Monday, September 30, 2013

The Chord

©  by Steve King
All rights reserved


I sometimes hear so much,
listening relentlessly,       
wrapped in high solemnity,
gliding through the grand design
of vast symphonic harmony;

and sometimes too
within the passing threads
of lurid, jazz-infused improv

or lingering in funerary drones,
buzzing voices lowered
in purest dread tones;

and always in a stinging riff of rock and roll:
taut strings stretching to their ends
to spin a dance of fleet arpeggios,
stuttering like broken speech,
balancing atop that odd backbeat.

And I have heard the music breed
in small measuring breaths
when leaves stir
and hollow spaces speak
with the songs of wind,
each night the winds across the valley,
echoing some furthest peak.

And from the very center,
the roar of fire gods,
their murderous bass notes,
song emergent from the core;
a universe of tones
hardly random or ill formed;
a reservoir of nascent sound
in which all other harmonies abound.


Then, too, come strange calls
alive to greet my listening,
wandering through new discovered streets,
to find a certain way:
lamplight to lamplight,
slipping between shadows,
past shuttered doors and darkened alleyways;
stepping deftly
around children without faces,
there, amid each rising moan and incantation,
cantatas of regret
that stir long in dark places;
lamentations of desires undone,
abject songs of silly midnight dares
invoking quick embrace and needy stares;
last calls and come-ons to indifferent ears;
even the measure of caesura
when the weight of all emptiness
shall have won

as when darkness shutters every yearning sense,
and arms hang empty at the sides,
emptyemptyempty again,
surrendering to the usual absence,
while one devises painless ways
to make decent amends,
while all the old longings intensify;
while the shadow steals
to fill another vacant dream
and color the old rhymes
the mind rehearsing different ways
to sing old songs,
wanting only the one decent key,
a constant cadence again in each familiar space,
reminding, to be sure
within the hollowed meter
of each muted phrase
of ancient gladnesses,
and, looming in the minds half-light,
imagined facades of repose


So now, within these attic shadows,
folded deep beneath a night,
please to linger with me here,
listening, quiet at the last,
waiting for fled things to reappear;
when silence shall again retreat,
to fill some others emptiness;
the music turning as the first,
stillness yielding in its train,
every shadow singing out.

And please to tell me why,
with all the music
waiting to be heard,
there still rings ever clear in memory,
in singing presence lost only to time,
the unrelenting tones,
in lyric voice that I would gladly claim no more,
chiming as a solemn chord,
the one echo I try so to ignore:

the biding murmur of that distant wave
breaking slowly on the rising shoal
forever set to cast its falling note
and sing, relentless, to its empty shore

gathering its long-abandoned airs,
to measure me within the hold
of  once familiar strains.


And yes, the way old words lie waiting to be heard again;
the way old words would once again be said,
the way old words lie waiting for new song
as if they might gently live on,
as if meaning may yet cling
all else gone.

All else.


That soft postlude to resonate
across ensuing days;
always to replay,
ever to unfold,
while all the music else,
so charmed in each refined reply,
yields, surely as a cresting tide
called homeward by its distant moon,
slipping sure away.

A Post for Imaginary Garden With Real Toads
and dVerse Poets Pub Open Link Night


  1. My grandmother was deaf from the age of 8 when three childhood illnesses converged at once, wrapping her in fever that burnt away the sounds. Your poem reminded me of all I enjoy and she missed.

  2. This is a real magnum opus, Steve. It has a strong feel of Eliot--I mean this in a positive way-- I love Eliot, but it has that quality of focusing in and moving out in its scenes and imagery even though it continues with its
    common thread or chord (or core). It describes to me so well that longing to be part of the universal mix that one observes and the feeling still of a kind of isolation in one's particular music , which is both comfortable and encasing -- a plaintive poignant chord. Your observations of the universal music are just wonderful as is the sense of longing both to be free and to cling to the familiar. I am on iPhone so sorry if not very coherent. Also on train. A beautiful poem. K. (Manicddaily.!

  3. One gets a strong sense of your musicality in this piece, just by comparing your rhymes and 'listening' to the cadence of each line. Your style is well-suited to your theme.

  4. Very auditive - this poem is filled with sounds and music.

  5. th third and fourth were emotive to me...the sound of the waves...and other sounds...and then the fourth to give back the song to the what they could be again....epic piece man...

  6. this was music, music indeed, the rhythm moved through me, around me...

  7. A symphonic poem in 5 movements - each containing contrast and colour, but adding meaning to the whole.

  8. " And I have heard the music breed
    in small measuring breaths
    when leaves stir
    and hollow spaces speak
    with the songs of wind,
    each night the winds across the valley,
    echoing some furthest peak."


    This whole phrase spoke to me. beautiful well said my friend.

  9. Steve, you have a gift in your words that renders me ill-equipped and barely able to express with my own the place where your poetry transports me to. The way the thoughts, the rhythm in this, rises and falls. The music breathing, ever leading us through this piece. Beautifully penned, my friend.

  10. 's being a musician's child, music is the backdrop to every the variety of tones and types of arrangements here as your life's accompaniment, also the reminiscence for the familiar favorite chord of harmony

  11. Wow Steve, the musical piece and words are just outstanding ~ Stanzas 3 and 4 resonated with me but the whole post is just amazing ~

  12. Epic piece, Steve. Beautiful, I loved the the third and fourth stanza.

  13. Wow... This is a masterpiece. I love the idea of it, and I love the execution just as much. Really, really beautiful.

  14. There is nothing better on dVerse tonight...This exquisite piece bowled me over with its rich language..its profundity so beautifully penned...Steve...this is a masterpiece...your best yet, I think...i'm coming back to read again and again. I love it. ~jackie~ ...and btw, yours is the only poem I'm reading tonight...i didn't submit this week. Love, love this poem!

  15. Another commenter mentioned-- transported-- an apt description of what occurs when reading your words, for suddenly they were no longer yours, but mine, in my own head, writing themselves as I read. Fantastic indeed, Jason

  16. The lithograph (print- whatever it is called) is intriguing as is your poem.

    So now, within these attic shadows,
    folded deep beneath a night,
    please to linger with me here,
    listening, quiet at the last,
    waiting for fled things to reappear;

    I used to spend quite a bit of time in my grandmothers attic.. so these lines really, for me, were close to my heart.

  17. What you conjures out of the voices of the nature is amazing.. the wind the waves. They all have things to things to tell us. A very powerful poem(s) that unite so well. I will bookmark and come back and read....
    and read....

  18. A very effective progression from chord to chord, as it were, here in these five movements...the thing that stands out to me is the beautiful sound of the words playing off each other, just as the best music plays note in relation to note to evoke our emotions and give a cathartic resolution through cadence and sound...I could quote many lines, but I liked especially 'waiting for fled things to reappear,' the entire 4th piece, and of course, '... even the measure of caesura/ when the weight of all emptiness/ shall have won…'