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

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 an occasioned flight—
but only faintest stars align;
no new discovered worlds 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.


‘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…’




A new poem for Imaginary Gardens…

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

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


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...

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...

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

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…