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
http://dversepoets.com/

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Lines


© 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

Ontario


© 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.

Willing.

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.

‘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/