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

Monday, April 7, 2014

I Wish That I Might Write...


©  Steve King
All rights reserved


I wish that I might write the way
that others do when they tell me
they’re moved by muses sharing free
all the things there are to say.

I wish I had that bully roost
with tones to echo in the vault,
whispers ever to exalt,
and every ease to shout my news.

I pray for occasioned flight—
but only faintest stars align;
no new worlds deign to shine,
no comets blazon my midnights.

Alas, I’m tethered to this earth—
the world my lens, support and reach;
every word a bloody breach,
each new strophe an orphan’s birth.

No satisfaction to inveigh,
like every thought that comes to stay
I’ll treat it gently, simply say:
I wish that I might write that way
those others tell of, every day.


 A new poem to be shared on


Sunday, March 30, 2014

Watchtower Dreams


©  Steve King
All rights reserved


He would not think of death,
who stood the steady watch.

For the dark shapes
had slipped from the field,
campfires all decoys, they said:
no horse noise there,
bloodied bronze at last gone mute.

Dark emptiness as he gazed to sea:
a single entity,
the field and sky,
the great water;
a nothingness,
past the eye,
past touch and feel.

It guarded hope, that emptiness;
made light the fears,
as if to seal the well of enmity
from which the blood had run.

‘They are gone,’ he thought.

‘Gone.’

‘The sea take them.’

‘I fear the gods, extoll them all
from the shadowed depths to the great heights.
So let gods bicker as the least of us,
let them bedevil themselves as men,
but not ever here again.

‘I will have dawn,
the touch of my bride,
she of the perfume and infinite song,
she who smiles with a thousand eyes…’

‘But…,

            ‘What…wait…

‘No—’


A new poem for Imaginary Gardens…
 http://withrealtoads.blogspot.com/


Monday, March 24, 2014

this heart alone


©  Steve King
All rights reserved


this heart alone
so emptied of all things
fit only for wonder
and the press
yes the press
of damned recalcitrant sensations

sensation
born of a moment
as were fires of old
in the cold center
of the great dark space

faint new flicker
rising on the very edge
of each familiar empty place

edge

and will too quick unfold
across the ready arc
as if there just might be
some distant glory born
again for all to see

as if there may
be one who waits
bound to gather it fully

though darkness yet surrounds

this my heart alone

so empty now
of old impertinent things

patient for new wonder


A new post for Imaginary Gardens...
 http://withrealtoads.blogspot.com/

Monday, March 17, 2014

Just Seeing


©  Steve King
All rights reserved

When I peer into my eyes
the world is looking back-wards:
just reflection,
no perspective view
to shape all things
convergent to a one.

When I look into my eyes
mirrors within mirror
some unreachable other
signals back the flip side of my meanings,
hovering just beneath the gloss,
caught in near reality
that shall never truly come to pass.

Lost in a mirage of seeing,
faces that may never look beyond;
I cannot fathom what the mirror knows
I cannot wonder from behind the glass,
can never hope to find myself by looking,
the way that I would gladly spy
a misplaced wallet
or a ring of keys.

Playing the charade,
I turn quickly from the frame
before the other knows to look away,
and leave that presence lingering,
captive in a growing horde
of disappointed shades
til I shall try again
to find that certain vision,
still wondering in those uncertain moments
why nothing of that kind comes ready made.


A new poem for Imaginary Gardens...
http://withrealtoads.blogspot.com/

Monday, March 10, 2014

it rests so quietly the moon


©  Steve King
All rights reserved


it rests so quietly the moon
surface of the waters
deep with stars too

there rises a voice
to chorus brittle reeds
changing its tune always
as each wind turns its way

but I hear a certain song
as you would hear
were you still listening near

it is said there must be
distinction and some distance
in any harmony
as two separates conspire
to masquerade as the one
the ear must surrender
every compound use
and harbor only simple things

but this song comes and goes
a faint motif alone
in search of sturdier melody
song could not be made
more simple now
whisper of dead reeds
enough to score only
an incidental dream

a dream that with the song
does come and go

you with that waiting melody
so near but in another listening place
though I pray always for a harmony
I tell you I would do with less distance


A new post for Imaginary Gardens With Real Toads
http://withrealtoads.blogspot.com/

Monday, March 3, 2014

This night has blinded me


©  Steve King
All rights reserved

This night has blinded me.
Now must I seek another way
to have you:  a reflection shining,
bright prelude to all desires;
faint vibration of a lyric
to carry music of your instrument,
spirits of that old song calling,
only lacking your lips, tongue.

I have visions yet:
your eyes drawing me inward,
beacons on a quick advancing shore
even as the clouds cover me there,
heaving in the hold
of each relentless wave,
even as that haven slips from sight,
even as you render yourself free
from the enfolding tides,
offering faint note of what may come.

I gather you for now,
as tightly as may be,
while we are still something—
though never have we been
just one of that...

And all the restive dreams
are caught up as a damning retrospect:
pictures that must stand for you and me;
quaint figurines posed just so,
ready through the night’s eternity
to whirl a-dance;
all the while that other world waits new
the dawning of less gentling memories.


A post for Imaginary Gardens…
http://withrealtoads.blogspot.com/

Monday, February 24, 2014

Tomorrow


© Steve King
All rights reserved


I know tomorrow
will come round to me.

Always.

Rising in the wake
of that last receding dream;
puddled in the spreading tide of sunrise.

Tomorrow,
all the same.

Each awakened word a fair reminder,
fanfare of echoes
full of new meanings
and the same old tricks to betray.

All tomorrow,
everything you say.

Tomorrow always
feels like yesterday.



Monday, February 17, 2014

The Age


By Steve King
© 2014  All rights reserved


The age grew up unlike any other,
comparisons to old times
hardly worth the bother.

In the first war that we know,
the jealous king felt stinging bronze.

But our kings campaign from desktops,
between state dinners
and downtime for noble awards.

Lightning springs from ready buttons.
Weary Zeus had to conjure
a universe of rage.

We have men of the people now
thrust to our vanguard,
average in all but command.
Our last Agamemnon slumbers with stars,
war now a wearying commonplace,
to gather only transient conquerors.


A post for Imaginary Garden With Real Toads
http://withrealtoads.blogspot.com/

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

One Hundred Poems


©  Steve King
All rights reserved


I wanted to write one hundred poems
because it seemed so difficult to do.
I wondered at the mountain of old dreams
that I would have to mine for right ideals;
how I’d manage aspects of reflection;
the vacuum I must fill with new-made words,
and airs to uplift unimagined songs.

That empty platform waiting within me,
upon which all of this would be designed,
seemed small and so unsuited to the call
of fine finishing work:  visions constrained
by amateur habits and unschooled rote
so easily tempted by lush false notes.

One hundred poems seemed more than enough.

Words were so distant—like the scattered dust
that hovers throughout each galaxy
unclaimed by gravity; foreign to the ear,
loosed from all meaning, ‘til by accident
of proximity and random vector
some few waiting strains do fall together,
not at heat, begetting afterglow,
but with slow accretion, as something
emerging soft from where old shadows were,
the voice of new insistent harmony
whose life crests only for an instant…

…but then to find its way to some dark place:
the wellspring of a fool’s patient desire—
titles and footnotes, arcane references
replete with scrambled talking points
for why this word or that, and no other
did sanctify each sudden thought complete.
Rhythms cast themselves around each line
to pacify the unrelenting beat
of new metered feet poised to stampede
across the boundaries of each open page;
and at all times, the whithering debate
among familiar spirits gathered close
to freshen or impede the ready hand.

Somber recitations echoing around,
sonorous in predictable empty hours,
rolling from the all too ready tongue,
divorced from mundane words, or so one thinks;
and even from the quotidian chore
of counting to one hundred.  So one thinks.

One hundred voices for all occasions;
words for every subject, every tone,
and catch phrases to caption every brand.
Those brilliant families of syllables
and strophes hung with their perfect adornment—
one hundred verses, polished to their fault.

And I could see them all in bold array,
standing, to the last, in that old chain
that linked me with first things; ties to a past
that pointed towards a future left unknown,
at least beyond that number, one hundred.

But when the verses gathered, each said and done,
old barely finished before new begun,
I could not trace distinctions that had come
to mark those many lyrics I had spun.

Far less than my hundred, I saw I’d writ but one.



For Open Link Night at http://dversepoets.com/

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Come, light of the morning


©  Steve King
All rights reserved


Come, light of the morning,
carve for me from darkness
every grace my shadows may allow.

I would embrace
the harshest day
if only I might paint
love’s colors with my eyes,
instead of the faint tracings
that visit even comfortable dreams.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Psalm For A Sojourn


©  Steve King
All rights reserved

(Note:  This piece has been a seemingly never-ending work in process for me.  For those with the patience for a long poem, your unsparing criticism is very welcome.)


                                    1

I am no stranger to strange places, ma’am.
I’ve been a-seeking since this life began
to find a place where I could play my hand.
I come here not bereft of gifts or grace,
for I can turn my hand to anything
that can be dreamt of.
If a thing be dreamable
I have held it somewhere in my mind.
Somewhere soaring in my vagrant time.

But I forget myself again
and speak of lingering dreams in vain.
I will ask you…
I will ask you…
ah, but I forget again…

Such an inconstant star that leads my tracks!
How’s that for an epitaph?
I’m thinking tombstones more and more these days.
I’ve chiseled out a few across the years,
but always someone else to wear the suit.
You’d never know from looking out
upon this wretched ground
how rich it is in corpses.
Why, I’m afraid to break the surface
scratching a latrine
for fear of being dragged
into some wretched thing’s Hades
before my righteous time.
Ah… “ …’Ere my righteous time…”
How’s that for an epitaph?
Someone else, of course.

How many lives I’ve led,
how many different paths I’ve taken now,
out and away from the ancient matrix,
new treads rutting down the score
where others’ fleeing footsteps fell before.
Might I retrace my steps to find
proof that a life was onetime left behind?
And where then would that journey carry me?
And what sense would it make to ply
a path of least resistance in reverse?
Oh, ye of certain provenance
ought to rejoice the fact.
There is at least one terminus
to anchor your track.
You must not fault the world-forsaken man—
who knows not whence he came—
bewailing the night sky.
Those who ask ‘What’s in a name?’
most often-time own one.
There’s something more in place for them
than two eyes and a grimace
peering through the mirror’s vacant visage.

Yes, someone put a word to me, back when.
I started out as somebody, but don’t know how I’ll end.
I’ve since worn a score of names,
and by any remain the same.
Without a doubt, no ordinary Joe;
no Tom nor Dick nor Harry that I know.
There should be words for everyone.
including those of us that run,
callow orphans of the sun,
random atoms,
it’s all one…


                                    2

There is no escaping this earth.
My spirit is bound to its great cause,
And from some hold of nature springs
To briefly soar and barely pause.
So time alone shall gather me.
The gods have banished all prophets
and damn these doings from afar.
No divine canto lingers near.
No nymph’s enchantment echoes,
these days,
in the ear.

Still, there’s a certain story found
in every dusty, ache-boned cavalier
who stumbles from across the great divide
that I’ve traversed just now.
Imagine, if you can, what makes a man
discard the common vestiges of life,
to wander like the vagabond remains
of some lost tribe?

It helps to be a fugitive, I s’pose,
with memories worth leaving on the way…
It helps to have observed the follower
giving chase to the scrap of life
that you must call your own:
the follower,
the long and lowering shadow
of ravening pursuit,
savoring destruction
of a soul’s remains,
the image of a destiny,
all darkness in its train.

Oh, then is the running
and endless flight,
the blind and furied headlong,
toward sheltering night.

And close the future does await
to settle expectation and old faith,
to hold a mirror to a lingering soul,
or gauge an absent spirit’s remnant hole.
One day and on,
each then by each,
past and future clinging fast
to stay me in their reach.

So if I turn behind to peer,
it’s only out of habit holding dear.
Just lookin’ for that shadow
along the edge of evening,
the dark shape ‘round the corner,
the dimly-seen reflection
within each passing pane
of someone, something,
god-knows-what,
lolling beside.
There!
Now there!
The unknown other
lingering close.
The pursuer.
The past.
The future
imperfect.


                                    3

I’ve lost myself in absent reflection.
No more…
Lost, lost in a labyrinth of invention.
Now, at last, be gone
all idle aspect and intention.
No more.
No more…

What’s in my journey
through the ancient track?
Nothing really to it all,
nothing grand or fine to bid recall;
sure no story yet for epitaph:
I lack that pretty prelude to a death,
the right adornment to the mortal spoil,
that word, that creed, that parting song,
to validate the living breath,
a chronicle to justify
a middling sorry sinner’s fall.

Ah, my great battle is now long done,
the ancient saga forgotten, not sung;
history reduced to darkening past;
a cinema of beggars’ dreams
that I shall long outlast.

Like an actor on a darkened stage,
or poems clinging on a yellowed page,
or hatreds that surpass their spawning rage,
so life itself outlives its useful age.

But if this life be anything
it must be everything.
There can be no time beyond this one.
I could not task myself to spend
a human share of sense again.
There could be no condign recompense
for such another passel of misdeed.
It has always been enough
to contemplate this ebbing spark
as if no other could matter.
As if the chosen or found track
was all that ever reckoned me;
as if the ‘now’ upheld the ‘all’
to satisfy every old season
and each new felt thrall…

And yet I weigh against it all.
Against the odds, I’ll hold upon this life,
against all expectations will I ply,
against all shape and style of men I’ll hold,
against the many futures they’ve foretold,
against the rip and pull of distant tides,
against the very turning of the earth,
against the silence and against the cries,
the petty acquiescence and the sighs.

It was simple, once-a-time,
amid the dreams and bye-and-byes,
before I had to fathom rhymes
and expiate the ancient crimes.
It seemed easy, some before,
to stride beyond the darkened door,
to wade out from the welcome shore,
and back again, to wade once more.
There was laughter, once, to spare,
and rapture in the morning’s air;
evening’s dreams to banish care,
love’s full tide to drown despair.


                                    4

There is no possible disguise
when doubt unfolds within your eyes.
Swaddled in my pleasantries
you’ll find the truth as a surprise.

The truth:
what’s left.
After.

The truth is an answer
ringing in the void
left by the flight
of every question.

The truth:
a solitary icon
when all choice else departs.

Silence is the truth,
and solitude.

Truth:
the interlude
between one easy compromise
and another,
all the other gentle kinds of lies;
one contentious measure
o’ertopped by any other;
the balance point of random pain
and desultory pleasure.

The truth.
One word,
‘til comes another.

The truth would rid the air
of distractions
and distinctions.

O, let me tell about truth.

Let me tell.


                                    5

A long time since I’ve held to simple talk.
Asking, waiting,
silent, hearing…
Reading between lines,
interpreting the sighs
in measured leisure time.
I wish that I were wise like you
and could conserve myself.
I cannot hold a single thought inside.
No sooner have I fashioned it
than do I spill it reckless all around.
I should be stoned for profligacy,
flinging my conjectures.
The seed is lost in this hardscrabble world,
and thoughts are rootless in the deed,
so perfect suited to grand empty gestures.


                                    6

My dreams once drew me through this hard-spun world.
Dreams that led me, dreams that followed me,
dreams and dreaming through each age-long night,
with ne’er a dawn to make the dreaming right.
Most dreams are gone now, as I wished they might,
as one might pray a troubling spirit pass,
forgetting why such troubling came to last,
awaking now, and feeling oneself free,
imagining it thus should ever be.

You may conjure yet with dreams.
I will take the night.
I have come from out of the east,
out of the sun,
out of the light,
seeking that place
where darkness is.
It is now my waking dream, the night.
My hope, for now.
My ever now.

O, let it come, the night.
and hide me from the follower behind.
The night will be mine.
Let it come, the night.
Already have I had my fill of morrows.
Let it come, tonight.
The death of every simple sorrow.
Let it come.


                                    7

I have said so many things,
have set this note myself to sing,
and sparked a coal left long unlit.

So…to what will you commit?
What then would you say to me
if strange musings came to be?

Oh, is that so?
And that, as well?
How’s a gentleman to tell?

And is that the all of it?
Have I fathomed every bit?
Is there nothing yet to know…?

I am waiting.
And so I wait.
And so I will.

You see me looking now,
embracing without touch,
devoid of all familiar shames.
And I imagine you thrill
as you imagine the extent,
the substance of my dark imaginings.
But how may I account aright
for your unsayable desires?
Speak what your spirit wills, and do.
Find in you the song of primal whispers
and the thrum of new-felt need.
Come, come, to the penumbra of my heart’s fire.
What shadows shelter your desire?
What playthings will your tastes require?
Come, come with me into the dark ambit.
I see the wanting spirit in your eyes.
Come, the trip shall be all danger and surprise,
filled with strange unsought epiphanies.

And I can see it in your eyes.
Again and again, that spirit must obey,
that would not venture through the light of day.


                                    8

“The night draws together earth and sky.”

“We two are as separates under the one cloak.”

“We two.”

“We two await cessation and the dying of all things.  The reduction of all distraction.  The dying.”

“Silence.  All things merging to the one.  Alike to the rolling earth and sky beneath the counterfeit cloak of night.”

“All things.”

“We two.”

“All things.”

“Under the one cloak.”

“Earth and sky are merged.”

“But poised for rupture.”

“Under the counterfeit cloak.”

“Even words dying…”

“The surest prelude to surprise.”

“Dying.  Posed for rapture.”

“Yes, merging earth and sky.”

“Yes, waiting, you and I.”


                                    9

Sweet kiss of the christ!
Never felt nor beheld …
The ancient flower set astir
in the wafting volition of desire,
captive this eternal hour.
Brought I hungry mouth to devour,
graze like a stallion in bounteous fields.
A quiver ran as the feast enfolden me.

Then to move with the waning moon
racing dawn to the finish,
eclipsing each the other’s form
signaling by touch,
bound distant by the tethers
of private inviolate desires
as if adrift,
each parting the other’s way,
rocking as the great mother rocks.
Us all.
All the world a wave.
Dark, our thoughts.
Vast rocking world.
Knew I only mine.
Touching her forehead with mine.
Mine own.
She knew.
I knew not what she knew.
All in the touch,
again rocked we,
shadowed sails upon a warming wind,
rocking sweet song
of distantflown waters,
clinging, as the tide
that would bind
opposing shores.


                                    10

It is the legacy
of many lessons learned,
of too many dreams broken
upon the anvil of the rising day,
that I should hesitate,
that I should draw this hand
as from a beckoning flame,
away from the phantasm of your face--
the lessons of a straitening time
to calculate what is and isn’t mine.

Now must I look with a child’s eyes,
and see to all beginnings,
see you in your dreaming as you are,
not as I’d have you be.
Shedding gloss and glamour and all things
that would tarnish newness,
now must I hear an innocent’s voice
hiding in the harmonies you construct.
I must teach you,
I, older than all beginnings,
I rife with recollection and despair.
My touch will be almost as nothing,
far from thoughts of fantasy and love.
It is not a time for doting
or revoking hard perimeters of self.
It is a time and moment made whole
by the imminence of leaving,
the hard kernel at the core of fleeting dreams,
the glimmer of abandon,
soon to be eclipsed
as future reveries of love
appear to intervene.


                                    11

But now has something filled your eye.
I can see too clearly.
I am but a near remembrance
settling to impede
the coming of impatient dreams,
someone, somewhere, sometime when,
a passing product of the faintest chance.
Even now, a quirk of happenstance.

My words are just familiar artifacts
cluttering your gathering disinterest,
nothing really to concern yourself,
just puzzling mementos
to molder on an ever lengthening shelf.


                                    12

What may I tell you when you break your sleep?
Are there leavings apposite to this?
A rebirthing to a time and place
that ties you always to a place and time?
Is it your choosing, this and nothing more?
I am beneath notice in this place,
just suitable for dangling on a whim,
my newness in your dreams a camouflage
for what must be if ever I should stay.
I came like a supplicant before you,
trailing sin and hunger and despair,
so as to be at one with all the world,
to shake you from your satisfied slumbers.
Still you smile, innocent of life,
not thinking of the vision I portray.
Even that is not enough, it seems,
to agitate the content of your dreams.

What may I leave you, when it comes to that?
I can give you memory of me,
while I do carry yours along the way,
a livening burden, growing much in weight
the further it is borne.


                                    13

And yet the end of every road
retreats with each new hill I crest,
with every trek, still more to go,
with every pause, new restlessness.

The morning casts long shadows
trailing or before,
howeverso that one may turn,
with the world or away,
each dawn ringing ‘round another center,
the advent and surcease of all we know.
There is a directness to it all.
Dawn is the onset of so many things,
it is impossible to stay a choice.
Here is but an open way,
an unimpeded journey for your day
directly to the horizon of choice,
the mind still mining dreams
to populate the silence that surrounds.

This parting is what does define:
the stepping from,
the moving toward,
full melancholy cast of mind,
the changeling who has stay’n behind…

And I shall seize my bag of dreams,
and strange, unkempt imaginings
to keep them for another day
when kindlier muses might hold sway.
Yes, ever sorry for the loss,
            but there are horizons to cross…


How soon each footstep falls the same
upon the still unyielding plain.
So soon again, another day,
another eon, fledgling, on its way.
Goodbye morning, now I say,
with a nod to the new old sun.
Now goodbye all,
now goodbye, everyone.




For Imaginary Gardens With Real Toads http://withrealtoads.blogspot.com/
and Tuesday’s Open Link Night at dVerse

Monday, December 30, 2013

I Would Not Profane


©  Steve King
All rights reserved

I would not profane
the pageant of this dawning wood
with any small reflection
that a man might bring.

Yet how else may I know?

Light rises,
autochthonous, it seems;
this world shall display itself in full always,
while I am left to trace faint shadows
in the afterglow.


(The last of the year for me, to be shared on Imaginary Gardens with Real Toads.  Happy New Year, all!!!)
http://withrealtoads.blogspot.com/