Tuesday, November 29, 2011

This Page

by Steve King
© 2011
All rights reserved


The blank page,
an unblinking annoyance
that will not turn away.
I cannot see beyond it,
though its glare does skewer me.

I inspect it, careful, and at length;
all its imperfection,
specks and whorls,
perhaps some remnants
of reprocessed rag,
or atomized remains
of old cardboard
and sixpack wraps.

That part there perhaps,
spun up from a soup
of crass handbills,
unanswered letters,
desperate replies,
holiday scribblings
and tart ‘good-byes,’
all well-seasoned with a spray
of bright confetti gaud.
A busy page, though blank.
Its breadth supports a second life
for all these transient things;
makes immortal life’s discards,
though not a strophe of mine.

Mottled and well used,
corners bent, creased and worn,
hammered near to death
by idle drumming fingers,
it’s figure is the very shade
of an exhausted muse.


It will outstay distraction,
this place where worlds do manifest
and legacies transport;
where far-seeing souls,
gone from time and place,
long the source of your close reveries,
strive for their communion;
as if they might impart some certain grace;
as if you might accept it
for your version of a sacrament.

Through darkening afternoon it stays,
a-dance before the eye,
upholding all the shapes
imagination might require;
a cloud, alit to render
hard won heavenly intent,
there to yield new spirits
in trade for your old dreams
and all the weary summonings.

All the old secrets,
all already known;
ancient stories leavened with new breath;
imagery ageless
as the breaching sun
or descending night
or red moon parting bitter seas
or narrow eyes upon new-risen heights,
opening to peer through an advancing mist…


No, nothing of this page is new,
save, at last, that part suddenly you.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Devil His Due

by Steve King
© 2005
All rights reserved

The seasons of death have come and gone
And yet will come again, and go again.
And so will death itself live on and on,
replenished by our dying.

         * * * * * * * *

"Make a pretty song for me,"
said that other voice I hear,
"fit to move a mourning throng,
somber as they gather near.

"Harvest nightshade with your words
and spin it into brightest wreathes;
draw fine colors from despair
and paint them on a winding sheet.

"Stand bold reason on its head
and sing of tales to raise the dead;
find in silence things unsaid,
and conjure hopes to cure their dread.

"Your piecework suits me for the wage
to let you linger through your age;
for even Death, that labors long,
enjoys his labor with a song.

"Do these pretty chores for me
in gentle toil of sympathy;
a joyless duty, you will say,
though you would do it, anyway;

"And I will seek for other kin,
those without rhymes, or airs to spin,
and leave you safely with your muse,
to succor me, it's yours to choose..."

And so I dip the poison pen,
to sing so Death may dance again,
songs I never dare to end,
while he another does befriend.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Dreaming of the Sea, From the Mountain

by Steve King
© 2011
All rights reserved

The dream washed over me,
a murmur to breach
my sleep-stopped ears,
as from a familiar;
I felt afar its call,
as the settled sea
might feel a lifting wave:

‘Do not fear me,’ it said.
‘I speak to you only as I must.

‘Giving sense both to your days
and to your small moments,
I will sing of what you most love,
will show you all these things,
if there is yet a doubt.
I will find for you the words
that wait, so separate now
from your reluctant tongue.
From pellucid airs
will spring the stuff
to make whole worlds,
and bring to hand
unmargined firmaments.

‘Do not fear.
You must believe;
and I will grant you
that which has eluded;
things that shall outlive
the transient pleasures
in these petty wants.

‘I speak as to a stranger
because you are;
I suffuse you and am within you,
though you do not yet see,
though you have never felt
the truest of my powers.

‘Do not fear me.
No more false witness!
I am the echo
to your heart’s solemn beat;
I will bring the song,
your joyous ode,
the flourish that does flatter.

I will sound at last
the note that sustains.
Yes, I shall be to you
the shout that declares,
the roar that defines.’