Saturday, November 15, 2014


©  Steve King
All rights reserved

I have taken all I could from emptiness—
have suffered old desires to breach anew
and fill the fast expanding space;
have stumbled through each blindness,
all wit and happenstance,
and called on shadows there to resonate
through courses of new moods,
though softly as a wish might ever be.

I have given all I could to emptiness—
have tried to see across to latter ends,
feeling for small ripples of discontinuity
in smooth inviting fabric that surrounds,
in silence that would mock all reverence,
and smother each small echo,
even of a beating heart.

I have savored what I might in emptiness,
conjuring imagined sounds
to sing me what in emptiness
may anytime be found;
though everywhere beyond,
I know cacophony abounds.

I have settled into emptiness,
not a passive tenant of the void,
nor an idle roomer,
safe, as it would seem, with small comforts;
but as must each restive creature be
when flung by unrelenting tides
to the embrace of unsought shores,
close within its frail shell,
listening for each faint note,
and longing, as it waits, for some far sea.

A new poem for the Poetry Pantry

Monday, October 27, 2014


©  Steve King 2014
All rights reserved

All this world turns by me while I wonder,
watching without, through half-shuttered slits that are these eyes;
seeing within, through a depth of far reflection,
dreams that live so safe inside—
high torrent of perception,
lacking ordinary rule or guide,
sweeping through all base obstructions:
you, me—yes me, especially,
feeling myself always as an object,
a so-complacent stranger,
often troubling to regard—
an almost-sense of almost-me,
that keeps a far and undefined remove.

I watch alone in this carnival place,
this world, its manifold aspect,
where every easy affectation
shields against the need for overt cries
on the eternal nature of constraint.

Heedless now of every origin
or the truth of any real beginning,
yet still left to wonder
how all wondering comes to be,
sensing only of an end,
so far from the advent of first things.

—as, somewhere on that bright and deadly plain,
holding the first kind of any truth,
rise of strange sensation to the eye,
gauging something other,
unfolding sudden, new,
from what had been a dreamy pageant
held in animal sight,
one that knew no inkling of a life gone by,
nor of anything foretold.
Old scent pulled up from ancient dust
mingling with the new song of winds,
eloquence unsensed ‘til then;
blue, color unnamed,
clear and godless sky;
red, the predator jaw,
auguring of pity,
a thing unknown before,
but all at once so real,
when dust would settle
‘round some heaving pair.

The dawn of truth.
And, pity first, before the thought of love.
No need for love at first upon the plain…

So truth comes always in the instant,
laying claim to everything before,
but devolves soon into a memory,
layered with new instants, new surprise,
all shaded with the weight of that first pity,
and what shall finally come to seem as love,
inconstant as it is or ever was,
kindled and extinguished,
soaring, sinking in waves of new dream,
bringing, in an afterthought,
the sudden inclination to believe
in old spirits and puzzling moods,
all axiom and anecdote,
intrusive shards as ancient as the deadly plain,
and yet the source of every new desire.

But life may not evolve only in watching,
nor may it last for long
balancing on pinnacles
of ever narrowed truth.
Life must be of moment and of measure,
and, at least, capacity to act.
My life would cast long shadows
of the serpentine will,
and these too shall be true;
each changing meaning in my life
alive in every shadow I may see.
My life would give hard form
to every occult thought
undiscovered in the face of light.
Truth and truth and truth again—
my life, young heir to fragments of the ancient dreams
which must all be as true
or none at all;
dreams born of the matrix of every false dawn,
new light to sing pure,
that for its time obscures
the coiled complex of still and harrowing shades
ever patient to reclaim
each soaring gladness in its turn.

Those dreams, my measure and model;
my palette, that strange combine
of pity, love and shadow;
cast in every memory
and on each waiting aspect I devise;
light that burns in the deepest redoubt,
reflecting worlds unknown to other eyes,
each so transient in the night;
and though they banish every anquish,
so they also calm each pure delight,
as if some stasis must be found,
and surety and silence and release
from all unquiet moments
adrift within my soul’s far keep.

As if there may be found
an easy truth of you and me
unknown yet to our worlds,
though tenuous, as all such truths must be.
A truth to leave its founding mark
upon those troubling strangers, you and me.

A new poem for Imaginary Gardens with Real Toads

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Beneath the forest wind

©  Steve King
All rights reserved

Beneath the forest wind,
I knew the raven’s chord.
I closed my eyes to hear
him call as to the gods,
those mighty ones of old
who treasured his dark soul
and measured out the fates
upon his spreading wings.

But I’m no mighty one:
my mind had been attuned
to the pure liquid song
of a far calling loon,
lost to all but himself,
his answer an echo
giving voice to absence,
across an emptiness
that held the dark waters
and a surfeit of stars.

The raven calls alone
until old gods awake.
I needed no such prayer
to stir the dark spirits.

The loon shall never dream,
and I shall never sing;
my dreaming and his song
temper old emptiness:
beatitudes enough
to quell grim reverie,
all orison and psalm
inflecting now to me.

A new post for the Poetry Pantry

Saturday, October 4, 2014

He had decided...

© Steve King
All rights reserved

He had decided at a latter stage
to chronicle some measure of his age;
was satisfied at last to stoke its pain,
to manifest the dark and light
upon the insolent page.

And thought he knew a ready gauge:
no leisure-fitten verse,
not just (he hoped) the beaten breast,
or solipsistic curse.
Forgetting for once
pursuits of refined feeling,
he groped amid the near rubble
for another store of meaning.

All to examine his wellspring of doubt.
Not his usual chore perhaps,
but better than his elegiac pout.
More difficult than former reaches 
to sublime intent,
his old rhapsodic stutter;
harder than his sometimes game
of spirit without letter.

For his world by then had little need
of another airy monument.
His vision waited, patient for the word.
He set his sight, followed where it went.

            His times advanced, rage upon rage.
Cracks appeared in fine facades.
Voices clamored, claiming right,
while settling still for easy odds.
All the new voices,
all the new smiles,
all the refurbished idols
risen from cooling raptures—
waiting patient for the next new dodge,
conjuring new words
to succor all the ancient ills;
peddling their tired cures
for each age old torment,
and failure of will.

Mechanics of the Metaphysics
parsed the nature of their dieties,
lashed old spirits through new paces,
eager for their shades of meaning
suddenly to slip to black and white—
new verses nicely fitted to rewrite
a liturgy of grim and hungry graces.
Still, gods became restless
with the secular ennui:
revisiting the sacred texts,
they found a thirst for new conquests,
slaked it endlessly.

            The new ‘isms’
became soon old ruins,
graveyards of confounded certainties
and every kind of casual lie:
Lies that sprang from ancient lies,
and so attained to truth.
Relentless crusades labored on
to beloved dead ends,
which, once forgot, would soon no doubt,
rise to enchant again.

            The age evolved through idling art,
dilettantes soon Old Masters;
And all the while the new beauty
held a virtual remove.
The HD screen is our palette,
flash memory, our Louvre.

The age grew up unlike any other,
comparisons to old times hardly worth the bother.
In the legendary war,
a jealous king felt stinging bronze.
Now kings campaign from desktops,
between state dinners and noble awards.
Lightning springs from ready buttons,
while weary Zeus had need to host
a universe of rage.
There are men of the people now
thrust to our vanguard,
average in all but command.
Our last Agamemnon slumbers with stars,
war now a weary commonplace,
fit to gather transient conquerors.

We paid for the enemy’s guns,
and then sent off our best to die.
New lords in new temples
finding new and easy ways ever to capitalize.
Each war justified the next,
never out of reeling memory;
a deepening habit to inure the soul.

Our best, sent off to die…
straight backed, fast to please,
perhaps too eager with a smile,
the love of ordeal,
faith in the trial…

Yes, he had seen them,
known them in their prime,
relentless cohorts off to war,
generations swallowed whole,
while each king promised at the last,
‘This much and no more…’

            Yet, through the nexus of all pain,
some were bold, again…again…
One would lift the solemn call.
Some might note, though few would hear.
Fewer still would wager all.

And on the outside, all around
milled an army of the lost,
a hungry host waiting
only for a word to settle,
starved for the least call
to match its least of expectations—

No Gideon’s Horn.

Not now.

No Joshua.
No Caanan.


Alas, there rang a faded obsequy
for an empire of failed salvations;
a psalm to mark
the dimming dreams
of so many lost Edens.

And when at last
the age should loose
its ultimate refrain—

Some other voice,
some other age,

and so begin


A post for The Poetry Pantry

Monday, June 30, 2014

Through the open door

©  Steve King
All rights reserved

Through the open door the starlight shone,
stirring empty shadows with a glow
of dreaming, though I heard clear the click
of sharp heels speeding on their way,
prelude to a distant journeying
nothing like a dream, not then to you.

Each small shadow deals its own story,
no dark center fit to hold them all;
and I hear the singing lines echo
from that other sphere where you orbit—
where your other lives are well eclipsed.

Those echoes ebb and flow:  stubborn tides
to measure and fill each pliant mood,
though reprising rarely; taking form
only when a certain solitude
gathers in the still familiar place,
seizing, with surprise, an old hostage
who waits for such dreaming to attend,
happy to stir starlight now and then.

A new poem to be shared with

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Mr. Lincoln's Mirror

© Steve King
All rights reserved

For years, my family kept an ancient stand
to guard the foyer of the old homestead.
It stood with brass fixtures and mottled glass
amid the shadows of the entry way.
I can remember hearing stories told
by white-haired women long enough in life
to have no time nor reason left to lie,
of how the stately piece had onetime stood
in Mr. Stanton's hallway through the war,
and how the president would stoop to don
that quaint, ungainly stovepipe that he wore,
and linger at the mirror 'til he found
the look that he would carry out the door.

I'd sit expectant in the darkened hall
and stare into the worn silver until
my eyes beheld his features staring back.
I built his form each time from memory:
a face that found its shape in deep-hewn lines;
the gangling frame, with hands that knew the feel
of something rougher than a cabinet brief;
the rounded shoulders, heavy then with grief,
perhaps as he set out for Gettysburgh...

At last, I'd find the caverns of his eyes.
I'd wonder how it was that mirror glass
could play such somber tricks with common light.
Peering through the solemn depths, I'd see
the dark and troubling vision that he kept,
and feel the flood of sadness that was said
to permeate much of his waking thought:
a melancholy that surpassed the heights
from which he looked upon his riven world;
not just a longing for a peaceful end
to the great madness that was going 'round,
nor dread about the outcome of the task,
or how he'd make the shattered pieces mend.
In the gathering shadows of the hall,
I came to feel the content of his fear:
he knew that he must always stand alone
against the currents of the parting time.
It was the solitude that haunted him,
the knowledge that he was the only one
to bear the onus of what must be done.

I would stay until the light had changed,
until the captive visage was exchanged
for my own features staring blankly on,
emerging by degree out from the shape
of the spirit whose eminence remained
then only as an accent to the shade,
submerging in the limitless fathoms
of imagined refractions in the glass.

Then would I find my solitary way
back through the light and noise that filled the house,
not wanting yet to share my reflections,
nor sure the image could supply the word.
I wondered how to speak of sadness then,
how I could find the way to willing hearers,
to say the tale of Mr. Lincoln's face,
and of the weight of shadows in a mirror.

(Note:  This is the very first poem I posted on Excursions and Diversions.  Long ago, in the course of my creative, though inexact, blog editing, I somehow managed to delete it.  I thought it was time it returned to its rightful home.)

A post for the Poetry Pantry

Saturday, May 31, 2014

I wait again on summer

©  Steve King
All rights reserved

I wait again on summer, as I have
through all receding seasons, through the mist
and ice, through the tearing haze of autumn
smoke.  I do not love the sun, no; nor warm
airs that might undo the ache of lingering thaws.
I cannot cling to any summer thing:
they are all one to me and may only
remind that there is movement in the world,
a cautious and reluctant pace to draw
the seasons through their new calamities.
Change is the only force; not life, not death,
not renewal; and it shall hold a place
between the living and uncounted dead,
donning new weeds, as it moves, day by day,
to lead the old procession on its way.

And yet I search for stasis all around,
for moments that will mirror clarity.
Perhaps that is the use of summertime:
as from a seat on strange heights one sees
dark chasms surrounding the bright redoubt,
harboring unknown fates on paths below,
so summer, with its lack of distraction,
its all-at-once respite from the grey rains
and veiling skies, upholds a brief vision
to gather all.  A sometime peace to gauge
the onset and wake of towering storms;
a rare occasioned season of the mind,
simplicity in tenuous vacuum—
the patient center of my hurricane.
A poem for Open Link Night at d'Verse

Sunday, May 18, 2014


© Steve King
All rights reserved

Gazing out on fast converging lines
whose genesis pulls faintly, far behind,
the mind does concentrate, as the sage said,
though what it notes shall soon be as unread.

The dreams still linger where old wishes lead,
while new desires displace comforting needs;
each blackened ember dims the soul’s delight,
to conjure forth a darker appetite.

But age may not be mended nor foretold,
and as I  watch these closing scenes unfold,
I hope that I may, at least privately,
relinquish some few public vanities,
abandoning rich things that never were,
and cleave to small ones, as they shall occur.

A new poem for the Poetry Pantry

Sunday, May 11, 2014

The Room

© Steve King
All Rights Reserved

This room cannot speak to me of emptiness,
for nothing in its corners and high shadow
yields a thought of anything—
save corners, shadows.

Were I to think of emptiness,
I would picture other,
knowing in my heart
an absent habitation
that did once belong.

But nothing of a room,
where emptiness is just a word,
a proxy to formalize the nature of a place
and the inviolability of moment;
a simple means to keep
the perfect balance of a waiting space, quiet—
faint intimation of contingent purposes
foreshadowing the outline
of some unthought future,
all so free and new.

Were I to think of emptiness
I would not need this room.
I would summon aged moods,
emotion without substance,
(indeed, were I to think on it at all)
ineradicable remembrance,
unrevoked regret;
the chiming of old laughters,
and once-bright mornings come
to upend each passing misery.

Were I to think on emptiness
I would know a heart alone,
hollow moments filled
with unanswered questions,
of how the times might be
if not for absence,
that sure emptiness now—
so filled with all perfected memories
that only ancient absence may allow.

A new poem for the Poetry Pantry

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Your Story

©  Steve King
All rights reserved

Your story rose as from a nothing—
I had not been listening at first,
while, in the shadow,
you were seeing elsewhere.

Your words alone were present,
no other inflection lured—
not of body nor of voice.
I held no place in your recall,
though ringing in each dark solemnity,
cast in every word,
I recognized the same stubborn refrain
of ancient tones that I had ever sung:
orisons that long since ran a course,
musings of some other time,
a long forgotten then—
not now,
perhaps never again;
not distinctly yours or mine,
but strangely held a-common.

The song reminded
of so many things
that I had done,
or left undone,
or had myself undone.
My story strayed from your account
only in the small particulars,
the most discrete of circumstance.
You spun your airs
with things as real as dreams;
I held briefly these new-raised designs
as if they were my own—
reflections lingering patient,
wanting but the form of lost originals,
the shadows of an old intent,
to show themselves in full,
each a measure of some far desire
lapsing briefly to a memory.

I listened for small smiles,
or any mask for gladness
that might cling to nearby shades:
old and unused wishes
hung to ready view,
doubling back to frame
an unlived moment.

Some strange lovesong this shall be:
while you indulge each measure
of your distant melody,
you invoke full payment
of its harmony from me.

A new work for Poets United

Saturday, April 26, 2014


© Steve King
All rights reserved

As I look out on winter, I recall
the night we took that long and rutted road
away from a familiar highway
to peer beyond a veil of swirling snow
on the expanse of vast Ontario.

We paused along the hard and bitter shore
imagining some far horizon there.
Such an easy reach, it seemed to me,
enfolding our discrete eternity.

We strode on currents hidden through the ice
and glossed the secrets of that unknown depth;
two unlikely figures setting forth,
to mark a presence with each random step.

There came no warming aftermaths to this,
nor frozen moments halting our design:
one interlude supplanted by a next,
enough to match the reasons of the time.

So it was in winter, one day when...
And now is winter so much part of me
that I can just recall that early glow.
The fires are banking now; and even so,
I still can say that it was well enough,
when once we lingered far from strut and show,
to dance with our desires in the snow.

A new poem for d'Verse OLN

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Not In Winter

© Steve King
All rights reserved

Footprints in October snow
will never outrun
lengthening shadows.

I may only listen
while winds tear each tree—
leaves in torment;
below, brown grasses
barely move.

I know an old man
who never leaves his room.
He’s become annoyed
at the sound of his own stylus,
cannot think to see.

He has written everything he can,
has lived twenty lives in his mind,
and known all he thought would ever be.

He watches the sun;
listens, too,
hears the world moving,
slow, coming round
to claim its bounty back.

He is willing,
for the times are not his own,
newness gone,
every measure taken
so far as he might reach.


But not just yet, he said to me.

No. Not in winter.

A new poem for the Poetry Pantry 
Poets United 

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Alas, Love, Alas

©  Steve King
All rights reserved

Alas, Love, Alas—
I must be a fortress now.
I am sworn to another
and must duty hold,
though I revel in your warmth,
recalling her so cold.

Alas, my Soul, Alas—
I cannot resist the call
of your whispers in the night,
even in my dreams.
Every vow imprisons me,
while every instinct screams.

Alas, Heart, Alas—
She is ever distant now.
Must I wait on bitter fruit
with your sweetness here?
Cover me with cloak and kiss;
before she reappears.

Alas, Life, Alas—
I can never bear this price.
Without Love my Soul is lost,
my Heart a wretched waste.
I have never held the means
to savor Love in haste,
so let us linger while we may,
and all temptations taste!

An exercise very much in an old style for