Monday, December 31, 2012

Walking Under the Eclipse

© Steve King 2012 
All rights reserved 

So many ways they find to ogle their occult, 
while there are closer shadows,
darker places to explore. 

This artificial slice of night, 
that gives no pause
nor time for rest or cure— 

it is wide-eyed dreaming 
and they are all up-looking, 
outward and away.
What do they claim or hope to claim, 
with the mirrors of their eyes? 

It is still imagination,
this science of theirs,
more art than they would say: 

fixing eyes upon extinguished stars, 
searching for the certain fire-god
in beckoning vacuum,
a now indifferent Shiva
cutting loose all hell,
many arms weaving merry ends
to a posited fabric of creation. 

They ply the universal,
infinity their unit of regard,
squeezing inferences
out from nothing,
next to nothing,
indeed, the very
ƒ{unction} of a nothing. 

How they do define us in that nothing: 
from the fire did we arise;
unto flames will we thus be consigned— 

all to cinders,
ash to ash,
the way it always was 

in the old books. 

How they do define us,
they who are agnostic
to all outcomes. 
What do they see,
or hope to see,

in the mirror of the sky? 

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Along the Boulevard

by Steve King
© 2012

That frigid season had come,
each dawn with a shiver.
He tended the bleak hours
with all that habit could engender.
Neatly pinioned in between
things most felt and those unseen,
carnivore’s howl of blistering wind,
roiling sky full Pleistocene.

Despite best efforts not to call
on memories unfit for words,
his ghosts still played a-foul in the air:
intoned the rustle of dead leaves,
songs of whithered birds.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Unfinished Lines

by Steve King
©  2012
All rights reserved

Death shall punctuate our lines,
granting prospect of new song
to a readied empty space
waiting to enfold new life.

But new life is isolate,
only briefly in its place:
inconstant, unmemoried,
just a sketch wrought all too quick,
no right of rhythm or rhyme
inhering in its leavings;
no entrée to high design
save by good fortune, perhaps,
or if that final hard mark
should fall on a random grace,
sanctifying that last trace.

Punctuation without care
to how that next waiting space
might serve then to rectify
forgone lines of yesterdays—
so many acts left undone,
and so much nearly complete,
all so suddenly effaced,
silent in unfinished lines.

'Unfinished Lines' to be shared Tuesday at dVersepoets Open Link Night.  Come Join!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012


(c) Steve King 2012
All rights reserved

The first chore in the morning
was to gather our tomatoes.
Night bestowed new color:
each fruit in waiting
blushed in its awakening,
yielding easy to the hand.

Footprints in heavy dew
attended on my solitude,
and I would smile
imagining that one had followed:

Something like a dream,
to find a way
through the in-between
of starshine and dawn.
There is a poet’s word
for that kind of light,
but needless—
I had already seen.

And I would linger,
waiting while you dreamed,
pausing in my pleasantries,
harvesting the fruits of morning light,
while you clung to our shadows,
cleaving to the bounty of the night.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Seeing Stars

©  Steve King
All rights reserved

She closed her eyes to find a dream again.
Tears stung like the sea she a-drowning.
She would recall the window,
and the looking far to darkness,
and to distant stars.
Her eyes felt so small,
surely she was at fault, too,
for seeing nothingness that side of stars;
sure that emptiness
was part of her, too…

She disappeared as clouds closed on the night,
body nothingness in grip of shadow,
mind a lens for somnolent senses,
and for sharp aches that gather to the soul.
She could yet stir to wonder:
‘Is this how dreams are lost?’
Empty window and the dampened stars—
There would be that clinging memory
when waves of heartache
came to wash her soul,
over time smoothing sharp breaks
to a plainer anguish.
Empty window and the dampened stars:
irrelevant blind view
she tried so to ignore
yet strained to see.

Another moment and it all sank in.
Much as she thought the wash of dread
must lave across the leaving dreams
of the condemned that one last morning,
sudden waking to brightness and the brimming bladder 
and normalcy and all else except for...

All so sudden
all like a madness
all at once like that fear.

She blushed in her pain to think of the condemned:
There could be no otherness for them,
no beckoning twilight future
to suit a need as time might yet allow,
no delicate and balming rationales,
‘til rationales surrendered to the end of expectation;
‘til memory itself was finally gone.

Not at all like death or what she imagined.
How was one to know?
For what had death to show?
The heart might cease, yet still not fail to beat.

Not like death, seeming a dream at the far other end.
Only love, and best to lose it young;
superfluous innocence
that would not stay nor even bear the course:
better than at age in the grip of dread,
as old love, ancient and familiar,
drowned in a stew of cataracts and catarrhs.


Mausoleums at morningtide.

All desire and dream,
she sang through darkness
heard the song, not the singing
knew she must be dreaming
or else be a dream,
even as she felt him move,
felt him hard in her dreaming world,
even as he stayed leaving,
hearing her song in the singing dark,
not then even knowing his musing lark.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Out of Amnesia

© Steve King
All rights reserved

It surprises so:
the very thought
of capturing the thought—
as when unseen winds
purge heavy clouds
to bare the sky;
all sudden,
all surprise.

Like working through a kind of amnesia—
a something from a nothing,
rising like dumb luck,
too quick a moment
to have planned it all.
What once was void
at last a place
to cultivate the fruit
of one’s un-axiomed conjectures.

As if the air has substance,
a dream weight.

The stubborn blank,
now with full character revealed,
even by the heavy lines
and crude designs
my vanity would scribe.

Bit by bit arriving at a state
that must have always been a destiny;
not just evolving emptiness,
not just a thing unstructured
in its order and command,
but real forever,
biding for its time,
submerged within the interstices,
laced among the things we think we know;
waiting for a moment, just so;
vamping in that offstage blackout,
ready for a cue light to show.

Like lifting amnesia:
reaching through the thin air
of an empty height
to stir a stew of myth
from teeming shadows far below;
a nothing rising to a surety,
desires fulfilled
in the act of desiring,
drawing out the faint shade of a hope,
finally, the outline of a thing
that must at least be called
the stepchild of a dream.

Out of that amnesia,
that emptiness alike to death,
where this strange thing must wait,
for the one right moment,
to gather in a kind of puzzling light,
hovering like one’s own shadow,
yet poised there quite alone,
now whispering old secrets
that you are so surprised
to call your own.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Fast Dancin'

© Steve King
All rights reserved

The thumping of the bass-man
speaks a-common with my heart:
I am but a pair of anxious feet
milling in the rhythmic stampede
just waiting for the rock and roll to start...

The face of my enraptured partner
bends in the mix of sight and sound and smoke.
It is the blessed imagery
of the creed of the almighty flesh,
in an ionized cathedral
where twelve-bar hymns are spoke.

I will forgive the critics
of this sometimes less-than-art.
I leave to them the objects
that bemuse their higher powers,
those subtler fantasies
fit for idling daylight hours.

But for now there is a wonder
and a powerful delight
in mimicking the thunder
of this strange and wild night.
And until the night is over
and those critics make me see,
this devil with the blue dress on  **
is good enough for me.

** With a 'thank you' to Shorty Long and Mitch Ryder

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Rm w/ Vu

I turn from where I stand at the window.
The pane is double frozen with the rime
of hard December.  Outside falls the shade
that marks the fullness and the fast limit
of these diminished days: the stunted light
that traps my vision and denies my gaze.

There is a fire to draw the spirits close,
and here in welcome silence have I paused
to call the murmurs of another world
that breaks its slumber when the sun subsides.
The gathered shadows whisper, and the flame
becomes a mirror for the soul's own light,
reflecting bold and bringing now to life
the shuttered vision of a heart's delight.
I have but to wish, and then to see,
catching each fleeting vapor at its dance;
and yet, how often fails my busy eye
to linger in this dreaming panoply.

There are hard limits to the use of words,
and in the silence that surrounds each thought
I play both sorcerer and crystal glass.
I am what shall, and what shall never, pass;
what soon will once have been, yet always is.
The memory of an echo of a song
tolls to proclaim an hour longtime gone:
the music of some quaint antiquity,
soft prelude to the chorus of regret;
it is all of me and all I know,
the silence and the song and the regret.
There will be song; there will be silence yet.

All this little world is still twilight,
and in the dizzy moments that lead me
to the ascent from daylight into dreams,
I rejoice to sing delights like these,
if only for a moment to assure
that I have grasped them ever as they are;
that something of the quaint eternal stays,
to salve the grind of intervening days;
that in the shapes of a receding past,
there might be found a moment set to last
more than this instant.

What secrets have we,
if such things reach the limits of their spell
with cooling embers, come the morning knell?
What memories of wonder have I kept
secure from scrutiny, thinking others slept?
Must it be vanity to wrest desire
out from the ashes of the midnight fire,
to wait, to see, to hear as I would do,
and trace a vision I might render true?

I woke to find full daylight on the world.
A backdraft from the empty hearth proclaims
the morning's greeting and dispels all dreams
that might have lingered to enchant a dawn.
The brittle music of the winter wind
sifts through the lapses in my dark redoubt.
Outside, a frozen light grips on the air,
one that would foster fear were I in need,
but there is kindling left to conjure dreams,
and last a season more against despair.

I am not fit for dreams or dreaming now,
and know not when nor where my waking leads,
for now the empty echoes only haunt.
There are others stirring in the house,
caught in the coda of their own silence,
fit music for the morning's overture—
though I have kept some few imaginings
to whisper bright reminders to the soul.

A challenge for the vision that endures:
the empty window frames a lifeless scene,
a fast and unrelenting monochrome,
a hieroglyph inscribed in ice and grit.
I shall find lingering charms
to caption it.

Monday, September 24, 2012


©  Steve King
All rights reserved

At last must I surrender all device,
though I shall have you here in any case.
Finally the evening’s crowd has passed,
and we are gathered well in solitude.
All things undone must linger in their place
and words unspoke must echo where they will;
large moments to give way to emptiness,
while we rehearse regrets for latter days.
This silence will beget the better voice
to move each note of mending through its way;
so between us there need be no cue,
no hardened rhetoric to stir the air;
just the knowing and the conjoinment
of old desires, ancient isolate hopes,
alive now in this spirit of new yearning.

Here then is the center we must hold,
and surety that we dare not efface,
no matter how the futures may incline.
We must abide while all old dreams unwind,
and as confusions rally in full throat.
This world does not offer us a choice:
all things move and we must stand aplace.
It is the beginning and end of time,
where all and nothingness at last collide,
where only instinct guides amid the rush,
and quick surmises serve forevermore.

I have never held to things so much,
nor kept a faith that served me all these days—
this sheltered hold alone must fend the fates,
and such adversities as may befall.

Though ageless dreams are all the while displaced,
and artifice has often sealed our ways,
this presence must endure, this hope remain,
‘til darkness does descend, and stillness reign.

Note:  "Surrender" will be posted on  Open Link Night.  Please visit there!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012


©  2012 Steve King
All rights reserved

i saw
the rains had come
to chase the sun—

grey twilight wolves

moon is gathered in the veil
starlight tarries where it will

the shadows do come home to me
and so the room is empty no longer

no corner lit to hold a dream
nor the very thought of you
for long

this window
frames the perfect page
to save me the usual thousand words

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Rites of Autumn

© Steve King 2011
All rights reserved

Leaves are fallen in the garden,
gone from lean black branches.
Bright hours are gone, too;
lost amid the equinoctial shade.

You could not count the leaves,
but would recapture hours,
recall them all;
silent as you watch the leaves
run before an autumn wind.

You let the moments slip,
used them to savor yearnings,
distant hopes,
idle revery.

Yet still the pull of yearnings,
yet still, desires unmet;
no moments in your bag
to hold them now.

Now memory is lean,
would feast upon new days
were they at hand;
would gorge upon
the promise of new dreams,
yes, even on the promise,
were there moments for a dream,
were there moments for a promising.

Without leaves on high
there is silence in the wood,
save for the one song:
when winds sweep low,
falling from the mountain,
gathering its chill.

Alone in the garden,
heir to the song,
to vistas of lean black branches—
this song will not scribe a memory,
nor hold a moment rapt for you,
more than may the lean black branches
recall scattered leaves.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012


©  Steve King 2012
All rights reserved

How do you write this stuff?

Just words—

Not so!
Not so very different,
            than you yourself would use
            alone...or to yourself.

I don't do that so much...

            Oh yes.  Perhaps you just don't listen closely...

Suppose I did?   
How would it sound aloud
or to  some other?
You make words seem…different—
there's something lurking between syllables,
a kind of common code,
the way the words display.
Anyone can understand the heady spirit there.
I'm barely articulate—
words can't make their way across my lips
without a mangling.
Sometimes I wonder
if I know myself well enough to try...
So, how do you write these things?

            Ha!  I toss words in the air—
            each one falling back of its own mass
            into a proper place.
            Then I play a game with them,
            find a pleasing pattern;
            they have to suit the eye as well, you know;
            massage more than the one sense,
            assault them 'til they crumble
            powerless before the inevitable.
            But first, of course, there must be an idea...

That's no answer.
The question stays,
attaches to each glib evasion here.
I still can't understand the way it fits...
none of it explains
the way the words lie perfect on a page,
envelope me with pleasure...
and then sometimes the feeling that I get,
as if you've read my mind,
or fathomed something larger—
tapped into the full being of me,
my forgotten parts,
moments echoing from dark corners
I had never seen fit to explore,
and still don't know to comprehend…

If you're unknowing, how may I explain?
You've heard...something,
felt something;
taken something from a phrase:
the essence of some accidental truth
that I have stumbled on
in my candid peregrinations;
a truth that you've kept hidden,
precious for some reason of your own;
a dark facet, yes,
unused perhaps, abandoned or ignored,
but nonetheless a truth
because you know it.
But if you're asking me
how I might know it's true for you,
well, there is yet another mystery...

But you make me ashamed,
my feelings assailed,
left naked in full light.
How do you find these tokens?
How can you lash these nerve ends undeterred
by any sense of modesty?
Is there no shadow immune from this?
No sadness?
No secret?

You give me too much credit.
             I wish I could claim it,
             but the burden is all yours,
             and yours the prize.
             I can ill afford the drain of so much feeling.
             I'm only trying to get something right,
             less imperfect and more beautiful.
             It's work at its worst.
             If I had to pause at every couplet
             to take stock of deepest feelings...
             I don't know how the work would ever end.
             So complex, those things, and incomplete:
             a feeling never finishes, you see,
             it leads right to the next,
             hands off its emotion
             to be used again
 to fuel some other dormant mood.
             I must never lose myself in that,
             must note only the mood
             and not what underlies it all,
             not while there is paper left to fill,
             and some unknown waiting to read it.
             I'm a performer, see; a pro;
             deadlines and all that,
             even if self-imposed.
             No time to plumb the paradoxes
             of mundane despair
             and enervating ecstasies.
             No, let them settle elsewhere
             if they must.

I'm not sure I like you
quite so well as a moment before.
Just a trickster?
Is it all marketing and manipulation?
How do you choose your victims?
Why am I bothering to ask you?

Please, not quite like that...
            Does it seem so bad?
            I guess I was better off
            before I tried to shed the mystery.
            I would never play loose with your feelings.
            I just...borrow them for the moment,
draw them down from the common pool,
            mold them--just a bit--to fit my hand.
            After all, you can't begrudge a tradesman
            burnishing a product with his brand.
            When I've come to the end of figuring
—as best I can—
            I give those feelings back to you
            with just a little dressing up.
            Any value added is my gift,
my thanks for the motive,
            for the quick use of your soul,
            which, itself, has helped me see
            to where I've never been before.

            At least, that's the plan.
            Nothing insidious there, I hope.
            I need levers outside myself
            to orchestrate this world
            in a way that will make sense.
            So you have helped with that.

            In return you have a glimpse
            of what it is I've seen.
            Not the truest world perhaps,
            but one that must suffice until the next idea...
            Yes, you see...the idea…
            If you’ve been tricked to the misuse of your feelings,
            I have at least shown something back:
            that idea that must lie at the core,
            framed in a sharper focus
            than you discerned before.
            My vision is the prism.
            Your soul provides the ready light.

The way you talk,
it’s one allusion then the next,
points hidden in obscuring metaphors;
a graveyard for common words and meanings.

            Well…you’ve surprised me.
            You’ve forced me to improvise,
            no time or method to make clear
            how I may truly mean a certain thing.
            I’ve told you, poetry is work,
            the worst I could devise.
            I try to gather minute meanings
            magnify them to infinite form,
            give you all a chance to share my mirror—

There you go again!

            I’m guilty.
            How may I amend?

I have still the question:
How do you write these things?

            You must find your answer in my silence.
            I can’t exchange this alchemy for science
            the way your wish intends.
            You must grant me magic, at the last,
            where, I fear, both question and answer
            do surely come to a dead end.

            For I still marvel when you see
either charms or mystery
            in any thing that I compose.

            It’s there the magic lives for me…
            For now, let conversation close.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012


©  2012 Steve King
All rights reserved

When you labored your last breath,
I had long been elsewhere.
Bad news, they say, travels fast,
though it seems, not far:
I, who once knew much of you,
was then unknowing.

What are lifetimes, looking back?
Yours read well enough to me
even without note of us,
or other quondam artifacts.

No indeed--our trove lay deep,
hidden in the secret bottom
of some misplaced trunk,

while others that I never knew
gathered then to carry you.

Better to have never heard:
another yearwho knows?
might well do all for me;
or better yet a courier
less inclined to squander news.

Nothing now points much to old scenes
though I still choose my moments
to puzzle over absence,
and the haze of ancient afternoons,

or sometimes on fabled afterlives
and happy tales of immortality,
which have always seemed to be
no more than an apology
for absences writ large,

Yet will I hold these things aside.
and let the skeptic's surety be tried
upon the very thought

that there may be
a shadow of forever clinging near,
so long as this remembrance visits me.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

To The Fair

©  Steve King
All rights reserved

We walked the road through twilight,
nightingales teasing from small shadows;
the emptiness ready for all bold spirits.
There were faint stars enough
to draw thoughts of a deeper night,
and of summer pleasures to be gathered at the fair.

As we rounded the last curve we passed the tree—
the grave and heavy circumference;
slowed our march,
so quiet.

The tree was a killer.
We saw, the week before,
the carcass of the ‘65 Corvette
as it was towed to town:
covered with a shroud of canvas,
hidden in the furthest corner of the salvage yard.

But we would see beneath it, and we did;
marveling with high amazement
at dark stains spilled across bucket seats
as if by some new miracle
of upholsterer’s art.
Marvel we did, but once,
joked just once,
timid laughs falling to a kind of sigh.

In our retelling to the less bold,
we spoke brazenly of gore,
as if we had become attuned
to that kind of death,
or to any kind;
spoke the way we thought
the others would best hear,
the way we thought a soldier
might have spoken of his battle ground;
or the way a cop might talk of routine carnage;
spoke of bits and pieces that were scattered in the car,
pieces not all metal or at all mechanical;
intoned at length on what the scattered pieces might have been.

The tree at dusk on a country road.

The tree had only done what a tree must do:
stood its ground,
age and dignity unshaken
by the race of passion or hubris
or even careless indifference.
And the car had only done what a car must do—
yielding to great stressors that were never meant to be.
The unknown couple, too, complied with due necessity:
shattering—not neatly, it was said,
unjoined, but not at logical places.

We counted out our steps,
knowing the roads intimately,
knowing steps and distances
from one place to the next.
Headlights marked us.
We might lose our number,
but there would always be,
away in the near distance,
hovering above the forest line,
the glow of the fair,
faint music growing stronger step by step;
and finally the great wheel,
alive with rainbow lights,
coursing a path skyward,
to yield it’s shining vessels to the night.

Talk soon overtook the nightingales,
and rapt imaginings
made bright the evening sky.
We moved in a strange kind of present
that held a dawning future in abeyance:
knowing we were doing all that we were meant to do
that summer, that night,
along that chosen road,
the summer sky a canopy
for all small charms so soon to be embraced…

I looked back.
Our road had left that tree behind,
just beyond the reach of the long curve,
lost in the tide of encroaching shadows.

The music louder now—
that eternal present soon set to pass
into the lightness
of a temporary balming dream
of many brief inviting moments
all at once just waiting…

Away from the shadows,
and the grasp of hard necessity;
away from subtle curves
that skew even much-traveled roads.

Then quick steps and laughter,
the pull of vesper gratitudes,
for what an evening might beget…

I prayed that I would one day
better care for a Corvette.