouble

you couldn’t put behind you?

Have you ever seen a bad day

without a better one soon to come?


Hope hovers around you

like the sweet scent of your skin

the natural effusion of your spirit


Soothing and contagious, your smile

renders you a walking epidemic

of hopeful persuasion


Yours is an energy of advance

a perpetual forward motion machine

transforming our daily struggles

into beautiful background details

for an enduring portrait of love



A Prayer for Us


Let us live together in a place of possible dreams, where you make music as I write and make art, where we have time and energy to tend to our bodies, where our only stress is our internal desire to create


Let us sleep together at night wrapped in the beautiful exhaustion of having poured out our souls, then awaken refreshed to another day full of promise.  Let our concerns be not for our own ability to cope, but for our ability to make better the lives of those with whom we share our world


Let us live so that the marks we leave behind us will lead others to discover their own best lives





In this season for proclaiming light 

we celebrate hope, goodwill and cheer


love serves to sustain us, not to give us escape


The circle formed by our arms holding each other

represents a ripple moving outward, emanating 

from the first droplet of our illumination, that instinct

to bond, which animates our spirits toward love


My love, each year we celebrate more ripples

waves and rays and bundles of light, armfuls

opened and released to extend beyond ourselves

across distances and generations and languages


beyond our ability to fathom heritage, influence

or purpose; released because we have seen 

those do so who taught us to love; released 

with hope and without expectation, but wisely

so as to sustain ourselves as we engage

to diminish darkness



Glad Tidings


My love, come celebrate love

suffuses this day within us

grows an urge to embrace

with joy we reach out to others

touch us with benevolence


Celebrate, my love, the holiday

lights entice us to laugh

wise laughter fills the emptiness

of want with charity and cheer

we warm the cold night


Let us celebrate each candle

beckons peace is born of justice

is born of goodwill

is proclaimed this day

is still possible


With ornament and glitter

with gold, frankincense and myrrh

with new ritual and old tradition

we assert hope renews courage

overcomes suspicion and fear


My love, celebrate our tenderness

brings harmony to our world

extends beyond us await people

of kindred desires join in this season

to compel the dream forward



In Celebration of Good Will


You and I become we

when the catalyst of good will

enlivens our separate selves

to create an expanding equation

in which the energy of the whole

always exceeds the sum of its parts


Or, good will is the light

that allows us to see

how every hue and patina in our lives 

finds a world of complementary colors 

in the infinity of creation’s palette

which is how I first recognized you


Good will is the instinct

on which all of humanity relies

for the survival of our species

the operative instinct

that gives purpose and direction

to all our other tastes and desires


Good will is the emotion I feel

whenever I speak your name

whenever I speak of our future

whenever I remember our past

whenever I remind you

to take your umbrella and gloves



Sweet My Love Rest


Sweet my love rest this holiday day comes a soothing relief, pause – the weary across our brows comes peace, peace. Glitter our champagne gifts in open exchange our love, memories, regrets and expectations are cuddled and dismissed, laid to rest amid festive wrap the cat plays with amusements of the very gay season most vulnerable, our underbellies exposed wide open up, we assume the sweet, gentle rub, loving tickle, our pleasures prevail on each other’s indulgence


Come sweet my love relax into this holiday day bathes us with essential good will, each one for the other, that you will have the best life possible for you to have, and that that life will continue intimately connected to my own, that is my own best holiday wish for you, with all my love



This Holiday's Joy


Sweet snuggle my love comes another season of festivities, another celebration of awakening light coming to darkened earth, a story of infinite joy, eternal, timeless, forever and always the source from which we birth new life, the story of another generation of hope for humanity, of a new face among us turning to grow toward the Sun




Copyright 2015, Philip D. Hughes-Luing

permission is hereby granted to reproduce and distribute any of the writings contained herein

on a not-for-profit basis only