Tuesday, April 24, 2012

On the Waters

by Steve King
©  2012 
All rights reserved

The surface had been broken sudden,
ripples shake the sky to muddled gray,
mixing clouds with infinite azure—
clouds that seemed so bright before,
floating high upon a sea of light—
but not now in reflection,
not now, writhing on the fractured sheen;
The sun, bent to funhouse shapes,
a wandering balloon
set loose upon the world,
unencumbered child’s play
making light of all the day.

The certain picture gone,
hostage to the least of winds
that touch and go and leave no trace
or any true pathway.
The face upon the waters
puzzles now a dawning mystery:
eyes flash across each gathered wave,
changing with new currents,
now hiding in roiled shadow,
then glinting in that funhouse glare;
lips, fickling with each rise and fall,
first smile, then frown to bottom out the depths;
no Narcissus charm to beckon
from the spirit floating there,
countenance remote, delicate,
hanging just beyond an easy reach,
trapped within an ever-changing tide.

Watching for a certainty to settle of its own,
to hold a master vision once again,
an image, an idea that might stay,
knowing sure that all things seen
linger on their own thin edge,
ceding fragile form and gravity
to random ripples of unthought design
that shatter calm reflection,
spin still contemplation and regard
out of their sometime world.

These beauties that the image now betrays
are drifting peaceful on the deeper reservoir,
reflecting for an instant only on the broken shoal.
Such shadows may not be embraced,
nor should they even slip to light so much,
for all that gathers on the edge
is scattered as I stoop to see,
ruined on the muddled shore
as I do reach to lay a heavy touch.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

From the Balcony

©  Steve King
All rights reserved


Through all seasons,
peering outward from the high window,
he would watch the boats.

On they came
through clinging fog,
curtains of rain,
breaking through the crowning sun,
and out of deepest night,
with horns, lights
and strange dancing nautic grace,
gliding beneath sheltering stars
emerging to his view
as if the stirrings of dream.

Familiar constellations shown upon them all.
Only the moon would change its face,
although he knew it dragged the stubborn tides
in some promise of larger constancy.
Unchanging stars alone made perfect sense.


The manservant brought wines
appropriate for every season.
They drank to the hours,
and to the stars,
and for fair seas and warming winds
to usher every pilgrim home;
and to the dreams of coming ships,
and to great beauty as it once had been.


‘She’ll know me, even now,’ he said.
I have the pictures yet.’

‘And you have the letters.’

‘Yes, musn’t forget.’

‘The letters.’

‘You have them safe…’

‘I have them.’

‘Yes, most; but there are still a few…’


The sea changed every night,
the color and the call,
the mass of harbored boats
strung with lights
that traced a captive swell.

‘Shall I turn on the light?’

‘Easier to look out through the dark. 
I can see the farthest reach that way.
I will know her when she comes…’

He paused to dispel a nearing cloud.

‘…and she will need no beacon.’


And so the many seasons went,
and many servants in their turns,
and endless boats and sheltering stars
reflected in the slipping tides.

And staring far through forgiving dark
to feel good seas and take fair wind,
he waited on a gentle dream
now grown ever close at hand.

And in the measure of his dream
he held a gaze so patiently,
to linger long on beauty lost,
someday to find his shore again.

Abiding without place or end,
great beauty as it once had been.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Springtime at the Olduvai

© Steve King
All rights reserved

where brown earth
and green bush meet
unrolling to empty azure all around
the cats picnic in moving shade
painting red the sands with random feasts

spiraling above
great birds follow where ripe scent blooms
across revealed ages

The brown guide says
‘here is where they saw it first’

the older tourist in fresh khaki nods

‘they were more like monkeys yes
not so much like us’

‘oh not so much like you sir’

‘no, you will have an easy resting place
and a crowd to please you at the last
not a pack set running
at the sight of you

‘or puzzling as your eyes lose their light
wondering how this all had come to pass,
wondering that you must have so displeased
the angry spirits of the grass

‘dying quick
belly pain the last sensation
birds nearer
nearer as you watch

‘no, you will have kind grasses and cool earth
and there will be no mystery of you
and no seeking after
for it will all be known
plain as may be said
between the corners
of your polished stone

‘even now for you
the birds are distant curiosities
just artifacts like all these other things
even now
seeing how it all began
seeing how it goes’

‘no sir not at all like you’

and breaching earth
the ancient rift
a piece of countenance revealed
hollow eyes
broken brow polished
from long confinement
in grinding sand
and heaving gravel bed

come again to sun
outlasting flies
and all the carrion feasts

waiting for the sands again
the shifting grave

without memory or expectation
no mercy dreams
to soften long night
or another day
another season
as much a cousin now
to all rough stones
as to the monkeys

even less to you sir

yet sir

no sir not at all

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The Sacred Groves

© by Steve King
All rights reserved

The sacred groves have all been hewn to render fences, dwellings, and their neat d├ęcor,
and rafts of other transitory things that will not shimmer nor bend with the air.

Not so much for temples and their ilk; not sanctuaries nor remote retreats
to shelter mendicant reflections, or to echo with those quaint old prayers.
Gone, the children’s hiding place in sheltered fairy-bowers;
gone the shamans and their daylight charms; gone the wise birds and seers.

I’ve read that in old days, those times gone by when gods were still with us,
with powers fit to fill the ready air, their large presence would inhabit the woods;
and for the gift of hospitality they would endow the golden boughs
with full song of spirit to hymn the notes of the enlivened leaves,
bidding winds to sing; granting grace to those who dreamed as kings,
if only over those small shaded realms, if only for a moment.

And now the sacred groves are gone, and gods don’t live by ready air alone.
Vacant are those airs, and stilled the voice that echoed all around;
and scattered on the open ground, the ashes of what once were golden boughs.