Monday, October 27, 2014


©  Steve King 2014
All rights reserved

All this world turns by me while I wonder,
watching without, through half-shuttered slits that are these eyes;
seeing within, through a depth of far reflection,
dreams that live so safe inside—
high torrent of perception,
lacking ordinary rule or guide,
sweeping through all base obstructions:
you, me—yes me, especially,
feeling myself always as an object,
a so-complacent stranger,
often troubling to regard—
an almost-sense of almost-me,
that keeps a far and undefined remove.

I watch alone in this carnival place,
this world, its manifold aspect,
where every easy affectation
shields against the need for overt cries
on the eternal nature of constraint.

Heedless now of every origin
or the truth of any real beginning,
yet still left to wonder
how all wondering comes to be,
sensing only of an end,
so far from the advent of first things.

—as, somewhere on that bright and deadly plain,
holding the first kind of any truth,
rise of strange sensation to the eye,
gauging something other,
unfolding sudden, new,
from what had been a dreamy pageant
held in animal sight,
one that knew no inkling of a life gone by,
nor of anything foretold.
Old scent pulled up from ancient dust
mingling with the new song of winds,
eloquence unsensed ‘til then;
blue, color unnamed,
clear and godless sky;
red, the predator jaw,
auguring of pity,
a thing unknown before,
but all at once so real,
when dust would settle
‘round some heaving pair.

The dawn of truth.
And, pity first, before the thought of love.
No need for love at first upon the plain…

So truth comes always in the instant,
laying claim to everything before,
but devolves soon into a memory,
layered with new instants, new surprise,
all shaded with the weight of that first pity,
and what shall finally come to seem as love,
inconstant as it is or ever was,
kindled and extinguished,
soaring, sinking in waves of new dream,
bringing, in an afterthought,
the sudden inclination to believe
in old spirits and puzzling moods,
all axiom and anecdote,
intrusive shards as ancient as the deadly plain,
and yet the source of every new desire.

But life may not evolve only in watching,
nor may it last for long
balancing on pinnacles
of ever narrowed truth.
Life must be of moment and of measure,
and, at least, capacity to act.
My life would cast long shadows
of the serpentine will,
and these too shall be true;
each changing meaning in my life
alive in every shadow I may see.
My life would give hard form
to every occult thought
undiscovered in the face of light.
Truth and truth and truth again—
my life, young heir to fragments of the ancient dreams
which must all be as true
or none at all;
dreams born of the matrix of every false dawn,
new light to sing pure,
that for its time obscures
the coiled complex of still and harrowing shades
ever patient to reclaim
each soaring gladness in its turn.

Those dreams, my measure and model;
my palette, that strange combine
of pity, love and shadow;
cast in every memory
and on each waiting aspect I devise;
light that burns in the deepest redoubt,
reflecting worlds unknown to other eyes,
each so transient in the night;
and though they banish every anquish,
so they also calm each pure delight,
as if some stasis must be found,
and surety and silence and release
from all unquiet moments
adrift within my soul’s far keep.

As if there may be found
an easy truth of you and me
unknown yet to our worlds,
though tenuous, as all such truths must be.
A truth to leave its founding mark
upon those troubling strangers, you and me.

A new poem for Imaginary Gardens with Real Toads


  1. You've built up a strong fabric of image and insight here through the gradual accretion of observation and extrapolation, the archetypical origin myths, the personal ones, the great vastness of whatever it is we are, and what might be the nature of our existence, whether some tool of a greater destiny, completely purposeless or even, as they say now, some kind of atomic repurposing--I especially loved the lyric conclusion, so full of our desire to finally see. Fine work, Steve.

    1. As usual, your analysis has a higher literary quality than the work you're reacting too!! Thanks much for the commentary, Joy. I always learn from it.

  2. very moving piece...i felt here, the questioning essence of what it is to be examination of purpose, reaction, reason, meaning.

  3. Hi Steve, this is such a very intelligent and probing poem. For me, it reflects, in part, the difficulty of the world for an intelligent and probing person, and also a feeling person, in the face of chaos and upswing and downswing, and especially, other people. There are so many parts one can relate to (not as an intelligent person!) but this feeling of being a witness to the panoply, and then the intensity of the epiphany that all too soon fades, and then finally, the effort and desire for closeness. I don't know if I followed your movements here, but I was very struck by your rhetorical devices--also as someone who suffers from fairly intense mood strings--I related very strongly to the wish for a kind of steadiness and the regret when it is neared. I echo Hedge--a strong and beautiful cadence. Thanks. k.

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Karin. I always appreciate the great lengths you go to in looking for meaning. As I noted above with Joy, I always learn something when you offer comments.

  4. Steve--I thanked you and wrote more, but I don't know if comment "took"--a lot of trouble with that lately. The point was that I don't know if my plodding reading measures up to the careful distinctions and probing search for truth of your work. Thanks. k. (I said it better the first time! Ha!)

    1. Karin, You give my distinctions too much credit, and your readings of them too little. Thanks again.

  5. I love the sweeping feel to this—the pondering of beginnings, of changes, of endings:
    " sensing only of an end,
    so far from the advent of first things."
    Almost overview of truth through time, from early man falling his baser instincts: before love was even love: "No need for love at first upon the plain…" then coming back to the narrator, pondering of the changes and morphings of his truth, his life. I especially love the last two stanzas. They have an almost Shakespearean feel to them, the last especially reminds me a bit— not in word or rhyme scheme but in flow and cadence—to Puck's epilogue in "A Midsummer Night's Dream." Superb writing, Steve.

    1. (Oops, I meant to say 'from early man "following" his baser instincts. Darn auto correct, I missed that!)