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.


  1. such a party, i might look for any bright eye i could find, undulled by it fend the sting of unsought irrevent truths...what an interesting line that is...made me pause and think...true to whom indeed...

  2. I would be the weirdo in the corner with the paranoid stare! OMG!...You make my skin crawl with the atmosphere...not a fan of crowds, small talk, or airs...fantastic piece that completely pulled me in! And Awesome to read you!!

  3. Satay, I prefer ~ All these niceties and cliches, have their uses and comforts do they ~ I specially like the ending verse ~ A pleasure to read your poem Steve ~

  4. This really hit me with the second stanza. Some things are all about the show. I don't recall ever being at a function quite in this category, and the few that I've felt out of my league at, I have bluffed my way through. Am not a "put on airs" kind of person, and I too, would be looking for someone to connect to, someone who felt the same as I did. I liked how you wrote this, Steve--the rhyme scheme in the first three stanzas, going into conversation, then free verse contemplation/examination of the situation. Nicely penned, felt like I was a fly on the wall watching this all go down!

  5. I agree with Ginny, I feel like a fly on the wall. A great capture, Steve.

  6. I've been to these affairs...people pretending to kiss each other in greeting...kissing air instead...I've learned not to look for a sympathetic soul..rather just enjoy the satay, champagne and pate...and pretend to be superior to it all..I do like this write, Steve...and with it all..yes we do move to hopefully find another set of eyes.

  7. This is wonderful... Such a great capture of the scene, and that last stanza is stellar.

  8. Classy read havnt read much rarety like this besides Mr Steven Grant amazing write

  9. Very different style of verse, and persona of protagonist — yet it reminds me of Prufrock.

  10. There is great craft and subtlety in this. I particularly like this bit:

    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;

    And the final stanza too.