Monday, April 8, 2013


©  Steve King
All rights reserved

Each note gathers
to lift the last song,
like bright birds at twilight
soon to shade gone.

Like the faint sound of cannon
now drawn to retreat,
or the old battle’s echo,
at last complete.

Like the voice of his captain,
the final command,
to call fallen comrades
from all the far lands.

Then the song slips to silence,
the flag put away;
the caisson stands ready
to carry the day.

He surrenders at last
to the earth’s warm embrace,
that impregnable bunker
no pains may displace.

(Note:  Reflections on the military funeral of Joseph F. Clancy, US Army
for Imaginary Gardens…)

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

A Slight Engagement

©  Steve King
All rights reserved

I was passing easy,
close, but no cigar.
‘Paté or champagne?’
competed briefly in the mind.
Then I reached with both empty hands.

The music was distractive:
there was no rhythm in the to and fro.
And all the while the host debased himself
to fawn before the preening A-list show.

It was all chatter and smiles
shaped by the slyest of surmise.
I thought that I could read all in her eyes
while she did surely look through me,
perhaps to gauge some other mingling prize.

Even so, I sighed to speak and listen:

‘So pleased…’
‘I never knew…’
‘Were you there too?’

There is a kind of solace
even to indifference,
an easy sequestration of the self
to guard against the rush of ill-forming desire,
weaponry to shore each unsettled need;

a sweet cache of certainty
of how one does surely surpass
those least of expectations;
a bulwark set to fend the sting
of all irrelevant unsought truths.
(‘True to whom?’ it asks.)

The bulwark firms with each slight engagement,
with each exercise of that secret certainty;
a welcome defense to dark incursions
of indifference and disregard;
against each mindless courtesy,
those pure rote reveries.

‘Champagne or satay?’

Another question set to stave
grim litanies and wearying regard…
Thus fortified against
all new clichés,
I look to find another set of eyes.

And move again
attracted still to bright things,
relentless, as a crow to copper;
just as a sundown flower
might briefly nod
upon the brilliance
of a coming moon.