Saturday, May 21, 2016


© 2016 Steve King
All rights reserved

I watch at last while others pass me by,
their glad parade my happy respite now:
the songs, the dancing and the wondrous show,
all certain pleasures shining as they go.
I marvel while I watch at the remind
of every feeling that the young may hold,
of worlds unfurling, vast, before their feet,
and all strange puzzles they’d presume to know.

I am not near so wise as once I wished,
nor happy in that way that glosses dreams.
I greet the mornings now as a fair gift,
imparting with each newness all I seem,
or ever was, or ever may become,
no hasty needs to pierce the centered calm,
nor mar those graces morning might bestow.

And when these glad parades have had their play,
and airs are emptied of their new spun song,
there lingers always something in my ear,
the echo of old anthems ringing on,
and fading fanfares of parades at rest,
for every age must hold its own the best.
And though new fanfares rise to satisfy,
each morning grace shall be my symphony.

A new poem for The Poetry Pantry

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Sonnet Four

© 2016 Steve King
All rights reserved

Impossible it seems to find a way
that measures what so subtly resides
within the conscience and the patient heart.

I hoped these written findings would endow
new meaning for the questions sleeping there,
would plumb the riddles in those hidden parts,
the motives that still linger and appease,
that stoke false pride and obfuscate old cares.

I know I’ll never satisfy what’s true
with those tendentious spirits as my guides:
they burnish all illusion and remand
the record that I hoped would since abide. 
That easy road is ever on the rise,
and I must seek a pathway otherwise.

A new poem for Imaginary Garden With Real Toads

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Sonnet Three

©  2016 Steve King
All rights reserved

I struggle to see through the world each day.
It’s only afterward, when shadows sing,
that time comes into view a certain way,
to hold my eye and all imagining.

The past becomes more real with every turn,
and firms its hold in steady increments;
each faint remembrance there begins to burn,
while present fancies readily relent.

The ancient and obscure alike compete
with every sense that measures what is new.
The current moment bides its own repeat,
to fortify that undiminished queue,
and every instant I had thought complete
now finds a way to reinvent the true.


Sunday, April 24, 2016

New Snow

©  2016 Steve King
All rights reserved


We walked an autumn much in ease,
beneath the careless beeches, kicked their
discard fruits along the narrow hillside path,
and followed ‘til the lake rose up to meet us
through the trees. 
    And our silence pleased us so.
We passed the ancient fieldstone gate,
imagining some world that once had been;
all shadow and the hiss of falling leaves,
old lilac boughs in twilight nodding slow.

Caring little then for other things—
enough to feel the sunset at our backs,
to circle ‘round along a vanished path,
and brush our hands by happy circumstance.
No, nothing left to wonder of,
a surety to spare;
and we’d return by starlight if we could.


You laughed aloud when,
in a moment that remains
all out of sense and time,
you described the fallen orchard grove
embracing its old earth.

I said you’d writ a poem there.
You fled the instant,
said you needed song instead;
but clamorous spirits gathered to the air,
intoning in another sort,
and only cold winds moved to answer you.


We hurried, but the shades
of every autumn caught us up.
We held ourselves within a shield of vines,
listening for winds to end
as well I knew each moment must.
I strained for every incomplete echo,
the thread of any harmony at all,
a chorus to the gabble of disjoining thoughts
in search of quieter comfort.
I knew that shadows never could complete,
nor ever would the riddling wind,
become that song for you.

I shivered only when I saw your eyes,
still blue in fallen moonlight,
and white as a new snow,
as distant from all wanting
as yesterday’s desire.
You told me any pathway back would do.


Were I to hold a moment long in mind
it would be something like an autumn walk,
the sunlight and the shadow all as one.
Before a thousand sunrises
had shaken us from dreams.
Before the cast of season’s end
could color all we’d seen.
Before the dark ecliptic track
had run to course
and left our days undone.

A new poem for the Poetry Pantry

Friday, March 4, 2016

Perfect Words

©  2016 Steve King
All rights reserved

One day I’ll greet the word that I require,
to draw all thoughts into the brighter light.
The catechism of my dark intent
shall let its meanings flourish as they might.

Then would I find the lyrics resident
in every shadow where old musings dwell;
for never have they found a true release
to satisfy the moments that I tell.

It seems I measure only fickle things:
the moods, the feelings, or the hope that wanes
beneath the weight of every new regret.

Each passing instant of imagining
bequeaths a corpus of fragile remains,
all shades and ashes I must soon forget.

A new poem for the Poetry Pantry

Monday, February 22, 2016

Seven Wives
© 2016 Steve King
All rights reserved

My boots have seven lace holes,
my shirts have seven buttons,
and I work for seven days
so I don’t want fer nothin’.

If I live ‘til seventy
I’ll take the rest for granted;
still have time for seven wives,
the same as grampy wanted.

A new poem (of sorts) for Imaginary Gardens....

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Sonnet: In the Quiet Hour

©  2016 Steve King
All rights reserved

It would be a mistake for you to feel
my silence as a shield against your love,
for I have ever held you close in thought
to fill the shadows that are gathered close—
and kept you in those dreams and wonderings,
forever at the heart of my repose.
I look to find a song to make you glad,
to bridge this darkness that will not requite,
a faith to bend my wishing to your needs,
to break your silence, that my silence brings.

My stubborn orbit soon will be unwound,
to feel the patient tenure of your pull,
no more eclipsing radiant delights,
nor folly to resist that final fall.

A new poem for Poetry Pantry

Sunday, January 17, 2016


©  2016 Steve King
All rights reserved

I can’t believe in ghosts—
at all.

Not me.

That sound I hear
is just the ancient clock
crying out cruel hours
and a cache of ruined days;
vagrant seconds spilling
on the threshold of that dark hallway.

I would say
I’ve never seen a ghost.
Strange fancies fall away
at will before my gaze—
as if undone by magic;
that is, if I believed in magic,
if it were allowable
beyond the issuance of dreams,
although each dream itself might seem as real.

I have never felt a ghost, nohow.
That breeze upon my neck
is from the unthought open window
beckoning strange airs
through all the attic maze,
up and down the shadowed stairs
and settling here, easy as can be,
close within this dusty window seat.

I have never held a ghost,
though I have tried:
the semblance of a memory,
husks of undone wishes,
rustling through all useful life,
endowing form to shades of other days.
But seldom in my ready moods
have spirits ever lingered to obey.

Yes, I have paused for many things
as they have come my way.
Most kinds of things, okay…
but never once an honest ghost.

Not me. 
Not ever nowadays.

A new poem for Imaginary Gardens With Real Toads

Monday, January 4, 2016


©  2016 Steve King
All rights reserved

These nights are never empty;
There will be a beat
to mark the waxing moment,
a drumming note to fill
each dreaming space.

But I will never know
if I am hearing or intoning,
listener or speaker;
or if the moment falls an idle thing,
tolling out the faint remains
of conscience staking claim.

I cannot say how any dream is held,
nor how it disappears,
nor whence it springs to hover briefly near:
always some unseen vantage,
where one may not follow.

But its pull is always felt,
and whispers well
of things that I should know,
or would have done,
or might desire,
just so.

Unmetered psalms of my own brief,
echo through the reflections—
all moments that suffice to gather
such a soul as mine.
And all the well-worn hopes remain
that one day they shall bring
a kind of peace.

Were I the sainted kind
I might make orisons of these,
curry spirits with incense,
beatitudes and hope,
even that singular one
to banish every doubt.

But the moment brooks no prayer,
and I must rightly stretch the word
to feel akin to any kind of grace.
I understand:  not every moment needs a name,
that triumph rarely may sustain,
that laughter clings but briefly to the air,
while seas of tears do nourish our domain.

And every moment shall renew.

Even love,
and every friend,
may only for a time be true.

The quotidian march
upon this spinning place puzzles:
every start and end will seem the same.
A humbling passage to embrace,
but should it measure happiness or care,
I know that I shall always march again.

Alas there are no ready gods to blame,
though unseen voices gather near;
though whirlwinds clamor at each turn,
to shout me down,
but never to explain.

A new poem for Imaginary Gardens with Real Toads

Sunday, December 6, 2015

That Next Season

©  2015  Steve King
All rights reserved


It had become that next season so soon,
each of us still holding tough
upon the old designs.

As if to know unmeasured newness
must be just another sham;
as if a newness would not last,
could not last to shake the silence,
loose the tired spell.


The dreams of age do still cascade
mightily to white mornings
and every captive emptiness.

As if new mornings might bring dews
to salve those night fevers;
new light to master every form,
and fill each waiting sense.

The dreams of pleasures spent,
the keen of old laments
calling from the latter shores
of what shall serve as memory.
Rising maelstroms and new mystery
to trim the shape of every grace
roiling there in dark currents,
gathering daily on that edge of dawn:
all, past and future, held to certain time,
new instants, knowing and unknown
unfounded, then found—
fair inklings of what might have done,
and of what yet may be,
scattered like unburied bones
to stitch a tale upon
a desert dreaming-ground.


Waiting advent of new sounds,
the hint of some deserved happiness
so close—we lingered, patient,
paused, to catch a rising chorus note:
hymns of any bright purpose at all,
or any power that would sing
amid the ruptures and the new-made rupturing.

Seeming so at ease,
watching in the sun like morning flowers,
(silly in the absence of all meaning)
waiting, caught up in reflexive motion
(happy then, in absence of all meaning).
No time for a straggling vision of belief,
nor weight of addled discontents.
We, in every nuance of new light
without admitted prejudice,
or hopes, or dark device,
not seeming to believe in any thing
save a morning, save a sun.


And yet the shadow of an old delight
did ply its way through memory
and the rampart ways of our desires;
as if delight could be reborn
alone from the stilled air,
from echoes long gone by.
As if old feeling might at any time reprise
without a cause or recompense,
or toll of unforeseen regret.


I tried to know all answers,
even without leave to ask,
in hopes that would not change,
in ideas long formed,
like stars we saw arrayed
in some faint corner of a sky;
each night,
            then next,
and next,

until, always, the sun…

our eyes alight like stars,

and then, always, the sun…


And each awakened conversation
devolved soon to long smiles,
awaiting words, laughter,
without even breath.

All the gazing lost upon the distant view,
redoubt of a promised charm,
hoping, ever, for an end
to match the pleasant recollections
we had always used.


In a shuttered room
I saw again the old portrait,
left to muster what it might of time,
searching eyes beneath a sheath of dust;
so like a faded mirror gone to mottle,
left at last to render what it must;
gathering a faint reflection,
casting only what it could of us.


And saw myself at last as I must be,
revisiting the times,
again, again, the times,
unrelinquished to their days;
and dreaming with a will
to witness and recover,
reciting still the old plainsong
and catechisms chanting each lost chance.

Every mood drawn back to tend upon
service of all absent shades
teeming in the doorless depth;
silence there, impenetrate,
traced not with the sunlight or my stars,
nor the glow of radiant dreaming;
without presence left to warm;
each mouth a hollow shadow
echoing phrases long unmourned,
and all their damned ancient oaths.


We are used to listening,
in tangles of regard,
in the fashions of rapt repartee,
in every way that politesse
redeems our crude awakenings
to others sudden in the small circle—
watching worlds collide
without accustomed warning,
nor a feast of omens
for gangs of hungry seers.

I am used to waiting for the word,
treasuring in that old excessive fashion
all the things that I have yet to learn.

Calibrating each response, just so,
not to upset assumptions or fears
held for obsolescent reasons,
and even, at the last,
the sometime certainty of simple humdrum.


And in the beginning…

Summers old, the child would linger
in abandoned orchards,
following the wagon ruts along
a fading road to sunset,
always content in the thinning shade
of waning elm and chestnut glades,
reeling at the shadow of a circling hawk,
pausing only for the mother’s sunset song
that summoned every darkness,
when dreams would gather and embraid
the treasures of a wondrous day—
just a day, as all else then, his own,
the currency of infant expectation,
for every kind of nascent hope,
when always dreams would measure true
and sure, and new,
and seeming without end.

A new poem for The Poetry Pantry
and the dVerse Poet's Pub

Sunday, September 27, 2015


©  Steve King
All rights reserved

The clockface called it morning,
but without sense of newness,
nor of a moment pregnant
with light upon the world:
time enough to count the hours backward.

My sigh rolled across
a clutch of gathered blankets,
ill wind coursing on a naked peak.

My shadow fell across the emptiness—
stormclouds close upon a fallow field.

A new poem for The Poetry Pantry

Friday, September 4, 2015

These Mornings

© Steve King
All Rights reserved

These mornings the old men,
staring through the fog of coffee steam,
sing of spirits visiting their dreams,
and of a distant year,
of tears that will not balm
things that were simply meant to be.

And ritual tales of fair desire
to claim the place of memory;
laughter to deny that certain moment;
myriad reasons safely hid,
meanings that are cloaked amid
the fog of these mornings.

A new poem for The Poetry Pantry

Wednesday, July 22, 2015


by Steve King
© 2015

and then, you see,
when they came to break your bones
you learned to tell them things

some of it was true I know
but other parts could make no sense at all

I wondered if they knew the difference
wondered at the sounds I made
a chorus of dark music
echoing a distant tongue

much felt like a dream
the darkness
and the sudden light
the inversions
the cold
the darkness
and the hearthless heat
day and night at once
no element of sky or earth
or grace of wakening beyond
the mind left strangely free in flights
to ease hardening bonds

just as if a dream
where only strangers meet

do no harm I thought
but could not think
I did not think

save for one small thing

there comes that moment when one hopes
that he has finally known it all
will never stir to see another face

and yet 
he chooses still to name it hope


Monday, April 20, 2015

The Way

© 2015  Steve King
All rights reserved

Everything I read,
the musics that I hear,
grave statuaries gesturing to me
depictions, portraiture,
the call of this or that philosophy—
each of these, you say,
reflect a distillation
of some perfected world.

But only through another’s heart, I say.

These will not levitate me on their own
to some, or other, supposed place or time,
undoing what the world has done to me,
forestalling what it yet may do,
or often breach the shadows
that flow across each moment
of even the most casual of the minds.

Such beauties as here be
are like the concrete guards,
or steel fence poles,
or rounding moats,
or bright signposts
or winding stairs,
or dreaming notes
that channel this journey
through what I hope
shall one day be a life—
guides only to my wandering
toward that far pathway
dimly held in my present guesswork,
yet one that has been ever laid for me.
Though never on my journeys
in that quest for latent grandeurs,
hidden still in that stubborn array,
shall I expect some sudden perfect vista to appear.

Those worlds barely foreshadowed
by all these things
I read and see and hear:
those things that pose between our meanings—
dark for me, for you so blinding clear.

(A new poem to be shared in the Imaginary Garden

Sunday, February 8, 2015

The Assignation

©  2015 Steve King
All rights reserved

You rest so easy in the guise
of your delighting dream,
with sunlight full upon your breast,
and shadows fallen on your eyes.

And from that dream confuse my name—
forget, it seems, the afternoon,
the waiting wonder that inflamed
in every sudden thrall.

So quick the fire, no need the moon;
and yet so soon your dreams required
that other call.

I’ll never ask you to deny
endearments that might seem misused,
for sometimes dreams must be excused.

But oh,
where have they fled, My All—
those thousand sighs?

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Notes From Near The Cedar River

©  Steve King 2015
All Rights Reserved

I cannot see the way from here, out of
this darkness, and the weight of every dream—
strange transients, each one too brief to mark
its meaning on the face of any mood.
The night brings unmapped worlds into my view,
a dark vision that shares no grand display
beyond a bare perception, though I look
to every star, on each grim shape alive
in phantom silhouette, to reflections
that dance on surfaces, yet flare as deep
as any sky-bred fire in distant keep,
all borning to this unquiet intent.

The flow I hear, and I can sense movement
upon this world; a leaving, and the gift
of bringing far to near; a sense of old
and of the yet unknown, but never one
to mark an easy instant here for me,
to substitute for what must suit as now,
that holds no comfort, either of my place,
or where any horizon may yet call.
All cause remains a mystery to this:
each testing thought only hypothesis,
no startling conclusions to the fore,
no matter what another may conceive
about these musings, or the nascent brief
of any notion set to flourish here.

If wishes led, then might I find a path,
for I have spent a soul on each desire
that raised me to make bold in sentiment,
in faiths and perspective, in loves and song;
and more, when art has failed to every end,
and I aspired to music of next best.

Yet I cannot imagine better things,
or different half measures to embrace,
than to behold myself in every way
unfinished, and awaiting fuller days,
each draught of expectation just enough,
compelling me to silence at the last;
but decent silence, not forlorn escape,
nor uneasy retreat from some unknown:
these scattered stars remain and they may leave
no disarray.  It is for me to trace
the measure of those ageless ones complete
in every shaded meaning cast below,
in latent music teasing all around,
which holds no cadence for impatient hearts.

For there is art to spare in this waiting:
imagining the shapes of destiny,
and forms to fill out every half-cast dream.
Each hollowed moment gathers to the point:
how hopes must find their birth in emptiness—
a dark invention of the soul’s escape
from all that weighs; how hoarded memories
wake to remind of each thing fallen short;
how each unspoken, unremitted sin,
in its reluctant rising to fresh light,
may gain a grace to turn its burdens right,
or even find brief peace within the folds
of some abiding ambiguity.

A modest triumph, to outwait a night
and gather modest truth; for I am where
all meanings must devolve if any be;
if meaning may be recognized at all
beyond the murmur of the shifting airs,
the roll of waters, and the moon’s new light.
Such modest triumph, teasing beauty so
from each intruding thought, each pausing word,
in sudden longings that would steer my heart
if only I might let an old one go.

And so I hold for newness and surprise,
and cede a patience that is rare in me.
The old night, calling faintly to its own,
with a new irony smothers old dreams;
I am a page awaiting its new marks
that render paths to where old souls repair.

Withholding judgements now, and past all care,
I shall remain, ‘til beauty shows me there.

A new poem for Poets United

Saturday, December 20, 2014

In The Violet Hour

©  Steve King 2014
All Rights Reserved

Unseen through any fold of shadow,
near, yet ever out of reach—
I had hoped the one dream
might linger and appease.

But faint as a far tremor
sifting through loose sands:
the echoes of those vesper notes,
like water through my hands.

I shall reach for nearer things,
embrace them as I can.

Lost amid strange twilight times,
let all the dreams be damned.

Monday, December 8, 2014

My Mistake

©  Steve King
All rights reserved

My mistake was to inquire, even tactfully,
what it is that you believe.

I left the question open,
wide as understanding might allow,
then watched as eyes narrowed,
surprising me, as now I know
you were surprised to hear it asked:
I felt your gaze reach far within my own,
perhaps to see which motives
must underlie such simple words.

Too late, I saw the question had gone wrong:
I only sought to know you
at some level other than mundane;
but all the simple knowing sudden stopped.
Now, I see the question made you wonder
on some unspoke quality of life,
and how it was your spirit may have failed
to flourish under this or that constraint;
how the things that you assumed
so closely as your own,
had served a destiny for good or ill;
how each daily compromise
worked only to wreak havoc on your will.

My words were conversation,
never meaning to upend
the stasis of your settled scores,
or betray elisions that lend peace to the days.
Perhaps you have no patience for beliefs—
perhaps you have mistaken
the rudiments of habit and routine
for rituals of virtue;
have given over to necessity
those energies that otherwise
would sanctify pursuit
of even gentle truths—
when the looming call of doubt
must either be rejected or embraced.

Perhaps you give short shrift
to the rightful place of doubt—
without which there is no need of faith
or the sundry comforts of belief.
Perhaps you have no time to waste on ambiguity.
Perhaps there is only a certain now,
to obviate all questions of regret and retrospect,
your future just a passive mirror,
set to hold the shape of some immutable design.

And so you answer with a look:
disappointment that the topic ever should arise.
Perhaps you had been fending off the answer all along;
perhaps belief had never been tested
in the rush of living out your life
the way you choose to live it.
Perhaps belief, itself, is a wrong word,
conjuring heirloom articles of ancient rites,
ever inconvenient in their day,
and even now, in memory.

This eternal present is a crowded sphere.
I myself have felt surcease of hours
and the timeless beat of silence:
questions settling in upon the mind’s idle abodes—
thoughts to spur dark contemplations,
restless in their reach and resonance,
yet spawning only tenuous conclusions.
It must be enough, I think,
to leap from pause to pause,
following the track of some small inkling
here or there, if one should be at hand,
even as we wait upon
some moment of sublime clairvoyance.

Now my questions are undone,
and may not be retraced
to trivial or droll evasions.
Doubt may never humble you,
but you would surely chafe at condescension.
All the while I must rest
upon the record of my words;
now you know me in a way
that I may not know you:
the way that I must only know myself.

I should have seen it well:
some questions end in unforeseen miscues
that serve only to fortify
the ruins of much casual impulse
and all we otherwise come to regret.
My notion was a fool’s device:
I should have sought the trace of your faint inklings—
those tracks you make among the silences,
far notes that echo in your empty times—
not some sudden profession
to frame the outline of your cautious heart;
I should not scatter thoughtless noise
to dress the trite cacophony
with which all days are filled;
should not have sought
to draw out dear assumptions,
knowing how they breed,
one upon the next,
worn transparent with their overuse,
stretched by lazy fantasy
to unkempt, unimagined,
wholly unsupported shapes,
languishing equally far
from origins and ends.

And so I watch you wrestle
with the puzzle of the words.
Yet I cannot better frame my task,
or color more these shades of meaning,
that you seem to take as black or white.

You still uncaptioned portrait—
alive only in silence,
great hostage to this small moment
and all unanswered questions;
holding solid for the next best guess,
though nothing you imagine takes to flight;
rehearsing all those ready answers,
none of which shall ever soon requite.

A new poem for Imaginary Gardens